Letter To The Editor: Gun Control

A little over one year ago the editorial staff at Old Gold & Black wrote an opinion piece  entitled “Gun Violence in the U.S. Needs to be Better Addressed.” The article started a conversation on the effectiveness of strict gun control legislation. Singled out in the conversation was the reduction in gun deaths and mass shootings in Australia since the Australian government implemented strict gun control.

Last week, we witnessed a terrible mass shooting in New Zealand. It was apparently organized and perpetrated by an Australian who lived about three hours outside Brisbane. Brisbane is a major city with over 2 million inhabitants. In fact, it has a population almost half the size of New Zealand. It also is home to more than a dozen mosques.

Why would a person fly to New Zealand (an over three hour flight) to commit murder? Perhaps the major reason is that it would have been difficult to obtain a large quantity of the desired weapons in Australia. However, in New Zealand, with weak gun control laws, it was possible to obtain a large array of weapons.  

We can see the effect of stricter gun control laws here in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control the gun deaths are rated by state — the lowest, with relatively strict gun control laws are:     

Hawaii: 2.5

Massachusetts: 3.7

New York: 3.7

Rhode Island: 3.9

Connecticut: 5.1

New Jersey: 5.3

California: 7.9

The highest, with relatively lenient laws  are:

Wyoming: 18.8

Arkansas: 20.3

Mississippi: 21.5

Missouri: 21.5

Louisiana: 21.7

Montana: 22.5

Alabama: 22.9

Alaska: 24.5

You are more than ten times more likely to be killed by a gun in Alaska than Hawaii.    The latest gun deaths tally produced two grim milestones: At nearly 40,000 deaths, America recorded the highest absolute number of gun deaths in nearly 50 years. According to the Center for Disease Control research, 39,773 people were fatally shot in 2017, a figure that has grown by more than 10,000 people since 1999. CDC data going back to 1979 shows that last year had the highest rates of gun deaths in nearly 40 years. Only 4 percent of the world’s people live in the U.S. but Americans make up a third of the people worldwide who die by gun suicide each year.

Over 3,200 youth and teens were killed or injured by gun violence last year alone — including more than 90 incidents at schools.  This is the biggest spike that we have seen in a decade. More Americans have been killed by guns domestically since the end of World War II than in all the wars combined. Polls show most Americans, even Republicans and NRA members, want devices that increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons to be banned.

Tom Daly ’69