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Posts tagged ‘shooting’

Murder and guns in America today–would amending the US gun law reduce murder rates?

First, here are some interesting statistics about murders from a global perspective. Most people are aware that the United Kingdom has outlawed guns (for most citizens). What’s the correlation between that and murders? Well, in the USA, which proudly upholds its government’s Second Amendment, in one year there were 15,241 murders (2009) – that’s 5 murders per 1,000 people (RPT).

In the UK, 724 murders were calculated in one year with an RPT of 1.2. I’d say that’s a significant correlative difference. Did the difference in gun laws “cause” the problem – I’m not sure. Let’s look at more numbers…

The country that reported the highest number of murders in one year was Brazil at 43,909 with a RPT of 22.7. Falling just behind Brazil in number of murders is India with 40,752 reported but with a RPT of only 3.4 because of the incredibly dense population of the country.

Now, examining the significance or RPT, check out Honduras, reporting 6,239 murders in one year but with an RPT of 82.1!!! El Salvador reported 4.085 murders in a year with an RPT of 66!

Data comes from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDC). As you can imagine, the United Nations explains that it is somewhat difficult comparing these statistics accurately. Nations have different views on what constitutes murder, they report on different years, reporting methods differ, etc. However, this data does paint what I think is a fascinating picture.

It seems that developed nations have fewer murders (rate per thousand – RPT) than non-developed nations. And about those guns…

I still want to point out that there is strong correlative evidence that suggests having a loose gun law in a nation (e.g. USA) leads to increased murders as opposed to a nation with far stricter gun laws (United Kingdom). Still, there is more going on here. America is unique because of it dense and mostly developed sprawl. If you look at data maps, most murders occur in cities that are heavily populated with poverty, gangs and drug trafficking.

Therefore, if the US enacted heavier gun control laws or even outlawed guns for most citizens, the argument that many gun rights activists use, “only criminals will have guns,” could very well come to pass. I question if heavier gun laws would have a great impact on people who are career criminals–a sociological construct that already exists without much indication that we have a solution to curb this activity. If this is so, they won’t get rid of their guns, and they will continue obtaining guns from other criminals. These are groups that already, as a rule, operate outside of laws. The only regard they have for law is that it dictates to them that which they must keep hidden, as hidden as possible to try to not get caught.

How does all of this relate to the Colorado shooting? It doesn’t. When a society looks for solutions to reduce murders, by rule it has to eliminate anomalous causation. A psycho on a shooting spree in a movie theater is not a common profile for murders in America. Therefore, an act like this isn’t successfully addressed through policy or law. Most likely people around this individual ignored warning signs that he was a sociopath with homicidal tendencies that turned wrong — way wrong. But hey, what the hell do I know. I’m just a writer here, tapping out letters… What do YOU think?

Tragedy, language and responsibility

Tragedy, language and responsibility—if anything can be gained from the recent Arizona tragedy, will we learn to take more responsibility for our words and actions?

Tragedy always inspires blame. Even the news of the recent horror in Arizona spreading across America, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others, was not immune. True to form and never to disappoint in their predictability, liberals and conservatives gathered again, polorized by ideaology, pointing at one another to ensure continued divisiveness, reaching levels of grotesque absurdity. And language is to blame. Language?

Here are the facts: 1) There is no rhetoric and discourse, imagry or ideology to blame for this tragedy; 2) Media is not to blame; 3) Guns are not a valid source of blame; 4) Individuals who are mentally ill are not to blame; and 5) Parents, friends, acquaintences, educators and educational institutions are not to blame. Truthfully, all facts known point to just one object of blame, suspect Jared Lee Loughner, solely accused of shooting 20 people on that fateful day.

 Yet, the insaciable need to assign blame beyond the simple and the obvious carries on in America. Resounding with flapping jaws and wagging fingers, raging from the left and the right, the topic of aggressive, hateful and even violent language is the topic of the season. Yes, language is receiving blame for this horrific act.

No, language did not cause these 20 people to be shot. This is, hopefully, obvious. Yet, perhaps this is a positive turn of events recovered from the aftermath of this tragedy. Perhaps it is effectively causing some to give pause to the words they use and the imagry they put forth, and perhaps they are beginning to take some responsibility for the destructive power that these words and images have.

 Perhaps this is inspiring change for the better.

 Americans are free to say and do mostly as they please—a freedom allowed to us through the First Amendment. Because of this I believe we have a much greater responsibility to make certain that our words and actions are fully representative of our character and the legacy we would wish to leave behind.

This is exponentially true of public figures, elected officials, commentators and all those perceived to be a credible source in some arenas. These individuals are not afforded the luxury of a take-back or an apology to erase past and even accidental harms. These words and actions linger, permeate culture and often take on a life of their own.

For all of us, language matters. Actions matter. Publicly acknowledging personal responsibility for errors in speech, language and actions matter.

 This is the legacy we all will leave behind—the imagery we deliberately pass on to those who care enough to pay attention to our words—we are responsible for this.

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