There is a lot of emotion surrounding the current debate about making our gun-control laws more rational, and not too many facts. The people calling for change aren’t members of a lynch mob who want all sportsmen arrested and run out of town. And the true gun believers aren’t all nut jobs clinging to assault rifles.
You’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to have been saddened by the death of all of those little children in Newtown, Conn. Let’s face it: They were murdered by a sick young man who had easy access to guns in his home. Why his now deceased mother thought she needed to have a high-capacity magazine in a suburban home will always be a mystery.
I’ve been around enough hunters and spoken at enough rifle groups over the years to easily understand why some legitimate hunters zealously guard their right to own a gun. The Constitution protects that right, but somehow I don’t think the Founding Fathers wanted every homeowner to have a high-powered assault rifle in their closet, with clips that hold large numbers of bullets.
Here are some simple facts, courtesy of Time magazine. There is nearly one gun in the United States for every American. We are the most heavily armed nation in the world, followed by Yemen, which is on the brink of a civil war. The U.S. has the highest homicide rate by gun among developed nations, 3.2 per 100,000 people.
Americans own 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian guns, and our gun laws are among the most lax in the world. There are no federal regulations banning the semiautomatic assault weapons or large-capacity-ammo magazines often used in mass shootings.
Our neighbor to the north, Canada, requires all gun owners to undergo a background check and take a safety course. Handguns, semiautomatic weapons and most nonhunting guns are heavily restricted. Would-be owners need to obtain a federal registration certificate. Canada’s gun homicide rate is less than 0.5 per 100,000 population.