Letters to the Editor: Facts revealing in gun debate

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the same tired arguments are trotted out by both sides. Gun control advocates want more restrictions on gun ownership and think the only reason 58 people were killed is because Congress doesn’t stand up to the NRA. The other side claims that any more gun laws will create a slippery slope and erode our Second Amendment rights.
There are several facts to be considered that I don’t see mentioned in the media, including this newspaper. But even a cursory internet search will verify.
A disclaimer: I am not a hunter, NRA member, or gun owner.
Fact No. 1: Gun ownership in the U.S. is up by 56 percent since 1993, yet the number of gun related homicides is down 49 percent, even though the population has grown. On a per capita basis, homicides are down by more than 50 percent. In other words, you are about half as likely to be shot by a firearm today than you were during Clinton’s first term. More guns in the hands of more people do not equal more deaths. In fact, the opposite is true.
Fact No. 2: Of all gun related homicides in this country, only 2 percent are committed with long guns (rifles and shotguns). Ninety-eight percent are committed with handguns. Even factoring in accidents and suicides, that 2 percent only grows to 5 percent. If politicians really cared about the safety of their constituents, they would not be posturing on the size of clips in semi-automatic rifles, they would be talking about the biggest killer by far — handguns.
Fact No. 3: Of all of the mass shootings in the last 20 years in the U.S., nearly all of the perpetrators were on psychotropic drugs. (According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Vegas shooter had a prescription for diazepam.)
Of course, correlation is not causation and very few people on these drugs are murderers. But if there were a drug prescribed for a physical ailment, say lupus or psoriasis, and nearly all mass murderers were on that drug, wouldn’t the FDA and Congress at least be looking at that?
Fact No. 4: Fifty-eight deaths in 10 minutes in Las Vegas equal one month of gun deaths in the city of Chicago alone. This happens month after month and has been for years. These deaths are mostly young black men killing young black men with handguns. This is the true national tragedy. This should be on the front page of every newspaper every day, but it isn’t. There is a huge racial factor in our homicide rate that no one is talking about but needs to be addressed.
If you base your argument on a faulty premise, you will inevitably reach a faulty conclusion. The argument that we will all be made safer by restricting the type and number of guns that law abiding people can own is wrong, because the premise is false.
The late great Tip O’Neil once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” A solution requires that we look at all of the facts, not just “ours.”
Tony Bates

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