Letter to the editor: Not all statistics support ‘reasonable gun control’

In a recent editorial Angelo Lynn engaged in the time-honored practice of cherry-picking statistics in an effort to sway public opinion, in this instance for “reasonable gun control.” Here are some other cherry picked statistics that are also worth considering:
According to a study in the “Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy,” there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime. The nation’s violent crime and murder rate have decreased by more than half since 1991, as the number of privately owned guns has roughly doubled.
As published in the “Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology,” women use a gun 200,000 times a year to defend against sexual abuse.
The U.S. has the highest per capita rate of firearm ownership, yet according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the U.S. ranks 103rd worldwide in intentional homicide rate.
The majority of gun deaths in the U.S. (over 60 percent) are from suicide, not murder.
From 1950 through 2015 98 percent of mass shootings, as defined by the FBI, occurred in gun free zones.
Of the 27 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history only one culprit was raised by their biological father since childhood.
Vermont has one of the lowest per capita gun murder rates in the country.
The reason these statistics seem to contradict those presented by Mr. Lynn is because violence in our society is a complex and nuanced problem that can be viewed from many perspectives.  A gang-related shooting is not the same type of crime as a truck bomb. One has a tendency to choose statistics that support a desired solution. In the extreme, there are some who cynically highjack a tragedy in an effort to chip away at gun rights simply because they don’t like guns, want them removed completely from society and, secretly or not, don’t respect those who currently own them. This is unhelpful and, in fact, counterproductive.
The problem of mass killings in our country clearly deserves serious discussion, but in an objective and clear-headed manner. Many factors need to be taken into account in dealing with this problem, such as the breakdown of the family unit and the acceptance of unfiltered violence in our media outlets. We should certainly make every attempt to prevent mentally unstable individuals from obtaining the means by which to cause harm to others, especially on a large scale.
Providing better security for schools and other “soft” targets should be a priority as well. These are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed if we are serious about getting results. The passage of broad brushstroke anti-gun laws that do little to solve this complex problem and that limit the rights of law abiding citizens who may even prevent such a catastrophe is not the answer. Humans intent on evil are hard to deter simply by limiting their resources. Just ask the surviving victims of the Oklahoma City, Boston and recent Austin bombings, the axe victims in Dusseldorf, Germany and the truck rampage victims in Nice, France.
A narrow focus on gun control, particularly with condescending undertones and using selective statistics is not the way we should go about this, and when one brandishes terms such as “reasonable gun control” and “common sense gun laws” it implies those who disagree are unreasonable and lack common sense. This discredits those who use such terms and poisons the well for a civil discussion aimed at obtaining meaningful results. We can and should do better.
C. W. Cobb

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