Stricter gun control not the answer to violence

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Gun control is a difficult topic to discuss because of poorly framed statistics and the passionate response from those personally affected by it. There is not enough space in an article to completely explain why gun control is not a viable solution, so instead I want to offer a few responses to some common claims by proponents of stricter gun control.

First, there is the claim that if you own a gun, you or someone you live with will shoot another person by accident. Last year, there were 613 unintentional deaths by firearm, according to the National Safety Council. Compare this to 1,489 fatalities in 1989. A recent Gallup poll estimated that 45 percent of American homes contain at least one firearm — a figure that has stayed roughly the same since the 1960s.

To frame this, consider that you are four to five times more likely to be accidentally killed by a police officer than you are by a civilian gun owner. Moreover, the odds of death by choking on food, falling down the stairs, or having something fall on your head are roughly the same as those of being accidentally shot. Yet the emotional response to gun accidents far outweighs that of other causes of death.

Another claim of gun control activists is that cutting out guns reduces violent crime rates. Consider Australia and the United Kingdom; both countries strictly control legal gun ownership. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the rates of sexual assault and robbery have remained mostly unchanged while the rate of assaults has risen by more than 8 percent since the gun bans were enacted in 1996.

The United Kingdom also has the highest violent crime rate in the European Union at around 2,000 incidents per 100,000 people, according to annual Eurostat crime trends data. That is four times as many violent crimes per capita as those in the U.S. The United Kingdom handgun bans were enacted in 1997.

A third claim is that because police officers have guns, there’s no reason for private ownership. Of the approximately 794,300 police officers and detectives in the U.S., maybe 150,000 of them are actually on duty at a given time and available to respond to an emergency, assuming that they have three shifts a day and they are occupying non-administrative positions.

Given that 311 million people live in the U.S., that leaves about one officer per 2,000 people. From the Bureau of Justice Statistics, among crimes of violence response times, only 53.4 percent were within 10 minutes, with 8.8 percent taking more than an hour for a response.

Guns are easy to use for both criminals and law-abiding citizens. You have to look past the high-visibility instances of guns used in crimes and refocus on the collective trends at play. Civilian-owned firearms reduce crime occurrences and keep people safe. Learn how to use a firearm or read more about the politics involved before you allow one of your greatest rights to be taken away.