Sunday 23 December 2012

Cajones for Congress?

Does Fareed Zakaria's support in the Washington Post and on CNN for effective gun regulation indicate we can hope the US will get sensible about guns?

The US has 30 times more gun homicides per capita than Australia, France and England & Wales, twelve times the average for other developed countries.

A child in the US is 42.7 times more likely to die from gun violence than in other OECD countries.

If that were mainly because the US is intrinsically violent, the US would have ten or twenty or thirty times higher rates of robbery, rape and assault. It doesn't. US rates of other violent crimes are comparable to rates in other developed countries.

If it were because of violence in pop culture, other countries with similar pop culture violence, like the US and Australia and Japan, would have gun homicide rates like the US's. They don't. Japanese kids love violent video games, and Japan's gun homicide rate is near zero.

If it were because the US has more crazy people, epidemiologists would find ten or twenty or thirty times more psychosis and sociopathy in the US than in Britain, Australia, France and other comparable countries. They don't. Rates of serious mental are comparable, and psychiatric care is better in the US than in many of those countries with much lower gun death rates.

The difference is gun ownership. The US has more guns than adults. It has 5% of the world's population but 50% of the world's guns. 

In the ten years after Australia banned all automatic and semiautomatic weapons in 1996, their gun homicide rate dropped nearly three-fifths and their gun suicide rate dropped nearly two-thirds.

As Zakaria says, the solution's blindingly obvious: regulate guns, ban assault weapons. He thinks the US problem is lack of courage. 

To solve this problem, courage is needed in just one place, the US congress, where so many legislators are afraid of losing the NRA's approval and bribes.

It'd be lovely to imagine that those cowards are about to grow some cajones. Dare we hope?

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