Is there the will to end gun violence?

A June 22 letter to the Virginia Gazette from Martin Thiel describes some of his feelings and experiences with guns. From his letter I conclude that he is in favor of gun ownership; I do not oppose gun ownership but the current situation of life-wasting shootings can only be resolved through regulatory and political change.

Here are some relevant facts:

Total United States population is about 329,000,000.

Total guns in the country is about 393,000,000. These represent about 46% of all the guns in the world.

Listed below are 2016 gun-related deaths for the top six countries that produce half of all gun deaths in the world:

» Brazil 43,200

» United States 37,200

» Mexico 15,400

» Venezuela 13,300

» Columbia 12,800

» Guatemala 5,090

In the 2016 listing of firearms death rates, the United States ranks 20th at 10.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people, only slightly better than Mexico, Panama, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.

When compared to other developed democracies, the U.S. is a clear exception when it comes to gun violence.

Gun licensing has been proven to reduce gun violence and is a necessary component to obtaining comprehensive gun laws. However, just a handful of states have these laws in place. I was surprised to see that federal law does not require licensing of gun owners or purchasers. There are only seven states that require licenses to possess, permits to purchase, and/or firearm safety certificates for all classes of firearms. Virginia is not one of them. In fact, here are the Virginia details:

For rifles and shotguns, there is no requirement for a permit to purchase, no requirement to register the firearms, no requirement for a license, and no requirement for a permit to carry. With handguns, the only difference is there is a requirement for a permit to carry.

I am not optimistic about achieving sufficient political change to reduce gun-related killings. The federal government is working less and less to promote the public good while working more and more to promote the private good. I strongly suspect that more than a few congressional members are being paid to support certain organizations, such as the NRA. The only solution to this “anything to get re-elected” state of mind is to limit congressional terms, say to a maximum of eight years. Don’t hold your breath waiting for this change!

Ron Stewart

Williamsburg

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