In many north country households, there are guns and/or rifles, including my home. Gun ownership is common for farmers and hunters. On the other hand, I rarely hear local talk about the Second Amendment and the need to protect the public’s right to carry arms. In the December issue of the Atlantic, a feature article by Jeffrey Goldberg with this title: “The Case for More Guns (And More Gun Control)” and this subtitle, How Do We Reduce Our Crime and Aurora-Style Mass Shootings When Americans Already Own Nearly 300 Million Firearms? Maybe By Allowing More People To Carry Them.
Stated another way, Goldberg makes this case:
“According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun at home or on their property…only 26 percent of Americans support a ban on handguns…gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America…Why?…Because it’s too late. There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America–many legally owned, many not…The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.”
Gun control–like abortion and gay marriage–is an emotionally charged and divisive issue. Goldberg talks to people directly affected by gun violence–including family members of those killed in incidents like that in the Aurora movie theater–and to those who argue on behalf of gun ownership. He looks at independent research on the connection between violent crime and widespread gun ownership.There’s some surprising data. Like this:
“Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades–less than half what it was 20 years ago.”
And, here’s where Goldberg cuts close to home: he dissects–and disparages–universities for policies that he describes as a “denial of reality,” suggesting that posting campuses as “gun-free” is ridiculous, and possibly dangerous, given the inability to enforce “gun-free” as anything more than wishful thinking.
Goldberg does not address the gun industry and America’s role as the major arms (including small arms) distributor in the world. That, coincidentally, is considered in a Salon.com article earlier this week, “America’s Gun Industry is Booming” by Jennifer Wilmore. No surprise: remember, 47% of us own guns.
If you are concerned about gun violence in the United States, I urge you to read Goldberg’s article–it’s a reality check. And, of course, the comment section is open if you’d like to weigh in on this one. (I’m taking cover now.)