The past few days the parking lot of a gun store/shooting range I pass going to the post office has been full. On-line and on the news, lines outside gun stores have been long. We have a pandemic - guns aren’t effective against viruses. What’s the deal?
The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Guns don’t solve, but create, problems.
The Court has recognized limits on rights - even freedom of speech. “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” Schenck v U.S., 249 U.S. 47, 52 (1919).
First, there are the number of guns. Too many people own too many guns and too few know a damn thing about gun safety. That explains why the mechanism of death for so many people is a firearm.
Second statistics on gun deaths are important. We know how many people die. A bullet in the head can be pretty clear as the reason why a person became “decedent” on a State form. There are statistics from which we might be able to use to reduce gun violence.
According to a Pew Research Center summary of gun deaths, in “2017, the most recent year for which complete data [are] available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S. according to the [Centers for Disease Control].”
Third, Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Congressman, sponsored budget prohibitions, in 1996, as a result of NRA lobbying, that prohibits CDC from advocating or promoting gun control. Despite mass shootings since, CDC has not performed any such studies since 1996.
Most of the research into deaths from guns has been conducted by economists, sociologists, or criminologists. See “Firearms Research”, Scientific American, updated from 496 Nature 412-415 (2013).
With nearly 40,000, deaths per year related to something, we should expect health-related studies. In 2017 approximately sixty percent (60%) of gun deaths were suicides (23,854). Any such studies have been blocked, effectively, by the NRA.
Fourth, this stifling of facts goes further. Under the Tiahrt Amendments, “trace data” collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) cannot be released for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public.
Nobody, in other words, can use those stats. To be able to trace availability of guns, from burglaries and thefts of those guns, to subsequent gun deaths, would help to prevent gun deaths. Of course, that might lean to closing gun purchase loopholes.
People who favor unfettered traffic in firearms - who argue, for example, that guns prevent more deaths than they cause - should welcome peer-reviewed studies and welcome the facts. As Lincoln once said, “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe.”
I am Mark Small, a candidate for U.S. House in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. I favor study of deaths and injuries from guns. I’ll write more about gun control in the next couple of days. I approve of this blog. Hell, I wrote it.