It Takes A Village To
Foster Gun Violence
Despite Calls For New Gun Laws And Rankings From The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, Reducing Or Stopping Mass Shootings Will Not Be A Simple Fix
Is this a vision of our future? Image by greg westfall and used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 8, 2013 — As another instance of gruesome gun violence takes center stage, the national discussion concerning gun control laws is sure to remain in the public eye. But will stiffer gun control legislation really have any significant effect on gun violence in the United States? As we ramp up this polarizing discussion, it is important to look at the legacy of current gun control laws and their effectiveness.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization that promotes gun control legislation and tracks individual state laws, gave California 81 out of 100 points on its Brady State Scorecard, showing that the state has some of the most stringent controls on firearm sales, ownership and possession in the country. The Brady Campaign uses a comprehensive list that includes record retention, background checks and limits on firearm and ammunition sales to determine a state's ranking.
While California ranks as the best of the best according to the Brady Campaign, Arizona, Alaska, and Utah come in dead last, as each state hauled in a grand total of zero points on the Brady scale.
Despite these seemingly telling numbers, California has recently seen two prominent instances of gun violence. One, in which former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner allegedly murdered a couple in Irvine before shooting two police officers (one fatally) in Riverside, is still in the national headlines as Dorner is on the run and multiple law enforcement organizations are putting on a large scale manhunt to track him down. The other involved a high school student who critically injured a 16-year-old classmate when he fired on him with a shotgun in response to alleged bullying.
Connecticut and Colorado, both sites of tragic shootings in the past year, also rank in the top 15 on the Brady scale.
Additionally, according to FBI crime statistics, California ranks above the national average in firearm murder rate, firearm robbery rate and firearm assault rate per 100,000. Arizona also ranks well above the national average in these categories, showing that legislation, or a lack thereof, has had little effect on violence in these states..
However, Utah, another Brady loser, has some of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country.
The states with the lowest across the board rates of gun violence in the country are Rhode Island and Maine, according to the FBI report. Those states have Brady rankings of 27th and 25th, respectively.
The nation should not ignore gun violence. It is continuing problem that has no real resolution in sight. Too many innocent lives are lost on a daily basis due to violent crime; however, those that believe gun control legislation is a logical solution for the problem are sorely misguided. As the numbers show, strict gun control legislation has not significantly reduced gun violence in the past.
As the recent cases of gun violence have shown, the perpetrators of such heinous acts rarely obey legislation, whether because of active disregard or mental illness. Like the War on Drugs and Prohibition before it, criminals and the criminally insane will find a way to circumvent the law. There is no cure at all. Rather than politicize such a dire issue, the nation must, finally, begin a discussion to flush out the plethora of symptoms that lead to gun violence, such as economic disparity, civil inequality, and mental health care.
Wayne Schutsky is a freelance writer living in Phoenix.
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