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The editors on confronting gun violence

Just posted on the homepage: Commonweals editors on confronting gun violence.

The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, with more than 200 million guns in circulation. The result: a rate of violence wildly out of step with all other developed nations. There are approximately thirty thousand firearm fatalities every year in the United States (according to data compiled by the Firearm and Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania), and more than twice as many non-fatal firearm injuries. More than three hundred of those killed annually are under the age of fifteen(.pdf). Some forty police officers are killed by guns every year. And every seventeen minutes, someone in America commits suicide with a gun.The numbers represent a wide range of social problemsincluding mental illness and inner-city crime (a disproportionate number of gun victims are young male minorities)that wont be resolved by limiting access to guns. But the easy availability of firearms is the most basic reason those problems turn deadly with devastating frequency. As the Penn study points out, Firearms, especially handguns, are effective lethal weapons with the capability to escalate often-impulsive acts of interpersonal violence or suicidal thoughts into death.

Its been three weeks since E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote on the need to remember Newtown, and just under a month since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the first three days of this week:

- Connecticut governor Dan Malloy in his State of the State address directly rejected the National Rifle Association's proposal to put an armed guard in every school in America in the wake of the Newtown massacre, saying that freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom

- New York governor Andrew Cuomo, in advance of his State of the State address, was crafting with legislators a package of gun measures that would make New York the most restrictive state in the nation

- The Obama administration suggested it is considering executive action on guns

- Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota (who has an A rating from the NRA) backed off comments made Sunday in which she called White House gun violence task-force proposals extreme, supposedly after a series of ads run in response by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

- The NRAaccepted a White House invitation to attend a series of meetings on guns and gun violence on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tuesday was the second anniversary of the shooting of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; she and her husband Mark Kelly announced they were forming a political group to take on the NRA . Also on Tuesday, at a preliminary hearing in Colorado, emergency calls from the Aurora movie theater at which gunman John Holmes killed 12 people last summer were played; a judge is expected to decide by the end of this week whether the case will go to trial. On Monday, a collection of conservative and gun rights groups announced plans for a gun appreciation day to be held just before President Obamas January 19 inauguration; its modeling its event on last Augusts anti-gay-marriage Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and calling on supporters to head to gun stores, gun shows, and gun ranges to protest gun-grabbing by the government in the wake of the Newtown shootings.

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



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We need to keep showing the TV tirades by gun supporters who claim a right to have automatic weapons to protect themselves from the tyrannical government's black helicopters and drones. . Let's keep showing their 'arguments' over and over till their pol supporters are tossed out. A by-product is that silent gun supporters will be primaried by real nut cases. .

Meanwhile, add to the "meanwhiles" above, the breaking story of a new shooting at a California school. Only two people wounded, so I suppose it hardly counts.

"Only two people wounded' .....a shotgun not a semi-automatic..

Some guy who's supposed to be a security expert threatens to start killing people if Obama tries to impose gun control by executive order. In his words, it's gonna be 1776 all over again.I love every instance when these guys who think they're the only real 'muricans reveal their utter ignorance of American history. Specifically, there's ONLY one reason we don't sing "God Save the Queen" today and read about those traitors, Washington and Jefferson, in our schoolbooks. That reason is the military assistance provided to the rebelling colonies by France.If the NRA wants to start a war over the "right" of all 300 million Americans to own personal arsenals, they shouldn't expect any help from France.

I find the comments which seek to vilify and demonize those who defend gun ownership by law abiding citizens ver unhelpful. Everyone empathizes with the victims of violence however it is perpetrated, not just advocates of gun control. The disturbing truth is that we are all vulnerable in the face of madmen with evil intent who are hellbent on murder. A lot of American schools have security systems that include armed personnel. It is not absurd to suggest that this strategy might be considered by more school districts. There may well be some reasonable and constitutional restrictions on firearm ownership which should be considered as well. I can't help but notice, however, that madmen like the Newtown and Aurora shooters were not deterred by the many laws they broke in planning and executing their dastardly crimes.

Mr Feehily, it seems the issue is about more than the Sandy Hook 26. Mr Gleason is right: let the extremists attempt to sink their own cause.

While of course we need laws and rules to keep guns out of the hands of maniacs, the fact is most people are not maniacs. Also worth noting is the Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights (i.e. the first ten amendments), without which the first states would not have ratified/adopted the Constitution in the first place.And so while obviously we need to make some changes, lets be careful not to lead too much with emotion, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Ken - unfortunately, such nominally reasonable calls not to respond emotionally to this crisis often cloak the real intent of those who utter them, which is to block the possibility of any response at all. But the status quo does not obtain when it comes to technological developments in weaponry, increased efficiency in electronic sale and distribution methods, and, quite plainly, campaigns to reduce if not eliminate the few remaining impediments to expanding an already vast arsenal, prevent even the contemplation of new curbs, and spur ever-more expansive interpretations of the Second Amendment. Why should one side in this debate be expected to sit back, exhale, and ponder, while the other is free to pursue--with hyperbolic alarmism and an increasingly legitimized vocabulary of paranoia rooted in Second Amendment fetishism--its agenda? If emotional response to an imaginary threat (no one, in fact, is realistically advocating confiscation of guns) is OK for one group, why is an emotional response to a documented threat (the scourge of gun violence in all its manifestations) not OK for the other? And as to throwing out the baby with the bathwater, let's at least agree (to extend a strained metaphor) that the size and nature of the baby have changed dramatically since the use of wooden tubs and reliance on the single-shot musket.

I agree Dominic, that the more adamate gun advocates should cool their jets as well. Relying too much on emoting is not helpful.Hopefully in this national discussion the calmer, reasonable people will prevail.

Rational arguments? The latest Ca school shooting was greeted by a leading gun advocate saying Ca has the most strict gun laws in the nation. He did not mention that in nearby Nevada and Arizona buying a semi-automatic or any gun is as easy as buying candy. The same case applies to NYC. So it's a Fed problem... you know.. the Fed with the drones and black helicopters ready to pounce. (-:

I think - at least I hope - that reason will carry the day regarding this. Just as the folks in Hollywood have First Amendment right to free speech, so gun owners across the country have their Second Amendment right to keep a gun.We do not need the federal government helping by censoring movies/TV, and the states are capable of regulating guns without the help of the federal government.

I'll bet this guy felt SO safe because he had a personal arsenal.

In the wake of the child gun massacre, the internet priest, Father Z, has these for New Year resolutions: To continue to provide readers of my blog with the best, up-to-date reflections on authentic Catholic worship and faith2.) To do even more to support beleaguered orthodox Catholic bishops throughout the world3.) To get my Concealed Carry license

Brian, he should forget wish for Msgr.,, and should wish to be incarnated somewhere.

Better that he should wish for an attitude adjustment and a more fitting way to participate in Lenten sacrifice than going on a cruise.

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