The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too hard to break. I’ve heard Warren Buffett say this before, probably in a different context. But the recent tragedy in Newtown, and the lack of immediate action, following it by President Obama is a clear sign the chains of habit are too hard to break.
I did some checking on the numbers related to gun rights in the country and I found three stats shocking.
- There are 88.5 firearms for every 100 people in the country. This is 70% more than the country with the next highest rate. (source: Fareed Zakaria article on Time)
- There are over 300 Million firearms in circulation today. We probably don’t have 300 Million smart phones in circulation in the country.
- In the decade since 2000, violent crime rates, aggravated assault rates and non gun related homicides have all dropped by over 20%, while gun related homicide rates have stayed about the same, and serious but non fatal gun injuries caused during assault have increased by over 20%. (source: Fareed Zakaria article on CNN)
How does anyone look at those numbers and not make the conclusion that we have too many guns in America, and that as gun control has become looser, we have had more deaths?
The shootings in Aurora and Newtown both tell us we need better access to mental health services for those that need it. But this is not a problem only of access to phychological resources. There are mentally ill people in Asia, Europe and Australia as well. There is depression, loneliness and dark psychological shades among some of the people there as well. But they don’t have anywhere near as many mass shootings as we do in America. In Australia, after a mass shooting in 96, they immediately enacted strict gun control and they haven’t had any mass shooting since then.
We have to learn from other countries and stop being stubborn.
We should ban civilians from having guns. Assault weapons, hand guns, hunting rifles - all of them. Those who have a tradition of hunting in their family, or enjoy going to a shooting range, should be able to rent them on those premises and not be able to take those guns back home. There should be strict background check before they get a permit for renting on these premises and the background check data should all be synced up to a national database, to avoid people getting around the system.
At the very least civilians should not have access to assault weapons. They were not designed for hunting or recreation. They were designed for killing - killing in mass.
President Obama’s address following the Newtown shooting was touching, but his promise of action needs to be real. Now is the time for him to take some bold steps, like the ones Mike Bloomberg’s pushing for.
The chain of habit we are finding too hard to break is being stuck in a quagmire of political discussion. We need bold, disruptive action. Surely, whoever framed the Second Amendment, didn’t have in mind a situation where twenty young kids would be shot.
I hope we step up as a society, with bold leadership, and implement tough gun control and implement it now. I like America because of its ability to make big adjustments with changing times, and now is the time for another big one.
We need a new town, America. One without guns.