Four dead from guns in Aurora, Colorado again

Four people are dead after a hostage standoff in Aurora, Colorado, the same town where 12 people were murdered in a movie theatre by a gun nut last summer.

President Obama reportedly plans a ‘broad gun control agenda‘ early in this Congress. Top of the list is closing the gun show loophole that lets criminals buy weapons without background checks, banning high capacity magazines, and reinstating the assault weapons ban.

The plan is to push hard for these measures early in the session, while memories of the Sandy Hook massacre and the insane response given by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre are fresh in legislators minds.

The gun nuts are in denial, they want to think that the problem is caused by violent video games, mental health problems, lack of prayer, gay marriage — oh yes, and violent movies that they criticize and then glorify when they think nobody’s looking. Here is what to tell them: It’s the guns stupid.

kids gun

Kids with guns via Shutterstock

Gun massacres are not unique to the US, but no other developed country has gun massacres as frequently as the US. Every country has violent video games, every country has people with mental health problems. The US is the only developed country that had two gun massacres in 2012 with deaths in double digits.

It is possible that violent video games are a factor in the current wave of gun massacres, but without the guns there are no gun massacres. The hypocrisy of the NRA pointing the finger at video games is rank. Aren’t those games merely celebrating the same culture of gun-nut violence that the NRA and the firearms industry make their living from? For the NRA to criticize violent video games is like the Republican party criticizing Fox News, both things feed on each other.

More people in the US  play video games than will ever own a gun. LaPierre asks why government should interfere with his hobby, then suggests that the government take action against (i.e., ban) a much more popular hobby that the rest of the world enjoys with no problems at all. The UK is a big market for violent video games — 631,000 copies of Grand Theft Auto IV were sold in the UK on the day it was released, and there were 58 UK gun murders in 2010, while the US had 8,775. America is five times bigger than the UK, so the corresponding figure for the UK, were it as large as the US, would be around 290 gun murders, not the actual US figure of nearly 9,000.

Look at these gun homicide figures for the UK vs the US over a ten year period:

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Now look at the number of gun homicides per capita:

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Something is going on here, and it’s not just video games.

The gun nuts claim that gun control cannot be effective, but the facts prove otherwise. The US is not the only country in the Anglosphere with a tradition of a rugged frontier culture. Gun nuttery was just as big a political force in Australia until a massacre led to gun control. Semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns were banned. 700,000 guns were handed in under the government buyback scheme. Deaths due to firearms were already falling before the ban, but the trend line shows a sudden break when the ban is brought in, dropping by a third.

Gun nuts might say that their guns will be taken from their cold dead hands, but banning more guns could have a real impact.  After all, for a lot of gun nuts, what is the point of having an assault rifle if not to show it off to friends? And if the weapon is banned, you can’t take it to shoot at the gun range as every person you show it to could turn you in to the police.

There will of course be some dead-enders with bunkers filled with enough firepower to start a small civil war clinging to the delusion that they are the ultimate guarantor of the US constitution. But its not the guns buried in bunkers that worry me, its the guns being used to shoot things, and in particular it is the guns in the hands of young males with mental health issues (among other problems).

The NRA will continue the attempts to misdirect attention elsewhere, but there is only one major difference that explains the fact that UK gun deaths in 2011 were in the 50s, and the number of US gun deaths was 150 times larger: It’s the guns.

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