MotherJones magazine has a piece showing that there were 151 deaths from ten mass shootings in the US this year. That does not include the incidents this weekend which would bring this years total to 157 from 12 incidents (a mean or average of 13.1 deaths per incident). Yes the availability of guns is a factor and people are right to criticize the NRA for a denial of reality but there are many other factors at work in these types of incidents such as mental health and the influence of the media. Dave Cullen has written a book on the Columbine killings and gave an interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal about these incidents. He correctly points out that there was an armed guard at Columbine who was out gunned. The presence of guns (especially arming the teachers as the state legislature in Missouri is trying to do but are wisely blocked by the governor) increases the risk of accidental shootings even if it were to slightly decrease the risk of deliberate ones. A famous case would be then New York Giants star Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself in the thigh in a night club when carrying a concealed weapon.
NRA members may point to a mass shooting in Norway where a far right wing fanatic killed (he won't be named here to quench his lust for fame) 69 people in 2011 (44% of the US 2012 total for one incident). They have better gun control laws and mental health services than the US. The killer was given Norway's harshest sentence, 21 years. How many of these shootings has Norway had since then? The police in Poland and the Czech Republic stopped other potential copycats. There were a, as I said in my post on the The Secret, there are definitely ways to minimize the risk of terrible events like these but it can never be eliminated. Controlling guns is a much better way to minimize the risk than making them more available but other factors need to be considered.
Another potential influence is the media. We need to ask ourselves, are we that different from those who went to gladiatorial games in the Roman Colosseum thousands of years ago to watch slaughter for entertainment? I know this is a strange topic to blog about on Christmas Day but the holiday season clearly did not deter the perpetrators in Newtown, Hollidaysburg, and Rochester. Yesterday was the appropriate time to talk about this topic. Buon Natale a Tutti. Merry Christmas to all in Italian.
Rob Cullen over at What if Post has a good review of ways to reduce gun violence in the US with a rebuttal by Archie Bunker. The city of Chicago reached 500 homicides for 2012 while it decreased for New York City.
It's a few weeks late but I had to update this post with Jon Stewart's skewering of the gun control debate in two parts below. The recent shooting in California also prompted me to update.