The National Rifle Association is fond of saying that increased gun ownership reduces gun violence. Indeed, on the day of the Newtown tragedy, the lead story on the NRA website was headed “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia.” The story quoted statistics from a Virginia Commonwealth professor that show gun sales in Virginia have climbed 73 percent since 2006, while the number of violent crimes involving guns have dropped by 27 percent over the same period.
Assuming those numbers are accurate, they don’t provide a true picture of gun violence in the United States. In 2007, the US ranked number one in gun ownership with 88.8 guns per hundred people. The next closest country was Serbia with 58.2 guns per hundred people. Our closest neighbor, Canada, ranked 13 with only 30.8 per hundred. And Mexico ranked 42nd with 15 guns per hundred people.
If more guns equals less gun violence as the NRA suggests, why then do we rank among the world’s leaders for gun violence, with more gun deaths than every European nation and Canada?
In the last decade approximately 270,000 people were shot and killed in the US. Moreover, according to FBI statistics, 8,583 of 12,664 murder victims in 2011 were killed by firearms.
True, gun deaths in the US have been dropping since the 1980s and 90s when crack cocaine turned our cities into virtual war zones, but the US has few peers when it comes to gun ownership or gun violence.
We have the NRA to thank for that.
Since the 1980s, the NRA has spent millions for lobbyists to liberalize gun laws. It has rewritten conceal and carry laws making it easier to carry a concealed weapon. It helped end the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons. It has mounted legal challenges to every single gun control law. It has fought background checks and gun registration. It has helped promote ever more lethal guns and ammunition. It has even pushed to legalize silencers for “hunting.”
One has to ask the question, who are the NRA members planning on hunting?