The US must ban hand guns
18 July, 2013
For those who have not heard, the US is swimming in hand guns. The US has by far the highest murder rate among wealthy countries and that is because the way the laws are currently enacted and interpreted makes it easy for anybody to buy and keep hand guns and ammunition.
As in many countries, there is a great demographic shift happening in the US right now. Manufacturing jobs are moving to East Asia and other countries, and the group
that used to be the backbone of the US economy, namely less educated white men, are loosing power. Their income is going down as a share of the economy, they feel under threat. Some of them blame this on immigration or the power of people with dark skin and have paranoid fantasies of defending their homes from intruders. In their fantasies these intruders are usually African Americans. In their dreams they protect their house from the intruder, hug their woman and the credits roll on the movie in their mind.

In fact guns are almost never used in this way, usually they are used when this man is drunk and angry, often against his wife or somebody in the house. Often children find the guns, play with them and somebody is killed or hurt. Or the homeowner uses the gun against somebody he thinks is an intruder, but is actually a friend of a teen age child or one or his or her friends sneaking around. Or sometimes it is in drug related crime among drug sellers.

These people believe that guns and hand gun ownership is an American tradition as old as the republic. But that is incorrect. There is a part of the constitution that says because there should be a well regulated self defense force, the government will allow people to have guns. For most of US history there was plenty of regulation on what guns could be bought, sold, or owned and how. But in the last forty years, the minority of Americans who own guns and gun manufacturers have gotten together to lobby on behalf of fewer and fewer legal controls. They have been very successful. It is perhaps the most clear example of how money in politics has poisoned the American political system.

Every year or two these days somebody, perhaps an outsider perhaps a student will come into a school in the US and begin killing. It happens almost every year, people become sad and angry. The overwhelming majority of Americans support the control of hand guns. But so far the American political system has not been able to do anything about it, largely because of the influence that pro-gun lobbying has with the US Republican party.

If somebody wants a rifle or shot gun for hunting, or any other reason, and it it registered and licensed, that is fine. But most guns are designed to kill people and those guns should be against the law. Certainly hand guns are. It is crystal clear around the world that hand gun ownership correlates very clearly with handgun use. Any country that wants to lower its violent crime rate should make hand guns illegal. It is sad that the United States finds itself so unable to solve this problem - one of its biggest and most tragic - when the answer is so obvious.