According to NRA theory, the USA should be the safest country in the world ~ Hugh Holland

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Many are seeking answers in the wake of ever-more mass shootings in the USA and increasing gun violence in Toronto. Many factors are postulated. Every country has some guns, some poverty, some mental illness, the Internet, social media, video games and violent movies. So, none of that can explain why the rate of gun deaths in the USA is to ten times higher than any other developed country. Data does suggests a strong correlation between gun deaths and three causal factors; Inequality, availability of guns, and the strength and enforcement of gun laws. Gun deaths include homicides and suicides.

Inequality
Inequality is expressed as the ratio of the richest ten per cent to the poorest ten per cent in a country. Flagrant racial and economic inequality is often a root cause of resentment, frustration, despair, violence, suicide, and people joining a gang or cult as a place to “fit in”, where they become radicalized. Gun violence is high in some extremely poor countries, but the data suggests that it has more to do with inequality than wealth. The US is unique in its very high rate of suicide within the gun death numbers.

Availability of guns
The US is in a league by itself when it comes to the availability of guns that provide people with real or perceived grievances the ability to act on their grievances.

Strength and enforcement of gun laws
Except for the USA, all high-income developed countries have some laws that require civilians attain a permit for possession of most guns, and that restrict open carry, fully-automatic weapons, and high capacity magazines to those who can demonstrate a legitimate need. Many low-income countries also have similar laws but lack the capacity to enforce them. The US is unique with no such laws and restrictions. The right to bear arms is embedded in its Bill of Rights and is interpreted to include all arms.

Tax policy and education are major causes of inequality and differences in economic opportunity. US tax rates (especially on investment income) have increasingly favoured the very wealthy. The Bush administration dropped the tax rate on investment income, ostensibly to create jobs. It worked. It created jobs in China and Mexico where US companies moved jobs to increase their profits. US investors got richer and US workers lost their jobs and their family’s employer-paid health care. The Trump administration wrongly blamed the Mexicans and the Chinese and gave yet another tax break to the wealthy. In most US states, schools are funded by municipalities. If you live in a wealthy municipality, you have good schools that provide a base for more opportunity, and vice versa.

The American Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783) was fought to free the new country from taxes imposed by Britain. The second amendment to the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791 to give citizens the right to bear arms and to form a “well-regulated militia” to protect themselves from further aggression. But that was over 200 years ago and things have changed. Today, the world’s most powerful military is not dependent on a militia. Today’s assault weapons have no resemblance to the single-shot muskets of 1791, and today’s civilian gun owners can hardly be called a “well-regulated” militia.

The NRA (National Rifle Association) was formed just after the 1861 to 1865 Civil War by some union military officers who were dismayed that many of their soldiers were not able to handle guns safely. Since then, the NRA has evolved into a lobby group that takes in $100 million per year; about half from gun manufacturers and half from its five million members, or one per cent of the US population. The CEO is paid $5 million per year to lead the organization in opposing every sensible piece of gun-control legislation.

The number of guns per 100 people has doubled in the USA since 1968 and their capacity to kill has increased dramatically. The mass shooter in Dayton Ohio used an assault rifle with a 100-shot magazine to fire 40 shots in the 34 seconds before he himself was shot by police.
Hugh Holland

According to a US Department of Justice report, in 2016, the US manufactured 11 million guns, imported five million (mainly from Austria, Brazil and Germany) and exported 0.4 million. Today, the US has four per cnet of the world’s population and 40 per cent of the world’s guns. According to NRA theory, that should make America the safest country in the world. But instead, the result is 40,000 gun-related deaths per year. That is 110 gun-deaths (not just shootings) every single day. We only pay attention to the mass shootings.

Some would say that what happens in the US is their business. But what happens with the world’s most powerful economy and military has profound effects (some good and some bad) on the world; and especially on their closest neighbors and trading partners.

To provide US citizens, visitors and neighbours with the level of safety expected in developed nations, the US Congress needs to pursue bi-partisan fact-based and data-based solutions to their unique gun violence problem, instead of clinging to every possible outdated excuse for inaction.

We too have work to do
The USA is likely the main source of illicit civilian guns in Toronto, but the underlying social conditions, legislation and enforcement causing and enabling their use must be improved by the governments of Ontario and Canada. We must work to prevent America’s seemingly unsolvable gun sickness from creeping further into this country.

Hugh Holland is a retired engineering and manufacturing executive now living in Huntsville, Ontario.

Reference – Overview of gun laws by country 

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26 Comments

  1. Well I don’t agree with Hugh on all of this I do agree with the part about military gun’s with 100 shot clips there is no need for that at any time. But gun laws other than that only hurt the hunters or folks who like to shoot for recreation and I’ve said this before if registration worked the police should know where every hand gun in the city of Toronto or any other city is at any given time as they have had to be registered since back in the 1930’s sometime I’m not sure of just when it started.
    But one last thing I have had gun’s around all my 79 years and have yet to see one jump off the rack load it’self and start shooting at anything So to blame just gun’s is kind of stupid. Like I said to my grand daughter if I park my car on top of the hill in Huntsville and leave it in neutral and it rolls down the hill and kills someone is it the cars fault.

  2. This may sound a little simplistic, but I think if the NRA’s tax except status was revoked, 90% of the problem would go away. The other 10% would be alleviated if the churches took more responsibility for their mandate’s.

    • Stan, your ideas might help a bit, but I am afraid it will take a lot more than that. We need to pay more attention to people who have done real in-depth research on this complex subject.

      In doing research for his book about the real cost of gun violence in Canada, U of T Associate Professor of Sociology J. Lee did extensive research including a visit to gang central in South Central Los Angeles. A 2008 Department of Justice study in Canada estimated the real cost of gun violence in Canada to be $300 million for justice costs, $7 million for health care, $62 million in lost wages and family support for injured parents who can’t work, and $72 million in lost future wages.

      Professor Lee’s research showed the need to focus more on prevention than reaction. But on August 15, 2019 the 3 levels of government approved $4.5 million for an 11-week REACTIVE police program to reduce gun violence in Toronto, within weeks after Toronto council turned down a PROACTIVE program to invest $3 million to build 3 youth centers in troubled parts of the city. Professor Lee found that type of initiative had paid dividends in south central LA. The $3 million preventive program would provide benefits for many years. What benefits will the $4.5 million program provide beyond 11 weeks?

      • Well researched, thoughtful article Hugh. I agree completely with regard to ‘root versus branch’ solutions – unfortunately the reactive solutions are immediate attention grabbers and allow politicians to say they’re acting quickly. I do not understand the resistance to controlling the AR weapons and huge magazines – as a comedian recently said, if you need these for hunting, better take up fishing!

      • If you are NOT going to deal with the ‘people’ who do the crimes and gun violence in Toronto … it will never stop! Consequence ..is …nothing, …political correct & SJW
        ideology and narrative issues are front and center, it’s time for real consequence, it’s time to think outside the box and the ‘weak’ SJW’s need to stay away … control has been lost .. watch the Toronto news every Sunday night and see the stats! They ..who commit the gun crimes DO NO CARE! Start here … http://data.torontopolice.on.ca/pages/shootings … read this to start ‘critical thinking’ .. https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/towhey-really-want-to-end-gun-violence-try-these-7-things-to-save-lives

  3. The problem is NOT the availability of guns. Canadians have ALWAYS had a lot of guns per capita, yet, in the past, there was a tiny smattering of gun violence (especially when you remove suicide stats from the whole). The problem is socio-cultural. Drugs and violence go hand in hand.

    Surprisingly, both illegal AND legal drugs (in the form of SSRI antidepressants) are associated with mass shooters. Nearly all of them have a stew of legal and illegal drugs in their systems, during their rampages. Think about it–did we hear much about mass shootings before the enormous influx of illegal drugs and psychotropic drugs like SSRI’s (Prozac was the first) in the 1980s?

    For an example, the Dayton, Ohio shooter was a far-left extremist–which no doubt contributed to his hatred and rage, The far-left has also waged war on traditional values and that ideology no doubt contributed as well, when you consider some of his rantings. BUT the lack of inhibition, comes from substances which act on the brain. Alcohol has always fueled the reduction of inhibition but, alcohol does not affect the brain in precisely the same way that psychotropic drugs do. SSRI antidepressants actually change structures in the brain itself. That is why patients are told that it takes six weeks to produce much relief. Nearly ALL mass shooters in the U.S. have had a history of mental instability and have been prescribed psychotropic drugs. The packaging on those drugs will often carry a warning that young people (read young men) are at risk if suicidal/homicidal “ideation” while on the drugs!

    The Dayton shooter had cocaine, alcohol and antidepressants in his bloodstream when he did his deadly acts. He got a friend to procure his weapon–but, he could have just as easily rented a truck (the killer in Nice, France killed 86 people and wounded another 400 when he drove a rented truck into a large crowd). The Dayton shooter’s mother even called police in an effort to find out what could be done to remove the gun(s) from his possession. The fact that she did, suggests that she knew he was unstable and should never have had a gun in the first place.

    Reducing the availability of firearms would take them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and would not stop criminals from obtaining them. The U.S. statistics show that there are 100,000 incidents per year of law-abiding citizens using a gun for self-protection. A neighbor of the church in Arizona used a rifle to stop the shooter there last year. Worldwide, there are many, many more homicides done by knife.

    The reason why the 2nd Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution is to protect the citizens from a potentially tyrannical government. One of the first things that dictators do is remove weapons from the citizenry. Hitler, Mao and S. American dictators are just a few of the strongmen who have removed the weapons in an effort to cow the populace.

    So, what is the answer? A return to traditional values would go a long way. Better mental health treatments and a reduction in the constant bombardment of violence that young men are subject to in the mass media.

    • If adult couples that have children would grow up and stay together and give there children a stable home it would sure help . There are away to many single parents around nowadays .

    • You’re preaching to the choir re SSRI’s, Erin: I was on them at one point; and finding that they had the capability to not only reduce inhibitions, but also to drastically alter one’s personality; I stopped taking them. I had also noted, like you, how many times they were mentioned (but not highlighted) in the mass murders.
      .
      I applaud the PM and Mayor Tory for banning hand-guns. Switchblade knives and knives with 6-inch and longer blades would have been worthy additions. But dancing around the major issue of automatic, semi-automatic, and other WMD’s (large-magazine guns) was appalling. Surely, they were discussed. Is it considered too dangerous to attempt to disarm the gangs? How about more security at the border? These guns enter the country in pieces, and are assembled here: maybe, a new investigative method is called for.
      .
      With respect to the US, when the President counts the NRA membership among his constituency, only a change in 2020 can effect a change in their background checks for gun ownership.

      • Rob Millman: “…I applaud the PM and Mayor Tory for banning hand-guns…”

        Relatively few murders are committed with “long guns”–whether semi-automatics or not, Rob. The vast majority of murders are committed using knives (so-called, “edged weapons”) and hand guns. Hand guns have been virtually illegal here for a long time. The AR-15 has been the choice of hunters for a long time as well. If I had an aggressive male black bear or polar bear (or even a bull moose) charging at me, I would not want to have to rely on a single shot rifle.

        “…With respect to the US, when the President counts the NRA membership among his constituency, only a change in 2020 can effect a change in their background checks for gun ownership…”

        That element has been entirely overblown by liberals in the mainstream media. Most Trump supporters–especially if they dwell in cities–do not even own guns. But all Trump supporters are firm in their conviction that the Founders of the country put the 2nd Amendment as an add-on to the Constitution to safeguard their liberty. They had seen the abuses of power among European autocrats and were determined to give the people the right (and, in fact, duty) to use the 2nd Amendment, if necessary, to defend all of the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution. A 1st Amendment right to free speech is meaningless without the power of the 2nd to enforce it. There are no free speech rights under tyrants who have first disarmed the people–as we see in the case of the China/Hong Kong conflict currently raging. How ironic is it that the Hong Kong demonstrators are singing the U.S. national anthem while the extreme leftists in the U.S. are denigrating the U.S. constantly and constantly attacking the U.S. Constitution?

        Yes, the Founders of the U.S. well knew what they were doing. They knew the lessons of history and that the power of governments must be restrained by the people–if necessary by resorting to armed conflict in the same proportion to that which would be waged by government against the people. The great American patriot, Patrick Henry said, at the time, ““Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

        • Erin, I believe the following list captures all the ideas that would help reduce gun violence from the original article and related comments. It’s a long list that many will argue against until they lose a loved one to a gun for no good reason.
          • Mitigate extreme inequality by revisions to the tax code
          • Work with leaders of troubled communities using fact-based research to mitigate the social conditions that lead to the use of drugs, guns and violence
          • Better regulation of extreme and gratuitous violence in video games, movies and social media
          • Better assessment and treatment for those with severe mental health issues
          • Better drug and gun enforcement at the borders
          • Gun sales only by registered, trained and regularly inspected dealers
          • Gun sales restricted as follows:
          – Permit for long rifles for hunting and recreational shooting with up to 10-shot magazine
          – Sale of all other guns restricted to those who can demonstrate a legitimate need and pass a comprehensive background check.

          The data shows that almost all countries that are categorized as “developed countries” have managed to do most of these things without “losing their liberty”. Indeed they have found their liberty. They can walk and chew gum at the same time. The USA stands alone as a so-called developed nation that has utterly failed to curb gun violence.

          • Hugh Holland: “…The USA stands alone as a so-called developed nation that has utterly failed to curb gun violence…”

            That is actually untrue, Hugh. Gun crimes in general are down significantly from their heights–especially when gun suicides are removed from consideration. (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/21/gun-homicides-steady-after-decline-in-90s-suicide-rate-edges-up/)
            A lot of that has to do with demographics–most gun violence is perpetrated by the 20-40 age group. The size of that group has shrunk from what it was in previous decades.

            Mass murdering has nothing to do with the availability of guns (as I think I have illustrated). They have ALWAYS been widely available both here and in the U.S.

            What is new is the shocking level of violent depravity depicted in what passes for “entertainment”. The “merchants of nihilism” bombard young people with violent images which would have been unthinkable even a decade or so ago. The depraved monsters of the entertainment industry apparently live lives of desperation and want to spread their own despair to the youth of the Western nations. Misery loves company. Surrendering passively to despair is the natural progeny of the “turn on, tune in, drop out” culture of many in the “baby boom” generation.

            But, it doesn’t have to be so. I see a glimmer of hope among many of the young today in their rejection of the “culture of death”. It is vital that we recover the moral imperative of the sanctity of human life. The justification of (and indeed the glorification of) violence and death must be understood as the obscenity it is, for our culture to recover true peace.

        • I agreed, and agree, with you, Erin. I mentioned WMD’s w.r.t. mass murders, not hunting (or keeping count of the number of murders). I mentioned knives. I don’t believe that Trump has ever missed a major assemblage of NRA members; and they do, in fact, support him. Nothing which I said contradicted anything in either one of your opinion missives.

        • Erin, you write, “If I had an aggressive male black bear or polar bear (or even a bull moose) charging at me, I would not want to have to rely on a single shot rifle.”
          Can I ask when was the last time any of these animals chased you? Do any of these animals live near urban areas ?
          I have been outside and had moose male and female, bears and wolves in my back yard. I don’t get polar bears. I have never been afraid of wildlife and have spent a fair amount of time in the outdoors.
          I will admit that I was chased by some pigs a few years ago but then I yelled at them and they headed home.

          • You are distorting what I was saying, Paul. I was responding to the point that someone made about hunters not needing semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. I am not a hunter so whether or not I have ever faced such a situation as I depicted is irrelevant. It was meant to be hypothetical, just as the need for revolting against a tyrannical government is hypothetical–AT THIS POINT. History is replete with tyranny after tyranny. Try telling the people of Hong Kong that they have no need to revolt against the government of China and its repressive dictates.

  4. Christopher Wilson on

    “Except for the USA, all high-income developed countries have some laws that require civilians attain a permit for possession of most guns, and that restrict open carry, fully-automatic weapons, and high capacity magazines to those who can demonstrate a legitimate need. Many low-income countries also have similar laws but lack the capacity to enforce them. The US is unique with no such laws and restrictions.”

    Actually, this link might help anybody actually seeking data on gun use, possession and carrying in the US:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_by_state

    Mr Holland’s central point that there is an equivalency between gun misusage and poverty/wealth differentiation is even more interesting. And, actually, also not accurate.

    Sadly, people that shoot other people are not generally motivated by social anomie triggered by wealth or the lack of it but something much more difficult to deal with.

    We have slashed mental health budgets in this province again and again. The Ford government is simply the most recent most blatant.

    We spend more and more every year on police and we give them the front line job of dealing with people on the street with severe mental health problems. They do their level best. But the risk to them is huge and the risk to us as a society dealing with them, or, to be precise failing to deal with them, is even greater. Events just north of here last week emphasize this. Event 38 years ago in the same small town tell us we didn’t learn much since then.

    “Gun violence is high in some extremely poor countries, but the data suggests that it has more to do with inequality than wealth.”

    This is one of those assertions that has little or no truth to it. Twenty years in the criminal courts taught me the people before the court do not have poverty in common and their murderous tendencies are generally not related to wealth or the lack of it. I once defended a man who had earned several million dollars killing people. I asked him why he did it and the answer was simple. “I am good at it. I am paid well to do it and I enjoy it and the lifestyle it brings.” He was acquitted that day but shot years later.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the straight-line correlation between perceived problems and quick remedy solutions may work well in the engineering world but really has little relevance in the real world of real people hurting and seeking to hurt others.

    And if you don’t define the problem properly then it becomes even less useful.

    Where Mr Holland and I will agree is the US climate of weapon-entitlement works less well in Canada or did do until that rather odd verdict in favour of the Saskatchewan farmer who shot an aboriginal intruder on to his land. It was sort of like Custer’s last stand would happen tomorrow in the minds of the good folks of small-town Saskatchewan.

    Lesson learned: Don’t wear buckskin and beads if you drop in on prairie folk.

    • Mr. Wilson
      I agree with you that “The straight-line correlation between perceived problems and quick remedy solutions may work well in the engineering world but really has little relevance in the real world or real people hurting and seeking to hurt others”. However, please note that I am always careful to say “the data suggests”; I did not say “the data proves”. But I would argue that data is almost always better than no data. Too many comments are based on pure opinion or speculation with no data or anything else to back them up.

      The gun violence problem has many contributing causes including mental health and the entitlement mentality that you mention. Does the higher rate of gun violence in the US indicate the US has more mental health problems per 100,000 people than all other developed countries, or does the US handle mental health less effectively, or is it strictly a reflection of the number of guns on the street as a result of the entitlement mentality created by a particular interpretation of the 2nd ammendment, or is it some combination of both?

  5. Good comment, Christopher Wilson. That is why I like living in Canada–there are actually people here who can think beyond. That spirit of independent thought and courage of one’s convictions sets Canada and the heartland of the U.S. apart from the smarmy “transnationalist” elitists who propose their “global utopia” to control the masses. They sell that idea through their captive media to a naive population of the brainwashed. I hope no one believes that the global elites want anything less than worldwide, totalitarian control (think of the elite of China’s government and its grip on the ordinary people of China) to its own benefit. The current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland once spoke to the CEO of a major U.S. corporation about globalism. She was startled to hear him say that he was quite unconcerned that globalism would “hollow out” the middle class of many of the western nations. This attitude is apparently pervasive among those at the top of the news/entertainment complex, government, business/industry. The rising nationalism in western nations is the fly in their ointment.

    • Erin Jones
      Nationalism is defined as identification with and support for one’s own nation, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. National pride is good, nationalism also breeds ill-will and contempt. Too many wars have been started by extreme nationalism whipped up by misguided and narcissistic leaders.

      Globalism is defined as the planning of economic and foreign policy on a global basis. Inherent in that is communication and cooperation among nations seeking to solve global problems. When people are talking, they are not shooting. That is why the UN was started after WW2.

      Globalism is a much healthier way to proceed than nationalism in a world that is adding the equivalent of 1.7 new Canada’s every single year. The problems of global population growth, global warming, the spreading of global pandemics, and making the transition to a sustainable global energy supply cannot be solved by nationalism. In fact, they are exacerbated by nationalism, as we are seeing now.

      • What problems has the U.N. ever solved? They are a very corrupt body. Just one example among many total debacles, is the U.N. “oil-for-food” program, established under several U.N. Security Council resolutions, in the 1990s. It was supposed to solve the problem of hunger among ordinary Iraqis after sanctions were put in place against Saddam. In addition to severe incompetence (the Iraqi people got scant food-aid), the program was absolutely rife with corruption. From the Wikipedia article on it:

        “…The programme also suffered from widespread corruption and abuse. Throughout its existence, the programme was dogged by accusations that some of its profits were unlawfully diverted to the government of Iraq and to UN officials. These accusations were made in many countries, including the US and Norway.[9]

        Until 2001, the money for the Oil-for-Food Programme went through BNP Paribas, whose main private share-holder is Iraqi-born Nadhmi Auchi, a man estimated to be worth about $1 billion according to Forbes estimates, the 13th-richest man in Britain according to The Guardian…” Auchi had already received a 15-month suspended sentence from a huge previous financial scandal, dubbed “the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War”. Kofi Annan’s son became a very wealthy man out of the diversion of funds to “contractors” attached to U.N. officials.

        By the way, Kofi Annan himself has been alleged to be the second most corrupt Secretary General since his predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Members of the New York Police Department were so incensed by the sexual crimes of Boutros-Ghali, that they sent an envoy to the Clinton administration to demand that Boutros-Ghali be replaced. They threatened that they would arrest him–regardless of his “diplomatic immunity” status, setting off an international incident.

        Globalism is NOT “healthier”. It just removes the locus of control to some un-elected bureaucrat, far from our purview. It is a recipe for global tyranny because of its many, many bureaucratic elites and non-governmental organizations. There is always the ever-present danger of it becoming a great wheel where any individual is an ever smaller cog to be crushed in the interest of preserving the wheel of repression. The most repressive governments of socialism-communism have spawned enormous bureaucracies whose only “efficiencies” were in hauling “enemies of the state” (read dissident protestors) off to gulags (or worse). Have you ever read any of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s cautionary tales about the tyrannies of Soviet Russia?

        • That is a pretty jaded view. No one ever accused the UN or any other government of being perfect. But We will never know how many disputes have been averted because people are talking instead of shooting. Many statemen have said that if the UN did not exist, we would need to create it. The fact is that more people are living better now than ever before in history. The UN deserves some credit for that.

          • Hugh, I’m not saying that there are no idealistic folk at the U.N. who are dedicated to righteous goals. But, I also know that ANY bureaucratic structure (and the U.N. is among the most bureaucratic of “governments”) is subject to certain basic political forces.

            Have you ever heard of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy? It has been cited over and over as operating in all types of bureaucratic structures. The Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

            “…First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, Even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration were such idealists.

            But then, there is the second type. The second type “… will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the educational system, [healthcare systems] many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

            The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”

            This is the point where the uncaring, blind and dumb, tyranny of bureaucracies takes over. And the further one is from a position of control, the more likely one is to be its victim.

            Not “jaded” Hugh–just realistic.

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