The level of emotion and absence of common sense concerning gun rights reached new heights a few weeks back at the Ohio Statehouse. On May 6, when asked what limits should be imposed on the right to carry a concealed weapon, Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, answered, “I’d defend my home with an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) any day of the week if I could, but I’m not allowed.” Rep. John Becker, R-Cincinnati, said that guns are a God-given right. He bases his theological conclusion on Jesus having said, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
These statements were made during hearings on a series of bills that would further loosen gun laws. If these bills are passed, Ohioans will be able to carry concealed guns without a permit and bring guns to college campuses and into government buildings.
Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, explained that these bills are needed “to facilitate responsible gun ownership and enable Ohioans to protect themselves.” That’s a good goal, but these proposals don’t get us there, because they’re based on the false premise that more guns provide more security. Gun advocates argue that guns in the hands of “law abiding” citizens reduce crime. There are studies that support this notion, but there are also studies that refute this idea.
Rather than debating those studies, let’s look at the duality of guns—while they may provide owners with a sense of security, guns are responsible for a significant number of unnecessary injuries and deaths—and statistics that are unrefuted. Let’s talk about the number of children who are murdered or accidentally killed with guns. Let’s talk about guns used in domestic fights, and guns used in suicides.
Here’s what the Children’s Defense Fund reported in 2013 about the number of children killed by guns in 2010:
Ages Ages Ages
0-4 5-9 10-14
Total number 82 73 224
Homicide 54 58 107
Suicide 0 1 80
Accidental 25 11 26
Undetermined 3 3 11
In 2010, gun injuries accounted for 201 preschoolers, 240 children ages 5 to 9, and 1265 children, ages 10-14.
Now let’s look at domestic violence and guns. The FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that between 1980 and 2008, guns were used in 66 percent of the murders of both husbands and wives, 44 percent of boyfriend murders and 54 percent of girlfriend murders. Total murders for these groups in 2008 were 119 husbands, 577 wives, 145 boyfriends and 492 girlfriends.
What about gun suicide? The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2013 guns were used in 21,175 suicides.
With these types of numbers, it’s no surprise the medical profession sees gun violence as a public health issue. Research shows that gun ownership is a risk factor for homicide in the home. This shouldn’t be hard to understand, unless you’re the NRA and use your influence to suppress studies on gun violence. The CDC is prohibited from studying the relationship between gun accessibility in the home and accidental deaths. The NRA doesn’t want facts to get in the way of its mantra that more guns is a good thing—and it has the power to get Congress and state legislatures to see things its way.
The Second Amendment is troublesome for its brevity. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Courts have been struggling for years with what these 27 words mean.
The only thing clear about the Second Amendment is that its limits are not clear. Many questions about its breadth are yet to be answered. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court told us in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 that the Second Amendment does not open the doors to unfettered gun rights, a point seemingly lost on many gun advocates.
Gun ownership gives a sense of confidence and security. I understand that. Guns have a place in American society, no doubt. But the right to carry guns comes at a cost to the rest of society and has to be measured against the consequences that guns bring. I wonder if Representatives Retherford, Becker and Maag have thought about that?
Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com
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