Ezra Klein: 12 facts about guns and mass shootings in the U.S.

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

More interesting research on gun violence from Ezra Klein's Wonkblog. The introductory commentary from Ezra Klein is important. Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States:

When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”

Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it. 

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

What follows here isn’t a policy agenda. It’s simply a set of facts — many of which complicate a search for easy answers — that should inform the discussion that we desperately need to have.

1. Shooting sprees are not rare in the United States.

2. Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.

3. Lots of guns don’t necessarily mean lots of shootings, as you can see in Israel and Switzerland.* (*Correction: The info is out-of-date, if not completely wrong.)

[Update: Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland are not gun-toting utopias]

4. Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

5. America is an unusually violent country. But we’re not as violent as we used to be.

6. The South is the most violent region in the United States.

7. Gun ownership in the United States is declining overall.

8. More guns tend to mean more homicide.

9. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

10. Gun control, in general, has not been politically popular.

11. But particular policies to control guns often are.

12. Shootings don’t tend to substantially affect views on gun control.

Read the full post for charts and analysis under each of the above facts. Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States.

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