It is a simple and logical fact that greater access to guns results in higher rates of gun-related death. Unfortunately for America, and especially for our 30,000 citizens who die annually from gun violence, conservatives, Republicans, and the NRA lobbyists who pull their strings continue to stringently deny this reality. While common sense is certainly lacking in general amongst conservatives, the sheer obviousness of the case for greater gun regulations makes their continued willed ignorance among the most impressive examples of modern-day doublethink. Now, however, the National Journal has compiled among the most straightforward demonstration yet of the connection between gun regulation and fewer gun-related deaths. This excellent chart ranks states by their rates of gun-related death and compares this to the number and variety of gun control regulations in each state. The result is a clear visualization of the almost perfect correlation between greater gun control and fewer violent, gun-related deaths.
This common-sense correlation – which holds internationally as well – has long been self-evident to anyone with either half a brain or the ability to pay attention, and yet Republicans will deny the importance of this study just as they have a thousand others and will a thousand more. In response to the recent on-air mass shooting in Virginia, Senator and Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio questioned “what law in the world could have prevented him from killing them?” as if he had dropped a show-stopping rhetorical question. And yet there is a simple correct answer to that question, supported by (shudder) facts: gun control. It may not align with the politics of the right he and other Republicans are desperately trying to appeal to, but it is the truth and it is the way to save thousands and thousands of lives that are needlessly lost every year in America.
Similarly, semi-coherent presidential candidate Ben Carson said after the massacre “People use knives, people use bats, people use hammers to bludgeon people to death. I don’t hear anybody talking about taking those things away.” Ignoring the obvious fallacies with statements like these (hammers, unlike guns, have uses other than murder) the facts do not support this. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of murders in the United States are committed with guns, and, crucially, limiting access to guns does not lead to an explosion of blender-based murders. While the correlation is not quite as perfect as with gun-related deaths, states with stricter gun control still overwhelmingly have lower overall homicide rates than states with little or no gun regulation.
The on-air mass shooting in Virginia was certainly a tragedy, and it elicited the obligatory “condolences” tweets from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, however, it was far from an isolated incident. There have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States this year – almost one a day – not to mention a spike in inner-city homicide rates and the hundreds of others needlessly gunned down every day. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable and the solution is easy. If Republican politicians really want to do something for the victims of such horrific crimes, they need only look at the facts and enact simple legislation that can, will, and does save thousands of lives. In the aftermath of such shootings Republicans are wont to blame other factors, such as mental health and poor law enforcement – neither of which they address positively anyway – and yet the heart of the matter remains very simple: guns. Yes, people kill people, but they do it with guns. And limiting access to those guns means far fewer people are killed. It’s a painfully simple truth, but one that Republicans are apparently willing to ignore at the cost of tens of thousands of American lives.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.