After numerous years of decline, the murder rate in DC jumped by 7 percent in 2007. In total, 181 people lost their lives, and 77 percent of these victims were killed by guns. Guns. Any solution to this underlying problem of pervasive violence is undoubtedly complex, and must stand at the intersection of economic deprivation, a school system that does not care, the breakdown in family structures, a depraved popular culture, and lingering racism. But still, it always comes back to guns. Had those guns not been available, it is highly likely those people would be alive today. Most of the deaths arose from passion, arising from primal conflicts over women, respect, turf etc. They occurred in the heat of the moment. For sure, a determined killer will find ways to complete his sordid business, but the presence of guns makes it so much easier. Makes it too easy, especially in the context of a popular culture that glorifies gun violence, numbing children to the effects of vicious gun death at an early age. It is worth noting that this massacre of the innocent is taking place while the pro-gun crowd is attempting to overturn DC’s gun ban in the Supreme Court. I have read these legal arguments pertaining to the second amendment back and forth, and I find them utterly irrelevant. There is no “natural” right to own a gun any more then there is a “right” to kill your unborn child. The public authorities, those who must have concern for the common good, have the right to regulate gun ownership in the name of the common good, not only in DC but across the nation. How much more blood must be spilled before people stop trumpeting a “right” that is no such thing?
Bear in mind that–shown clearly by the extensive research of David Hemenway from Harvard’s School of Public Health— the US is actually not that exceptionally violent, at least among other high-income, industrialized nations. Crimes like assault, car theft, burglary, robbery, and sexual incidents are not particularly high by OECD standards. What differs about the US is “lethal violence”. So while guns don’t induce people to commit crimes, they make crimes lethal. The international evidence is indisputable: the availability of guns leads to greater rates of homicide and suicide, and no offset in terms of lower non-gun murders. We are talking here about a primary component of the culture of death. Let us follow the advice of the US Bishops on this one: “
“Promoting moral responsibility and effective responses to violent crime, curbing violence in media, supporting reasonable restrictions on access to assault weapons and handguns, and opposing the use of the death penalty are particularly important in light of a growing culture of violence.”