REALITY CHECK: REDUCING GUN VIOLENCE

America is Number 1. America has more guns than any other country, more than 300 million guns. That’s 120 for every 100 citizens, compared to Canada, the next closest, with 35 guns per 100 people. “We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them — and limit access to them — so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921. Use a public health approach instead, using auto safety as a model—constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.”

What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:

Enforce background checks; 22 percent of guns are obtained without one.

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).Require safe storage practices: trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Enforce laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban bump stocks, the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘smart guns’, like those that fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet. This would also cut down on the 200,000 annual gun thefts.

Research gun buybacks

Support anti-gang initiatives, such as Cure Violence, that have a good record in reducing shootings. Source: Nicholas Kristof, NYT

One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gun in the house was associated with an increased risk of a gun death, particularly by suicide but also by homicide. Fewer guns result in fewer deaths. If we can reduce gun deaths by 1/3, we could save almost 15,000 lives. We can do this. Let’s focus on how to make ourselves and our families safer and keep guns out of the wrong hands.

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