Letter: Our murdurous gun culture
Guns don’t kill people. People with guns do kill people, and themselves. People can kill people with knives, baseball bats, or frying pans. However, guns are much more effective at killing because that is their purpose and what they are designed to do. That is why modern armies are equipped with guns, and not knives, baseball bats and frying pans. Modern military guns are designed to kill people, in the greatest number possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and with the least possible opportunity for resistance or escape.
Americans kill their fellow Americans and themselves with their guns at a rate that far exceeds that of any other developed country. Germany, Australia, and Ireland have gunrelated deaths that are about one-tenth those in the U.S. We share a language and culture with the United Kingdom, but their gun death rate is about one-fortieth of ours, and our gun homicide rate about 90 times higher than theirs.
I have heard various explanations for America’s high gun violence rate, i.e., a lack of religious belief, changes in family values, rapid social change, or untreated mental illness. None of these provide an adequate causal explanation as to why gun violence is so much more prevalent in this country.
Americans are both the most religious and the most murderous among the world’s developed nations. Rapid change in social and family values is common throughout the western world. Mental illness is not notably more common here. There are two factors that account for Americans’ propensity to kill with guns, i.e., the number and availability of guns and American gun culture. Of the two, gun culture is the more important factor. Any serious discussion of how to make this a less murderous country should start here.