A better comparison
Readers of Don Holloway’s letter (CHN, http://nando.com/37t) should know that very few researchers accept the old claim of Gary Kleck he cites of over 2 million defensive gun uses a year in America. A quick review of Wikipedia should bring those interested up to date.
The actual number of such uses is usually pegged at a few hundred thousand, although the polling data here are even more unreliable than usual. (Read the National Institute of Justice 1998 report “Guns in America” to see just how suspect these claims are.)
Nonetheless, 300,000 defensive uses of guns versus 30,000 gun deaths may seem a compelling ratio, until you realize that this is comparing apples and oranges.
According the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in 2014 there were roughly a million crimes reported in which firearms were used. Presumably the reported crimes were significantly outnumbered by the unreported ones. So the proper comparison would be millions of offensive gun uses a year compared to hundreds of thousands of defensive gun uses. Despite the heading of the letter “Guns Protect,” in fact guns are used an order of magnitude more often to prey than to protect.
Michael P. Smith
About Britain’s spike
It s not a good idea for Mr. Holloway to cite any statistics from Britain – even taken out of context as he has – in support of the case for an armed citizenry.
He refer to the spike in firearms offenses which occurred after all handguns and ammunition were outlawed in 1990. The context is that even before surrender/confiscation, the rate of gun violence in Britain was small – in comparison to the U.S., tiny – and even at the height of that spike, was still miniscule matched with our toll.
The spike, which was foreseen, occurred partly thanks to the splendid efforts of some gun owners who, instead of turning in their weapons, sold them on the black market at hugely inflated prices.
That was then. This is now, and it is becoming harder and harder to acquire a handgun in the U.K., the price now on the black market running into thousands of pounds.
What the statistics from the U.K. show, and emphatically, is that it is entirely possible to have a decent civil society, with freedoms of speech, religion, press and assembly, with virtually no guns at all.
And so far as Ferguson, Cleveland, North Charleston and Chicago are concerned, note that the police are not routinely armed either. Most bobbies on the beat, and a much larger majority of constables, want to keep it tat way.
I can assure Mr. Holloway that Britain faces many big problems, but gun violence is not one of them, and so far as firearms are concerned. no one there wants to trade places with anyone here.
Michael S. Hollis
Editor’s note: Congressman David E. Price, vice chair of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, released this statement Monday on President Obama’s gun violence executive action.
As I said after Sandy Hook, Charleston, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Roseburg, San Bernardino, and Chapel Hill, I categorically reject the notion that we can’t develop reasonable reforms that will save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. I have long advocated for proposals like requiring background checks for gun sales at gun shows or over the Internet and lifting the ban on federally-funded gun violence research, ideas that have widespread support throughout the country.
The reforms President Obama announced today are limited in scope, but they are a well-designed first step and fall well within his constitutional authority. He has repeatedly emphasized that he would much prefer congressional action on gun violence; unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress refuses to consider even the most common-sense gun reform proposals. Executive action is his only recourse.
Pretending the problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. Neither will pandering to special interests over the concerns of the majority of the American people. Congress must finally get the message that something can and must be done about gun violence. The future of our country is at stake.
U.S. Rep David Price
Rabbis speak out
As Jews and as Americans we are deeply concerned by anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic rhetoric that have become more and more extreme and commonplace in the media and in the public square. We decry terrorism, and mourn for the victims of horrifying acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion. We insist that the crimes of ISIS and similar groups are morally reprehensible – even as we insist that it is wrong to blame Islam as a whole for the acts of extremists who constitute far less than 1 percent of the world’s Muslims.
We are seeing a rise in hate crimes directed against Muslims in America and many Muslims face daily fears of discrimination, harassment and targeted violence. The Jewish community is keenly aware of what it is like to be the target of vilification and hate speech, and we recognize the danger it holds for the Muslim community, locally and nationally. We know what can happen when good people do not stand up and speak out against the loud voices churning fear, prejudice and violence.
As Jews who too often have suffered persecution because of our faith, we stand firmly with our Muslim brothers and sisters and denounce all language or actions that represent a denigration of any one faith or religious community. As Americans, we know that freedom of religion is a foundational American value that has enabled us to build a diverse, thriving nation.
We call on all Jews and all Americans to denounce hate speech and fear-mongering against Muslims in politics and the media, and to reach out in support of Muslim Americans. Together in the New Year, may we rise to our highest values of mutual respect, understanding and freedom.
This letter was signed by Rabbi Jen Feldman, Kehillah Synagogue; Rabbi Larry Bach, Judea Reform Congregation; Rabbi Daniel Greyber, Beth El Synagogue; Rabbi Ariel Naveh, Senior Educator, UNC Hillel; Rabbi John Friedman; Rabbi Elana Friedman, Campus Rabbi, Duke University; Rabbi Lucy Dinner, Temple Beth Or; Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom; Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue; Rabbi Jenny Solomon, D. Min.; Rabbi Laura Lieber, Ph.D., Duke University; Rabbi Steven Sager, Director of Sicha; Rabbi Suri Friedman, Community Chaplain, NC Research Triangle; Rabbi Frank Fischer and Rabbi Susan Cowchock, M.D.
Most dangerous weapon
Once again, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, particularly those to improve our diet and exercise routine.
Although gun violence and traffic accidents remain the leading causes of death among young people, the most dangerous weapon for the rest of us is still our fork. Well over a million of us are killed each year by high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases linked to our meat-based diet.
But times are changing. According to Gallup, 22 percent of American consumers are avoiding meat and 12 percent are avoiding dairy products. Supermarket chains, along with Target and Walmart, offer a growing selection of delicious and healthy plant-based meats and dairy products. Animal meat consumption has dropped by 8 percent in the past decade.
Hundreds of school, college, hospital, and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday and vegan meals. Fast-food chains like Chipotle, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, and White Castle, are rolling out vegan options.
Let’s make this New Year’s resolution about exploring the rich variety of plant-based entrees, lunch meats, cheeses, ice creams, and milks, as well as the more traditional green and yellow veggies. The Internet offers tons of recipes and transition tips.
Please send up to 300 words to email@example.com. All submissions and online comments may be edited for space and clarity. Thank you.