The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has published an essay on controlling access to guns.
It is particularly heartening because as one of the big three peer-reviewed publications in medicine (including The Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association) it is beyond retaliation by the National Rifle Association or the rabid ferrets of the Republican Party.
In 2012, for the first time, there will probably be more firearm-related homicides and suicides than motor vehicle traffic fatalities.
The United States has become an extreme example of what could well be termed “global gunning.” With less than 5% of the world’s population, we own more than 40% of all the firearms that are in civilians’ hands: 250 million to 300 million weapons, nearly as many as we have people, and they are not going away anytime soon. We have made social and policy decisions that, with some important exceptions, provide the widest possible array of firearms to the widest possible array of people, for use under the widest possible array of conditions.
The most egregious policies have been enacted at the state level — “Stand Your Ground” laws, for instance, which have been used to legitimize what many people still call murder. Justice Louis Brandeis rightly praised the states as the laboratories of our democracy, but in some of them, experimentation with firearm policy has taken a frightening turn.
We are paying the price of those decisions. Too often, our children and grandchildren are paying it for us. Payments will continue.
The essay’s author, Garen J. Wintemute, M.D., believes something can be done. And that something is to institute background checks on ALL gun buys, including private party sales which the essay points out currently make up 40 percent of the whole.
Secondly, the doctor recommends national expanded denial criteria. This works, he maintains:
We know that comprehensive background checks and expanded denial criteria are feasible and effective, because they are in place in many states and have been evaluated. California, for example, requires a background check on all firearm purchases and denies purchases by persons who have committed violent misdemeanors. Yet some 600,000 firearms were sold there in 2011, and the firearms industry continues to consider California a “lucrative” market. The denial policy reduced the risk of violent and firearm-related crime by 23% among those whose purchases were denied.
Wintemute also says state-by-state handling is not enough because gun sales flow around more restrictive local laws.
California, he writes, is another example of this:
At gun shows in California, where direct private-party sales are illegal, such sales are almost nonexistent. At shows just across the border in Reno, Nevada, where private-party sales are legal, dozens occur, and a third of the cars in the parking lot are from California.
Such proposals, he writes, “enjoy broad support.”
“And the icy hands of the firearm lobby may be losing their grip on the political process,” he continues. Similarly to here, last week: “The NRA is simply not able to drive election results as it has been thought to do.”
“The interventions proposed here will not end firearm violence in the United States, but they will reduce it, and that’s a goal worth fighting for,” he concludes.
Again, at the NEJM, here.
Meanwhile, AR-15 sales continue to skyrocket in White, Fearful & Crazy Town across the USA, driven by people with the same dreadfully familiar rant: “They’re going to take our guns!”
What should be a national response to such? Shunning? The implication that people rushing to buy AR-15s in the wake of a slaughter are in no way fit company in a civilized society is certainly worth pursuing. The rest of the civilized world has no problem with considering these people to be f—– in the head.
While holiday shopping was down from last year, the Newtown massacre acted as windfall stimulus for gun manufacturers and salesmen. And if the thought of it at this time of year doesn’t make you uncomfortable with the sporting hobby of some of your white and obsessed countrymen, nothing will.
Charles Steele, owner of Steele’s Gun Shop on Route 9 in Lewes, said gun sales have soared since President Barack Obama was reelected. He said customers are afraid Obama will place restrictions on firearms, preventing people from purchasing guns.
“It’s been high for the last four years,” he said. “The day after the election, we were swamped.”
Riding’s store and others are completely out of ARs. Just weeks ago, her shop offered several models.
John Buchan, co-owner of Sarasota’s High Noon Guns, has only three ARs left for sale, and several hundred backordered.
“Our sales have increased 200 percent or more,” he said.
Buchan spends most of his days online looking for rifles, or goading his distributors for information.
John Krotec, owner of Environeers, an adventure and travel store that also sells guns, checked with five distributors one week before the Connecticut shooting and saw 700 to 800 ARs available online.
The Monday after the tragedy, the rifles were all gone.
In College Station, Texas:
“We’ve never seen anything like this, not even close” said Mike Stulce, co-owner of Champion Firearms. (Merry Xmas, click the link.)
Typically there are 1,500 types of firearms in stock at Champion, Stulce said. Now, there are 400. Shelves in half of the store stand empty. The other side of the store is only about half-full, he said. Signs on the wall alert customers of the rifles and high-capacity magazines that are out of stock.
“If Romney was in office, this wouldn’t be happening,” Stulce said.
If only Mitt Romney were president … This is a good tune, click it.