The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 11, 2013

My View: Guns: The unsolvable problem

By most estimates, there are 300 million privately-owned guns in the U.S., or nearly one for every citizen. No other country has as high a rate of gun ownership.

Following the Newtown shooting, the NRA asserted that the answer to bad guys with guns is good guys with guns, and therefore, we should put armed guards in every school.

This is crazy. Studies have consistently found that more guns result in more violent deaths, both in and out of schools. In fact, 10 times as many kids are killed outside of school. Making schools armed encampments just won’t work; the two armed guards inside Columbine High School did not prevent 13 students being massacred there. What is more telling, Captain Hassan Nidal shot 42 soldiers inside an army base, Fort Hood.

Even when police, who are trained and experienced with guns, open fire, everybody in sight is in danger. Last August, nine innocent bystanders and a criminal suspect were shot in an incident in the Empire State building. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly later announced that all nine bystanders had been hit by police gunfire.

Statistics from the Harvard School of Public Health show that the American murder rate is 15 times that of the other wealthy countries. Under current law, disturbed people can purchase a Bushmaster assault rifle at gun shows in 33 states without showing an ID and without a background check. Forty percent of gun purchases involve no background check because of the “gun show loophole.”

The NRA cites a book by John Lott, entitled “More Guns, Less Crime” to argue that crime rates have declined in right-to-carry states.

This is misleading. First, virtually all types of crime have been declining nationwide since 1980, according to FBI crime statistics, well before the current concealed carry craze.

Second, several studies, including by the National Academies of Science in 2004, have criticized Lott’s work as flawed, concluding that “No link between right-to-carry laws and changes in crime is apparent in the raw data. “ The Harvard Injury Control Research Center concurred, noting that “There is no evidence that having more guns reduces crime. None at all.”

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