Steve Lewis: Important discussion
April 6, 2013
We have a lively local discussion around gun violence. I appreciate that Sheriff Wiggins is engaged with this topic. He could have quietly ignored Colorado's new laws, but chose instead to openly share his convictions and policies. We achieve a better end result with that honest approach.
I personally support Colorado's new legislation in this regard, but I would also like to hear more ideas from those who oppose these laws. It seems their current emphasis is legislation designed to keep guns away from the mentally ill. This approach has very limited prospects for reducing gun violence. The following information would be useful in this and other regards:
- Severe mental health is a factor in only 5 percent of violent crimes.
"Over a 13-year period, there were 45 violent crimes committed per 1,000 inhabitants. Of these, 2.4 were attributable to patients with severe mental illness." "Overall, the (impact of patients with severe mental illness) was 5 percent, suggesting that patients with severe mental illness commit one in 20 violent crimes."
- Gun laws are correlated with reductions in gun fatalities.
"States that have the most laws have a 42 percent decreased rate of firearm fatalities compared to those with the least laws. … Those states with the most gun laws saw a 40 percent reduction in firearm-related homicides and a 37 percent reduction in firearm-related suicides."
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- Higher rates of gun ownership correlate with higher rates of gun violence.
"For all age groups, people living in high-gun states were 2.9 times more likely to die in a homicide; they were 4.2 times more likely to die in a gun-related homicide and 1.6 times more likely to die in a non–gun-related homicide."
"Conclusions. Although our study cannot determine causation, we found that in areas where household firearm ownership rates were higher, a disproportionately large number of people died from homicide."
- The U.S. has far higher firearm homicide rates than other developed countries.
"For 15-year-olds to 24-year-olds, firearm homicide rates in the United States were 42.7 times higher than in the other countries." "For U.S. males, firearm homicide rates were 22 times higher, and for U.S. females, firearm homicide rates were 11.4 times higher." "The U.S. unintentional firearm deaths were 5.2 times higher than in the other countries."
"Among these 23 countries, 80 percent of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86 percent of women killed by firearms were U.S. women, and 87 pecent of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were U.S. children."
This last finding underscores that our country has a painful and significant problem with gun violence. I appreciate that our community is having this conversation. The topic is important.