Gun control is, and has been, a hot button topic and political football for many years

Gun control is, and has been, a hot button topic and  political football for many years. Both sides of the issue have passionate supporters, and they are just as passionately against the other side. The debate has been both loud and contentious.

Nationally, gun control advocates have traditionally come from the Democratic side of the aisle, while Republicans think of themselves as the defenders of the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Of course, no single issue is 100 percent black and white. When it comes to gun control, there are many shades of gray.

A good place to start is to look at statistics, but even the same set of statistics can be interpreted differently by both sides of the issue.

According to a study published in July of 2016 by the Crime Prevention Research Center <crimeresearch.org­/2016/07/newstudy>,  “the number of concealed handgun permits soared to over 14.5 million, a 215 percent increase since 2007.”

In 2015, “the number of concealed handgun permits set another record, increasing by 1.73 million.”

The study also noted that 6.06 percent of adults nationally have permits to carry. Also, between 2012 and 2016, “the number of women with permits has increased twice as quickly as the number of men with permits,” according to the study.

The CPRC study also shows a correlation between the number of concealed handgun permits issued and an overall drop in the murder rate nationally. “Murder rates have fallen from 5.6 killings per 100,000 people to just 4.2, about a 25 percent drop.”

According to the FBI, 23 million background checks were performed in 2015. This compares with 8.5 million background checks in 2000.

The Congressional Research Service notes that there are approximately twice as many guns per capita in the United States than there were in 1968. There are now over 300 million guns in America, and some estimates say that there are more guns than people in the U.S.  

Those who push for tougher gun control laws also have some powerful statistics to back up their positions.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence <www.bradycampaign.org>,  there are over 100,000 victims of gun violence every year in America, with over 32,000 fatalities every year.

On average, more than 89 people die from gun violence every day. Two-thirds of those gun deaths are suicides which are three times more likely to happen in there is a gun in the home.”

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also points to statistics about children and guns. “Every day, 48 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police interventions.” Every day seven children and teens die from gun violence. Every day, 40 children and teens are shot and survive.”

More than one in five teenagers (ages 14 to 17) have reported that they have witnessed a shooting. One in three people in the U.S. knows someone who has been shot. Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a firearm.

The Brady Campaign states that medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and reductions in quality of life are estimated to cost Americans over $100 billion annually. Since the Brady Law was passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to back-ground checks. About half of those attempts that were blocked were attempts to purchase firearms by felons.

In the debate over gun control, there is no one size fits all solution. Republican majorities across the country have reassured gun rights advocates and dismayed gun control advocates.

One thing is sure, the debate is far from over, as federal and state legislators struggle with new legislation.

The ongoing national debate is also a local debate. Montevideo and the surrounding area are a hunting hot spot, and guns are a part of the local culture.

Next week, a look at how firearms are viewed by local law enforcement and gun owners.

 



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