In his speech at the Sunday vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, the president offered the nation’s support, love, and condolences. And he asked all of us, “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
Debates about gun control follow every tragic shooting, but the debate is especially intense after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hill Elementary. This, some say, might be the tipping point that swings public opinion in favor of gun control, and gives our leaders the courage and political will to do something this time.
But the forces of opposition are already mobilizing. One is the familiar pro-gun argument that says: Gun control would increase the risk of mass shootings. “Gun advocates,” writes Janet Rosenbaum in a 2012 article in the Journal of Public Health Policy, “claim mass-casualty events are mitigated and deterred with three policies: (a) permissive gun laws, (b) widespread gun ownership, and (c) encouragement of armed civilians who can intercept shooters.”
Is there evidence to support these claims? Do more guns make us safer?
Gun advocates often cite Israel and Switzerland as two places that have these policies and a low incidence of mass shootings. Rosenbaum examines the evidence, using hard data from the International Crime Victimization Survey and examining the Swiss and Israeli gun laws. Virtually every claim made by gun advocates is unsupported by the evidence. She provides the details in the article, but here is her summary:
“Swiss and Israeli gun ownership is rare, regulated stringently such as by putting the burden of proof on permit applicants to demonstrate a specific need for a gun, and neither country encourages gun ownership.” Note that “personal defense” is not considered a sufficient need for a gun in Israel. Not only do gun advocates have the facts wrong, their “claims are contradicted by their cited sources.”
Meanwhile, the user-initiated online petition at SignOn.org in support of gun control is growing. As of early yesterday evening, it had gathered over 350,000 signatures.
Is Sandy Hill the tipping point in gun control?
Do you support or oppose gun control in this country?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.