Devil’s Advocate: Plunging gun violence statistics don’t lie

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion

Most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower than it was two decades ago, when gun violence was at an all-time high. Now, thanks to 24-hour news networks that overexpose Americans to gun tragedies, most people think gun violence has never been worse.

A new Pew Research Center Survey, conducted by the U.S Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that 56 percent of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago: Only 12 percent say it is lower and 26 percent say it stayed the same.

“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide was 49 percent lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nations population grew,” according to the Pew study. “The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75 percent lower in 2011, than in 1993.”

Almost all the Pew Research Center survey’s results are good news, but 57 percent of the public didn’t know about them and actually thought the opposite. There’s a perception that gun violence is only going up. Even worse, after the study’s results came out, some networks refused to acknowledge that our country is dramatically improving in gun violence statistics, instead pointing out that people are still dying by guns.

The only statistic that has consistently worsened over the years is suicide deaths. In 2010, there were 31,672 gun deaths in the United States; 19,392 of those deaths were from suicide.

The rising percentage of suicide deaths tells me something. The men who orchestrated the recent mass shootings are believed to be psychologically ill or mentally insane.

These guys were all suicidal, but instead of just taking their own lives they decided they were going to take innocent victims along with them. What drives them to kill innocent people? Is it the attention the media is obviously going to offer after these massacres occur?

We need to focus our efforts on studying what makes people suicidal and then we’ll be able to pinpoint where these people went wrong and made an unfathomable decision like the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. We need to better understand these people; mental health professionals should be encouraged to report patients they suspect shouldn’t own guns.

So rather than focusing of guns, we need to be focusing on people who are shooting the guns. We don’t need to be taking guns away, but instead do a better job enforcing gun laws that are already in effect and expect the government to do its job in enforcing those laws.

A gun is just the weapon of choice for these men. If there isn’t a gun available for them, then they’d use something else to commit their crime. That’s why it isn’t wise to believe that banning automatic weapons or limiting people who can purchase firearms.

Proliferation of weapons could be an answer to defending another massacre in the future. There are more than 300 million guns in the United States, but most states don’t allow for citizens to carry their weapons on them in public. If we allowed more law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons, combined with other forms of stringent gun regulation, then we could actually reduce gun violence.

It’s simple, the overexposure to gun violence in the media is scaring Americans. We’ve watched tragedies unfold on TV and we say we need to do something about it.

But the answer isn’t gun control mandated by the federal government.

America’s gun violence problem is improving and not the other way around. It’s time to enforce gun laws that are already in place, but poorly administered. It’s time for Congress to focus on mental health issues rather than trying to reduce the American citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

Wake up America, you’ve been duped.

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