U.S. most armed, but shouldn't be

By Andrew Justus | 3/25/12 11:23pm

There are myriad aspects I could focus on about the death of Trayvon Martin: subtle racism in our society, inconsistent law enforcement across the country or the role of neighborhood watches would all be suitable topics, but I cannot talk about all of them due to space constraints. The part of the Trayvon Martin saga that has me most fired up is the prevalence of handguns in our society today and their involvement in major crimes.

The U.S. has more firearms per person than any other country in the world. At 89 guns per 100 people, Americans are more heavily armed than people in war-torn countries like Yemen (55 per 100) and Iraq (34 per 100). Americans are also several times more armed than people in other industrialized countries. Finland and Sweden are the next most-armed industrialized countries, with 32 and 31.5 guns per 100 people, respectively.

Why do we need to be the most heavily-armed peoples on the planet? We live in a relatively safe and peaceful society compared to other, lesser-armed countries. We have competent and effective police forces capable of maintaining order.

With the exception of hunting for food, nothing good comes from a gun. Some argue that gun ownership or possession offers a level of safety against would-be assailants. Firearm ownership also opens up the possibility of accidental injuries or death and to unwanted escalation of situations similar to the Trayvon Martin incident in Florida. Any sense of security from gun ownership is therefore a false one because of the chaos and death guns bring to otherwise civil society.

Guns and the problems they bring won’t be going away any time soon, but from a public policy standpoint we can work to make sure that firearms play as small a role in criminal and otherwise tragic events as possible.

Gun owners should have to be registered much in the same way as car owners are. Gun owners should also have to be more strictly checked for violent tendencies and psychological abnormalities and be checked on a regular basis. Finally, gun owners should have to pass stringent safety classes similar to what we require of those who want concealed-carry licenses. These measures are not ideal, and won’t completely end gun related violence; but it’s a start, and will hopefully prevent tragic cases like Trayvon Martin’s from occurring in the future.

assistantnews@ lanthorn.com

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