A Stones Throw 6-13-13


I have to admit I get confused when I listen to arguments for and against gun control bases on the interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

For instance, why is it okay to require background checks before a gun store can sell a gun, but a violation of the Second Amendment to require those same background checks before a gun can be sold at a gun show?

Or, since at the time the Second Amendment was written, women basically had no rights, do women have the right to own a gun? Did the Nineteenth Amendment – which gave women the right to vote – also give them the right to bear arms?

If so, I can’t find it anywhere in the Nineteenth Amendment.

Fortunately, we don’t have to argue the interpretation of the Second Amendment in determining the proper choice on gun control. Instead, we can use statistics to help us decide.

In looking at gun violence statistics from the Bureau of Justice what stands out most to me is that in 2011 there were 11,101 gun homicides. This number is the equivalent of every one of the 10,569 citizens of Switzerland County being a gun violence homicide victim with 532 deaths left over.

How can anyone look at this number and not demand strong gun control?

Gun advocates have an easy answer – the 11,101 gun violence homicides are 39-percent less than the gun homicides of 1993 – and this reduction is without added gun control.

Gun control advocates would remind everyone that many of the reduced number of deaths can be attributed to the improvement of hospital emergency care. As a result, many gunshots that would have been fatal in 1993 were not fatal in 2011.

While recognizing this fact, gun advocates can point out that even with the improved medical care that has helped save many lives; the total number of 2011 non-fatal gunshot victims fell an astonishing 69-percent from 1993.

And again, this without new gun controls.

But wait.

Gun control advocates will remind us that in spite of the 69-percent reduction, there were still 467,300 non-fatal violent gun injuries in 2011. That is the equivalent of every man, woman, and child in Switzerland County suffering a non-fatal gunshot wound 44 times.

Besides, gun control advocates will remind us of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting which took the lives of 20 elementary students and six adults. It is obvious that strict gun controls are needed to keep this from happening again.

Gun advocates will say “wait a minute.” They will remind us that the yearly average number of violent gun homicides at schools during the 2000s was 20, which was down from the average of 29 in the 1990s. (The Sandy Hook shooting was not included in these numbers.)

Gun advocates will also remind us that while the Sandy Hook shooting was terrible and that no one – not even gun advocates – can condone such actions, the fact that on very rare occasion one individual steps over the line and commits such a horrible crime should not reflect on all gun owners.

Gun control advocates will point out that there is a difference with the Sandy Hook and many similar shootings. They will demand that, at the least, assault rifles should be outlawed.

Gun advocates will point out that over 90-percent of all gunshot injuries and deaths come from conventional handguns. Thus, there is no need to ban any kind of rifle. Besides, rifles can be used for hunting and, in the case of assault rifles, can be used as a hobby or in competition.

And – the numbers keep on saying what numbers say.

In the case of gun violence the numbers say that with over 11,000 violent gun homicides and over 467,000 nonfatal gunshot victims in one year – we need more and stronger gun controls.

Those same numbers show that deaths and injuries have been reduced greatly without the need of additional gun controls. This obviously means we do not need to burden ourselves with gun controls that might take guns away from responsible citizens.

In other words, the same numbers can be interpreted to satisfy the arguments of more than one position.

With this in mind, I think I will leave the gun control issue to others.

Instead, I will try to understand the state of our economy. It should be easy.

The most recent employment report shows a 175,000 increase in jobs in the month of May.

That is good.

The same labor report shows that unemployment went from 7.5-percent in April to 7.6-percent in May.

That is bad.

Or maybe it is good.

The report indicates the increase in the unemployment rate is due to the fact that many Americans who had quit looking for a job have now returned to the job market.

This is good.

Except – when the unemployment rate dropped as a result of all of those Americans who quit looking for jobs the reduction in the unemployment rate (those not looking for jobs don’t count as unemployed.) was lauded as demonstrating the economy is in full recovery.

This even though the total percentage of working adults was less than the percentage of working adults at the height of the recent recession.

So – unemployment goes up – the percentage of adults working is down – and, millions of American’s continue to avoid looking for jobs.

And the economy is in full recovery.

The old adage that, “Figures do not lie, but liars figure” – is obviously true.

As for me – just to make my thoughts clear – without using numbers – I am for responsible gun ownership. I am also for requiring background checks for those who purchase guns at gun shows.

And – I think the economy is improving but has a long way to go.

How is that for taking a strong stance?

– Mike Cooney