Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Armed with the Numbers

So why didn't we know this?  All this time we've been beating our breasts and beating our brains out about this country which seemed to have become an armed camp, and where the silent majority was fiercely and at times only committed to their God and Constitution-promised right to cling to their guns.

I personally kept wondering in posts (with this label, you can look them up) why this image of America didn't comport with people I knew, beginning in western Pennsylvania.

Well, it turns out there is a reason it didn't.  Because the image isn't true.

The Washington Post did a story on the latest research on gun ownership. So what tiny percentage of Americans have no guns at all?

78%.  Not one gun.

Who does own the guns?  3% own half of them.  The other 19% together own the other half.  That's 22% who say they own a firearm.  Which I imagine includes the folks who own only hunting rifles that some years for a portion of their lives they unpack for the several weeks of hunting seasons.

Here's another finding: while the number of guns in America has "skyrocketed," the number of gun owners has declined.

Yes, there is at least one gun for every adult American out there.  It's just that a few people have most of them.

But the survey also found that most of the 22% had handguns for "protection."  This is a change from the 1990s, they say, when most respondents said they had firearms for hunting.

This doesn't make gun violence less dangerous. 22% or even 3% are still a lot of people, with an awful lot of guns.  But it does put a different perspective on the political pressure to allow guns in every conceivable public place and circumstance, including schools, public meetings and bars.

Sure, we knew that political pressure is funded by gun manufacturers through their trade organization, the NRA.  But the NRA turns out to be the Wizard of Oz.  There isn't a popular will backing it up.  It's not even the 50/50 "polarization."

So the mystery deepens--why is this issue so politically powerful, so that the most basic and common sense rules and inhibitions can't pass into law, so that localities that want to enact laws governing guns that make sense for their particular circumstances get overridden by state laws that prohibit this right?

 So that a dubious interpretation of the second amendment trumps the freedom to assemble peaceably, the freedom of speech and of worship, and whatever freedom you call it that means children can go to school with less prospect of being slaughtered by madmen of this 3%?  Or now in Texas universities by crazed or accident-prone classmates?  Just what is that about?

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