Young Males and Guns: A Lethal Mix
Last Friday, 20-year old Adam Lanzer shot his mother in the face killing her and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where he shot and killed 26 people: 20 first graders (6 and 7-year olds) and 6 adults. We don’t know much about Adam Lanzer at this point except that he was a young male who had access to firearms – a seemingly lethal combination these days.
According to The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, there were 38 mass shooting in 2012 in the US where 3 or more people were killed or injured by firearms – an average of one mass shooting every nine days in 2012 – and the year isn’t over. In 2011, there were 39 mass shootings, and in 2010, there were 70. The trend may be going in the right direction but one mass shooting is one too many for any parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or friend.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports that more than 90% of mass shootings are committed by males with the majority of them under the age of 30 and all but a few under the age of 45. The other 10% is not necessarily women as these shootings are unsolved with most reported as gang related or drive by shootings. So, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here and concluding that most, if not all mass shootings in the United States are committed by young males.
Some people may conclude that men under the age of 45 should be subject to more stringent guidelines to limit their access to firearms because our gun control laws make it too easy for them to obtain guns including automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons. Others may conclude that everyone should be subject to stricter gun control laws and still another group (myself included) believes that gun control needs to be strengthened and that assault weapons should not be accessible to the public.
Many proponents of the Second Amendment argue that people kill, guns don’t but lets consider this argument in a different light. We all recognize the constitutional right to bear arms but not necessarily the absolute right to have access to automatic or semi-automatic weapons or to weapons without a background check or a lengthy waiting period. No one needs an assault weapon to kill a deer. Assault weapons have one purpose: to kill a lot and to kill quickly and there is no place for assault weapons in our neighborhoods.
Adam Lanzer killed those defenseless children and adults in a few short minutes with a Bushmaster .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle. This weapon has a magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds giving the shooter a high number of shots without stopping to reload – just enough time to wipe out two classrooms of 6 and 7-year olds and their teachers in less than 5 minutes.
Many debates are fueled by statistics so allow me to leave you with this final thought. In the United States, there are about 10 deaths by firearms per 100,000 people annually (which equates to about 35,000 deaths based on a 350,000,000 population), according to Wikipedia. The only countries that have higher rates include the obvious: Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Jamaica, and Swaziland. Contrast the US rate with countries who have stronger gun control laws: Canada (4.8 per 100,000 population), Switzerland (3.5), France (3.0), Israel (1.9), Sweden (1.5), Italy (1.3), Germany (1.1), Spain (0.6), United Kingdom (0.25), and Japan (0.07). Fewer people die by firearms in countries that have stricter gun control laws. We won’t stop mass killings but we can certainly minimize them if we could just step off our personal freedom platform and step onto the common sense platform. As The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says “We Are Better Than This.” The NRA just doesn’t know it.