CHICAGO – Over the weekend news wires reported a “barbaric” gun massacre in Carthage, North Carolina at a nursing home that treated patients with Alzheimer’s and other conditions. Robert Stewart, 45-years-old, armed with a shotgun, rifle and other weapons, shot and killed seven patients, some confined to wheelchairs, as well as a male nurse. Stewart, who’s now in custody, was wounded by a local police officer that responded to the shooting.
What’s the connection between these two shootings? Simply put, it’s the role and easy access to guns in the U.S. that allows horrific shootings to occur on a continual basis. With over 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S. each year, an appropriate response to this epidemic should be bold and comprehensive policies to prevent further homicides, suicides and unintentional injuries.
“Little is being done to address the elephant in the room: the 280 million guns already in circulation and how to reduce this staggering number,” said Sally Slovenski, Executive Director of Freedom States Alliance. “Unless federal, state and local lawmakers stand up to the gun lobby and enact comprehensive policies to cut off the supply of guns – such as limiting gun purchases to one per month, banning semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines – in addition to limiting the number of guns manufactured and sold in the U.S. each year, gun violence will continue unabated in America,” said Slovenski.
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Although the percentage of American households reporting gun ownership has declined significantly in recent years to 34.5%, according to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the total number of guns in private hands has dramatically increased in the past 40 years. In other words, there is an incredible and unequal distribution of firearms: most gun owners own multiple firearms and some have huge stockpiles and arsenals.
“The common denominator of all these shootings and massacres is the access to deadly guns. It’s almost too obvious to mention, but without guns there would be no shooting massacres,” said Scott Vogel of Freedom States Alliance. “No other type of weapon inflicts this much death and injury except firearms. Since that is the case, legislators know where they should be targeting their efforts to save lives, regulating the guns themselves and the gun industry.”
Due to the gun industry’s mass production and mass marketing of firearms, approximately 4.5 million new guns are bought in the United States annually–more than half of the 8 million manufactured worldwide.
“280 million guns, in a nation of 306 million people, is a very big number. In fact, it is more than a third of all the guns owned worldwide. And, unlike other consumer products–such as toasters or hair dryers—guns rarely break, are durable, and endure very little wear and tear. They also rarely get thrown away,” said Slovenski.
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Gary Kleck, a criminologist who supports the gun lobby agenda, admitted in his book Point Blank, that the average gun is only fired 24 times each year and can last over 400 years.
“The gun lobby likes people to believe that more guns equal less crime. The truth is that guns never die, but over 30,000 people do as a result of firearms flooding our homes, streets and communities,” said Vogel.