Another mass shooting (in Charleston, S.C.) has brought gun violence back into American debate. There are 32,000 gun-related deaths in the United States each year, and some 283 million guns in civilian hands.
In comparison, Great Britain banned handguns from private use without special permission, and later banned ownership of high-powered, self-loading rifles. As a result, in a recent year, firearms were used in only 0.3 percent of all recorded crimes and were responsible for the deaths of 39 people.
Yet, for fear of a lobby representing a minority of Americans, our legislators do nothing. Some extol the virtues of the Second Amendment, when it took until 2008 for a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court to rule it protects an individual’s right to guns.
“All the discussions in the first Congress had to do with military questions, not with an asserted right of defense,” says Dr. David Adler, president of the nonprofit Sun Valley Institute.
In the wake of the recent massacre, President Obama said, “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”