Atheists are a small minority in the U.S.  Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions.  There are probably divergent views.

I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes.  It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.

As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion.  I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes.  Gun control and universal health care.

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You seem to be equating the terms crime, homicide, and firearm homicide. See my reply above—your trend graph doesn't show what you think it does.

Dr. Clark,

I hope the measures you cited are not the only measures that lead you to conclude that the US of A is exceptional, anomalous, and unique among the world's high-, medium-, and low-income nations.

BTW, is not the phrase "sensible gun control" an overused cliche? It says as little about gun control as the House Republican term "spending cuts".

As the saying goes... Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn... how they're dying, only the total homicide rate is of interest to me. Looking at one one homicide style and closing our eyes to the other homicides is a wonderful form of cherry picking data for an ideological stance. The facts are that the total homicide rate is and has been for a long time, on the decrease, and all of the knee-jerking going right now on because of a couple of highly mediatised events is totally irrelevant to a rational assessment of facts. It depresses me that people who claim to have critical thinking do not see through this media hype.

I'm not confusing them at all. I think segregating them is an emotional shutting down of the brain's faculty of rational thinking.

I heard in the following in a humanist newsletter:

"Religious Right extremists such as Mike Huckabee and William J. Murray used the recent Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy to blame the violence on the lack of God and prayer in public schools."

Finally something everyone can agree on -  Religion and prayer won't solve this problem.

Michael OL wrote:

However, I would argue that while any life lost to violence is regrettable, the percentages even in gun-happy America are astronomically small.  That the rate is 10 in 100,000 or 1 in 100,000 is not a palpable difference for the "average" person who will never personally know any victim of gun violence.

--- --- ---

I know someone who tried to kill himself with a firearm (a roommate) and wrestled the gun away from him (a scariest thirty seconds of my life, and I was in the military).

Ten times is not a palpably small difference. It is the difference between 3,000 deaths per year (1:100 000), or the entire population of my rather rural Nebraska county, or 30,000 deaths per year (approximately 1/15th of the entire state of Wyoming). In other words, we can knock off all of Wyoming in fifteen years (barring no population growth).

30 000 is approximately the same as all drunk drive deaths in the USA every year, and drunk driving is entirely outlawed.

On the flip side, all Western democracies have much stricter gun laws than the USA, and a much lower death rate from guns.

From (Eggleston Group, an insurance firm) Note firearm homicides are the seventh leading cause of death in the USA, and a significant portion of suicides are by firearm as well. Moreover, their death numbers by firearms are much higher than yours (and they are in the business of making money off death - they have to get the numbers right or they do not profit)

Real Time Estimate
Top 7 Causes of Death
Since 1 Jan, 2012
Cause Annually To Date
Tobacco: 529,000 520,622
Medical Errors: 195,000 191,912
Alcohol Abuse: 107,400 105,699
Vehicle Accidents: 42,000 41,335
Suicide: 29,350 28,885
Drug Abuse: 25,500 25,096
Firearm Homicide: 10,828 10,657

I remember the days when a smoker got indignant when asked politely to just blow their smoke in a different direction.  Never thought I would see the Berlin wall fall, never thought that the "It's a free country" argument for smoking anywhere at anytime would lose it popularity.

A strategy that could work:

Ok, let's do like with nicotine:

legislate where you can fire a gun, check

legislate when you can fire a gun, check

legislate who can buy a gun, check

just like we did with nicotine...  oh wait, we did that eons ago!

TNT, there's an important difference; the Constitution is silent on nicotine.

And it is silent on individuals bearing arms. Militias is what the II Amendment speaks of.

Only recently, when the activist court (conservatives hate activist courts, except when they rule the way conservatives want) struck down Chicago's handgun law, did the court find a definition that "militia"="person."

The Constitution is also silent about registering guns. It says nothing of prohibiting registering long-barrel firearms (which is what the recent AR-15 shootings involved). Registration is not infringement.

It says nothing about selling guns over the Internet through classified ad services or E-bay. It says nothing about owning spears, brass knuckles, nunchucks, blackjacks, pistols, rifles, explosives, mines, grenades, anti-aircraft batteries, or nuclear weapons. It only says "arms."

Sound silly to throw in anti-aircraft batteries and nuclear weapons? What is the difference? They too are arms. There is no distinction between "military" arms and "civilian" arms in the II Amendment.

The Constitution's main body also gives the Congress the right to legislate.

There is nothing in the II Amendment which prohibits registration, other than the interpretation of the Court of the NRA, which trumps the Supreme Court, the House, the Senate, the President, and the Will of the People.

To the NRA, registration is an "infringement," in the same manner that a voter's rights organisation thinks that registering voters is an infringement, or free speech advocates think requiring a business license for a for-profit newspaper or radio station (which also requires a broadcast license) is an infringement.

No. Those are not infringements.

The USA has the oldest constitution active today but not because it is so perfect and unchanging (hey, that sounds like a religion). Like religion, that holy book has changed too.

Slaves are free and citizens (the only time citizen appears in the text - otherwise it applies to persons - thus the II Amendment does not prohibit foreigners, terrorists, or felons from buying guns either), women vote these days, DC gets to vote for President, 18yo adults get to vote now, alcohol was prohibited, that prohibition was repealed, yada yada yada.

Very much like the Bible. And it has its acolytes, its worshippers, its apologists who believe it is holy and unchanging (though like the Bible it has too, though not as many times).

James, if you want the job, are you interested in replacing SCOTUS?

Your one salary would cost taxpayers a lot less than their nine salaries.

Okay, that's facetious; I'll take your post seriously.

You correctly say conservatives hate activist courts except when they rule the way conservatives want. Antonin Scalia's activism will take us back to the founders' times.

However, you wrote "The Constitution's main body also gives the Congress the right to legislate."

In books about SCOTUS, their authors distinguish between rights and powers. Will you accept a one-word change, that the Constitution's main body also gives the Congress the power to legislate?

Also, I've read Heller. Your "militia"="person" has persuaded me to read the Chicago decision. I'll get back to you on it.

James, I'm getting back to you on the "militia" = "person" issue.

I found the decision (McDonald v. Chicago) and searched on "militia", looking for nearby mentions of "person" or its synonyms. I saw none.

Alito wrote the Court's opinion and here are a few of his words, describing an action taken in the 39th Congress, shortly after the Civil War:

Disarmament, it was argued, would violate the members’ right to bear arms, and it was ultimately decided to disband the militias but not to disarm their members.

The issue stirs so much emotion that it's easy to see that a commentator might have spoken of a definition that "militia"="person".



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