Don Paulson is an occasional contributor here allowing us to republish his letters to the editor. Don is also the chair of the Muscatine County Democrats.
When will the senseless killings end? When will our legislators serve the interests of common people instead of the gun manufacturers?
Last month we saw the largest mass killing in U.S. history down in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine people were killed, and fifty-three were injured. Who doesn’t remember the twenty children and six teachers murdered in Sandy Hook elementary school? Or Aurora, Colorado and San Bernardino, California?
In a Newtown Foundation study it is estimated that there have been more than 1,000 mass shooting incidents where four or more people have been shot at one time.
Of course all of this gun violence has a cost, but you never really hear about it. Mother Jones magazine looked at that and,
“In collaboration with Miller, Mother Jones crunched data from 2012 and found that the annual cost of gun violence in America exceeds $229 billion. Direct costs account for $8.6 billion- including long-term prison costs….
Indirect costs amount to at least $221 billion, about $169 billion of which comes from what researchers consider to be the impact on the victim’s quality of life. Victims’ lost wages, which account for $49 billion annually, are the major factor.”
The study found that guns were used in 70% of homicides and 50% of suicides. A gun death averages $6 million in total costs and each gun injury requiring hospitalization averages $583.000 in costs.
Republicans control both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. They refuse to pass any meaningful legislation to help the situation. As the Des Moines Register editorial board explained, (Des Moines Register, 6/26/16) “In the Senate, a half-dozen gun-control measures, three backed by Democrats and three sponsored by GOP lawmakers, failed to pass. One of them, sponsored by Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, would have actually made it easier for certain people with a history of mental illness to buy a gun.”
It goes on to say, “In fact, (Senator Joni) Ernst opposed a bill amendment that would have summarily denied suspected terrorists of the ability to buy a gun.”
There are two interesting ideas that may help with the problem of gun violence.
One is to hold the original gun buyer legally responsible. Todd R. Miller of Freakonomics says, “The problem that dwarfs the issues of assault rifles and terrorists is that all firearms may be transferred in America without detection or accountability.
Though the sale of an automobile in America requires an official transfer of title, the sale of a firearm does not. Many, if not most, guns used to kill people in America are acquired through straw purchases- purchases made on behalf of another person.
Herein lies the elegant solution to gun violence in America: simply hold the owner of record accountable for crimes committed with their guns- that’s it.”
Another interesting idea is to force gun owners to purchase liability insurance. As Lysle Adriano reports in Insurance Business America, “Hawaii, New Hampshire, New York and Los Angeles are all considering mandatory gun liability insurance for gun owners. Should the four states manage to implement the legislation, violators could face fines of up to $10,000.”
It is time for Republicans to stand up to the gun manufacturers and pass legislation to reduce gun violence. An overwhelming majority of Americans want strict background checks, not allowing the mentally-ill to get their hands on a gun, not allowing someone on the no-fly list to buy a gun, and to close the gun show loopholes. It’s just common sense.
Oh, and remember- guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.
Ed. note: Strange that on one hand Republicans in the senate are suddenly so concerned about the constitutional rights of those on the terrorist watch list to be able to buy guns, including AR-15s while at the same time Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sings the praises of Saddam Hussein and the way he would have “terrorists” killed immediately without trials or reading them their rights.