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There are countless gun blogs with all kinds of “facts” about how gun ownership cuts crime rates, guns aren’t a danger around the house, and besides the Constitution SAYS we have the right to own guns. And, of course there is the rich and powerful NRA, with its lobby in Washington. They also give a lot of financial support to gun-rights politicians, and fund smear campaigns against their opponents. Here are some inconvenient facts that contradict all that hot air: (from a well-documented article in the LA Times)

In 2012, there were 259 justifiable gun-related homicides, or incidents in which authorities ruled that killings occurred in self-defense.

In the same year, there were 1.2 million violent crimes, defined as murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Or, put another way, 1.2 million scenarios in which there was potential for someone to kill in self-defense.

Match those 259 justifiable homicides with the theft of about 232,000 guns each year, about 172,000 of them during burglaries. That’s a ratio of one justifiable homicide for every 896 guns put in the hands of criminals.

Those 259 justifiable homicides also pale compared with, in the same year, 8,342 criminal homicides using guns, 20,666 suicides with guns, and 548 fatal unintentional shootings.

Over the five-year span ending in 2012, more than half — 56% — of the justifiable homicides involved strangers, and in 11% of the cases, the relationship was not reported. The rest were acquaintances (18.7%) such as neighbors and coworkers, and then a mishmash of relatives and personal relationships.

Conversely, of the 2012 criminal firearm homicides in which a relationship was reported, three out of four victims knew their killers, and more than a third were family members or “intimate acquaintances” — such as spouses, ex-spouses or others involved in a romantic relationship.

What conclusions can we draw from this? The notion that a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun is a romanticized vision of the nature of violent crime. And that the sea of guns in which we live causes exponentially more danger and harm than good.

Source: LA Times article dated June 19, 2015. Although this is an opinion piece, there are many government sources cited for the data.

I am not interested in getting into a link contest with a bunch of gun rights advocates here. But I have a question for them: Why would anybody want to own an assault weapon like an AK-47 or an M-16? The reasons most folks say they want a firearm is either for hunting or for self-defense. But an assault weapon is not suitable for either. Its primary uses are in war…and terrorism, of course. So why would a law-abiding citizen want one? Okay, maybe a few wealthy individuals are into collecting guns, but I don’t think most assault weapons are purchased for display in a collection.

There is another reason, and some gun nuts are frank about it: They are government haters, and they fantasize about an armed rebellion against an oppressive government that wants to take their rights away…especially gun rights. Some of them even insist that they should have the right to buy larger weapons, like rocket propelled grenade launchers, mortars, and even armored personnel carriers and tanks. They quote the Second Amendment and interpret it to mean that people should be able to arm themselves sufficiently to take over the government. I think what they fear is the growing power of the liberal, young, multi-ethnic majority in this country, and they want the power to shut down a government dominated by that majority. They want to be, in effect, domestic terrorists, who can terrorize that majority and override it with the threat, if not the use, of their weapons. If they can’t win in the political sphere, then they are willing to use force. Many people fear that Islamist terrorists will manage to acquire nuclear weapons, and attack, or threaten to attack us with them. These potential domestic terrorists may represent an even greater threat.

While the original meaning of the words in the Second Amendment can be debated, the courts have not been receptive to the idea of the citizenry owning the weapons of war. Even the late Antonin Scalia, who was leader of the Gang of Four Right Wing justices on the Supreme Court, was clear about this. In the DC vs. Heller decision of 2007, he wrote that Second Amendment rights are not unlimited, and that laws limiting possession by felons and the mentally ill, that forbid guns in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, that place conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms, and that restrict the right to carry any weapon in any manner, for whatever purpose, are still valid and enforceable. In a key passage he stated that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” supporting the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. That would certainly include assault weapons, I would think.

Seven states have enacted laws banning private ownership of assault weapons. So far, the challenges to those bans have failed. Hopefully, more states will enact such laws. It is probably impossible for the Congress to enact such legislation, given the enormous NRA influence on members. But I think there is a growing opinion in the populace that limiting the ownership of guns is in the best interest of everybody…except those who want to use them for nefarious purposes

Bert Bigelow is a trained engineer who pursued a career in software design. Now retired, he enjoys writing short essays on many subjects but mainly focuses on politics and religion and the intersection...