I’m an amateur in comparsion, an article from “American Thinker.”

January 14, 2013

‘Gun Violence in America Is Off the Chart’

By Henry  Percy

In  August 2012, Fareed Zakaria wrote a piece for Time magazine in which he  asserted that “gun violence in America is off the chart compared with every  other country on the planet. The gun homicide rate per capita in the U.S. is 30  times that of Britain and Australia.”

Because  the arguments he made then are being parroted anew in the drive for gun control,  his assertions cry out for examination in light of the facts. To start, why  would he single out the “gun homicide” rate rather than the total  homicide rate? I know a couple whose son was beaten on the back of the head with  a tire iron. While his parents are bitter  that neither offender was charged, I never heard them say, “Well, at  least Tom was murdered with a blunt instrument rather than a  gun.”

Unfortunately,  Mr. Zakaria neglects to document the sources for his facts, if indeed they are  facts. Though holding a PhD from Yale and serving as a trustee  for that institution, he does not recognize plagiarism when he commits it — he  issued an “unapologetic  apology”  for stealing much of his article and was suspended from publishing in Time for a month. Well, he did not call it stealing, merely a “terrible  mistake … a serious lapse.” But he will be happy to talk to your Rotary Club  — his fee is only $75,000.

Let’s  look at homicide rates as reported in the 2011 Global Study on  Homicide,  conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The latest year with  the most complete data is 2008, used here. The total homicide rate for  the US was 4.1 times that of the UK and 4.5 times that for Australia. Still not  good, but nowhere close to the “30 times” Mr. Zakaria laments.

The  UN Global Study has data on 187 countries, ranging from a high of 61.3 per  100,000 in Honduras to 0 in Palau. Where was the United States? Number 99, with  5.4 homicides per 100,000. Over half the countries in the world had a homicide  rate higher than ours.

Homicide  in Developed Countries

Because  admitting that the US homicide rate is low compared to over half the world’s  countries would undercut their arguments, gun-controllers instead compare us to  “rich” or “developed” nations — carefully cherry picked, of course. I cannot  count how many articles I have read about the rapid expansion of the  middle-class in Mexico, about Brazil’s status amongst the rapidly rising BRICs  (Brazil, Russia, India, China), etc. Mexico’s homicide rate in 2008 was 2.4  times greater than that of the US, Brazil’s 4.2 times greater. Somehow these  countries are ignored when someone like Mr. Zakaria wants to make a  point.

Of  course, statistics always need qualification. For instance, the murder rate in  the US would be higher were it not for the improvement in emergency room  procedures in the past 10 years alone. On the other hand, homicides for many  Third World countries are understated for a variety of reasons: they lack  reliable, centralized databases, people are hesitant to report crimes to a  corrupt police force, and so on. In addition, governments have plenty of  incentive to understate their homicide rates, such as encouraging investment or  not scaring away tourists. In short, many of the figures contained in the UN  Global Study are probably too low.

Small  versus Large Countries

There  is another problem with comparing every country on the globe head to head: the  vast differences in population size and makeup. For instance, Palau, an island  nation in Micronesia, has a population of 21,000 and a homicide rate of zero.  They could have two murders next year and suddenly move up to position 68.  Comparing a country the size of the US, with 315 million people, to a country  the size of Palau makes no sense. I am fairly confident there are many American  cities with populations of 20,000 with a homicide rate of  zero.

Homicide  rates within the US vary tremendously by locality, as data from the US  Census Bureau  shows. For 2009, the high was 24.2 per 100,000 (District of Columbia) and the  low 0.9 (New Hampshire). Moreover, New Hampshire is only half as murderous as  Belgium, one of the “rich” or “developed” nations writers like Mr. Zakaria are  so fond of comparing us to. In fact, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, and  Vermont all have rates lower than Belgium’s.

Mr.  Zakaria finds a “blindingly obvious causal connection” between “easier access to  guns” and homicide rates. If that is so, why does the nation’s capital, with  some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, have a homicide rate  nearly 27 times higher than that of New Hampshire (“Live Free or Die”), which  has some of the most permissive gun laws (open carry without license, concealed  carry licenses for $10)? Why does Illinois, likewise boasting extremely  restrictive gun laws, have a rate over 9 times higher than New Hampshire’s? If  there is a “blindingly obvious causal connection,” could it be that high  homicide rates go hand in hand with restrictive gun laws? Or could the problem  be with people, human beings, rather than inanimate objects?


Shortly  after being sworn in as Attorney General, Eric Holder told an interviewer that  the US is “essentially a nation of cowards … we, average Americans, simply do  not talk enough with each other about things racial.” I don’t know if Mr. Holder is an  “average American,” but here’s a small contribution to the national dialogue on  “things racial” from the Bureau of Justice  Statistics:

In  2008, the homicide victimization rate for blacks (19.6 homicides per 100,000)  was 6 times higher than the rate for whites (3.3 homicides per 100,000) … the  offending rate for blacks (24.7 offenders per 100,000) was 7 times higher than  the rate for whites (3.4 offenders per 100,000).

Guns  from Mexico?

Just  before New Years I was channel surfing and paused upon seeing the stern visage  of the Rev. Jesse Jackson opining on the 500 murders in Chicago in 2012. He said  he was not going to accept that, and added, “These guns come from the suburbs  and from Mexico.” Mexico? The advocates of gun control have been telling us for  years that guns flow from the US to Mexico. While it has  always been debatable how many of Mexico’s weapons come from America, we do know  that well over 2,000 were delivered to the drug cartels courtesy of our own  federal government through Operation Fast & Furious. Now we are to believe  that the bad guys in Chicago transport weapons across an international border  and over 1,300 miles north?

Gun-Free  Households

Then  there is Amitai Etzioni, University Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University, writing  on the Huffington Post. He urges everyone to put up a “gun  free” sign in their home, apartment or condo and counsels parents not to allow  their children to play in homes without the signs. Can’t we just declare the  whole world “gun free” and eliminate murder?

David  Gregory, in a recent interview on NBC with Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, mocked the  notion of posting armed guards in  schools. As it happens, Mr. Gregory sends his children to Sidwell Friends School, where the children of presidents  traditionally go (Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton studied there, as do Sasha and  Malia Obama). With tuition at $34,000, Sidwell caters to millionaires and  billionaires.

The  “Friends” in the school’s name refers to the Society of Friends (Quakers) who  run it. Sidwell has an 11-member security department, many of them police  officers (presumably armed, though it is difficult to know). These are in  addition to the Secret Service detail that protects the Obamas’ two daughters.  It is a delicious irony that Quakers, dedicated pacifists, might welcome so many  guns in their midst.

Here’s  a question for Professor Etzioni: Should David Gregory refuse to let his  children play with Sasha or Malia because the White House is not gun free? If  signs are so effective, here’s an opportunity for the president to lead from the  front by disarming the Secret Service and hanging “Gun-Free Zone” signs on the  railings around the presidential mansion.

The  Mentally Ill

What  can be done? How about legislation making it easier to commit the mentally ill.  Most were deinstitutionalized in the 60s and 70s? Between 1955 and 2000, the number of state psychiatric hospital beds  was reduced by 93%. The campaign to release inmates was largely driven by: 1)  the belief that the unstable could simply take medications and live in the  community; and 2) cases of wrongful committal (yeah, man, the people that are  locked up are the only sane ones, man, just watch One Flew over the Cuckoo’s  Nest). Were people wrongfully committed to mental hospitals? No doubt. Are  people wrongfully imprisoned? Of course. Is that sufficient reason to dismantle  our criminal justice system? Are schizophrenics better off pushing a shopping  cart, jibbering to themselves, and sleeping under overpasses? But, someone says,  most of the disturbed are harmless. True. But how many Jared Loughners, James  Holmeses, and Adam Lanzas can we tolerate wandering around among  us?

Getting  someone committed in Connecticut is nearly impossible:

Police  said they had no evidence Lanza had been medicated when the killings occurred.  But even if Lanza had a proven history of mental illness, having him forcibly  committed would have been nearly impossible.

Connecticut  is one of a handful of states in America that does not have an “assisted  outpatient treatment” law. Under AOT laws — the kind proposed and ignored  earlier this year in Connecticut — states can force a mentally ill person into  treatment if there is a risk of harm to others. Without them, states typically  cannot institutionalize someone unless they’ve already done harm to themselves  or others.

What  organization was largely responsible for defeating the bill to make involuntary  commitment easier? The ACLU.

The  suggestion that we make involuntary commitment easier raises outcries from  advocates of personal freedom on both the right and left. But the sad truth is  that the treatment mental professionals offer the severely disturbed is to: 1)  prescribe psychotropics and hope they take them; or 2) prescribe psychotropics  and institutionalize them, where they are forced to take their meds. The second  option is usually impossible due to both the law and the lack of  beds.

I  know a woman whose highly intelligent son became schizophrenic in college and,  without going into specifics, became a serious threat to himself and others. The  court ordered him to stay on his medications, which he has — so far. Will he do  so for the rest of his life? Who knows, because the price the drugs exact is  greatly diminished mental capacity. He is employed by a large retail chain as a  box boy with no hope of advancement. The heartbreaking part is that he knows he  has diminished capacity: not long ago he said, “Mom, remember when I used to be  smart?” But distressing as his story is, far more tragic is a Jared Loughner or  Adam Lanza living freely among us.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical  writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d [at]  gmail.com.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/gun_violence_in_america_is_off_the_chart.html#ixzz2I6nlr7wr Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

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