Gun Ownership (and Inequality) are Killing Us
And yes, it's the red states with more guns where more gun deaths happen
Yes, there are firearm deaths in New York and Chicago with stronger gun control laws, but the more guns owned, the more firearm deaths.
And the same correlation holds when comparing gun ownership and gun deaths by country- with the United States a crazy outlier in gun deaths compared to other developed nations.
But hey, some of those firearm deaths are suicides, the pro-gun folks will say, as if making guns available to help depressed people kill themselves strengthens their argument. And if you just look at homicides, the US is still a crazy outlier.
And here is a key fact, the US is NOT a particularly violent country if you look at assault rates by country. Scotland and Sweden are two of the most violent European nations, with far more assaults per capita in the US. But the US ends up with far more deaths because guns turn a lot more assaults into deaths in the US.
But what about mental illness? In fact, mental illness is more common in the United States than in most other countries. But the question is why? And why do we have such a rampant gun culture?
Researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have found that higher levels of violence, mental illness, and a range of other social pathologies all increase in countries with higher levels of economic inequality. The core of that pathology is less trust among the members of communities of high economic inequality. And the US is one of the most unequal countries and has higher levels of social distrust and mental illness, as this graph illustrates:
So if we want to understand rampant gun violence, don’t look to the individual shooters who may at times - but not always - suffer from mental illness. Instead, look at them sociologically as the (literally) bleeding edge of a broader society racked by distrust and paranoia. Inequality drives greater levels of social distrust and mental illness, and that paranoia seems to drive the desire for more guns that sets the stage for the massive levels of gun deaths we see on a constant basis.
BTW I strongly recommend watching this Ted Talk by Richard Wilkinson which makes an overwhelming case for how economic inequality undermines almost everything we care about in our societies.
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