It sounds so simple. Pass reasonable gun laws and the mass shootings will end. In the twentieth century, more than a hundred million unarmed civilians were murdered by their own government. “…an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” — Thomas Jefferson. Gun-free zones guarantee unarmed victims.
Everyone in the gun control debate cherry-picks statistics. Some comparing us to small countries use absolute numbers, larger countries percentages, or cultural definitions that make the data fit the opinion.
America is a complex country. Of 196 countries on Earth, only three have larger area, and two have larger populations. China has a mostly homogeneous population: 91 percent Han Chinese. The Chinese have known revolution, genocide, famine and invasion but never liberty. Multi-ethnic Russia, like China, has never known freedom as we understand it but only as having nothing left to lose. Russians have survived revolutions, genocide, invasions, four hundred years of Tsars, 80 years of communist dictatorship and 20 years of kleptocracy. Democratic India — aka Hindustan — 79 percent Hindu, has only known self-government since 1947. The people in most frequently cited gun-safe developed-countries have a history of being obedient subjects.
In Latin American, only Brazil is of comparable size; Latin populations are multi-ethnic. Many have a dominant minority caste of mostly European origin and an evangelized underclass descended from slaves and indigenous people. Most have strict gun laws and lots of crime.
Our population is unusual. While shamelessly slaughtering native peoples, America became a magnet for malcontent immigrants from around the world. Early policies limited immigration to northern Europe, but gradually opened to most countries. Africans were “admitted” prior to 1808.
America has been selectively populated by people who were not content with their status and were willing to take significant risks in the hope of betterment. My ancestors, for example, after lifetimes of oppression, packed up their meager possessions and walked many miles to get on a cattle boat going to a place they had only heard of, hoping it existed. They took the risk. My mother’s brothers were born in Russia, England, steerage class and Philadelphia. They worked, survived the Depression and wars — not that unusual. Family that stayed in Europe probably did not survive the Holocaust.
Natural selection by emigration has evolved Americans reluctant to accept what has always been. Baron Von-Steuben commented that American soldiers were different. They would not follow orders until they were told why. Once they understood why, they followed. We’re people whose ancestors took action. Alexis de Tocqueville noted in 1835 that Americans differed from Europeans in that they would not wait for a bureaucrat to remedy a problem, like a pothole or a troublemaker, but would deal with it directly. General Rommel said he had never seen soldiers more ignorant than Americans or that learned more quickly. Many people imported as indentured labor become entrepreneurs.
If you eliminated all guns, would America be as peaceful as Tibet, as orderly as Japan, or as genocidal as Rwanda, where 70 percent of the Tutsis were slaughtered without firearms? No-one knows, probably somewhere between. On Wikipedia’s list of recent murder rates in 219 countries the US ranks 126th. Not all countries have the same method or criteria for reporting. Some low rates may indicate no objective reporting system. Deaths by police or military may not be counted. What about the “disappeared?” Many countries that outlaw firearms have high criminality, including killing.
Sadly there will always be bullies, and other miscreants who need to be restrained. Sometimes the culture keeps them in check; in some countries it’s law enforcement, or armed responsible citizens. Sometimes the bullies are the government. Tajikistan and Iran have low murder rates — but would you want to live there? Costa Rica has twice our murder rate, yet many Americans retire there. As you read this unarmed civilians are being terrorized by their governments, or other criminals. The Mujahidin say “A man with a gun is a free man.” Be careful what you wish for.