Let's Act on Guns To Avoid Next Newtown

Aided by Lax Laws, Mass Shootings Continue Unchecked

Memorials to the victims of the massacre sprung up around Newtown, Conn. But what will we do to prevent the next mass killing?
getty images
Memorials to the victims of the massacre sprung up around Newtown, Conn. But what will we do to prevent the next mass killing?

By Leonard Fein

Published December 17, 2012, issue of December 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It has been 13 years since the murders at Columbine High School, when two teenagers killed 13 people and wounded 21 others. Since that time, ABC reports, there have been 31 school shootings.

“Senseless” seems to be the most frequently used word to describe the awful events at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, and senseless it surely was. Still, we hunger for explanation. What can it be that possesses a man to gun down little children, each child shot multiple times? What can we do to protect against such insanity?

Guns, we hear repeatedly, don’t kill people; people kill people. But the weapon of choice for people bent on killing people is a gun. Guns are used in more than two-thirds of the murders in this country. A simple thought exercise: Absent guns, would the number of murders go up or go down? Knives, hands and blunt instruments are inherently less lethal, more intimate and, perhaps most important, more time-consuming.

Some statistics: America’s homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that are 19.5 times higher. For 15-year olds to 24-year olds, firearm homicide rates in the United States are 42.7 times higher than in the other countries. For American males, firearm homicide rates are 22.0 times higher, and for American females, firearm homicide rates are 11.4 times higher.

The United States’ firearm suicide rates are 5.8 times higher than in the other countries, though overall suicide rates are 30 percent lower. Unintentional firearm deaths in the U.S. are 5.2 times higher than in the other countries. Among the 23 countries of the OECD, 80 percent of all firearm deaths occur in the United States, 86 percent of women killed by firearms are U.S. women, and 87 percent of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms are U.S. children.

Yet the easy availability of guns in America is not the whole story. True, the rate of people killed by guns in the U.S. is 19.5 times higher than in similar high-income countries in the world, and true also that 45 percent of Americans say they have a gun in their homes, also a rate not approached in comparable countries. But these figures reflect a cultural difference at least as much as they signify inadequate gun control legislation and enforcement.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.