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!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • 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.