I want to respond to Fred Moulton’s claims in his Letter to the Editor in the March 3 Tribune because it bothers me when the truth is mangled so completely. I searched the Internet for the “World Murder Statistics compiled by the World Health Organization” and found the chart he used. It appeared on several conservative websites, but his information appears to be old, and the conclusions based on the chart are false. The statistics he used placed the United States in the 110th position among the world’s countries in intentional homicides (which include gun homicides and homicides caused by other means). A more recent chart that I found on Wikipedia placed the United States at 95th. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate)
While 95th place still appears to be low, the statistics are misleading because the comparison includes all of the countries of the world. Remove the underdeveloped and developing countries, and the United States appears in the #1 spot in intentional homicides. Every single country with a higher murder rate than the United States is a second or third world country.
All of the other statements on the chart Mr. Moulton used are lies. The most blatant falsehood is the claim that all of the countries with a higher homicide rate than the US have “a 100 percent ban on private gun ownership.” This information is SO easy to verify, but Mr. Moulton didn’t question it. I researched the top countries: Honduras, Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil, and Russia.
Honduras does not ban citizens from owning guns. 9MM handguns can be legally purchased. (Politifact)
Venezuela has a private gun ownership ban by the Chávez presidency with poor gun control. Much of the murder rate is attributed to the corruption of Venezuelan authorities. (Wikipedia)
In South Africa, “ownership of a firearm is conditional on a competency test and several other factors, including background checking of the applicant, inspection of an owner’s premises, and licensing of the weapon by the police introduced in July 2004.” (Wikipedia) While their murder rate is still very high, a “…number of sources… suggest that there has been a general decline in firearms-related crimes since 2004.” (Library of Congress - loc.gov)
“Brazil has a number of gun laws to help curb illegal ownership and use of guns, but they are not banned.” (brazil.org)
Russia: Russian citizens over 18 years of age can obtain a firearms license after attending gun-safety classes and passing a federal test and background check. Their homicide count was as high as 47,870 in 1993 before stricter gun control laws were enacted. They reported a count of 16,232 in 2015. (Wikipedia)
Conversely, five countries with very strict gun laws have very low homicide rates. In 2015, Canada had 604, Australia had 236, the United Kingdom had 594, Japan had 395, and China had 10,083 (out of a population of 1.379 billion). The United States had more homicides in 2015 than all of those countries combined.
As for Mr. Moulton’s claim about Switzerland, that, too, is false. Switzerland has gun control, and they don’t mandate that every household have at least one gun. According to the Library of Congress (loc.gov), “Switzerland has a comprehensive gun-control regime that is governed by federal law and implemented by the cantons… The Swiss Weapons Act requires an acquisition license for handguns and a carrying license for the carrying of any permitted firearm for defensive purposes.” Automatic weapons in Switzerland are banned.
I don’t want guns banned in the U.S. and no liberal that I know does. Let me repeat that. I don’t want guns banned in the U.S. and no liberal that I know does. I’m tired of conservatives like Mr. Moulton claiming that “liberals are striving in every way they know, to do away with guns.” This. Is. Not. True.
I believe that the NRA’s interpretation of the 2nd amendment has been taken to an extreme and needs to be better defined, but I don’t want to eliminate it. I believe in universal background checks. I believe in a three-day wait period for the purchase of a gun. I believe that domestic abusers and the mentally ill should not be able to purchase or own guns. I believe that the age limit to purchase a gun should be raised from 18 to 21.
I believe that the people who teach our country’s children should not be asked to carry guns. The suggestion that they should dumbfounds me. Teachers should teach; they shouldn’t have to go into combat to do it.
As for bans, I believe that assault weapons should be banned. They are weapons of war developed for the battlefield. They account for the vast majority of mass shootings in this country. “Gun massacres fell significantly during the time the assault weapons ban was in place [1994-2004], and skyrocketed after the ban lapsed in 2004.” (Washington Post)
The thing that bothers me the most is that Mr. Moulton – and I’m sure countless others – choose to blindly believe what the conservative media reports instead of insisting on knowing the truth. I can’t make people want to know the truth behind the stories they read or hear, but I refuse to allow the lies to go unchallenged.