What are they good for?
In the last week the ring heard round the country has [once again] been the debate about guns. I say debate loosely. Is it really a debate at all? I know gun regulations have a spectrum. Some people might think we should get rid of guns all together and some people think any person of any age of any mental status or background should be able to buy as many guns as they want. Politifact provides some interesting data that shows there’s actually more alignment, especially on background checks, than we are led to believe. They rated these two statements as True:
74 percent of National Rifle Association members support requiring background checks for all gun sales.
Americans have overwhelmingly supported common sense gun reform. 90% support universal background checks.
I’ve been reading a lot about the data around guns in this country (this past week especially) and there are some very interesting findings. Many of these quotes are pulled out of context, so if you’re interested in reading further, I’ve provided the links to the articles.
From the NY Times: “Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016.”
Another article from the Times has a fascinating scatter-plot of mass shootings on one axis and number of guns by country. “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”
One thing is for certain: the Parkland shooting was a tipping point. Something triggered a mass uprising of the students and they are leading the march (figuratively and literally) toward demanding common sense gun laws now. When one of the students tweets around the same time as the NRA, he gets 6 times the likes and 4 times the retweets:
Google trends has the gun topic on their home page. I thought this comparison was particularly fascinating, as it shows how in the last week, searches across the country are skewing toward gun control, as opposed to gun shop, compared to the past year. Whether this shift is based out of fear or support for gun control is undetermined.
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It has been incredible to see the progress that has been achieved by these kids in such a short time:

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So there are a lot of things people can argue guns are good for, but what we’ve seen in the last week is that they are definitely not good for a lot of reasons. While we still have yet to see specific legislation pass, many of these baby steps are indications the laws could be coming soon.