More Guns, More Shootings?
Recently, Richard Martinez, father of a student who was killed in Elliot Rodgers's rampage in Santa Barbara, California, lashed out at politicians, "I don't care about your sympathy. I don't give a s--- that you feel sorry for me…. Get to work and do something. I'll tell the president the same thing if he calls me. Getting a call from a politician doesn't impress me."
But despite these sensible and gut-wrenching appeals for tighter gun restrictions from Martinez, Sandy Hook families, and others who've personally experienced gun violence, Americans are seeing gun-owners' rights expand in some cases.
A new law set to go into effect in Georgia this summer "permits lawful gun owners to bring weapons into public places such as churches and bars, but allows church officials and bar owners to ban guns from their buildings." Additionally, some college campuses permit students to have guns, too. (This is especially disconcerting given that college campuses are generally safe from gun violence because students have been forbidden from possessing firearms.)
Policies that make it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons in public disturb me. And I'm not the only one. When the Georgia law passed last month, the state's Episcopal bishops spoke out to ban firearms from any of their church buildings. Chains like Chipotle and Starbucks have changed their policies after gun-rights activists openly carried weapons into their stores.
As Sharon Hodde Miller pointed out last year in her excellent article, Why All Christians Can Back Better Gun Control, "Sinful people kill people, but guns sure do make it a lot easier." To cite just one example, the majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out that:
Domestic violence often escalates in severity over time and the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood that it will escalate to homicide. "All too often," as one Senator noted during the debate over [this law], "the only difference between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun."
It's not just anecdotal evidence. I contacted Ryan C. Martin, psychology chairperson at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and author of several articles on anger and gun violence. In his response to me, he notes:
Although the data on the impact of right to carry laws is inconclusive, there is a great deal of evidence demonstrating that the more guns in a community, the more violent crime in that community and that owning a gun increases the likelihood that you will die a gun-related death.
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