“Children having their tomorrows taken away. Small sacrifice if we can keep our assault rifles.”— Maureen Dowd, “America’sHuman Sacrifices”

In his inaugural address, arguably the worst by any American president, Donald Trump vowed that “the American carnage stops right here, right now.” He pointed to crime in the inner cities, drug trafficking and gang violence. He said nothing about gun deaths, which reached their highest ever under Trump at 45,222, or 124 per day.

At the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston less than a week after the Uvalde massacre, CEO Wayne LaPierre claimed that “each year, over 1 million law-abiding men and women use a firearm to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.”

This assertion appears to have been made up solely for propaganda purposes. It’s most likely a false generalization from anecdotal evidence, such as a woman who recently used her pistol to kill an active shooter in West Virginia.

Meticulous work done at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center reveals that an armed household is much more likely to be the scene of gun murders (especially of women), suicides, and accidental gun deaths (eight per day among children and teens). The leading cause of death for children and teens in the U.S. is a gunshot.

From 2007 to 2011, according to a Department of Justice report (May, 2013), “less than one percent of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident.”

Without any diagnosis in most cases, most Republicans describe mass murderers as mentally deranged, but they rarely allocate sufficient funds to address this issue. In fact, a month before the slaughter of the innocents, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill cutting $211 million from state mental health programs.

Trump’s 2019 budget recommended a half billion-dollar reduction for the National Institute of Mental Health. Of the 30 states that have the highest mental health outlays, only seven are red states, and the 23 blue states generally have the lowest number of gun deaths.

A week before the mass shooting in Uvalde, Gov. Abbott signed a bill reducing the age for buying rifles from 21 to 18. As soon as Salvador Ramos reached that age, he spent $4,000 to buy two AR-15s, body armor, and over 1,000 rounds of ammo. Loading seven magazines with 210 .223 caliber bullets, Ramos was then ready to put his deadly plan into action.

Harvard professor David Hemenway states: “If you compare the United States to any other high-income country, say Germany, a police officer in the United States is 30 times more likely to be killed on the job than a police officer in Germany. Why? Because we have lots of guns. Also, a civilian in the United States is 30 times more likely than a German civilian to be killed by a police officer and it’s just the guns.”

It is instructive to contrast our “accursed land of locked and loaded,” as one author quipped, to other countries. The latest data from 2019 shows the U.S. at 12 gun deaths per 100,000 compared to our closest peer nations with high gun ownership Finland at 3.5 and Switzerland at 3 gun deaths per 100,000. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most Western European countries are in the 1-2 gun homicide range.

Conservatives propose that America’s gun carnage is the result of a general break up of families, declining church attendance, and, of course, immigrants. Germany, however, has absorbed nearly 1 million Syrians since 2015 and it has seen no appreciable crime increases, and certainly not renegade shooters.

Couples in the countries listed above are divorcing at a higher rate than Americans, and 50 percent of them are cohabitating. Because of very low church attendance, these nations are now described as “post-Christian,” but a residual Christian morality keeps their crime rates low.

In an interview with British Sky News, a reporter asked Sen. Ted Cruz repeatedly: “Why does this happen only in America?” Cruz refused to answer because he knew that he was cornered.

Other countries have their troubled youth, but they don’t have easy access to weapons of war, whose bullets shattered the bodies of some Uvalde children so badly that their parents could not recognize them.

Gier is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho. Email him at ngier006@gmail.com for discussion and sources.

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