Irrational Fears Will Never Justify Gun Control
Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.
“Americans are now more likely to be shot to death than to die in a car accident,” Margaret Renkl declares in a New York Times op-ed piece calling for more gun control. Since Renkl is talking about mass shootings, which she says “are no longer so unthinkable,” the implication is that the risk of being murdered with a gun is on the rise. But that risk is in fact much lower than it was in the 1970s, ’80s, or ’90s.
To back up her claim, Renkl links to a CDC fact sheetthat shows guns killed slightly more Americans in 2015 than car crashes did. Yet 61 percent of those gun deaths were suicides, while 36 percent were homicides. Contrary to Renkl’s implication, Americans are nearly three times as likely to die in a car accident as they are to be murdered with a gun.
Renkl deploys this misleading comparison of gun deaths and traffic fatalities to justify her own disproportionate fear of mass shootings, which account for a tiny share of firearm homicides, and of school shootings in particular, which are even rarer and have not become any more common in recent years. That is not the impression left by the recent March for Our Lives rallies, which showed that many teenagers have a grossly exaggerated sense of the dangers they face when they go to school.
Renkl says her husband, a high school English teacher, attended one of those rallies and afterward “texted me a photo he’d taken of himself standing in front of another marcher’s sign. It read, ‘Am I next?’ For just a second, I couldn’t breathe.” Renkl had a similar reaction “when our oldest son, a new middle school math teacher, took me to see his first classroom. ‘Just look at all these beautiful windows!’ I said. ‘Not exactly great for an active-shooter situation,’ he pointed out. His words turned my heart to ice.”
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By KAZ Vorpal (Flickr: Declaration of Independence, with Firearm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons