An opinion piece in the L.A. Times criticizes the knee-jerk reaction of anti-gun lobbyists. However, the article makes some good counterpoints as well.
There is no doubt that the existence of some 260 million guns (of which perhaps 60 million are handguns) increases the death rate in this
country. We do not have drive-by poisonings or drive-by knifings, but we do have drive-by shootings. Easy access to guns makes deadly violence more common in drug deals, gang fights and street corner brawls.
However, there is no way to extinguish this supply of guns. It would be constitutionally suspect and politically impossible to confiscate hundreds of millions of weapons. You can declare a place gun-free, as Virginia Tech had done, and guns will still be brought there.
On comparing US and European murder rates:
the non-gun homicide rate in this country is three times higher than the non-gun homicide rate in England. For historical and cultural reasons, Americans are a more violent people than the English, even when they can’t use a gun. This fact sets a floor below which the murder rate won’t be reduced even if, by some constitutional or political miracle, we became gun-free.
On self defense:
Estimates differ as to how common this is, but the numbers are not trivial. Somewhere between 100,000 and more than 2 million cases of self-defense occur every year.
Europe has no room to brag – gun control has not helped them
In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.
Some of the worst examples of mass gun violence have also occurred in Europe. In recent years, 17 students and teachers were killed by a shooter in one incident at a German public school; 14 legislators were shot to death in Switzerland, and eight city council members were shot to death near Paris.
I think we should all agree that personal gun ownership should be a tightly monitored privilege, and we should have a strict national policy that monitors gun ownership, and limits immediate access.