I really didn't want to get in a debate about this stuff, i just wanted to offer a personal perspective on gun control, and it is a personal one, and to some extent, a medical opinion (you are right, it is outside the Surgeon's General purview, I just wanted to make the point that it is as much a problem of public health these days as anything else).
(10-27-2015 04:25 PM)archangle Wrote: For instance, how do you account for the deterrent value of an armed population of citizens? How many criminals would do violent home breakins, but refrain because of the risk of being confronted by an armed homeowner?
Well, I would answer that there is no correlation - if you go to countries where anyone can be armed and often is, the level of violence, break-ins and murders if unbelievably high(these are mostly third world countries, mind, but it certainly shows that when everyone can shoot first, they do, and the result is children die, and so do the persons who were having violence directed at them, even if they put up armed resistance). Countries that dwarf US per capita statistics, like Uruguay, Swaziland, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, South Africa and Jamaica, show that the idea of relaxing gun controls to non-existence breeds security is an utter canard. There is no real evidence that an extensively armed populace is any deterrent at all, not a single shred. But there is considerable evidence, statistically ,that a well armed populace will have a higher body count than a less well armed one. Anyone intent of committing a violent crime does not care if there is a gun on the other side or not. Most of the crimes, save for crimes of passion or accidents, committed with guns in the US, are related to poverty, gang and/or the drug trade, and these people are all living already hopeless lives knowing full well they have death sentences on their heads. That is why capital punishment, for instance, is not a deterrent and never will be.
Why I called it a pandemic is simple - 312 mass shootings in 2015 up to Oct 25th alone - that is more than one per day, and certainly that is very unusual in a wealthy, westernised nation. In 1044 days it was 999 such incidents in the US. Mass shootings is defined as 4 or more people shot in one incident, btw. Even the very Conservative Wall Street Journal reported (Oct 3 2015) on the US being the world leader in mass shootings and cites researchers showing that there is a link between gun ownership and the number of incidents, but that it is difficult to do comparisons. Deaths are another issue and not addressed in the nomenclature.
When we then address the actual deaths from such incidents, the numbers change in terms of their importance in the mortality rate. Mass killings (where 4 or more people are killed) account for about 1% of all the murders (by guns or other means) in the US. Public mass killings like Newtown are rarer than you think and make up around 1 in 6 of the mass killings (by any means) in the US, the bulk being crimes of passion (break-ups, estrangements, family arguments, although non-related people may be caught in the cross fire). More often than not, in these case, the guns involved, if there are guns, and often are, are hand guns.
In terms of other forms of violence, I don't recall mentioning in my initial post anything on that term, I only addressed gun violence - beatings, muggings, stabbings, et al, are common anywhere there is crime, poverty and drugs, and as prevalent in the inner cities in Europe as they are in the inner cities in the US. But it is a lot harder to kill someone by stabbing them than it is to take ten steps back and pull a trigger, plain and simple. Moreover, accidental fatal stabbings are very rare, accidental fatal shootings are not, in comparison.
In all this, I want to stress this is in no way any judgement on the United States or the citizens within, but an opinion on what seems to be a possible correlation between the easy availability of such weapons and the ever-increasing scale of the violence, prompted by the reaction to the OP. I also think that the societal safety net that could prevent much of this has utterly failed. Many cases, outside of violent crime, could have been prevented had people seen the problem and set about to help the eventual perpetrator(s) before things came to a head, but we live a far more alienated society today than the one of even fifty years ago, even here.
In that sense, the real problem is not gun control but our loss of our close knit communities and our old tendencies to look out for one another and meddle in each other's lives. We live now in a society that is distant, uninvolved (in comparison) and self involved, and many people get sucked into forms of media that ratchet up their problems and stoke their fires of alienation and self righteousness until they burst, with sadly predictable results. That is what happened in Sweden, that is what happens in the US, and what happens here, too.
But, that said, getting a better handle on who has guns, and why they have them would be a great help already. We have such registers here, but they are Kantonal (state) and one Kanton's system doesn't talk to the others. And so we also have our tragedies, although rare in comparison to the US, even on a per capita basis. We are trying to fix that, but here it requires a nation wide vote, that is a slow process and the results are not guaranteed, even for a no-brainer like "wouldn't it be a good idea to share between the Kantons the list of gun owners, given that our entire country could fit into the hip pocket of most US states?" But, like the fractious relationship between the states in your country, our kantons can't get along at all. Heck, we still don't have a way of sharing medical data nationwide, so if I get a patient from Bern, it takes a ton of hoops for me to get the patient history from, say, the Inselspital in Bern, and it doesn't come electronically, meaning I have to get it entered into our system by hand. For some things, it is a mere inconvenience, but when the problem is time sensitive, lives are suddenly on the line.
All that is a way of saying that these are issues that will consume us for some time to come, and wiser heads than mine in most very country are trying to figure them out. I just see the bodies, and try to patch them up or close their blankly staring eyes. I see it from another perspective. It will always be that way.
I have held guns, fired them, including at people, have had to train on them once or twice a year for a big chunk of my life, I have dug bullets out of people, and I have had to tell crying families that (s)he didn't make it. A gun shot wound more or less ended my surgical career. So I see things from another perspective than many here.
It is not about debate, it is not about judgement, it is simply a statement of position. It is also a meaningless one, because I am not a US citizen, so I have no influence, political or otherwise on US policy, nor any say whatsoever. Call it an outsider's perspective, or a doctor's perspective, and leave it at that.
And I, too, am glad this can be so civilised, given the high emotions this sort of discussion usually elicits.
And to PaytonA, I am glad your parents were no longer living there to experience the distress that they surely would have felt. And I am sorry that you feel such distress in you old home neighbourhood. It is a sad day for you, and for everyone in Roseburg. My heart goes out to all of you.