While efforts continue to encourage fear of others as the basis for denying limits in guns, this argument suggests the slogan, “more guns, less crime,” and that most shootings in America involve strangers. Guns, therefore, are necessary to ward off predatory criminals. Yet, all available data from the Department of Justice and academic researchers indicates that in most shootings the victim is known to the shooter and that they are in the same family.

Most shootings involving four or more victims, the Department of Justice's definition of “mass shooting,” occur when a man kills his wife and children before himself. These are termed “family annihilators.” Children are significantly more likely to be shot by a friend or family member than a stranger at school. These are kids killing kids, either accidentally or purposefully. Men kill themselves with a gun in at least 80 percent of all male suicides, especially among veterans.

Rather than focus on assault-type weapons and magazine size, or engage in fearmongering, Congress and the American people must focus on laws that allow law enforcement to remove guns from suicidal individuals and domestic abusers. There must be a clear federal mandate that requires states to comply. There must also be a concerted effort to reduce the total number of guns in this country; 300 million is just too many. Congress must curtail the manufacture and sale of handguns and long guns, especially those that are semiautomatic, and demand that all weapons seized under any circumstances must be destroyed.

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Robert B. Harris, Ph.D.

Albany (Nov. 4)

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