Rev. Paul M. Turner

Our Real Predator: The Most Dangerous Animal in America is Us

On Tuesday I attended the launch of Outcry, a Georgia interfaith organization against gun violence. In case you’re not aware, the deadliest predator in America is a gun-toting American. Here are some bracing facts courtesy of Americans for Responsible Solutions:

  • Every year, roughly 30,000 Americans die from gun violence.
  • Americans are roughly 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.
  • Women in our country are roughly 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other high-income countries.
  • From 2001 through 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun – more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
  • Every day in our country, eight children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns.
  • American children are roughly 11 times more likely to die by guns than children in other high-income peer countries.

Gun violence is a complex problem – but one reason we have such a high rate of deaths and injuries from gun violence is because we have bad laws:

  • Federal law and many states don’t require background checks on all gun purchases, making it easy for dangerous people like convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers to get guns – no questions asked.
  • We still don’t have a strong clear federal law against gun trafficking, tying the hands of prosecutors and law enforcement.
  • Under federal law, many convicted stalkers and domestic abusers can still pass a background check and legally get a gun.
  • Many states don’t do enough to report records of dangerous people to our federal background check system – and a background check system is only as good as the data it contains.

We can do better. We have to do better.