The United States is an enormous country with different cultures, geographies, histories, climates, cuisines and many other aspects which differentiates a region from its neighbors. The media is quick to assert that America has a gun violence problem.
The truth isn’t that simple. Most areas of the United States do not have gun violence issues while some regions have murder rates akin to third-world countries.
When looking at numbers on a state-by-state basis, homicide rates vary from 1.3 per 100,000 residents in New Hampshire to 11.8 per 100,000 residents in Louisiana. New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, and Oregon–all of which have among the lowest homicide rates in the United States despite have lax gun laws–earn Brady Campaign (a gun control advocacy group) scores of D-, F, F, and D+.
The U.S. has a murder per capita rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, Mexico has a murder rate of 20.5 per 100,000, despite the fact that on average Mexico has 15 guns per 100 residents and the U.S. has 101 guns per 100 residents. Last year in St. Louis, the murder rate was 50 per 100,000 residents — more than three times Chicago’s, ten times the national average and thirty-eight times that of New Hampshire’s.
What all these metrics teach us is laws cannot prevent every atrocity, and the number of guns owned in society is not the most relevant factor for whether gun violence will occur. Rather, what matters is culture and the degree to which we chose to respect each other’s freedom and property.
Culture is why Mexico has a murder rate that is four times that of the United States despite only having 15 guns per 100 residents compared to the United States’ 101 guns per 100 residents. Culture is why New Hampshire has a homicide rate that is only 2.6 percent of St. Louis’ murder rate. Cultures that promote human respect and the tolerance of differing values will find themselves more harmonious, more prosperous and with less violence than cultures which do not value basic civil principles of don’t harm, steal from, or defraud others.
The very nature of government encourages men to destabilize peaceful civil principles and gradually move society into warring democratic factions. It’s hard to tolerate others and live in harmony when most individuals are constantly trying to force their personal values on others by voting for a politician to control the actions of society. Just because one person doesn’t value gun ownership doesn’t mean everyone should be penalized for it. Peaceful and respectful individuals don’t hire mobsters, hitmen or politicians to force their personal values upon others.
While I don’t love guns, I know that others do. Now think about what you love, how would you like it if a group of individuals were trying to use politicians and police to take from you what you love? Is this a recipe for peace, a nation of people in a constant battle over who gets to control arbitrary laws? I think we can all agree voting every two years to control one another through proxy politicians is not how society will achieve harmony and prosperity. Changing our culture to one which maximizes human respect, is tolerant of others, values the individual, respects persuasion and trade over democratic majority-rule will lead to a more flourishing, tolerant, and less violent society.
Gun laws will never reduce the amount of violence in society, many countries have made it impossible or near impossible to own a gun (there is only one legal gun store in Mexico) which results in peaceful individuals ending up defenseless against those who do not care about laws. Laws for the most part do not stop deplorable people from committing acts of violence. It is naïve to believe a person who is willing to take innocent lives and murder as many people as possible even remotely cares about following the law. Gun control advocates must wake up and realize laws mean nothing to those who all willing to slaughter innocents.
Americans, pointing guns or pointing votes at each other will never lead to the peaceful society we desire. While the damage and bloodshed caused by a bullet is easy to see and highlight on the news, yet the societal unrest resulting from the ballot box is not so measurable. The machinery of politics incentivizes people to try to coercively control others they don’t not agree with, and promotes a nasty tribalism in which the stakes are our most fundamental personal values.
Political democracy moves us into never ending tribal political battles, battles which do not allow individuals to live their lives free from the coercion of others and with 100 percent autonomy. Pointing a gun or using the vote to strip others of their life, liberty or property is not a foundation from which a civilized and peaceful society will emerge.