Monday, April 29, 2013

Gun Violence In America: The Problem That Remains

Social Justice

Gun Deaths:  Garen Wintemute says in the article that America’s love affair with guns has changed little in the last 30 years: “Everything that was true of firearm violence in the early 1980s is still true today,” he says. “There is a fundamental injustice in violence. People don’t ask for it; it comes to them.”
Source: Nature News

An article, by Meredith Waldman, in Nature News says that despite the large number of deaths due to guns, there is little research done on the correlation between handguns and violence in America. One of the few researchers is Garen Wintemute, an emergency-room physician in san Francisco and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California (UC), Davis.

While gun-rights organizations like the NRA, and many others, have lots of money to advocate for their members, and lobby Congress, the federal government prohibits any agency from taking sides on the issue of gun control, even if the medical science supports tougher legislation. Waldman writes:
That has led to a striking imbalance in US medical research. Firearms accounted for more than 31,000 deaths in the United States in 2011 (see 'Gun deaths'). But fewer than 20 academics in the country study gun violence, and most of them are economists, criminologists or sociologists. Wintemute is one of just a few public-health experts devoted to this research, which he has funded through a mixture of grants and nearly US$1 million of personal money.
His undercover gun-show tactics have led him into situations where he feared for his safety, and they have also raised protests from some gun-rights advocates, who charge that Wintemute is more a biased campaigner than a researcher.
But even a few of his ideological opponents praise Wintemute's work. “Garen is one of the very best in terms of his research skills,” says David Kopel, the research director at the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado, a think tank that supports gun-owners' rights.
And Wintemute, who is 61, makes no apologies for his passion or his methods. “I believe just as strongly as I can articulate in the value of free inquiry,” he says, “especially when the stakes are so high — when so many people are dying through no fault of their own; when so much of the country simply turns its back on this problem.”
Ignoring issues never makes them go away, as is the case with gun violence in America; with so few serious scientific studies, it becomes difficult to look at correlations. Still, if you look at the numbers in a rational way, you would question why it is acceptable that each year 31,000 individuals die as a result of death by gun, the majority self-inflicted death by suicide. It would be both rational and reasonable to at least have required background checks, to ensure that individuals who are mentally ill or who have a criminal record ought not have easy access to guns. Really, it's that simple.

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You can read the rest of the article at [Nature]

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