Keeping the Proper Perspective on Guns and Massacres
Newspapers on and off line, Facebook, TV networks and other sources are going through their over-wrought routines of anguish about the Newton massacre. It was terrible no doubt. Almost every condemning adjective available applies. But events like this is do bring out gross exaggerations.
Take a look at Peter Wehner's comments about Mike Huckabee's suggestion that the massacre happened because God is not allowed in the schools . As another example, one friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
Nicolas Kristof has said
More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
Kristof gives the data on the deaths in the two wars but supplies no data on the number of deaths in the unspecified six months he mentions. The statement he makes appears to be a gross exaggeration. I can find no data to support his statement.
Let us look at good data. Of 74 school mass killings in schools from 1927 until now, seventeen killings occurred in the USA (23%) with a total toll of 183 dead and 279 injured. Twenty killings took place in China (which presumably has strong gun control laws) with 60 deaths and 313 injured. In Germany there have been eight mass killings with 52 deaths and 124 people injured
In work place killing 22 of the 42 rampages from 1828 until the most recent took place in the USA.
In the 54 registered soldier-related mass killings from 1914 until recently, only three occurred in the USA while eleven happened in Russia or the Soviet Union.
These killings are reprehensible but they are neither growing in number, nor are they becoming a norm in our society. For example,
Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass murders in America, said that while mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929, according to his data. He estimates that there were 32 in the 1980s, 42 in the 1990s and 26 in the first decade of the century.
Almost all of us agree with John Dunne: Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind. But let us attempt to keep our perspective on the issue of mass killings.