Chart of the day

Ezra brings some more charts:

Americans don’t just have more guns that anyone else – 270 million privately held firearms. They also have the highest gun ownership per capita rate in the world, with an average of about nine guns for every 10 Americans. The second highest gun ownership rate in the world is Yemen; yes, Americans have nearly twice as many guns per person as do Yemenis, who live in a conflict-torn Arab nation still dealing with poverty, political unrest, a separatist Shia insurgency, an al-Qaeda branch, and the aftereffects of a 1994 civil war.

This next chart just shows the gun ownership per capita rate for the “developed” countries, or the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). That basically means the world’s rich countries. Some of them, such as Switzerland and Finland, are actually among the highest-ranking countries in the world by gun ownership rates. But the U.S. is still way, way ahead. Keep this chart in mind the next time someone compares U.S. gun ownership to Switzerland or to Israel.

Israel has only 7.3 privately owned guns for every 100 people, which means that the American rate is 12 times as large. For comparison’s sake, Israel’s gun ownership rate is about 12 times that of Japan. That means that the difference between America and Israel, in terms of gun ownership per capita, is about the same as the difference between Israel and Japan, which has perhaps the strictest gun control regime in the world.

But I’m sure that the fact that we have the highest homicide rate in the developed world and easily the highest rate of mass shootings has nothing to do with all the guns.  Just an odd coincidence.  Nothing to see here.

Photo of the day

National Geographic has compiled their best magazine photos of the year.  This is my favorite:

Picture of a dying tornado roping out in Regan, North Dakota

Mitch Dobrowner

Epic Storms | July 2012

A dying tornado like this one is said to be in the “roping out” phase.

Lots more gun thoughts

1) I totally understand Chait’s reaction (across two tweets):

I listened to the coverage on NPR the whole way home and was really fighting back tears when I got in to see my kids, all safely home from school.  One of the hugely impactful but little discussed features of parenthood is just how incredibly, incredibly emotionally vulnerable you feel.  You cannot help but think, “what if that were one of my kids” and really think about this tragedy on a very personal level.

It is so hard to think about this.  Of course, like many, I’ve chosen to think about the politics and the policy because the human tragedy truly is unbearable to think about.

2) Not like I understand your typical spree killer, but what kind of truly, truly, truly demented psychopath targets little kids.  It’s just so hard to fathom.

3) Nate Cohn says Democrats should stop being so damn fearful on the issue due to the changing demographics of party support.  Even if that weren’t the case, sometimes political leaders need to lead.  Anyway:

But even though the public might not overwhelmingly favor gun control, there’s reason to believe that Democrats can again feel comfortable fighting for gun control after a decade of keeping it on the back-burner. After all, they’re less reliant on rural, gun-owning voters than at any time in the history of the party.

Democrats backed away from gun control after concluding that the issue cost Al Gore the presidency, since he lost conservative, pro-gun states carried twice by Bill Clinton, like Ohio, Arkansas, West Virginia, or Missouri. But although national Democrats stayed silent on the issue for the next four presidential elections, neither John Kerry nor Barack Obama reclaimed these conservative, pro-gun Clinton-Bush voters. In fact, Obama and Kerry both performed worse than Gore among conservative rural voters. The fact is that these pro-gun voters are lost to Republicans, and probably for good.

4) Words cannot express my disdain for Mike Huckabee:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee attributed the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in part to restrictions on school prayer and religious materials in the classroom.

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News, discussing the murder spree that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, CT that morning. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

I really did enjoy the comments to this.  My favorite: “Interesting that Mike Huckabee doesn’t believe that his god is strong enough to be present – or loving enough to protect innocent children – just because our government protects people’s right to make their own choices about religion.”

5) Somebody on FB– cannot figure out who– obviously found my earlier post on the Colorado shooting worthy– it’s been lighting it up on my statistics.

6) Lots of great stuff on the twitter today.  Among those I follow, Steve Martin.  Had a series of his typically silly posts before he actually looked at the news and what other people were saying.  Damn, he must feel bad uttering all that inanity while everyone else was tweeting about the shooting.

7) Nice summary of Political Science on gun control from John Sides.

8) Great post from Seth Masket on the need for a political response:

If you find this disheartening, what can you do? The easiest answer is political activism. One can still find the occasional politician who supports gun control — Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced this just yesterday — but this is almost always seen as an act of political heroism, while opposing gun control is seen as pandering to the National Rifle Association. There’s no reason this needs to be the case. It’s important to remember that the NRA, as far as I know, has never broken any laws. They simply advocate for their members’ interests using very transparent political processes. As George Stephanopoulosfamously said:

Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They’re good citizens. They call their Congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.

The NRA does not own the patent on this formula. For those who wish to change the state of American gun ownership laws, the same approach should be used: If you see a politician supporting gun control, give her money. Volunteer on her campaign. Send her a letter thanking her, and then send letters to local newspapers praising her leadership. Make a particular stance on this issue the condition for your support in a primary election, and get your friends to do the same.

There’s no (pardon the term) magic bullet on this issue. It’s simply a matter of providing incentives to politicians. If supporting gun control is a heroic act, very few of them will do it. If it’s an easy way to gin up praise and campaign support, a lot of them will.

9) Obama teared up on several occasional during his speech.  I’d imagine nothing less.  I wonder if Romney would have.

10) Sullivan collects many of the most quotable responses:

Fallows wonders when America will learn its lesson:

Guns don’t attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again — and again and again. You can look it up.

Ezra adds:

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable. As others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

11) Wow– the conservatives at the National Review blog have almost nothing to say yesterday.

12) Great Tom Tomorrow

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