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SUPERTHREAD: Analyzing US Gun Violence

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posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:07 AM
Question: Among Western democratic countries, the United States has a much higher homicide rate than Canada. What are the reasons for these differences?

Canada is the only nation in the world with a policeman as its national symbol (Margaret Atwood, 1972). Atwood may have plucked a cultural string when she cited this observation. Arguably Canada is one of many western democratic nations that have far lower homicide rates than that of the United States, the country that is also the self proclaimed western ideal. But I digress. There is no doubt that this is due to many different civil, social, historic, demographic and political issues that have developed the United States much differently than the rest of the West. The three most important reasons for America’s sharply increased homicide rate, compared to Canada, are its overly liberal gun laws, lack of adequate social services and the division of wealth within the country.
One of the most recognizable and accepted cause for America’s high homicide rate are the gun laws that form the backbone “of 68% of the 14,860 homicides in the United States during 2005 (Cook, 2000, pg. 26).” The American Bar Association, in 2003 stated that recent studies have revealed the United States to have a murder rate six times higher than other similarly developed, democratic nations. Murder rates by guns are astonishingly 12 times higher than the average of its peer nations. The U.S. rate of 7.07 per 100,000 people is significantly higher than the 0.58 average rates of its peer nations (Ryan, 2003). This difference is largely due to the amount of guns in circulation in each country. In the United States the percentage of households with any type of gun (about 36 percent) is two to three times greater than for our peer nations (Gottesman, 1999).

Pro-gun activists in the United States claim that it is their patriotic symbol and right under the Second Amendment of the American Constitution to keep and bear arms. Citing that their independence was secured under this amendment, one can be somewhat sympathetic. However, different interpretations have led many scholars to believe that this meant arms of the era, such as sabers, swords and muskets. It is important to note that America no longer needs to fight for security of the state, and many believe this to be an outdated right. It is also important to note that the high rate of homicide is also due to the power that firearms have to inflict harm and kill others.

Gun lobbying has become a big business in the United States as big companies like Smith & Wesson, and North American Arms, Inc. try to maintain a positive public image. Maybe the fact that over 100 gun manufacturing companies has set up shop in North America (Fjestad, 2007) can show the wealth that the industry has to date. The possibility of a significantly less violent America, then, can start in the hands of their lawmakers.

The lack of social programs, in comparison to other Western democratic nations is also a prominent influencing factor into the high homicide rate of the United States. Social programs in most countries are used as a primary tool for family, financial and educational support. The percentage of America’s GDP that is spent towards the welfare of its people is 14.8%, just 3% lower than Canada’s 17.8% and 3% higher than Mexico’s 11.8% (Ryan, 2003). America regards a welfare state negatively even though countries like Denmark and Sweden which spend close to 30% of their GDP on welfare are regarded by the UN as the best places in the world to live. When an individual is unable to provide for themselves, a welfare state provides them with social services that help to reestablish their independence and their ability to provide for themselves.

The lack of social programs in the United States can be seen as a direct link to higher crime rates like robbery and homicide. The fact that there are many more guns in circulation also add to the problem. An example would be the increased amounts of burglaries in Canada compared to the United States. Had Canada more guns in circulation, the society would see an increase in robberies as opposed to burglaries because “burglars armed with guns may become both robbers and murderers (Hogan, 2000, pg. 44).”

If the United States matched Canada’s welfare expenditure by just increasing their own by 3%, they would see a dramatic benefit that would greatly outweigh the cost. “An expenditure of $10,038 over grades one to nine for each of these several hundred thousand additional children in the programs produces benefits from a low of $89,522 to a high of $129,465 per participant. A simple calculation of benefits minus cost shows that the net benefit of each participant is between $79,484 and $119,427. In other words, each dollar invested in an at-risk child brings a return of $8.92 to $12.90 (Cook, 2000, pg. 14).” This reference predates the After School Education and Safety Program Act of 2002, which came into effect after much more studies were conducted. The United States still has not met the standard of this Act and is currently in the process of attempting such a feat. It is important to note that this passage only reflects crimes in general and not specifically homicides, but, due to the violent nature of American crimes as opposed to other Western nations, a reduction in overall crime would see a visible reduction in the homicide rate. Implementation of more social programs, therefore, would ultimately relate to a decline in the American homicide rate.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:08 AM
The last major influence into the homicide rate of the United States is the division of wealth that has become one of the hottest topics on the public agenda today. They even go so far as to call it “The War on the Middle Class” which remains broadcasted and updated every so often on CNN.

Differences in demographics play a very direct role in influencing homicide rates. Those in demographic areas that are financially less favourable are more likely to commit violent crimes, as well as be a victim of one. For example, East Palo Alto, a relatively poor area only accounts for 4.8% of the population in San Mateo County, California, but in 2001, 35.3% of all homicides took place there (Ryan, 2003). The pattern is also close to the political reforms of the last 40 years. As the gap in wealth started to increase since the 1960s, so have the increase in crime rate. Homicide rates have decreased since 2004, to a thirty year low, largely due the passing of legislation that has limited the access of weapons, but a direct link is still made between violent crimes, and the division of wealth amongst the nation. Social programs can provide some support to the poor, but a decrease in the gap between the rich and the poor would see a sharp decrease in the overall crime rate.

It is important not to oversimplify the situation of American homicides as being solely because of liberal gun laws, lack of adequate social programs and division of wealth, but to recognize that these three factors play a majority role in the increased homicide rate America has in comparison to similar nations. Studies and an overwhelming amount of data have provided remarkable truths into the possibility of a less violent America. A possibility for change can only be had if more data was to be published about the influence of gun lobbying, the transparency of social budgets and causes for division of wealth, but important ideals such as these are often forgotten under the pressure of being a big business politician. Decreases in violence are slow but noticeable when states decide to uphold the basis of these arguments, and a brighter future for America is still very possible if she looks to the policies of her neighbors for guidance.



Cook, Philip J. & Ludwig, J. (2000). "Chapter 3", Gun Violence: The Real Costs. Oxford University Press.

Fjestad, S. (2007). Blue Book of Gun Values. Minneapolis, MN: Blue Book Publications.

Gottesman, R. (Ed.). Violence in America: An Encycolpedia. (1999). (1 ed., Michigan: Vol. 1). Thomas Gale.

Hogan, J. & Foster, H. (2000). Making Corporate and Criminal America Less Violent: Public Norms and Structural Reforms. Contemporary Sociology. 29, 44-53.

Ryan, J. (Ed.). Focus on Law Studies. (2003). Reducing Gun Violence (18th ed., Vol. 2). Chicago, IL: American Bar Association.

[edit on 06/17/08 by narin]

[edit on 06/17/08 by narin]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:13 AM
Nothing to do with UFOs though.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:16 AM
how do i change where it goes?

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:19 AM
A mod will put it where it goes. Not to worry.

I'm personally tired of everyone outside of the US trying to analyze the problems of guns in the US. Let us deal with our own problems, as we as a nation are capable of handling them. Sometimes we just divide on issues. And as a US resident, I believe guns are a problem, but have become necessary since a majority of people own them.

[edit on 7/2/2008 by Mad_Hatter]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:34 AM
some of these figures, like the welfare referance are a bit dated. i dont think america spends nearly enough on its people as it used to.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:45 AM
What has this got anything to do with Aliens and UFOs?

And stop with the "Superthread" nonsense.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 09:51 AM

Originally posted by dodgygeeza
What has this got anything to do with Aliens and UFOs?

And stop with the "Superthread" nonsense.

I'm sorry I don't know how to change the heading. :/

And SUPERTHREAD is a brand I'm pushing on ATS. Like longer deeper threads with nex-gen creativity? Just to address some dormant topics I feel have gone long undiscussed.
Please, enjoy the read.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 10:03 AM
I do believe a lot of gun violence is as a result of media, mis-information, and jealousy in the US. There is a constant in your face mainstream way of thinking because of advertisements, and media showing you what you can't have.....what is the most common way throughout history to get what you can't afford.....steal it or kill for it. Funny....that is what our entire existence in the US is built on.....we stole and killed for our land in the name of liberty and freedom.

While I whole heartedly believe this was necessary it is still a bit ironic that there are people who want to ban guns now. I say everyone should be issued a gun. Once everyone is on even ground there will be a lot less violence when each person knows everyone else has a gun too.

I know I will not be caught with my pants down in a bad situation. Say war is declared on the US and low and behold the only people with guns are the soldiers. Do you really think they can protect EVERYONE? Absolutely not. I am not going to leave the safety of my family to a LEO or Military unit. If you come into my house uninvited or try to carjack me I will shoot you.

As far as the OP's welfare suggestion of the US not doing enough for it's people I say the people of the US that are on welfare are not doing enough for themselves. Once a handout is given and accepted the hands keep coming back for a stray animal. I think we should focus more on educational funding and less on handouts. I never have liked the welfare system and would do away with it if I could.....granted there are some that need it, but the majority are lazy and want a handout.

We need more guns.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 10:48 AM
Half of US gun violence is self inflicted.

Sourcey source

I believe it to be a right of an individual to off them selves.

So if on average 30k people die a year because of guns..

15k are suicides..

leaving 15k dead by murder..

Most of those 15,000 people have criminal records, prior felonies and various other crimes.

So .. not to sound TO mean..

But basically the vast majority of those that die are 1. Pathetic anyways and just want to off themselves. 2. The trash of society, probably shot eachother because one ignorant fool said something about the other ignorant fools mother.

And seeing how much the ignorant in society breed..

I consider guns to be a quite useful way to take the ignorant trash out of the genetic gene pool.

Murder via robberies, home invasion, random shootings.. are relatively low. I know on my news every night it's something to the effect of "billy joe is on the run after shooting his mothers cousins roommates uncle after a dispute of who drank his last beer"

Of which I smile, knowing the killer and the victim will no longer be reproducing more scum to society!

PS. Most of the crimes involving guns also involve drugs.

[edit on 7/2/2008 by Rockpuck]

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:06 AM
reply to post by narin

Every American should own at least one gun and know how to use it. It's the fastest way to a kinder, gentler America.

You are right. America does not spend enough on her own people. She's too busy finding reasons to spend that money overseas and making those people/that country an American tax burden.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:06 AM
One could also make the argument that education plays an important role in gun crime. Are there statistics that show how many gun crimes are committed by those with a better education? How about the dreaded race card here. Who is actually committing all of the gun crime? Why are gun crimes more prevalent in urban areas than rural on a per capita basis? There is too much to go on than to say it is a good idea to ban firearms. Can the OP explain Kennesaw GA, where it is required to have a firearm and be familiar with its use? Violent crime fell off of the charts when that law went into effect. They have no crime. It is not the guns it is the people. When will we start to enforce the laws that are already on the books to stop the criminals? When will we come up with a program that does not reward crime and stop repeat offenders? When will we do something about the gang problems in the inner cities? When will we legalize drugs to stop the crime that goes along with their import? I think that the OP should read John Lotts book about the failure of gun control.



posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:30 AM
Why is this called a "super thread".....

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 11:48 AM

Originally posted by reluctantpawn Can the OP explain Kennesaw GA, where it is required to have a firearm and be familiar with its use? Violent crime fell off of the charts when that law went into effect. They have no crime.



Funny you should mention this....I happen to live in Kennesaw. Love the place and you are right...crime dropped and has stayed down. Granted it is a relatively nice area, but it is very gun oriented. Our rep, Tim Bearden, is a SUPER advocate for the right to bear arms. He has done a lot for our area and continues to push for our rights.

I think the ONLY way to a safer place is for everyone to be armed and everyone else should know it. As I said before.....if you come in my house or my car uninvited you will not leave under your own power.

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