A little perspective on the gun-control debate: According to U.N. data, the number of homicides committed with firearms in the United States runs typically between 9,000 and 10,000 a year, with the numbers going:
According to the Journal of American Medicine, the number of deaths caused by U.S. cardiac patients’ not bothering to refill their heart-disease prescriptions is about 113,000 per year. (The cost of filling prescriptions is of course a factor, but not the only factor. More from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog here.) In one category of disease, skipping meds causes about eleven times as many deaths in this country each year as all firearms murders combined. One of these things is treated by liberals as a national emergency, the other is not. This is a curious thing for people proclaiming themselves to be empirical, evidence-driven rationalists.
My own suspicion is that the gun-control debate is almost entirely cultural and aesthetic — there is little or no evidence that gun control prevents crime or saves lives. Some people simply react with disgust and horror at the sight of a gun — or, more precisely, at the sight of the sort of American they imagine to be inclined to own, use, and enjoy guns, i.e. old-fashioned tornado-bait such as yours truly. These are the same kind of people who abhor home-schoolers and imagine that right-wing radicals are the major threat to public safety in this country.
Gun control is not about guns; it’s about control.
(*I do not know why the 2000 figures are omitted.)