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When asked, during the second presidential debate, about their respective positions on assault weapons, both candidates gave only vague responses. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney offered any indication that they would would push for stronger gun control laws.

In case you haven’t been paying attention for the last, say, 40 years, gun control has long been a thorny issue in American politics, partly because of the ongoing heated debate over how the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted, and partly because of the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group that has successfully dissuaded ranks of political leaders from pushing for more restrictive firearms legislation.

Nevertheless, it’s still surprising how little attention the issue’s received in this year’s presidential race, given the number of mass shootings this year, including one of the deadliest in U.S. history that happened just four months ago at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed and 70 injured. As with most mass shootings in the U.S., the guns used in the massacre had all been purchased legally.

And even though violent crime rates nationwide have fallen in recent years, the number of firearm deaths in the U.S. remains alarmingly high. Between 2006 and 2010, nearly 48,000 people were killed by gunshot wounds (including suicides). The firearms industry, meanwhile, is booming. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in 2010 there were close to 130,000 federally licensed firearms dealers in the U.S. In that year alone, nearly 5.5 million firearms were manufactured here, and roughly 3.3 million were imported.

The Guardian

That’s just about 9 million new firearms floating around the country!

Visit to read arguments for and against stricter gun laws, particularly regarding concealed handguns. And explore an interactive gun crime map of America, produced by The Guardian, a British-based publication (click on the image on the right).

This interactive map, created by WNYC (based on ATF trace data for 2011), shows where guns were originally sold and where they were recovered.

How Come No One’s Talking About Gun Control This Election? 7 February,2013Matthew Green

  • I guess politicians aren’t as stupid as they once were.

  • Why isn’t gun control an issue? Simple. The majority of the American people understand that most proposed gun control measures — microstamping, assault weapons bans, gun registration, etc. — will do absolutely nothing to curb violent crime but will severely penalize law abiding people. Most of us see through the lies and distortions — such as your claim that “48,000 people were killed by gunshot wounds” from 2006-2010. One third of those deaths were suicides. “Gun control” is not going to reduce the suicide rate. Two thirds of those deaths are the result of crime. Gun control does not reduce violent crime (the UK has a higher violent crime rate than the US).

  • Montana_Libertarian

    First, let’s get real about statistics. “Gun deaths” includes not only homicides but suicides and all justifiable fatal shootings. Also, the author chose to select a five year period for citing numbers, further inflating the numbers in a gross and misleading fashion.

    Looking at 2010, the last year for which I have solid figures, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report reveals there were 8323 homicides committed with firearms; this excludes justifiable killings by police and civilians. Also, we all know that African Americans are disproportionately involved in homicides, both as perpetrators and victims. If you subtract all of the firearms homicides for 2010 committed by African Americans, you are left with 3903. In a nation of 312,000,000 that is a very small fraction. In 2010 there were 2,465,936 deaths in the U.S.

    Second, we have had a continuing national debate about gun control over the last few decades. News flash: the gun rights advocates won in the court of public opinion (see recent polls on public attitudes), in the legislative arena (over 40 states now license civilians to carry concealed weapons) and at the Supreme Court (see the Heller decision).

    It’s time for so-called progressives to quit flogging this dead horse.

  • gunnut1970

    “How Come No One’s Talking About Gun Control This Election?”

    Because no serious person thinks gun control actually controls crime. Anyone with a brain has figured this out by now.

    Note that the “48,000” figure the author links is for 5 years worth of data and it is all homicides, not suicides. The problem is not including suicides, its using an arbitrary length of time (why not 3 years, why not 7 years 2 months and 5 days?) One very important thing to look at is the link he provided:

    Look at how few of these homicides were committed with rifles. Rifles are the guns people are calling “assault weapons” and saying are extraordinarily dangerous. If they are so dangerous, why are rifles involved in only about 2.5% of homicides? Hmmmm….

    All the author did was prove the “assault weapons” bans are not going to decrease crime. For that revelation I applaud the author.

  • Videre Licet

    According to the link provided in the article, there were 8777 total firearms homicides in the US in 2010 (the latest year provided).

    In the same year, 2010, there were 10,228 fatalities in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher – 31 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year – according to the NHTSA. Link:

    And yet nobody’s talking about banning alcohol this election either. That’s because a) it’s been tried and failed and b) we have all the alcohol-control laws we need so we just apply them to those who break them.

    There are currently 960 firearms-related laws on the books in California alone and they are busily going for 1000. How many more useless laws do we need before we realize they are not working?

    • Montana_Libertarian

      Nicely put.

  • ComtedeDirac

    Gun control is so important. The right will always whine about how “guns saves people,” but I think if this little girl had been raped and murdered, far better than having a little girl with a gun! Conservatives don’t get it!!!!


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @MGreenKQED

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