*"My dogs getting put down every day out there Mr. B. It's crazy."
That's what a client I visited in one of Philly's prisons told me over the weekend.
He has every right to feel the way that he does. Sadly, the murder rate is rising in Philly and everywhere else in the country. People don't even fight anymore. Got beef? Settle it with a gun. Today it's not the slickest dude with his fists who is the most feared; it's the craziest dude with a gun.
I read an editorial from the New York Daily News which I think sheds some light on the problem.
"States with the toughest gun laws suffer gun-related deaths at the lowest rates, says a study that destroys the myth-making of America’s Second Amendment absolutists.
The zealots say it all the time: The more freely guns are made available, the fewer people will die from bullet wounds. No one with any common sense has ever believed this nonsense; now there’s data to back up the gut.
Numbers crunched by National Journal document that gun rights advocates are dead wrong in claiming that easily arming law-abiding citizens would cut the murder rate — while also showing that the ready availability of guns makes them a factor in higher rates of suicide (which account for two-thirds of gun deaths), accidental deaths and other fatal non-criminal shootings.
Breaking down the grand total of gun-related deaths, National Journal showed that the states with the lowest number per capita — Hawaii (2.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013), Massachusetts (3.1), New York (4.2), Connecticut (4.4), Rhode Island (5.3) and New Jersey (5.7) — have among the nation’s most restrictive firearm purchasing and possession laws.
These include requiring (not in every state, but in most) a permit for gun purchases, universal background checks and regulations that make it awfully hard to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon — or carry a gun in the open.
Meanwhile, the six states with the highest number of gun deaths in the nation have dangerously permissive laws: Wyoming (16.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013), Arkansas (16.8), Alabama (17.6), Mississippi (17.8), Louisiana (19.3), Alaska (19.8).
In all these states, no permit is required to purchase a handgun. There are no universal background checks. Handguns don’t have to be registered. It’s pretty easy to get a concealed-carry or open-carry permit — if any permit is required at all.
As for gun murders, homicide rates for weak- and strong-gun-law states were roughly comparable, powerfully undermining the notion that a society in which everyone and his brother is free to own a gun is a society safer from the horror that firearms inflict on human flesh.
SUNY Cortland political science Prof. Robert Spitzer wrote in these pages Monday that obtaining a gun permit in New York required him to jump through hoops that Roanoke TV murderer Vester Flanagan would never have been able to, including providing his employment history and four character references attesting to psychological fitness and moral character.
The process even included an in-person interview with the local police precinct and could have triggered review by a county judge.
Smartly preventing people, including potentially unstable individuals, from obtaining weapons can make the country safer and save some of the 30,000 lives lost annually to gun violence." [Source]
There are others issues to be sure: A lack of jobs and job training programs for poor inner city kids; poor home training and a lack of coping and social skills; and a war on drugs that is clearly not working.
Before leaving my client I tried to give him some words of encouragement. "Don't worry young buck, we will have you home soon." That didn't seem to be what he wanted to hear. "Honestly Mr. B, I am not even in a rush to get back on these streets. I feel much safer in here."
*Pic from thegrio.com