Home > posts > Henry Porter’s Foolish, Outrageous and Wrong Take on Guns in America
September 24th, 2013 8:38 pm
Henry Porter’s Foolish, Outrageous and Wrong Take on Guns in America

Writing last week in The Observer, English columnist Henry Porter made a complete fool of himself. And it’s not that Porter is always a hopeless nincompoop. In fact, he is generally a reasonable and compelling writer who defends civil liberties and criticizes the growing government surveillance state in the U.K., the U.S. and beyond.

But on September 21, Porter penned a rant that was so ill-informed, off-base and ridiculous, that it called his abilities as a columnist – and his sanity – into question.

Exploiting the tragic story of the Navy Yard shooting to grind an anti-gun axe, Porter called gun violence in America “an international humanitarian crisis” and “a quasi civil war.”

Porter continues:

‘That’s America,’ we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks – last week it was the slaughter of 12 people by Aaron Alexis at Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard – and move on. But what if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as, if you like, that calls for outside intervention? As citizens of the world, perhaps we should demand an end to the unimaginable suffering of victims and their families – the maiming and killing of children – just as America does in every new civil conflict around the globe.

The annual toll from firearms in the U.S. is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn’t qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does.

While Porter’s point about America’s pompous and condescending tone that becomes apparent each time our leaders dare to chastise other nations when we are guilty of some of the same offenses reads as completely legitimate, the rest of his argument is utter nonsense.

Yes, the death toll from guns in the U.S. is about 32,000 a year. But over 19,000 of those gun deaths are suicides. In fact, about 61 percent of firearms deaths in America are suicides — less than 35 percent are homicides.

Since suicide rates in the U.S. and the U.K. are nearly identical – 12 per 100,000 U.S. residents and 11.8 per every 100,000 U.K. residents annually– it’s inaccurate to say the relative ease of accessing firearms in the U.S. leads to more suicides.

What is accurate to say is that gun deaths are decreasing in America, and have been for some time. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data released in May, homicides in America have decreased from 7 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 residents in 2010. So if Porter wants an alphabet soup of useless NGOs and throngs of well-meaning, but ignorant anti-gun activists to invade America to take our guns in hopes of protecting us from ourselves, he’s too late.

It seems Porter’s grand dream for America is to make our nation one big gun-free zone. Well, he needs to look no further than the Navy Yard shooting he is so busily perverting to show just how poorly that would work: the Navy Yard tragedy occurred in a gun-free zone…in a gun-free city. In fact, every mass shooting in America over the last 65 years except for one occurred in a gun-free zone. (Which makes sense, since gunmen looking to cause maximum harm know that no one in a gun-free zone is capable of fighting back.)

Certainly any act of violence is revolting and any injury or life lost at the hands of an evildoer is tragic – whether the criminal’s weapon of choice was a fist or a gun, a stone or a sword, an arrow or a nuclear warhead.

It would benefit Porter and other anti-gun extremists to recognize that the criminal, not the weapon, is the problem.

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