George B. Reed Jr.

George B. Reed Jr.

If there is anything the American conservative establishment can’t stand it is comparison of our own results with those of other developed nations. The reason? Because in many areas such as standard of living, quality of life, world happiness scale, medical care quality, cost and availability etc. we simply don’t measure up as the world’s wealthiest nation should.

The most embarrassing statistics today relate to the almost wholesale killing of our citizens by gun violence, particularly school-age children. These homicides are by uncontrolled firearms in the hands of individuals who should not have access to them. Recent studies have revealed that Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by guns than people in any other developed country. These nations with lower homicide rates probably have as many mentally-deranged people as we do. But fewer of them, fortunately, have access to firearms. The only real difference in these countries and the U. S.? They have effective gun control laws and we don’t.

While many other countries have suicide rates equal to ours, the U.S. suicide-by-gun rate is eight times higher than any other nation. These figures come from a study published February 1, 2018, in the American Journal of Medicine. Study authors Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway conclude: "These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our guns are killing us rather than protecting us. Individuals are more likely to have lethal intent if they anticipate that their adversaries will be armed." Other statistics gathered in this study were equally alarming.

Contrary to what our president maintains, our excessively high rate of firearms-related deaths cannot be explained away by differences in mental health conditions or suicidal tendencies. They are clearly the result of the easy availability of firearms, many of them never intended for civilian use.

Does easy access to firearms increase suicide rates? Many suicides are planned, but long-delayed until the life situation becomes totally intolerable. But other self-killings are the product of sudden urges and compulsions. And many times the urge to take one’s own life, if not immediately acted upon, may soon abate.

The firearms industry lobby, partnered with the NRA, has convinced many people that any effort at firearms background checks and registration will result in federal authorities entering our homes and confiscating our hunting rifles, shotguns and home-protection handguns. Horsefeathers! To legally own and drive a motor vehicle I must demonstrate my knowledge of the traffic laws, my ability to safely operate a car and register my car. But I have no fear the government will break into my garage and take away my car.

Rumors of gun confiscation are irresponsible fear-mongering by the NRA, an honorable organization that in pre-gun-industry-lobby days actually advocated and assisted in writing gun-control legislation. I understand that today a majority of rank-and-file NRA members still favors some sort of reasonable firearms registration laws. But, as usual, the money (the firearms industry lobby) talks.

George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at