In the aftermath of the massacre in Orlando, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes today about guns. Not Omar Mateen, whose name doesn’t even appear in the column. Just guns. And people killing people with them. And not in the world. In America, which is so much more addicted to ownership and possession and use of guns than any other nation. I’ll give you a few of the numbers below, but first one that doesn’t even appear in the column but in the email Kristof sends to his regular readers. Here’s that one:
“In all of 2014, Japan had just six gun fatalities. The U.S. has more than that on average every two hours.”
Kristof didn’t need that one to make his point. Here are his bullet items:
- More Americans have died from guns, including suicides, since just 1970 than died in all the wars in U.S. history going back to the American Revolution.
- The Civil War marks by far the most savage period of warfare in American history. But more Americans are now killed from guns annually, again including suicides, than were killed by guns on average each year during the Civil War (when many of the deaths were from disease, not guns).
- In the United States, more preschoolers up through age 4 are shot dead each year than police officers are.
Of course, because of Orlando and Mateen and a certain orange-haired presidential candidate whose name escapes me at the moment, a lot of Americans are being asked to consider whether our gun violence problem is just an extension of the problem of allowing Muslims to resettle here (although, as you know, Mateen was born in the USA). So Kristof starts with a comparison between the United States and Canada, which allows him to address the Muslim angle. The column begins:
Canada has a much smaller population, of course, and the criteria researchers used for each country are slightly different, but that still says something important about public safety.
Could it be, as Donald Trump suggests, that the peril comes from admitting Muslims? On the contrary, Canadians are safe despite having been far more hospitable to Muslim refugees: Canada has admitted more than 27,000 Syrian refugees since November, some 10 times the number the United States has.
More broadly, Canada’s population is 3.2 percent Muslim, while the United States is about 1 percent Muslim — yet Canada doesn’t have massacres like the one we just experienced at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., or the one in December in San Bernardino, Calif. So perhaps the problem isn’t so much Muslims out of control but guns out of control.