Why does the gun lobby claim rampant gun ownership is a social good?

The latest mass shooting in the USA raises a great many issues, all of which are at this point, as Barack Obama has suggested, obscenely routine. Not only has the incidence of these events continued unabated, they have, indeed, escalated in frequency and fatalities.

“From the point of view of an expat American who has lived in a country without gun violence as norm, it seems especially incomprehensible that even the most basic and rational limitations on gun ownership in the USA can’t even be properly discussed.

“The statistics on gun violence cannot be accurately reported because hospitals and law enforcement either do not, or in some case are not permitted to, amass such data. Worse, perhaps, is the reification of the American conversation about guns and killing to the worst kinds of absurdity. For example, it seems virtually a requirement for holders of public office to state up front that they are in favour of the constitutional right to bear arms. Why should this to be so? Why is it possible to legislate for public safety with respect to collateral damage from cigarette smoking or unsafe cars, but not for collateral damage from guns?

“It is well known in the USA that countries with gun control have fewer incidents of gun violence. It seems incomprehensible that the gun lobby can deny this fact, with little challenge, and continue to assert as a social good, the unbridled ownership of guns.

Professor Deborah Lynn Steinberg is author of Genes and the Bioimaginary: Science Spectacle, Culture (Ashgate 2015)

An earlier version of this post appears at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/expertcomment/why_does_the/

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