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Mississippi, a state where I once worked extensively with health providers, had 632 gun deaths in 2017. As a reference point, that same year, we only had 17 soldiers killed in Afghanistan. 

Per CDC data, Missouri has the sixth highest rate of gun deaths per capita of any state. The ten states with a worse rating all have loose gun control laws. The states with the lowest rates are all in the North East, except Hawaii. All have strong gun control laws. Recognize a pattern?

We’ve seen horrible mass shootings around the nation, although not any (yet) in Mississippi. Sometimes, killings are the result of bigoted, hateful, unstable people. But our problem isn’t simply white supremacist crazies committing mass shootings. 

Many more killings are caused by “normal” people using readily available guns to kill themselves or others. The larger question is: “could any of these shootings have been prevented?” As a long-time gun owner myself, I investigated the topic.

Myths

Here are some myths about gun control versus the facts:

Myth 1: The “gun grabbers” want to take away all of our guns.
Facts: Virtually no reputable groups gun control organizations demand this approach. 

Myth 2: The only thing that will stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun and armed guards will prevent all mass shootings.
Facts: Armed guards sometimes prevented some violence (Poway). Other times not (the Parkland Sheriff’s Deputy hid).

Myth 3: No new laws are needed, just enforcement of current laws.
Facts: Without funding, implementation of many measures isn’t feasible. The CDC Director stated they would research causes of and remedies for gun violence, if funds were appropriated. But they are not. 

Myth 4: New laws will not eliminate gun violence.
Facts: No one believes that all gun deaths will be prevented, just drastically reduced. 

Myth 5: If gun laws are so effective, then Chicago wouldn’t have so many gun deaths.
Facts: Guns are easily brought into Chicago from states with loose laws. Nevertheless, the rate of firearm deaths per capita in Illinois with stricter gun laws is much less than in Mississippi (or that of every Deep South state where I live, all having loose laws.) Missouri has a gun death rate nearly double that of Illinois.

Specific gun control laws are needed. Gun deaths are over FIVE times higher in Louisiana versus NY. Are people more violent or crazy on the Bayous than in Brooklyn? Having lived in both areas, I can tell you the answer is no. The difference is gun control. National regulation is needed, but state regulation will have to make do until we have DC politicians who really care rather than just saying that they will pray.

 It’s been clear where the public stands. Here are just a few of the reasonable gun control measures that are supported by at least 50% of Americans of BOTH parties (Pew, 12-27-18): 

  • Stop the mentally ill from owning guns (89% support); 
  • Stop those on “watch lists” from owning guns (86% Dem. and 83% Rep. support); 
  • Halt private and gun show sales (91% D, 79% R); 
  • Institute an assault rifle ban (81% D, 50% R); and 
  • Halt sales of high capacity magazines (81% D, 51% R).

The real underlying problem is that politicians of both parties (but primarily the GOP) are on the payroll of the pro-gun lobbyists… as well as afraid of the NRA. In many states, virtually every major politician gets an “A” rating from the NRA (Everytown.org).

In an ideal world, where people are elected because they follow the wishes of their constituents, that would get them an “F” rating from voters come election time. Mississippi residents: make sure that you remember this fact when you step in the voting booth.

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Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.