As we mourn the senseless, massive loss of life and grieve with the those who lost ones, the recent tragedy has engaged raises many questions. Is mass murder a uniquely American problem? No, especially not with acts of terrorism being carried out worldwide. But gun-related murders are. In one year guns killed: 17 in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 In Canada and 9,484 in the USA.
Of significance is that Finland, the nation with the lowest number of gun-related murders of those listed, ranks fourth in the world for the most firearms per capita (surpassed only by the United States, Yemen, and Switzerland.) Finns own 32 firearms per 100 private citizens. Yet, gun related homicides are rare, comprising 14% of the total number of homicides, as compared to a rate of 68% of murders involving guns in the US.
Why the enormous difference between Americans’ use of guns to commit murder and Finlands’? Guns and other weapons are tightly regulated in Finland with 60% of firearm permits issued for hunting weapons. Firearms can only be obtained with a separate acquisition license for each firearm. Licenses are not issued for "self defense reasons" and even weapons such as pepper sprays are regulated.
Carrying weapons, including guns and knives, in public is not allowed anywhere in Finland. Firearms must be locked up or have vital parts removed and stored separated. Even then, the weapon or any of its separated parts must not be easily stolen. If more than 5 pistols, revolvers or self-loading rifles or other-type firearms are being stored, they must be stored in a certified gun safe or in a secure space inspected and approved by the local police authority. Think of lives of children saved by these regulations! Registered guns may be carried only when they are being transported from storage to a shooting range, or hunting area, etc. and they must be unloaded and concealed or kept in carrying pouches.
Why can we not put similar restrictions on the right to bear arms. Other constitutional rights are not without restrictions. Our most basic right, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is limited by disallowing speech which provokes violence or incites illegal action, or is slanderous or libelous. If we limit and restrict our right to speak our mind, why can we not put some restriction on gun ownership?
As we learn the details of the number and types of weapons, ammunition and explosives James Holmes amassed over several months, one cannot help but think of the gun lobbyists slogan: Guns don’t kill, people do. Do bullets and rounds of automatic ammo kill? Can we not regulate and restrict the purchase of deadly arsenals while maintaining and protecting the bear to arms? The Second Amendment states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It does not say the right to bear arms and ammunition. Nor does it protect anyone’s right to automatic weapons.