Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gun Control and Rights; People Agree on Key Points

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gun Control and Rights; People Agree on Key Points

Article excerpt

When 85 percent of Americans agree on anything these days, it must be recognized.

That's the landslide proportion of us who agree with expanded background checks of gun sales, according to a Pew Center poll.

There is very little difference in support between Republicans (79 percent) and Democrats (88 percent).

Also 8 in 10 support laws preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns, and 70 percent support a federal database to track gun sales.

And a majority in a Quinnipiac poll favored bans on gun sales to people on terrorist watch lists, though there must be due process appeals for government mistakes on the lists.

At the same time, polls show that Americans are doubtful that these restrictions would prevent mass shootings. And Americans are reluctant to ban weapons entirely.

Only 27 percent favor a ban on handguns other than for law enforcement, reports Gallup polls. And proposals to ban assault weapons leave Americans split.

Polls also show more Americans believe that having a gun in the house makes people safer, a recent change.

So where does this leave public officials?

First, they ought to pass the common-sense proposals that the vast majority of Americans support.

Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should study the use of guns as a public health issue.

FACTS ON GUNS

Fewer Americans own guns today than in the past.

However, the typical house now includes twice as many firearms compared to 1994 - eight vs. four.

Despite the wide publicity of mass shootings, fewer Americans are dying from gun violence than a decade ago.

In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans. In 2013, the rate was cut in half to 3.6.

A column in The Washington Post tried to come up with reasons for the drop in firearm homicides:

- More police officers since President Bill Clinton funded 100,000 additional officers nationwide. …

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