Every time we have a new gun atrocity in the USA, the NRA and its supporters argue that the answer is more guns, not less. This time around it is to be guns for teachers. This is beyond absurd. There is a ton of research that demonstrates a clear link between the number of guns in a society and the number of gun deaths: The higher the rate of gun ownership, the higher the rate of gun deaths. The clear answer to the epidemic of gun fatalities we have in this country is less guns, not more guns.

The USA, with just 5 percent of the world’s population has over 40 percent of the world’s guns in private hands. Our gun ownership rate is many times higher than almost any other country in the world, and is even 50 percent higher than Yemen, which has the next highest rate of gun ownership and is in the middle of a savage civil war.

As long ago as 1993, a study by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that keeping a gun in the house increased the risk of being killed by a relative or friend. The NRA’s response was to push the Dickey Amendment through Congress, which banned the CDC from conducting this kind of study.

In 2011, similar restrictions to the Dickey Amendment were placed on the Department of Health and Human Services. This is commonly known as burying your head in the sand. Before he died, Dickey publicly regretted his role in passing his amendment.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, various states and cities were having some success, through numerous lawsuits, in reigning in the worst excesses of the gun industry. The NRA’s response was to drive through Congress a 2005 law that shields firearm manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits when crimes are committed with their products.

For decades a majority of Americans, including Republican presidents Reagan and Ford, have supported the banning of sales of assault weapons. Similarly, a majority of Americans have long supported universal comprehensive background checks before anyone can buy a gun; it is absurd that there are numerous loopholes in the current background check procedures. It is solely the financial muscle of the NRA and the compliance of paid-for politicians that for decades has blocked these two commonsense measures. This has to end.

To repeat: The clear answer to the epidemic of gun fatalities we have in this country is less guns, not more guns. Above all, as first measures we should be banning the sale of all assault weapons, and of high capacity magazines, and should be requiring universal background checks with no loopholes for all gun purchases.

We have an opportunity with the midterm elections this year to change things. We should refuse to vote for any politician who accepts money from the NRA, and who will not unequivocally support universal background checks and the banning of all sales of assault weapons.

Nigel Calder
Newcastle