Political Animal


December 17, 2012 10:14 AM US Gun Owners Possess One-Third of All Guns on the Planet

By Ryan Cooper

Via Ta-Nehisi Coates, yikes:

A decreasing number of American gun owners own two-thirds of the nation’s guns and as many as one-third of the guns on the planet — even though they account for less than 1% of the world’s population, according to a CNN analysis of gun ownership data.
Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper


  • Mimikatz on December 17, 2012 10:49 AM:

    Here are my thoughts after a weekend of reflection.

    First, we need at least some steps toward banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines at the very least. No hunter uses these and they are all psychological props for "self-defense."

    Second, some years ago a representative from Arkansas named Dickey got a measure passed that prevents the CDC from investigating the causes and cures for gun violence. It has apparently made research into this field very difficult. It should be repealed.

    Third, there are clearly way too many unhinged people in this society. Much of our policies are designed to exacerbate economic security and inhibit the integration of young men into society. We need more jobs, less inequality and a less apocalyptic political rhetoric. When "shoot th e hostage" is a metaphor for budget issues, something has gone very, very wrong.

    Fourth, somewhere in the last 40 or so years compassion and community became dirty words (remember the criticism of Obama for wanting an empathetic Supreme Court Justice?), somehow associated in the right-wing mind with communism. We need to revive those values and find ways to cultivate them. We need to revive the ideas at the core of most religions and enlightened philosophies that we are all connected, all part of the Whole. It is certainly found in Christianity and Buddhism, as well as enlightened philosophical thought. Truly feeling part of the Whole is probably the only way to overcome the feeling of crippling isolation that makes so many people in our society so unhappy.

    If we could revive compassion, gratitude and connectedness, and really put them into practice in every facet of our lives, this would be a much, much safer and better place to live, and maybe we would be in a position to tackle our other problems.

    These are just a few ideas.

  • cmdicely on December 17, 2012 10:54 AM:

    Those numbers aren't actually that far off if you replace "guns" with "wealth". A small and decreasing number of Americans that represent less than 1% of the population own a vastly disproportionate share of everything in the world: guns aren't special in this regard, even though there is some political interest in treating them as if they were.

  • jhm on December 17, 2012 11:01 AM:

    Perhaps it's a moot point, but even if by some miracle this country adopted sane laws regarding gun ownership, licensing and concealed carrying, absolutely no one seems to be discussing the production of all these weapons, and they would, just as the tobacco industry has done, very probably step their exporting including lobbying foreign legislatures for relaxing laws abroad.

  • T2 on December 17, 2012 11:17 AM:

    just in case anyone is wondering why so many people have powerful guns.....it's not about hunting, it's about being hunted. There is a large group of people who think that they are in danger of being "taken over" by minorities, either during civil unrest or during a worldwide action/catastrophe. If you are thinking that this group is largely white and male, and Republican....you are correct. I think there is something about "prying it from my cold dead hands" when it comes to taking their guns.

  • RollaMO on December 17, 2012 11:40 AM:

    T2, spot on. For a trip into the mindset, watch an episode of "Doomsday Preppers." Guns, guns, guns (and some canned food).

  • Rick B on December 17, 2012 11:48 AM:

    I see no reason for any civilian to own a semiautomatic firearm. The idea that having a firearm is useful for defense is ludicrous. Nancy Lanza had a large number of firearms for defense when the world collapsed, and the only use for them was that so her son could murder her with one of them.

    Want to hunt? Use a single shot or bolt action rifle or a single shot or double-barreled shotgun.

    In the 24 hours after the Connecticut school shooting there were 10 people shot in Chicago. Almost all of them were carrying weapons and someone shot them because they were afraid of them - a fear based largely on the fact that they carried firearms.

    Firearms create the very environment that makes people so afraid they feel they need to get a gun for defense. But that's a chimera. The gun is a totem that you own and pray to for protection, but without extensive training and constant practice it is more likely to be taken away and used to shoot you.

    I am retired military and have been an NRA life member for nearly half a century. I've had the training and I've conducted the training. I no longer take the time to practice with firearms because it's not worth my time - and I live in a rather rough urban neighborhood.

    I also hate being manipulated by the gun manufacturers who have taken over the NRA and use it to stoke fear so they can sell more guns. This kept their production lines operating when the military cut back in purchases for the military. But the NRA has manipulated the law so that the ATF cannot prevent sales of firearms or even investigate who is buying them. There are 1700 gun shops along the border with Mexico and those shops, with straw buyers, are supplying most of the small arms being used by the drug cartels in Northern Mexico as they battle each other to control the drug "plazas" that convey illegal drugs (and human trafficking and anything else worth smuggling) into the greatest market in the world - the U.S.

    U.S. politicians owned by the the NRA like Daryl Issa are protecting the illegal sales of firearms.

    The entire firearms market needs to be shut down in America. Whether Adam Lanza - or his mother - should have gotten some kind of mental health care is one issue, but to take individuals like that and throw them into a sea of firearms and teach them that they can "protect" themselves just by owning a loaded mankiller weapon is insanity. Yet this is exactly what our political system encourages.

    We need protection from the firearms. We also need protection from the manufacturers and sales people who are selling those weapons. And - very important - we need protection from the politicians who are encouraging this market in death.

    It's been a long weekend, and I've gotten angrier each waking hour.

  • Rick B on December 17, 2012 12:00 PM:

    @Mimikatz, You are quite right, and present an admirable and useful program. I just think it's way too limited.

    The quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates shows that we live in a sea of firearms. It's like being in a snake pit and being told we need to own more snakes to protect ourselves - and the liars who tell us that just happen to have "defensive" snakes to sell us.

  • James M on December 17, 2012 12:14 PM:

    I was going to call out some of the individual comments on the thread but they are all excellent. Also, if you want to see a powerful video,which may be sign of a fundamental change coming,check out this video essay by Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe:


    It might change your opinion of Mr. Scarborough. No matter what we do, as Mimikatz pointed out, we must put meaningful controls on assault/semi-automatic weapons. Japan,for example,also has people who snap and commit mass murders in public places, but they kill maybe 4 people instead of 14 or 24. The reason is that they are using bladed weapons instead of high velocity assault rifles.

    Also,even though I know everyone is simply trying to frame the enormity of this tragedy, I wish people would stop saying that 'Newtown will never be the same again'. People may have a vast propensity for evil, but they also have an immense capacity for goodness and hope. I just finished a project where I had to research several ancient cities in Central Asia. As one travel blogger put it, these cities were repeatedly literally 'beaten down into dust, but they rose again, time after time'.

    Newtown will also rise again.

  • Rick B on December 17, 2012 1:07 PM:

    The most vocal member of the caucus of the insane (Louie Gohmert) has weighed in.

    Louie says the teachers needed to have an M-4 rifle available so they could have stopped the Connecticut shooter. Pressed by host Chris Wallace on why ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons that shoot 5 bullets per second, Gohmert said that any restrictions on fire arms could lead to the slippery slope of full prohibition and said that American amass weapons to protect themselves from the government.

    Maybe someone should mention to Louie that (sad as it is to say) HE is the government we need protecting from.

    The government needs to protect Americans, not arm those who would go murder children. Louie is just making sure that the crazies have easy access to all the weapons they want and making sure the gun manufacturers can profit by selling people-killing machines as somehow providing "defense."

    Defense against what? Why others wielding people-killing machines, of course.