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Considering the events at Midnight Madness this past weekend on campus, now is as good a time as any to discuss gun violence in this country. Even though the firearm in question was stolen from a police officer and, luckily, no one was hurt, the incident serves as a good reminder of the dangers associated with guns. The problem is that no one wants to discuss this national crisis. No one wants to discuss that only 28 percent of Americans today believe that handguns should be banned – a record low – and no one wants to discuss the grim secret that this country’s firearm homicide rate is among the highest in the industrialized world. Even as members of the Obama administration visited Chicago recently to discuss the ongoing teen violence epidemic there, no one mentioned the 80 percent of Chicago’s 510 murders in 2008 that were committed with guns, nor the fact that 34 of the dead were schoolchildren. And this is in a city with strict gun control laws that make it illegal for almost all individuals to own handguns. Opponents of gun control point to Chicago’s laws as evidence that it is reckless and uneducated individuals – not guns – that are the problem. They have a valid point – if only the suburbs of Chicago weren’t full of gun stores willing to sell individuals handguns that they then can take into the city. If that isn’t enough proof, consider Hawaii. Hawaii ranks 50th among U.S. states in gun deaths per capita, and while some might attribute this to the inordinate amount of sunshine and sandy beaches that foster a friendly environment, the state happens to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. A representative from the National Rifle Association argued that this was simply because Hawaii’s distance from the mainland makes it difficult for criminals to infiltrate the state. It would be interesting to hear this representative explain Massachusetts – a state with tough gun control laws, as well – placing 49th on the list since, last time I checked, the state was still attached to the continent. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made gun control one of his signature issues. Just two weeks ago, he highlighted the results of a three-state sting operation that found undercover city investigators were able to purchase guns illegally almost 75 percent of the time. While the gun laws in New York City are strict, Bloomberg undertook the investigation because the gun loopholes in other states contribute to the violence in the Big Apple. As Mayor Bloomberg noted, “This is an issue that has nothing to do with the Second Amendment; it’s about keeping guns from criminals, plain and simple.” In comparison to other countries, our gun deaths make the United States look downright scary. A report by the United Nations in 2000 found that in England and Wales in 1999, the firearm homicide rate is .12 deaths for every 100,000 individuals. That means there’s about one gun-related death for every one million people in any given year. Compare that to the United States, where almost 30 people die per million each year. What separates us from this portion of the United Kingdom isn’t intellect or self-control, but rather gun loopholes that make it easier for criminals and other nefarious individuals to get their hands on firearms. Certainly population density plays a role, opponents will argue. Consider India, home to Mumbai, the most densely populated city in the world, where two-thirds of the population lives in slums. The firearm homicide rate there is still less than one for every 100,000 individuals – one-third of the rate here in the United States. It’s clear that gun violence isn’t just a problem for American cities, but for the nation as a whole. Gun control opponents do have one valid point: They will point to states like Wyoming, which has the highest rate of guns in the home and one of the lowest homicide rates in the country, as evidence that gun control should be left to individuals and not the government. They may have a point – in Wyoming. The problem is that not all states were created equal. What works in Wyoming isn’t going to work in New York or Los Angeles. Groups and citizens on both sides of the debate should learn, understand and accept this. Even as these facts are publicized, guns continue to claim lives each and every day in the United States. This isn’t an issue getting discussed much in the White House or in the halls of Congress. President Obama is unwilling to expend political capital on a divisive issue that doesn’t offer much reward in the public relations realm. Congress is reluctant to act because of the disproportionate power of the gun lobby – namely the NRA – and its success in framing gun control as an issue of civil liberties instead of one of life and death. This is unfortunate. Gun violence is an issue that needs to be addressed. Stricter gun control is necessary and vital to our nation’s interests. If the politicians in this country won’t stand up and acknowledge the problem, our generation has to. If we don’t, guns will continue to claim lives in every community and city across this nation until we do. John Thornburgh is a senior in the College. He can be reached at thornburghthehoya.com. Worldwise appears every other Friday. *To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*

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