Monday, September 02, 2019

Another Pro-Gun Excuse

Jesus wept.  Or he might have upon hearing

During a Fox & Friends segment discussing the West Texas massacre on Sunday, Tony Perkins — a former police officer who's currently president of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative policy and lobbying organization — attempted to blame America's allegedly dwindling morality for the country's uptick in mass shootings.

"It's tragic and at some point we have to realize we have a problem as a nation, and the problem is not the absence of laws. It's an absence of morality," Perkins said, "[which is] really the result of a decades-long march through the institutions of America, driving religion and God from the public square."

As the map above indicates, religion is very popular south of the USA border. It is also a region with much higher rates of murder and violent crime, with Honduras having what appears to be the highest murder rate in the world. The murder rate also is much lower in Europe- which includes societies even more secular than that of the USA- than in central and southern America.

Of course, it is of questionable significance to compare the crime rates, generally, or the murder rate specifically, of the developed world with the undeveloped world because there are so many differences other than religious fervor. We shouldn't be as simplistic as Tony Perkins, he of the "less religion, more gun deaths" equation.

However, in a book published in 1999

"This data set provides a multinational example of the central point that lethal violence is the crucial problem in the United States," (Franklin) Zimring and (Gordon)Hawkins write. "It shows the United States clustered with other industrial countries in crime rate, but head and shoulders above the rest in violent death."

It's rather clear why the murder rate is far higher in the USA than in other industrialized nations while there is much less difference in crime generally:

The mere presence of firearms, according to Zimring and Hawkins, makes a merely tense situation more likely to turn deadly. When a gang member argues with another gang member, or a robber sticks up a liquor store, there's always a risk that the situation can escalate to some kind of violence. But when people have a handheld tool that is specially engineered for killing efficiently, escalation to murder becomes much, much more likely.

Statistics indicate that highly religious nations have the highest incidence of violence and European nations among the lowest, with rates in the USA between those two groups. There is little reason to believe there is a causal relationship, and no one has seriously suggested there is.

Imagine the outrage, though, if advocates of firearm safety were to suggest that religious faith encourages violence. Yet, a leading figure in the evangelical movement argues the opposite without possessing even epidemiological evidence.  It may not be surprising, though, for such claptrap to come from a guy who once said of Donald Trump

....with the exception of the way the president’s gotten into some things and handled some things and gotten into these spats…the president is providing the leadership we need at this time…. The president has not done anything, believe me, if the president had done anything immoral, the media would be all over it.”

                                                  HAPPY LABOR DAY

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