My observation that the GA wants to allow lethal weaponry on greenways struck nerves with conservative commenters. Their umbrage is overblown. Firearms caused 335 of the 489 murders in North Carolina in 2011. The next most popular weapon, knives, caused “only” sixty deaths. And the prevalence of guns in a geographical area correlates with the number of gun crimes there. As Dr. Matthew Miller of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center told the Pediatric Academic Societies, “[W]here there are more guns in the United States, there are more people dying.” Gun-heavy states also have the highest suicide rates. Admittedly, most statistics on gun violence and geography come from states, but the logic holds at the metropolitan level–and Raleigh’s trails cannot be an exception.
All this makes Sunday’s news about North Carolina gun permit laws particularly disturbing. As the Charlotte Observer reports, no mechanism exists for gun dealers to even identify whether a permit-holder is an ex-criminal, a victim of mental illness, or a drug addict, let alone for law enforcement officers to confiscate his gun. Consequently, risky individuals stand eligible to buy or keep guns all across the state. That makes for tragedies waiting to happen, and not only crimes. It is well known that the mentally ill are much more likely to commit suicide.
Some gun control advocates favor proposals that discriminate between places based on the perceived likelihood of gun violence. Republicans who support loose gun laws understand this and are working to reverse the trend. Both factions are misguided. The relationship between place and violence exists everywhere. So do holes in statewide firearms regulations. Respecting different traditions is important, but gun control supporters may want to remember that victims are victims, no matter where.