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Guns Don't Kill People, Gun Culture Does

A pile of guns are displayed at a news conference after an annual Gun Buyback Program which netted 1,673 firearms at the Los Angeles Police headquarters
A pile of guns are displayed at a news conference after an annual Gun Buyback Program which netted 1,673 firearms at the Los Angeles Police headquartersPhotograph by Nick Ut/AP Photo

As the debate over gun control deteriorates into shouting matches and threats of insurrection, most of the rest of the world looks on with confusion, viewing America’s gun culture and laws as sad and odd.

U.S. gun-rights advocates are correct in their assertion that global evidence isn’t immediately compelling when it comes to the link between levels of gun ownership and homicide. And most studies of previous U.S. gun legislation suggest a limited impact on rates of violence. It turns out that’s the wrong set of questions. The international evidence is clear that it takes more than guns to cause high crime rates, yet guns enable both intentional and unintentional violence, and large, lightly regulated gun sales lead to more homicides throughout the Americas.