MSNBC's Morning Joe Explains How The Prevalence Of Guns In The US Contributes To Mass Shootings

The United States Has 4.43 Percent Of The Global Population, With 42 Percent Of The World's Guns -- About 270 Million Civilian Firearms

From the December 4 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

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MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): Yesterday the Senate rejected several gun control measures introduced in response to the San Berardino massacre. Senators Joe Manchin [(D-WV)] and Pat Toomey [(R-PA)] reintroduced their plan to expand gun background checks as amendments to a bill to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood. The gun provisions failed in the months after Newtown and failed once again yesterday. Lawmakers also rejected Senator Dianne Feinstein's [(D-CA)] amendment to prevent people on the government's no-fly list from buying guns. The House voted down the same measure earlier this week. Steve, no matter what or whom is to blame for the shooting in San Bernardino, you're looking at the numbers on guns and they're pretty astounding.

STEVE RATTNER: I was astounded by the numbers on guns. No matter how you slice it, we clearly have too many guns. So a couple of charts to sort of lay that out. If you look at the first one, you can see that the U.S. has 4.43 percent of the world's population, but we have 42 percent of the world's guns. And that translates into about 270 million guns for every American, almost one per household, almost one per person, more than two per household. And part of why we've had so many mass shootings. But if you look at the next chart you'll see some interesting other evidence about what's going on out there. So what this chart does is it compares gun ownership verses gun deaths in various countries, and the red line shows that there is a direct correlation between the two. So if you look in the upper right hand corner, you have the U.S, which this particular data has a few more than a hundred guns per hundred people and has about 12 homicides per hundred thousand people. But as you go down the red line, you see that in other countries like France, for example, Switzerland and so forth, many fewer guns, many fewer gun deaths. And then you get all the way to the bottom and see Singapore and the U.K., virtually no guns, virtually no gun deaths. And the last piece of evidence to throw out there is an experience that Australia had. Back in 1996 Australia had a mass murder. Thirty-five tourists were killed in the island of Tasmania, and in response they passed a very strict gun control law. They banned assault rifles, they banned long guns of many kinds, they banned handguns, and they instituted a gun buyback program. And you can see what happened here. This shows the delineation between the two time periods. Gun deaths immediately went down. By the time all was said and done, the homicide rate from guns had fallen by 59 percent and the suicide rate from guns had fallen by 65 percent. They had a gun buyback program that took more than a million guns out of people's hands and the results were pretty clear.

WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): Obviously, through, given the numbers you show about how many guns we have in this country, that would be almost impossible to do in the United States. You have like 350 million guns. You could ban guns today if some people got their fantasy --

BRZESINSKI: You'd have to do buyback.

GEIST -- and you'd still have more than 300 million guns floating around the country so a criminal who wanted to do bad could find a gun, right?

RATTNER: Yeah, although again, the idea of gun buyback programs has been around for a while and that will help reduce -- you're right. It's a terrible, terrible problem we have. And if you look at California, California actually has strict gun laws, including on assault rifles, but they have workarounds to it and one of the things these two people did was they basically worked around the ban on multiple magazines so that they could turn their weapons into automatic fire weapons. So look, I agree with you Willie. It's a tough problem, but there's a lot we could do before we need to give up on this one.


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