In the United States, there are 321 million people, and (it is estimated) about 347 million guns. In case you were wondering, that is a lot of guns. Other countries don’t have that many guns. One thing that helps a lot, if you don’t want so many guns in your country, is not to allow citizens to own guns. When it’s illegal to own guns, fewer people own them, and strangely enough, fewer guns are in circulation. (Because who’s going to buy your illegal guns? Criminals? No, the criminals will probably just steal them.) Fewer guns also translates to less gun violence, because the fewer guns there are, the harder they are to come by. You can’t use a gun if you can’t get one.

In the U.S., people are allowed to own guns. They’ve always been allowed to own guns, so this has resulted in a lot of guns being produced and sold in the U.S. (Because who’s going to buy your legal guns? Hint: not just criminals.) Although there are laws about who can buy guns and who can sell guns and where and how, etc., in many places it is relatively easy to buy a gun legally, if you want one. Regardless of where you live, however, and what the gun laws are in that jurisdiction, it is always easy to get a gun illegally because there are so many guns. All you have to do is be willing to break the law. Studies have shown that murderers are more willing to break the law than non-murderers. If there were fewer guns, it would be harder to get one, legally or illegally, and therefore harder for murderers to obtain and use guns. So murderers would definitely end up opting for different weapons–in many cases, less destructive weapons–and there would certainly be less gun violence.

So the solution to the U.S.’s gun violence problem is actually quite simple. You can’t just make guns harder to get legally. You have to make them hard to get illegally. That is, you have to make them hard to get, period. The way to do that is to reduce the number of guns in the country. I have an idea of how to do that. It’s actually here in this status update. I’ve already said it. I’m not going to bother to say it again. Suffice it to say that regardless of their personal feelings about guns, most people are reluctant to endorse this simple, obvious strategy because it will require a constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendments are non-starters, politically, but also, advocating for them makes you look like an extremist and very few people think of themselves as extremist. But is it wrong to be an extremist on the side of reducing gun violence? That’s the question Americans have to ask themselves. Not “how can we prevent mass shootings?” We already know the answer to that one. We just don’t like it.

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