NORTH ADAMS — The reaction by pro-gun people to last week's column was split into two camps.
One spewed angry insults at rapid fire. Some were so over the top that they were funny, for sure, but many other people told me that the posturing only served to prove what my column had argued. Nothing comes off as more scared than an angry mob.
Also, a note to women and the gay community. There are still plenty of guys out there who invoke you as slurs against men who don't measure up in their personal masculinity scale, so some of these guys were double-cliches.
The other camp demanded statistics.
Here's one. Two-thirds of all homicides nationwide are gun deaths.
If you include suicide with those, the actual number triples, which mean it has risen by 14 percent in a decade. In three states — Alaska, Wyoming and Montana — suicides make up 80 percent of the state's gun deaths. Some argue we shouldn't include suicides with homicides, but, regardless, they are preventable gun deaths.
Of the 10 states with the most gun deaths, seven of them not only have a higher homicide rate, but a higher crime rate in general than the rest of the country. These are also states with more relaxed gun laws.
By contrast, states with stricter gun laws have fewer homicides and better crime rates. But that's not foolproof — studies have noted that guns are taken across state lines, so the sale of guns in states with relaxed laws does affect the crime rates in states with tough gun laws adversely.
The states with the weakest gun laws also have the highest poverty rates and the lowest education rates.
Interestingly, when Gun And Ammo listed the states with what they consider the best gun laws, seven of their Top 20 are also the states with the most gun homicides.
And though the NRA claims that gun owners stop 2.5 million crimes annually, the Violence Policy Center, which gets its numbers from the Bureau of Justice statistics, disputes that number and cites 67,740 a year, which means, statistically, it is very rare for a gun owner to stop a crime. That study also found that in 2010, for instance, there were only 230 justifiable homicides by gun-wielding private citizens.
If you want to claim that personally a gun makes you feel safer, you have every right to say that. But the statistics do not support your feelings.
For the record, I am not against gun ownership, and not once in my column did I say that I was. I am against indignant, knee-jerk reactions to the mere suggestion of a conversation about gun laws across the country.
I am against the dismissal of any compromise by those who worship at the altar of the NRA. I am against the refusal to look at the Constitution and its amendments as documents meant to move alongside our society through time and reflect change, rather than as proclamations from on high, etched eternally in stone.
Even in the comments I saw touting Massachusetts gun laws, it was often with a begrudging attitude that those go too far, even though the CDC ranks Massachusetts as the state with the fewest gun deaths per capita. Those laws have made us safer in Massachusetts.
Did you know you're as likely to be killed by a gun in Japan as a lightning strike in the United States? Or in Poland it's as likely as dying in a bicycle crash? In our country, guns have killed more of our citizens than the last half century of soldiers in combat.
It's a fact that there are reasonable gun owners out there and it's time for them to make their voices heard.