Every time there is a mass shooting in this country, the National Rifle Association flacks and their minions in legislatures across the country show how much they despise America and Americans.
No doubt they do not realize what they are doing. Most do not seem to possess the qualities of self-awareness or self-reflection.
But arguing that easy access to guns cannot be a factor in our epidemic of gun-related mass murder and that the real culprits must be mental illness and moral turpitude, spokespersons of the NRA say that Americans are sicker and more depraved. than any other nation on earth.
And not just on a small scale.
The US has 20 times more gun deaths than the rest of the industrialized world, so NRA deep thinkers say Americans are 2000% more mentally ill or morally depraved than citizens of other countries .
There might be some basis for the NRA’s claim regarding mental health.
According to a detailed analysis of 11 high-income countries by the Commonwealth Fund – which studies health issues – Americans are more likely to have mental health diagnoses than people in other countries.
This study found that people in the United States lead 10 other high-income countries in reporting mental health issues. About one in four Americans – 23% – have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or another mental health condition.
This is almost six times the rate for the French, which is 4%. Citizens of Britain come in at 11% – just under half the number for the US.
Our closest competitors in this dubious competition are Sweden and Canada, both of which come in at 20%.
But those numbers don’t easily add up to gun deaths in those countries.
In France, which has the best mental health statistics, a person is eight times more likely to die in a firearm-related incident than a person in Britain. Swedish citizens die from firearms half as fast as Canadians, even though the mental health statistics of the two countries are nearly identical.
And, needless to say, all of these gun death tolls are far lower than those recorded in the United States.
For example, an American is 100 times more likely to die from a gun than a British citizen. Canada is our closest rival among high-income countries, but gunfire is almost 10 times more likely to kill an American than kill a Canadian.
So if the mental health numbers don’t support the NRA’s claim, the problem may be moral depravity.
Right-wing voices say the problem is that we Americans have distanced ourselves from religious institutions.
But again, the numbers tell a different story.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Americans are almost five times more likely – 68% to 14% – than people living in Western European countries to say that religion is very important in their lives. The same study shows that more than twice as many Americans attend religious services each month as Europeans, nearly four times as many say they pray daily, and more than three times as many say they believe in God with absolute certainty.
So the problem does not seem to be that Americans have lost faith.
What then could explain the catastrophic problem of gun violence in the United States?
Well, if the fact that Americans have 5% of the world’s population and over 50% of the guns in the world – that in fact the United States has more guns than people – is not part of the problem and that sanity and moral studies of depravity do not solve the mystery, what is the answer?
Perhaps the problem is that Americans are a mere 2000% less astute about gun violence than citizens elsewhere in the world – and therefore 20 times easier to scam than people in other countries.
That certainly seems to be what the gun lobby is counting on.
John Krull is director of the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College and editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of Franklin College.