Is Gun Violence The New Trend In America?

The recent shooting rampage at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, reminds everyone of the familiarity of this kind of tragedy in America. It has happened so many times. Each time, different set of numbers are reported — 12 dead, four guns, 6,000 rounds of ammunition bought online — but other numbers ought to be brought to the public’s attention.

In America alone, there are more than a dozen guns being sold legally every minute of every day. In the U.S., there exist nearly 300 million privately-owned firearms — that’s enough to arm the whole population. Four out of 10 American homes have a gun. However, only a fraction of these owners have the bulk of the weapons, and each year, a gun collector’s number of items increases.

Because of the enormous amount of supply, prices of guns have gone down. James Holmes, the suspected gunman of the Batman movie massacre, has an arsenal that is estimated to cost $3,000. Bullets are prices at around 50 cents each. So, with roughly the price of a tank gas, he could already have filled his AR-15 with 100 rounds of ammo.

According to the National Rifle Association, more guns means less crime. They say that since the early 90’s, when a lot of states went slack with their weapons laws, the rate of violent crime has decreased by 70 percent. In spite of the shooting rampages in schools, military bases, and other public places, the national murder rate has remained low for 47 years already.

On the other hand, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization, reports that among all the races, Americans are the one that have the highest level of killing each other using guns.

A study cited in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that U.S. has a gun murder rate of 19.5 percent — that’s nearly 20 times above the gun murder rate of the next 22 richest countries combined! In addition to that, looking at the world’s 23 richest nations, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids who died by gunshots are actually American kids.

Despite these publicized numbers, public attitudes remain the same, even after another fresh round of a shooting rampage. Forty-nine percent of the people say that it is more important to guard gun rights and 45 percent agree to a stricter gun control policy. But no one can deny the detrimental effects of our itching gun collectors’ hands. And the biggest effect is human death.

Children’s Defense Fund says within the 44 years since Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, guns and bullets have put an end to the lives of over a million people — and that number already includes the 12 innocent people who died in Aurora, Colorado, who came together for a midnight movie just to watch and cheer for their favorite superhero. Sad, isn’t it?

With the recent shooting rampage in mind, are you in favor of a tighter gun control? Or do you prefer to protect the rights of gun owners?

Image: Soda Head

China’s Nuclear Tunnels Discovered by Students

The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework. Led by their hard-charging professor, a former top Pentagon official, they have translated hundreds of documents, combed through satellite imagery, obtained restricted Chinese military documents and waded through hundreds of gigabytes of online data.

The result of their effort? The largest body of public knowledge about thousands of miles of tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the Chinese military in charge of protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. The study’s critics, however, have questioned the unorthodox Internet-based research of the students.

The students’ professor, Phillip A. Karber, 65, had spent the Cold War as a top strategist reporting directly to the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan province, there came pictures of strangely collapsed hills and speculation that the caved-in tunnels in the area had held nuclear weapons. Karber began looking for analysts among his students at Georgetown. They were able to triangulate the location of several tunnel structures, with a rough idea of what types of missiles were stored in each.

This year, the Defense Department’s annual report on China’s military highlighted for the first time the Second Artillery’s work on new tunnels, partly a result of Karber’s report, according to some Pentagon officials. For Karber, provoking such debate means that he and his small army of undergrads have succeeded.


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