Gun control efforts too limited in scope

Dan Moritz-Rabson

The New York Times reported on Oct. 19 that a database of New York residents prohibited from possessing guns due to mental instability contains around 34,500 names. This list was created via the passage of the SAFE Act, supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. This act increased gun restrictions in New York, banned assault weapons and led to the creation of this government no-gun database. While commended by many who find it a logical precaution to help prevent atrocities like the Fort Hood and Isla Vista shootings, the high number of individuals on this list draws criticism, even from some who recognize its benefits. As delineated by the Times, the established system lacks the discretion necessary to properly carry out its function. Despite any systemic errors preventing an ideal implementation of the SAFE Act, the largest failure of Cuomo’s efforts exists in the conception that only those identified as mentally unstable present an impending threat to public safety when armed.

When trying to comprehend the motivating factors behind mass shootings, society avoids the underlying danger enabled by the prevalence of guns in the United States. Instead, much of the discourse on gun control revolves around preventing those deemed mentally unstable from gaining access to firearms. Prohibiting gun ownership by individuals who visibly demonstrate the potential of harming others offers a partial solution to an appreciable problem. Reactionary regulations, justified by undocumented postulations that individuals with mental illness primarily cause gun violence shirk the underlying societal problems created by a vehement defense of the Second Amendment.

One of the most common arguments supporting gun rights revolves around self-protection. In a 2013 Gallup poll, 60 percent of American gun owners indicated that part of their reasoning for obtaining a gun was because of a desire for security. The frequency of events such as the Renisha McBride shooting and the Jordan Davis  killing demonstrate the detrimental effects of gun ownership to public safety, and does not support ownership enabling genuine personal protection. Instances requiring self-defense certainly exist, and many gun owners comprehend the gravity of the consequences that arise from reckless weapon use.

But as signified by unintentional shootings, even the best-intentioned gun owners mistakenly cause harm. Firearm discharges resulted in 84,258 nonfatal injuries and over 30,000 deaths in 2013. Out of the 84,258 nonfatal injuries, 16,864 cases were unintentional, meaning 20 percent were accidents. Every technological invention can accidentally cause damage through inattentive use. The remaining 80 percent of injuries are intentional. This indicates the extent to which Americans as a whole — not just those considered mentally unstable — are ill-prepared to own guns. 

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 23 print edition. Email Dan Moritz-Rabson at [email protected]



  1. Nice try… but like all gun control advocates you completely ‘forget’ to mention that guns are used almost a million times a year by innocent people to stop an armed attack.

    You also ‘forget’ to mention that almost 60% of your 30,000 ‘gun deaths’ are actually suicides, not violent attacks.

    And of course you also ‘forget’ to mention that we know suicides will use whatever is at hand, and that there is no link at all between suicide rates and methods.

    And last but not least,…

  2. Another person who is living in a dream world. Hello! Evil exists – like it or not.
    Got a plan to take the guns from evil people first?

  3. Isn’t it amazing how an arbitrary list of 34,500, with no due process was created by the Safe Act, a list identical to the lists that doctors and the government in Russia used in previous decades to silence political dissent, you should be so proud eh komrade!

    US government data proving that since 1960, lawful armed self defense by civilians has prevented over 1.131 mil murders, prevented over 6.5 mil injuries, and saved taxpayers over $2.17 trillion in medical expenses.


  4. US govt. data proves 97.3% of all killings by illegal use of a gun are committed by career criminals, gang members, suiciders, crazies and domestic violence abusers, all which are not the law abiding gun owners you infer are the problem, but reality is we are not!

    Haynes vs US 390, 85, 1968 affirms the 5th amendment right of no self incrimination, clearly states, no person shall be held legally liable to obey any law requiring them to violate their 5th amendment right of no self…

  5. That means sonny that no gun control law requiring identification such as licenses, registrations, background checks, safe act…etc, etc, etc….can be used to punish the actual bad guys!

    So what again is your infatuation with punishing all the innocents for the actions of the few actual criminals?

    So easy to destroy the argument of those who lack the ability to think for themselves!

  6. “It’s not that our liberal friends are ignorant, it’s just that so much of what they know is wrong.” – Ronald Reagan

    There are literally dozens of cases weekly wherein people use privately owned firearms successfully to defend themselves. All one needs to do is to visit to find legitimate links to these stories that are updated daily.

    Study after study shows that the number of defensive uses of guns dwarfs their criminal misuse yearly, numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

  7. You may live in a city. but in upstate NY, cops are 45minutes away after a 911 phone call. dont tell me i should not have a gun to protect myself. if you do not feel safe around guns, do not own them. i will take the responsiblity. if someone stores it improperly, thats on them. NYC has the highest amount of gun control, but no control of the gangs that do the gun violence with guns that they are not even allowed to have where they live.

  8. Using the 30,000 death number for 2013 eliminates any credibility of your straw man argument. It is well known that 2/3rds of that number are suicides and gun control is not an effective means to eliminate the causes of someone choosing to end their own life.

    One can not attempt to appeal to another’s sence of facts and logic while disengiuenously forming an argument mis-representing facts and logic.

    Please point out any new facts or arguments this piece presents? It seems to me it is…

  9. Meanwhile unintentional motor vehicle accidents injured 4 million people last year. Medical mistakes killed 180,000-440,000 (source:

    I think you are panicking over your fear of inanimate objects. Guns aren’t a problem when viewed in the greater scope of things. Focusing on the method instead of the root causes of crime isn’t smart, it’s backwards. We can do better at reducing…

  10. Since NY defines a crazy person as anyone who wants to own a gun, their data is much too small. Since some citizens still have the dangerous audacity to take responsibility for their own safety, a gun confiscation plan must be passed! (sarc)

  11. First a little clarification of the data.

    of the 84,258 non fatal injuries – 67, 394 were directly related to intentional violence. I wouldn’t want anyone to think 84,258 injuries were by “best-intentioned gun owners.”

    Over 30,000 deaths is a little misleading. Suicides accounted for 20,666 (btw total suicides for the year were 40,600 just in case anyone thought guns caused suicide)

    Of the remaining 10,000 – about 600 are accidental, and 600 are justified self defense…the…

  12. Cuomo’s “SAFE” (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act was debated in closed session without committee hearings, and Cuomo signed it into law within an hour of its passage — after waiving the required three-day public comment period. This 80 page legislation was passed late into the night… literally and figuratively under the cover of darkness. There existed no exigent need as claimed, of the Act’s 60 sections, only three (3) took effect on its adoption into law. Cuomo bragged…

  13. You stated:

    “But as signified by unintentional shootings, even the best-intentioned gun owners mistakenly cause harm. Firearm discharges resulted in 84,258 nonfatal injuries and over 30,000 deaths in 2013.”

    Playing with stats? The “unintentional shootings” number is 16,864…you fail to mention that you included “All Intents” in your 84,258 figure.

    Misleading article….

  14. In 2012, 33,561 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the US…… a 3.3% increase from 2011.

    In 2012, an estimated 2.36 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, compared to 2.22 million in 2011, an increase of 6.5%

    There are approximately 254 million motor vehicles registered in the US.

    This indicates the extent to which Americans as a whole are ill prepared to drive.

  15. I am a 1979 graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts and am disgusted to read this anti-gun anti-Second Amendment essay. I hope the opinions of the writer are his own and not the editorial opinion of The Washington Square News.

    Cuomo’s asinine draconian gun law, shoved through literally in the middle of the night bypassing the normal three day input and public review period with a bogus use of a governor’s power intended for natural and civil emergencies is the most divisive law in…

    • And, I believe, the Message of Necessity was used to avoid public outcry and debate because it never would have passed had that occurred. The underhandedness of this governor is out of control.

      • exactly. had it gone to debate, background checks might have passed. but other garbage like the online ammo ban might have been thrown out

  16. 100+ million gun owners with 300+ million firearms in the US harmed no one yesterday, today and won’t tomorrow. How’s work out for percentages for the numbers you list?

    Of the 30,000 you list that died by firearms, HALF are suicides.

    Let’s talk numbers. Medical Malpractice kills 92,000 and seriously injures 280,000 Americans annually. Healthcare, that is supposed only improve and save lives, actually harms more Americans than firearms? How can that be? Are 100% of these Medical…

  17. Another liberal spouting off emotional tripe and no hard facts or data. It never ends. For all the reasons noted in many of the above replies, which are, as we say in medicine, ‘evidenced-based’, the author should educate himself. Look at the data from the FBI, the DOJ, CDC first. Look at the number of gun owners in the U.S. versus the numbers of gun deaths and accidents, then compare them to drownings, infant mortality, motor vehicle accidents, alcohol-related deaths or even…


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