The non-subject of gun violence

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What’s the most forbidden topic in America? asked Timothy Egan. It’s not sex or religion. It’s gun violence. We are “the most armed society in the world,” with more than 300 million guns in private hands, and 9,146 gun homicides in 2009—a rate nearly 20 times higher than that of other supposedly civilized countries. “But don’t bring that up.”

Sports broadcaster Bob Costas learned that lesson last week when he said that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend and killed himself after an argument, would probably be alive if he hadn’t owned a gun. The gun censors on the Right immediately went ballistic, telling him to “shut up” and demanding his resignation or firing. Why? Because Costas spoke a simple truth. Studies show that a gun in a family’s home is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member than of an intruder. It also increases the chance of suicide. For the gun lobby, these facts are “unmentionables,” because they dispel the illusion that guns make you safer. In this country, “the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the Second Amendment.”