Bitcoin Expansion Is Off the Table. At Least for Now.

In an email, the leaders of several of the largest Bitcoin companies said that “unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time.”

The New York Times Explains…

The price of Bitcoin shot up immediately after the email went out, hitting a new high, above $7,800, before retreating. The price has been steadily climbing and is up nearly 1,000 percent over the last year.

The rising price has attracted many new users, from places like Japan and South Korea and from big hedge funds, even as the authorities in places like China have cracked down on the currency.

All of the new people seeking access to Bitcoin have run up against a limit on the number of transactions that can flow through the system every 10 minutes, which was put in place during Bitcoin’s early years.

Because of the limit, the network can process only around five transactions a second. That has led to delays on the network and has pushed up the price of getting a Bitcoin transaction through.

Companies that help process Bitcoin payments have been pushing to lift the limit on Bitcoin transactions for several years, arguing that it will be necessary if Bitcoin wants to compete with Visa or PayPal.

The opposing camp has argued that quickly expanding the number of transactions flowing through the network would mean only large companies could track Bitcoin transactions, taking power away from individual users.

The proponents of keeping the so-called blocks of Bitcoin transactions small said Bitcoin should be viewed more as digital gold: a secure place to keep money, even if it can’t be moved around as quickly and cheaply.

Many of the programmers working on the basic Bitcoin software — the so-called core developers — said they would stop working on Bitcoin if the block size was increased.

They also complained that the companies pushing through the block size increase were doing so without properly consulting the community.

Leaders on both sides of the Bitcoin debate have complained about receiving death threats and hacking attacks, and some top developers have migrated toward other virtual currencies.

In August, some of the most outspoken proponents of expanding Bitcoin created their own version, known as Bitcoin Cash, which can handle more transactions than traditional Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin Cash has gone up since August, but it remains only a small fraction of the size of Bitcoin.

On Wednesday, the companies that had been pushing for big blocks said they were calling off their plans in order to restore some measure of peace to the community.

“Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger block size, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together,” the email said.

The announcement said that the companies still believed that an increase in the size of Bitcoin blocks would be necessary, but that they were willing to wait until the community agreed on a way to deal with the issue.

The people opposed to quickly expanding the network say they still wanted to make it easier and cheaper to use Bitcoin. But they hope this will be made possible by new networks built on top of Bitcoin, keeping the Bitcoin network itself more secure and decentralized.

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State of the Art: Saudi Money Fuels the Tech Industry. It’s Time to Ask Why.

The money from regimes that have been criticized for their human rights records — from Saudi Arabia’s government in particular, which has plans to funnel potentially hundreds of billions of dollars into tech companies through its state-controlled Public Investment Fund — stands in stark contrast to those aims. By accepting these investments, tech companies get to revel in the branding glory of global good while taking billions from a government that stands against many of those goals — a government that has an abysmal record with human rights groups, that has systematically marginalized women, that has not had much legal due process and that has advocated an extreme form of Islam that has zero tolerance for just about any religious or intellectual diversity whatsoever.

“Look, every company has a choice about their actions and inactions,” said Freada Kapor Klein, co-chairwoman of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which advocates for a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.

She said companies could choose not to do business with governments whose actions they found troubling, but many of today’s tech companies have lost a moral compass. “There is an elitism that makes it far too easy for them to rationalize their behavior with their belief that they are the smartest guys — and, yes, it’s always guys — in the room,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, this is not a topic many people want to talk about. SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that runs the $100 billion Vision Fund, which is shelling out eye-popping investments in tech companies, declined to comment for this column. Nearly half of the Vision Fund, about $45 billion, comes from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

WeWork and Slack, two prominent start-ups that have received recent investments from the Vision Fund, also declined to comment. So did Uber, which garnered a $3.5 billion investment from the Public Investment Fund in 2016, and which is in talks to receive a big investment from the SoftBank fund. The Public Investment Fund also did not return a request for comment.

Twitter, which got a $300 million investment from Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Company in 2011 — around the same time that it was talking up its role in the Arab Spring — declined to comment on his arrest. Lyft, which received $105 million from Prince Alwaleed in 2015, also declined to comment.

Privately, several founders, investors and others at tech companies who have taken money from the Saudi government or prominent members of the royal family did offer insight into their thinking. Prince Alwaleed, some pointed out, was not aligned with the Saudi government — his arrest by the government underscores this — and he has advocated for some progressive reforms, including giving women the right to drive, a restriction that the kingdom says will be lifted next year.

The founders and investors also brought up the Saudi government’s supposed push for modernization. The Saudis have outlined a long-term plan, Vision 2030, that calls for a reduction in the state’s dependence on oil and a gradual loosening on economic and social restrictions, including a call for greater numbers of women to enter the work force. The gauzy vision allows tech companies to claim to be part of the solution in Saudi Arabia rather than part the problem: Sure, they are taking money from one of the world’s least transparent and most undemocratic regimes, but it’s the part of the government that wants to do better.

Another mitigating factor, for some, is the sometimes indirect nature of the Saudi investments. When the SoftBank Vision Fund invests tens of millions or billions into a tech company, it’s true that half of that money is coming from Saudi Arabia. But it’s SoftBank that has control over the course of the investment and communicates with founders. The passive nature of the Saudi investment in SoftBank’s fund thus allows founders to sleep better at night.

On the other hand, it also has a tendency to sweep the Saudi money under the rug. When SoftBank invests in a company, the Saudi connection is not always made clear to employees and customers. You get to enjoy the convenience of your WeWork without having to confront its place in the Saudi government’s portfolio.

Then, finally, there’s the justification of desperation. Some companies don’t have any choice but to take money that’s offered to them. (In 2009, The New York Times Company took a loan from the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who has been criticized for gaining his wealth through close connections with government officials.)

But the tech companies that the Saudis are itching to invest in often do have a choice; they are some of the most highly valued companies of our era, and many of them have no immediate need for more money. For instance: Slack, which raised $250 million from SoftBank last month, said it had no plans for spending the money and instead had raised it to preserve long-term “operational flexibility.”

But why take it from the Saudis? I suspect it’s the most obvious reason: because the money is there, and no one is making too big a fuss about it.

It used to be that most of the money in tech came from more vaunted sources — universities, philanthropies, pension plans and other nonprofits, which made up the bulk of funders to venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Now we’re in a new era, when giant pools of money splash through sleek-sounding Vision Funds and come out seeming squeaky clean — and ready to fund the next great thing to make the world so much better, we promise.

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Hedge Funds Push the Price of Bitcoin to New Highs

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SAN FRANCISCO — The chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, has called Bitcoin a fraud and made it clear that he will not allow his bank to begin trading the virtual currency any time soon.

But that has not stopped a growing wave of big Wall Street investors — many of them hedge funds — from pouring their money into Bitcoin, helping extend an eight-month spike in its price.

The price of a single Bitcoin climbed from below $6,000 two weeks ago to above $7,400 on Monday, more than it moved in the virtual currency’s first seven years in existence.

Since the beginning of the year, the value of Bitcoin has jumped over 600 percent, putting the combined value of all Bitcoin at about $120 billion, or more than many of the largest banks in the world.

The rise has been fueled by several factors, including the sudden interest in virtual currencies from small investors in Japan and South Korea.

Now market watchers say a significant amount of the new money is coming from large institutional investors, many of them hedge funds looking to capitalize on the skyrocketing price.

Many of the hedge funds were set up over the last year to invest exclusively in virtual currencies. The research firm Autonomous Next has said the number of such hedge funds has risen from around 30 to nearly 130 this year alone.

More general-purpose hedge funds have also been buying up Bitcoin, like one run by Bill Miller, a well known mutual fund manager who spent most of his career with Legg Mason.

Even more big investors are looking at the space after the Chicago Mercantile Exchange announced last week that it would launch a Bitcoin futures contract in the next few months. The contract will make it easier for financial institutions plugged into the exchange to get involved with the Bitcoin market without having to worry about holding Bitcoin itself.

Bobby Cho, the head trader at one of the largest Bitcoin trading businesses, Cumberland, said that after years of hesitancy, institutional investors now accounted for most of his business.

“The vast majority of the trading we do is with institutions,” Mr. Cho said. “The education and research have turned into real-life activity.”

The entrance of these big investors creates new risks for Bitcoin.

Kevin Zhou, a longtime trader in the space, said that hedge funds were more likely than small investors to pull out a lot of money at once, and that Bitcoin was still small enough that a single fund’s cashing out could cause the price to drop sharply.

“You could get a possible run on the bank if one large investor withdraws and that causes the price to tank,” said Mr. Zhou, a co-founder of the trading firm Galois Capital. “That could cause a cascade of withdrawals.”

The rising importance of Wall Street is an unexpected turn for a virtual currency that was invented in 2008 by an anonymous creator known as Satoshi Nakamoto and designed to operate outside the traditional financial system.

Bitcoins, even those held by hedge funds, are recorded and stored on a decentralized database known as the blockchain, kept on a network of computers around the world. The whole system is governed by so-called open source software that is maintained by a community of volunteer programmers.

The lack of backing from any government or established institution has concerned many large banks. The chief executive of Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam, said last week that he saw no inherent value in Bitcoin, joining the list of bankers who have called the market a bubble.

But some financial leaders, including Goldman Sachs’s chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, have defended the idea that virtual currencies could one day play a role in the global financial system because they can be obtained by anyone with internet access.

The debate about Bitcoin has been part of a broader explosion of interest this year in the various technological concepts introduced by the virtual currency. Many banks, including JPMorgan, have been trying to find ways to create their own decentralized databases, like the Bitcoin blockchain, that could provide a more reliable and secure way to track information.

In the technology industry, there has been a rush this year of so-called initial coin offerings, a way for entrepreneurs to raise money by creating and selling their own custom virtual currencies. Initial coin offerings have taken over $3 billion from investors this year after attracting almost no interest before.

These coin offerings have created their own demand for Bitcoin because the new coins generally have to be bought with an existing virtual currency like Bitcoin.

The interest in Bitcoin could be dampened in the coming weeks, however, by a debate among Bitcoin followers.

Bitcoin start-ups and programmers have been fighting for nearly three years about the best way to update the software that governs the currency and the network on which it lives.

The battle is expected to come to a head this month when new Bitcoin software, backed by many of the biggest virtual currency start-ups, is released. The new software aims to double the number of transactions flowing through the network. Currently, the computers processing Bitcoin transactions are limited to about five transactions per second.

Most of the programmers who maintain the Bitcoin software have opposed the changes because they say it would make it harder for individuals to track their own Bitcoins.

Some of the computers on the network are likely to update to the new software while others stay with the existing rules, creating a split, or fork, in the network that would result in two separate Bitcoins.

A Bitcoin fork could prove disruptive and drive away investors. But several signals suggest that the proposed rule changes are not likely to win enough support to survive for long, which would leave the status quo in place.

Bitcoin has already survived past attempts to fork the software and create imitators. In August, a group of former Bitcoin supporters created Bitcoin Cash, a totally separate virtual currency that makes it easier to do small transactions, like paying for a cup of coffee.

The price of Bitcoin temporarily wavered before Bitcoin Cash was introduced. All previous holders of Bitcoin were automatically granted the same number of Bitcoin Cash, and the value of those has also been rising, essentially doubling in the last month.

Chris Burniske, a co-author of a book on virtual currency investing, “Cryptoassets,” said most of the new investors weren’t too concerned about the exact design of Bitcoin or the current debates.

“I don’t think a lot of the new buyers are overly concerned about the long-term technical aspects of Bitcoin,” he said. They are “simply approaching it as a financial instrument.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Price of Bitcoin Surges, Lifted by Hedge Funds. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Op-Ed Columnist: How to Reduce Shootings

Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it is a school shooting in Texas.

But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn’t be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.

So let’s not just mourn the dead, let’s not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let’s also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence — a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.

This story was updated May 18, 2018. Visit this page to see the original.

America Has More Guns Than Any Other Country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns – roughly one for every citizen – and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

The New York Times | Sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (gun murders); Small Arms Survey (guns per 100 people) |Murder data for U.S., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Spain from 2015 and latest available for other countries; 2007 data for guns per 100 people.

We Have a Model for Regulating Guns: Automobiles

Gun enthusiasts often protest: Cars kill about as many people as guns, and we don’t ban them! No, but automobiles are actually a model for the public health approach I’m suggesting.

We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them – so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.

Take a look at the history of motor vehicle safety since World War II:

Deaths per 100 million vehicle

miles traveled

First federal safety standards for cars

Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled

First seatbelt offered

in an American car

First federal safety

standards for cars

55 m.p.h. national

speed limit

Car safety ratings

introduced

Tennessee is first

to require child safety

seats

Airbags, invented

in 1951, become mandatory

New York is first to require seat belt use

Mandatory reporting

of defects by

carmakers

The New York Times | Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The Liberal Approach Is Ineffective. Use a Public Health Approach Instead.

Frankly, liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).

The left sometimes focuses on “gun control,” which scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales. A better framing is “gun safety” or “reducing gun violence,” and using auto safety as a model—constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.

What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:

Background Checks

22 percent of guns are obtained without one.

Protection Orders

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban Under-21s

A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).

Safe Storage

These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Straw Purchases

Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Ammunition Checks

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End Immunity

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban Bump Stocks

A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘Smart Guns’

“Smart guns” fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.

If someone steals my iPhone, it’s useless, and the same should be true of guns. Gun manufacturers made child-proof guns back in the 19th century (before dropping them), and it’s time to advance that technology today. Some combination of smart guns and safe storage would also reduce the number of firearms stolen in the U.S. each year, now about 200,000, and available to criminals.

We also need to figure out whether gun buybacks, often conducted by police departments, are cost-effective and help reduce violence. And we can experiment more with anti-gang initiatives, such as Cure Violence, that have a good record in reducing shootings.

Fewer Guns = Fewer Deaths

It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare. One study by the Violence Policy Center found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides by a private citizen using a firearm.

Estimated Percent of Households With

Guns, by State

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF

HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Estimated Percent of Households With Guns, by State

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

New Jersey

Connecticut

California

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Washington

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

North Dakota

New Mexico

North Carolina

South Carolina

South Dakota

West Virginia

Mississippi

Note: There are no hard data on gun ownership in the United States. This household gun ownership proxy was created by taking a weighted average of the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm — a widely used proxy for firearm ownership — and the hunting license rate in ​each state. ​It improves upon ​earlier models by accounting for the prevalence of hunting rifles, which are typically not used in suicides. The new proxy ​improves the correlation with survey-measured gun ownership from ​​0.80 to 0.95​, ​suggesting increased accuracy. Source: Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

U.S. RATE:

10.5

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

Massachusetts

South Dakota

Connecticut

New Jersey

California

U.S.

RATE:

10.5

North Dakota

Rhode Island

Washington

West Virginia

South Carolina

Pennsylvania

New Mexico

New Hampshire

Mississippi

North Carolina

*Nevada’s grade of F would improve to a C-minus if a recently passed ballot initiative mandating universal background checks is implemented. So far, the state has failed to do so. Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

But the problem is that lax laws too often make it easy not only for good guys to get guns, but also for bad guys to get guns. The evidence is overwhelming that overall more guns and more relaxed gun laws lead to more violent deaths and injuries. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gun in the house was associated with an increased risk of a gun death, particularly by suicide but also apparently by homicide.

In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tweeted that he was “embarrassed” that his state was ranked second (behind California) in requests to buy new guns, albeit still with one million requests. “Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” he wrote. Abbott apparently believes, along with the N.R.A., that more guns make a society more safe, but statistics dispute that. Abbott should look at those charts.

Greg Abbott‏

@GregAbbott_TX

I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.@NRA 10:53 AM — 28 Oct 2015

Mass Shootings Are Not the Main Cause of Loss of Life

Critics will say that the kind of measures I cite wouldn’t prevent many shootings. The Las Vegas carnage, for example, might not have been prevented by any of the suggestions I make.

That’s true, and there’s no magic wand available. Yet remember that although it is mass shootings that get our attention, they are not the main cause of loss of life. Much more typical is a friend who shoots another, a husband who kills his wife – or, most common of all, a man who kills himself. Skeptics will say that if people want to kill themselves, there’s nothing we can do. In fact, it turns out that if you make suicide a bit more difficult, suicide rates drop.

Here are the figures showing that mass shootings are a modest share of the total, and the same is true of self-defense – despite what the N.R.A. might have you believe.

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

The New York Times | Source: Gun Violence Archive

Tightening Gun Laws Lowered Firearm Homicide Rates

For skeptics who think that gun laws don’t make a difference, consider what happened in two states, Missouri and Connecticut. In 1995, Connecticut tightened licensing laws, while in 2007 Missouri eased gun laws.

The upshot? After tightening gun laws, firearm homicide rates dropped 40 percent in Connecticut. And after Missouri eased gun laws, gun homicide rates rose 25 percent.

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Missouri after 2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Missouri after

2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

One of the lessons of gun research is that we often focus just on firearms themselves, when it may be more productive to focus on who gets access to them. A car or gun is usually safe in the hands of a 45-year-old woman with no criminal record, but may be dangerous when used by a 19-year-old felon with a history of alcohol offenses or domestic violence protection orders.

Yet our laws have often focused more on weapons themselves (such as the assault weapons ban) rather than on access. In many places, there is more rigorous screening of people who want to adopt dogs than of people who want to purchase firearms.

In these two states, the laws affected access, and although there’s some indication that other factors were also involved in Connecticut (and correlations don’t prove causation), the outcomes are worth pondering.

There Is a Shocking Lack of Research on Guns

There’s simply a scandalous lack of research on gun violence, largely because the N.R.A. is extremely hostile to such research and Congress rolls over. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did try to research gun violence, Congress responded by cutting its funding.

Here is the American toll from four diseases and firearms over the years 1973-2012 – and the number of National Institutes of Health research grants to explore each problem over that same time.

N.I.H. research awards

Number of

cases

Diphtheria

Firearms

injuries

>4 million

Number

of cases

N.I.H. research awards

Diphtheria

Firearm

Injuries

>4 million

The New York Times | Source: University of Chicago Crime Lab

The Right Type of Training Could Go a Long Way

One approach that could reduce the abuse of guns is better training. As a 13-year-old farm boy in Oregon, I attended a N.R.A. gun safety class (which came with a one-year membership to the N.R.A., making me an N.R.A. alum who despises what that organization has become). These classes can be very useful, and audits found that more than 80 percent cover such matters as checking the gun to see if it’s loaded, keeping one’s finger off the trigger until ready to fire and being certain of the target.

Yet the audits also suggest that trainers are more likely to advocate for the N.R.A. or for carrying guns than for, say, safe storage. This is a missed opportunity, for all classes should cover the risks of guns and alcohol, the risks of abuse with suicide and domestic violence, the need for safe storage, and so on. Here’s what researchers found that the gun classes they audited actually covered:

NOT

DISCUSSED

PERCENT OF CLASSES

WHERE DISCUSSED

Trainers encouraged

gun carrying

Encouraged

gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised

access by children

Encouraged gun use

for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership

in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of

shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when

not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use

gun only as last resort

Young children

and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is important source

of firearms used in crime

Techniques for

de-escalating threats

Recommendation:

report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide

in household members

Domestic violence risk

Topic

discussed

Percent of classes

where discussed

Not

discussed

Trainers encouraged gun carrying

Encouraged gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised access by children

Encouraged gun use for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use gun only as last resort

Young children and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is an important source of firearms used in crime

Techniques for de-escalating threats

Recommendation: report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide in household members

Domestic violence risk

The New York Times | Source: David Hemenway, Injury Prevention |The classes studied, some of which were required by law, took place in 7 Northeast states.

A Way Forward: On Some Issues, Majorities Agree

It may sometimes seem hopeless to make progress on gun violence, especially with the N.R.A. seemingly holding Congress hostage. But I’m more optimistic.

Look, we all agree on some kinds of curbs on guns. Nobody believes that people should be able to drive a tank down Main Street, or have an anti-aircraft gun in the backyard. I’ve been to parts of northern Yemen where one could actually buy a tank or an anti-aircraft gun, as well as fully automatic weapons — and that area’s now embroiled in a civil war – but fortunately in America we have agreed to ban those kinds of weaponry.

So the question isn’t whether we will restrict firearms, but where to draw the line and precisely which ones to restrict.

Check out these polling numbers as a basis for action on gun safety:

Agree with

the following:

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Background checks

for all gun buyers

Preventing mentally

ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

Ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines

(10+ bullets)*

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Agree with the following:

Background checks for all gun buyers

Preventing the mentally ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

A ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines (10+ bullets)*

The New York Times | Sources: Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April (questions on mental illness, no-fly lists, background checks for private sales and federal database); Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted Oct. 5-10 (all other questions) |*A Pew Research Center survey found only 44 percent of gun owners favored such a ban.

Looking ahead, I’m optimistic that there can be progress at the state level, and some of the necessary research funding will come from private foundations. Maybe some police departments will put in orders for smart guns to help create a market.

But the real impetus for change will come because the public favors it. In particular, note that 93 percent of people even in gun households favor universal background checks for gun purchases.

If you’re wondering how we managed to crank out all these charts and data in the immediate aftermath of the Texas shooting, here’s the secret: We didn’t. We spent weeks gathering the information and preparing the charts, because we knew that there would be a tragedy like this one to make it all relevant.

That’s the blunt, damning truth: Friday’s school shooting was 100 percent predictable. After each such incident, we mourn the deaths and sympathize with the victims, but we do nothing fundamental to reduce our vulnerability.

Some of you will protest, as President Trump did, that it’s too soon to talk about guns, or that it is disrespectful to the dead to use such a tragedy to score political points. Yet more Americans have died from gun violence, including suicides, since 1970 (about 1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history going back to the Revolutionary War (about 1.3 million). And it’s not just gang-members: In a typical year, more pre-schoolers are shot dead in America (about 75) than police officers are.

Yes, making America safer will be hard: There are no perfect solutions. The Second Amendment is one constraint, and so is our polarized political system and the power of the gun lobby. It’s unclear how effective some of my suggestions will be, and in any case this will be a long, uncertain, uphill process.

But automobiles are a reminder that we can chip away at a large problem through a public health approach: Just as auto safety improvements have left us far better off, it seems plausible to some gun policy experts that a sensible, politically feasible set of public health steps could over time reduce firearm deaths in America by one-third – or more than 10,000 lives saved each year.

So let’s not just shed tears for the dead, give somber speeches and lower flags. Let’s get started and save lives.

I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).

Хостинг сайтов Joinder.Pro

Op-Ed Columnist: How to Reduce Shootings

Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it is a school shooting in Texas.

But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn’t be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.

So let’s not just mourn the dead, let’s not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let’s also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence — a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.

This story was updated May 18, 2018. Visit this page to see the original.

America Has More Guns Than Any Other Country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns – roughly one for every citizen – and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

The New York Times | Sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (gun murders); Small Arms Survey (guns per 100 people) |Murder data for U.S., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Spain from 2015 and latest available for other countries; 2007 data for guns per 100 people.

We Have a Model for Regulating Guns: Automobiles

Gun enthusiasts often protest: Cars kill about as many people as guns, and we don’t ban them! No, but automobiles are actually a model for the public health approach I’m suggesting.

We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them – so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.

Take a look at the history of motor vehicle safety since World War II:

Deaths per 100 million vehicle

miles traveled

First federal safety standards for cars

Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled

First seatbelt offered

in an American car

First federal safety

standards for cars

55 m.p.h. national

speed limit

Car safety ratings

introduced

Tennessee is first

to require child safety

seats

Airbags, invented

in 1951, become mandatory

New York is first to require seat belt use

Mandatory reporting

of defects by

carmakers

The New York Times | Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The Liberal Approach Is Ineffective. Use a Public Health Approach Instead.

Frankly, liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).

The left sometimes focuses on “gun control,” which scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales. A better framing is “gun safety” or “reducing gun violence,” and using auto safety as a model—constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.

What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:

Background Checks

22 percent of guns are obtained without one.

Protection Orders

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban Under-21s

A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).

Safe Storage

These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Straw Purchases

Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Ammunition Checks

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End Immunity

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban Bump Stocks

A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘Smart Guns’

“Smart guns” fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.

If someone steals my iPhone, it’s useless, and the same should be true of guns. Gun manufacturers made child-proof guns back in the 19th century (before dropping them), and it’s time to advance that technology today. Some combination of smart guns and safe storage would also reduce the number of firearms stolen in the U.S. each year, now about 200,000, and available to criminals.

We also need to figure out whether gun buybacks, often conducted by police departments, are cost-effective and help reduce violence. And we can experiment more with anti-gang initiatives, such as Cure Violence, that have a good record in reducing shootings.

Fewer Guns = Fewer Deaths

It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare. One study by the Violence Policy Center found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides by a private citizen using a firearm.

Estimated Percent of Households With

Guns, by State

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF

HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Estimated Percent of Households With Guns, by State

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

New Jersey

Connecticut

California

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Washington

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

North Dakota

New Mexico

North Carolina

South Carolina

South Dakota

West Virginia

Mississippi

Note: There are no hard data on gun ownership in the United States. This household gun ownership proxy was created by taking a weighted average of the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm — a widely used proxy for firearm ownership — and the hunting license rate in ​each state. ​It improves upon ​earlier models by accounting for the prevalence of hunting rifles, which are typically not used in suicides. The new proxy ​improves the correlation with survey-measured gun ownership from ​​0.80 to 0.95​, ​suggesting increased accuracy. Source: Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

U.S. RATE:

10.5

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

Massachusetts

South Dakota

Connecticut

New Jersey

California

U.S.

RATE:

10.5

North Dakota

Rhode Island

Washington

West Virginia

South Carolina

Pennsylvania

New Mexico

New Hampshire

Mississippi

North Carolina

*Nevada’s grade of F would improve to a C-minus if a recently passed ballot initiative mandating universal background checks is implemented. So far, the state has failed to do so. Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

But the problem is that lax laws too often make it easy not only for good guys to get guns, but also for bad guys to get guns. The evidence is overwhelming that overall more guns and more relaxed gun laws lead to more violent deaths and injuries. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gun in the house was associated with an increased risk of a gun death, particularly by suicide but also apparently by homicide.

In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tweeted that he was “embarrassed” that his state was ranked second (behind California) in requests to buy new guns, albeit still with one million requests. “Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” he wrote. Abbott apparently believes, along with the N.R.A., that more guns make a society more safe, but statistics dispute that. Abbott should look at those charts.

Greg Abbott‏

@GregAbbott_TX

I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.@NRA 10:53 AM — 28 Oct 2015

Mass Shootings Are Not the Main Cause of Loss of Life

Critics will say that the kind of measures I cite wouldn’t prevent many shootings. The Las Vegas carnage, for example, might not have been prevented by any of the suggestions I make.

That’s true, and there’s no magic wand available. Yet remember that although it is mass shootings that get our attention, they are not the main cause of loss of life. Much more typical is a friend who shoots another, a husband who kills his wife – or, most common of all, a man who kills himself. Skeptics will say that if people want to kill themselves, there’s nothing we can do. In fact, it turns out that if you make suicide a bit more difficult, suicide rates drop.

Here are the figures showing that mass shootings are a modest share of the total, and the same is true of self-defense – despite what the N.R.A. might have you believe.

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

The New York Times | Source: Gun Violence Archive

Tightening Gun Laws Lowered Firearm Homicide Rates

For skeptics who think that gun laws don’t make a difference, consider what happened in two states, Missouri and Connecticut. In 1995, Connecticut tightened licensing laws, while in 2007 Missouri eased gun laws.

The upshot? After tightening gun laws, firearm homicide rates dropped 40 percent in Connecticut. And after Missouri eased gun laws, gun homicide rates rose 25 percent.

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Missouri after 2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Missouri after

2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

One of the lessons of gun research is that we often focus just on firearms themselves, when it may be more productive to focus on who gets access to them. A car or gun is usually safe in the hands of a 45-year-old woman with no criminal record, but may be dangerous when used by a 19-year-old felon with a history of alcohol offenses or domestic violence protection orders.

Yet our laws have often focused more on weapons themselves (such as the assault weapons ban) rather than on access. In many places, there is more rigorous screening of people who want to adopt dogs than of people who want to purchase firearms.

In these two states, the laws affected access, and although there’s some indication that other factors were also involved in Connecticut (and correlations don’t prove causation), the outcomes are worth pondering.

There Is a Shocking Lack of Research on Guns

There’s simply a scandalous lack of research on gun violence, largely because the N.R.A. is extremely hostile to such research and Congress rolls over. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did try to research gun violence, Congress responded by cutting its funding.

Here is the American toll from four diseases and firearms over the years 1973-2012 – and the number of National Institutes of Health research grants to explore each problem over that same time.

N.I.H. research awards

Number of

cases

Diphtheria

Firearms

injuries

>4 million

Number

of cases

N.I.H. research awards

Diphtheria

Firearm

Injuries

>4 million

The New York Times | Source: University of Chicago Crime Lab

The Right Type of Training Could Go a Long Way

One approach that could reduce the abuse of guns is better training. As a 13-year-old farm boy in Oregon, I attended a N.R.A. gun safety class (which came with a one-year membership to the N.R.A., making me an N.R.A. alum who despises what that organization has become). These classes can be very useful, and audits found that more than 80 percent cover such matters as checking the gun to see if it’s loaded, keeping one’s finger off the trigger until ready to fire and being certain of the target.

Yet the audits also suggest that trainers are more likely to advocate for the N.R.A. or for carrying guns than for, say, safe storage. This is a missed opportunity, for all classes should cover the risks of guns and alcohol, the risks of abuse with suicide and domestic violence, the need for safe storage, and so on. Here’s what researchers found that the gun classes they audited actually covered:

NOT

DISCUSSED

PERCENT OF CLASSES

WHERE DISCUSSED

Trainers encouraged

gun carrying

Encouraged

gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised

access by children

Encouraged gun use

for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership

in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of

shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when

not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use

gun only as last resort

Young children

and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is important source

of firearms used in crime

Techniques for

de-escalating threats

Recommendation:

report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide

in household members

Domestic violence risk

Topic

discussed

Percent of classes

where discussed

Not

discussed

Trainers encouraged gun carrying

Encouraged gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised access by children

Encouraged gun use for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use gun only as last resort

Young children and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is an important source of firearms used in crime

Techniques for de-escalating threats

Recommendation: report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide in household members

Domestic violence risk

The New York Times | Source: David Hemenway, Injury Prevention |The classes studied, some of which were required by law, took place in 7 Northeast states.

A Way Forward: On Some Issues, Majorities Agree

It may sometimes seem hopeless to make progress on gun violence, especially with the N.R.A. seemingly holding Congress hostage. But I’m more optimistic.

Look, we all agree on some kinds of curbs on guns. Nobody believes that people should be able to drive a tank down Main Street, or have an anti-aircraft gun in the backyard. I’ve been to parts of northern Yemen where one could actually buy a tank or an anti-aircraft gun, as well as fully automatic weapons — and that area’s now embroiled in a civil war – but fortunately in America we have agreed to ban those kinds of weaponry.

So the question isn’t whether we will restrict firearms, but where to draw the line and precisely which ones to restrict.

Check out these polling numbers as a basis for action on gun safety:

Agree with

the following:

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Background checks

for all gun buyers

Preventing mentally

ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

Ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines

(10+ bullets)*

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Agree with the following:

Background checks for all gun buyers

Preventing the mentally ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

A ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines (10+ bullets)*

The New York Times | Sources: Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April (questions on mental illness, no-fly lists, background checks for private sales and federal database); Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted Oct. 5-10 (all other questions) |*A Pew Research Center survey found only 44 percent of gun owners favored such a ban.

Looking ahead, I’m optimistic that there can be progress at the state level, and some of the necessary research funding will come from private foundations. Maybe some police departments will put in orders for smart guns to help create a market.

But the real impetus for change will come because the public favors it. In particular, note that 93 percent of people even in gun households favor universal background checks for gun purchases.

If you’re wondering how we managed to crank out all these charts and data in the immediate aftermath of the Texas shooting, here’s the secret: We didn’t. We spent weeks gathering the information and preparing the charts, because we knew that there would be a tragedy like this one to make it all relevant.

That’s the blunt, damning truth: Friday’s school shooting was 100 percent predictable. After each such incident, we mourn the deaths and sympathize with the victims, but we do nothing fundamental to reduce our vulnerability.

Some of you will protest, as President Trump did, that it’s too soon to talk about guns, or that it is disrespectful to the dead to use such a tragedy to score political points. Yet more Americans have died from gun violence, including suicides, since 1970 (about 1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history going back to the Revolutionary War (about 1.3 million). And it’s not just gang-members: In a typical year, more pre-schoolers are shot dead in America (about 75) than police officers are.

Yes, making America safer will be hard: There are no perfect solutions. The Second Amendment is one constraint, and so is our polarized political system and the power of the gun lobby. It’s unclear how effective some of my suggestions will be, and in any case this will be a long, uncertain, uphill process.

But automobiles are a reminder that we can chip away at a large problem through a public health approach: Just as auto safety improvements have left us far better off, it seems plausible to some gun policy experts that a sensible, politically feasible set of public health steps could over time reduce firearm deaths in America by one-third – or more than 10,000 lives saved each year.

So let’s not just shed tears for the dead, give somber speeches and lower flags. Let’s get started and save lives.

I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).

Хостинг сайтов Joinder.Pro

Op-Ed Columnist: How to Reduce Shootings

Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it is a school shooting in Texas.

But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn’t be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.

So let’s not just mourn the dead, let’s not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let’s also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence — a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.

This story was updated May 18, 2018. Visit this page to see the original.

America Has More Guns Than Any Other Country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns – roughly one for every citizen – and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

Guns per 100 people

The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.

United States

switzerland

England, wales

Gun murders per 100,000 people

America’s private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.

United States

Switzerland

England, Wales

The New York Times | Sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (gun murders); Small Arms Survey (guns per 100 people) |Murder data for U.S., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Spain from 2015 and latest available for other countries; 2007 data for guns per 100 people.

We Have a Model for Regulating Guns: Automobiles

Gun enthusiasts often protest: Cars kill about as many people as guns, and we don’t ban them! No, but automobiles are actually a model for the public health approach I’m suggesting.

We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them – so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.

Take a look at the history of motor vehicle safety since World War II:

Deaths per 100 million vehicle

miles traveled

First federal safety standards for cars

Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled

First seatbelt offered

in an American car

First federal safety

standards for cars

55 m.p.h. national

speed limit

Car safety ratings

introduced

Tennessee is first

to require child safety

seats

Airbags, invented

in 1951, become mandatory

New York is first to require seat belt use

Mandatory reporting

of defects by

carmakers

The New York Times | Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The Liberal Approach Is Ineffective. Use a Public Health Approach Instead.

Frankly, liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).

The left sometimes focuses on “gun control,” which scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales. A better framing is “gun safety” or “reducing gun violence,” and using auto safety as a model—constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.

What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:

Background Checks

22 percent of guns are obtained without one.

Protection Orders

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban Under-21s

A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).

Safe Storage

These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Straw Purchases

Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Ammunition Checks

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End Immunity

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban Bump Stocks

A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘Smart Guns’

“Smart guns” fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.

If someone steals my iPhone, it’s useless, and the same should be true of guns. Gun manufacturers made child-proof guns back in the 19th century (before dropping them), and it’s time to advance that technology today. Some combination of smart guns and safe storage would also reduce the number of firearms stolen in the U.S. each year, now about 200,000, and available to criminals.

We also need to figure out whether gun buybacks, often conducted by police departments, are cost-effective and help reduce violence. And we can experiment more with anti-gang initiatives, such as Cure Violence, that have a good record in reducing shootings.

Fewer Guns = Fewer Deaths

It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare. One study by the Violence Policy Center found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides by a private citizen using a firearm.

Estimated Percent of Households With

Guns, by State

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF

HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Estimated Percent of Households With Guns, by State

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS

New Jersey

Connecticut

California

States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

Washington

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

North Dakota

New Mexico

North Carolina

South Carolina

South Dakota

West Virginia

Mississippi

Note: There are no hard data on gun ownership in the United States. This household gun ownership proxy was created by taking a weighted average of the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm — a widely used proxy for firearm ownership — and the hunting license rate in ​each state. ​It improves upon ​earlier models by accounting for the prevalence of hunting rifles, which are typically not used in suicides. The new proxy ​improves the correlation with survey-measured gun ownership from ​​0.80 to 0.95​, ​suggesting increased accuracy. Source: Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

U.S. RATE:

10.5

Gun Law ‘Grades’ and Gun Death Rates

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an “A;” the weakest, an “F.”

States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.

GUN DEATH RATE

PER 100,000

Massachusetts

South Dakota

Connecticut

New Jersey

California

U.S.

RATE:

10.5

North Dakota

Rhode Island

Washington

West Virginia

South Carolina

Pennsylvania

New Mexico

New Hampshire

Mississippi

North Carolina

*Nevada’s grade of F would improve to a C-minus if a recently passed ballot initiative mandating universal background checks is implemented. So far, the state has failed to do so. Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

But the problem is that lax laws too often make it easy not only for good guys to get guns, but also for bad guys to get guns. The evidence is overwhelming that overall more guns and more relaxed gun laws lead to more violent deaths and injuries. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gun in the house was associated with an increased risk of a gun death, particularly by suicide but also apparently by homicide.

In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tweeted that he was “embarrassed” that his state was ranked second (behind California) in requests to buy new guns, albeit still with one million requests. “Let’s pick up the pace Texans,” he wrote. Abbott apparently believes, along with the N.R.A., that more guns make a society more safe, but statistics dispute that. Abbott should look at those charts.

Greg Abbott‏

@GregAbbott_TX

I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.@NRA 10:53 AM — 28 Oct 2015

Mass Shootings Are Not the Main Cause of Loss of Life

Critics will say that the kind of measures I cite wouldn’t prevent many shootings. The Las Vegas carnage, for example, might not have been prevented by any of the suggestions I make.

That’s true, and there’s no magic wand available. Yet remember that although it is mass shootings that get our attention, they are not the main cause of loss of life. Much more typical is a friend who shoots another, a husband who kills his wife – or, most common of all, a man who kills himself. Skeptics will say that if people want to kill themselves, there’s nothing we can do. In fact, it turns out that if you make suicide a bit more difficult, suicide rates drop.

Here are the figures showing that mass shootings are a modest share of the total, and the same is true of self-defense – despite what the N.R.A. might have you believe.

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016

AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES

ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES

OTHER CAUSES

VICTIMS KILLING

PERPETRATORS IN

SELF-DEFENSE:

589

DEATHS IN

MASS

SHOOTINGS:

456

SHARE OF ALL

GUN DEATHS:

The New York Times | Source: Gun Violence Archive

Tightening Gun Laws Lowered Firearm Homicide Rates

For skeptics who think that gun laws don’t make a difference, consider what happened in two states, Missouri and Connecticut. In 1995, Connecticut tightened licensing laws, while in 2007 Missouri eased gun laws.

The upshot? After tightening gun laws, firearm homicide rates dropped 40 percent in Connecticut. And after Missouri eased gun laws, gun homicide rates rose 25 percent.

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Missouri after 2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

Connecticut after 1995 law

tightening licensing requirements

Missouri after

2007 repeal

of license requirements

Estimated change in

rate of gun homicide

Estimated change in

rate of gun suicide

The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

One of the lessons of gun research is that we often focus just on firearms themselves, when it may be more productive to focus on who gets access to them. A car or gun is usually safe in the hands of a 45-year-old woman with no criminal record, but may be dangerous when used by a 19-year-old felon with a history of alcohol offenses or domestic violence protection orders.

Yet our laws have often focused more on weapons themselves (such as the assault weapons ban) rather than on access. In many places, there is more rigorous screening of people who want to adopt dogs than of people who want to purchase firearms.

In these two states, the laws affected access, and although there’s some indication that other factors were also involved in Connecticut (and correlations don’t prove causation), the outcomes are worth pondering.

There Is a Shocking Lack of Research on Guns

There’s simply a scandalous lack of research on gun violence, largely because the N.R.A. is extremely hostile to such research and Congress rolls over. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did try to research gun violence, Congress responded by cutting its funding.

Here is the American toll from four diseases and firearms over the years 1973-2012 – and the number of National Institutes of Health research grants to explore each problem over that same time.

N.I.H. research awards

Number of

cases

Diphtheria

Firearms

injuries

>4 million

Number

of cases

N.I.H. research awards

Diphtheria

Firearm

Injuries

>4 million

The New York Times | Source: University of Chicago Crime Lab

The Right Type of Training Could Go a Long Way

One approach that could reduce the abuse of guns is better training. As a 13-year-old farm boy in Oregon, I attended a N.R.A. gun safety class (which came with a one-year membership to the N.R.A., making me an N.R.A. alum who despises what that organization has become). These classes can be very useful, and audits found that more than 80 percent cover such matters as checking the gun to see if it’s loaded, keeping one’s finger off the trigger until ready to fire and being certain of the target.

Yet the audits also suggest that trainers are more likely to advocate for the N.R.A. or for carrying guns than for, say, safe storage. This is a missed opportunity, for all classes should cover the risks of guns and alcohol, the risks of abuse with suicide and domestic violence, the need for safe storage, and so on. Here’s what researchers found that the gun classes they audited actually covered:

NOT

DISCUSSED

PERCENT OF CLASSES

WHERE DISCUSSED

Trainers encouraged

gun carrying

Encouraged

gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised

access by children

Encouraged gun use

for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership

in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of

shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when

not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use

gun only as last resort

Young children

and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is important source

of firearms used in crime

Techniques for

de-escalating threats

Recommendation:

report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide

in household members

Domestic violence risk

Topic

discussed

Percent of classes

where discussed

Not

discussed

Trainers encouraged gun carrying

Encouraged gun ownership

Prevent unsupervised access by children

Encouraged gun use for self-defense

Theft prevention

Encouraged membership in gun-rights group

Legal ramifications of shooting in self-defense

Child access laws

Recommendation: when not in use, store unloaded

Recommendation: use gun only as last resort

Young children and gun accidents

Decision-making in crises

Theft is an important source of firearms used in crime

Techniques for de-escalating threats

Recommendation: report stolen firearms

Watch for signs of suicide in household members

Domestic violence risk

The New York Times | Source: David Hemenway, Injury Prevention |The classes studied, some of which were required by law, took place in 7 Northeast states.

A Way Forward: On Some Issues, Majorities Agree

It may sometimes seem hopeless to make progress on gun violence, especially with the N.R.A. seemingly holding Congress hostage. But I’m more optimistic.

Look, we all agree on some kinds of curbs on guns. Nobody believes that people should be able to drive a tank down Main Street, or have an anti-aircraft gun in the backyard. I’ve been to parts of northern Yemen where one could actually buy a tank or an anti-aircraft gun, as well as fully automatic weapons — and that area’s now embroiled in a civil war – but fortunately in America we have agreed to ban those kinds of weaponry.

So the question isn’t whether we will restrict firearms, but where to draw the line and precisely which ones to restrict.

Check out these polling numbers as a basis for action on gun safety:

Agree with

the following:

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Background checks

for all gun buyers

Preventing mentally

ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

Ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines

(10+ bullets)*

Households

with no guns

Gun

households

Agree with the following:

Background checks for all gun buyers

Preventing the mentally ill from buying guns

Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes

Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists

Background checks for private sales and at gun shows

Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases

A ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun

A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence

New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns

Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence

Creating a federal database to track gun sales

A ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines (10+ bullets)*

The New York Times | Sources: Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April (questions on mental illness, no-fly lists, background checks for private sales and federal database); Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted Oct. 5-10 (all other questions) |*A Pew Research Center survey found only 44 percent of gun owners favored such a ban.

Looking ahead, I’m optimistic that there can be progress at the state level, and some of the necessary research funding will come from private foundations. Maybe some police departments will put in orders for smart guns to help create a market.

But the real impetus for change will come because the public favors it. In particular, note that 93 percent of people even in gun households favor universal background checks for gun purchases.

If you’re wondering how we managed to crank out all these charts and data in the immediate aftermath of the Texas shooting, here’s the secret: We didn’t. We spent weeks gathering the information and preparing the charts, because we knew that there would be a tragedy like this one to make it all relevant.

That’s the blunt, damning truth: Friday’s school shooting was 100 percent predictable. After each such incident, we mourn the deaths and sympathize with the victims, but we do nothing fundamental to reduce our vulnerability.

Some of you will protest, as President Trump did, that it’s too soon to talk about guns, or that it is disrespectful to the dead to use such a tragedy to score political points. Yet more Americans have died from gun violence, including suicides, since 1970 (about 1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history going back to the Revolutionary War (about 1.3 million). And it’s not just gang-members: In a typical year, more pre-schoolers are shot dead in America (about 75) than police officers are.

Yes, making America safer will be hard: There are no perfect solutions. The Second Amendment is one constraint, and so is our polarized political system and the power of the gun lobby. It’s unclear how effective some of my suggestions will be, and in any case this will be a long, uncertain, uphill process.

But automobiles are a reminder that we can chip away at a large problem through a public health approach: Just as auto safety improvements have left us far better off, it seems plausible to some gun policy experts that a sensible, politically feasible set of public health steps could over time reduce firearm deaths in America by one-third – or more than 10,000 lives saved each year.

So let’s not just shed tears for the dead, give somber speeches and lower flags. Let’s get started and save lives.

I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).

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Twitter’s Panic After Trump’s Account Is Deleted Caps a Rough Week

Update: We have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again. We won’t be able to share all details about our internal investigation or updates to our security measures, but we take this seriously and our teams are on it. https://t.co/8EfEzHvB7p

My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact.

We just published a clearer version of the Twitter Rules to clarify our policies and how we enforce them https://t.co/gPv9nt3y1M

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Education Disrupted: How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom

A Baltimore County school board member, David Uhlfelder, said a representative from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor had interviewed him in September about Mr. Dance’s relationship with a former school vendor (a company not in the tech industry).

The prosecutor’s office declined to confirm or deny its interest in Mr. Dance.

Mr. Dance, who discussed the district’s tech initiatives with a Times reporter last year, did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls this week seeking comment.

Courting the Superintendents

In Baltimore County and beyond, the digital makeover of America’s schools has spawned a circuit of conferences, funded by Microsoft, Google, Dell and other tech vendors, that lavish attention on tech-friendly educators.

Mr. Dance’s travel schedule sheds light on that world.

Between March 2014, when the laptop contract was announced, and April 2017, when he announced his resignation, Mr. Dance took at least 65 out-of-state trips related to the district’s tech initiatives or involving industry-funded groups, according to a Times analysis of travel documents obtained under public records laws — nearly two trips per month on average. Those trips cost more than $33,000. The Times counted only trips with local receipts, indicating Mr. Dance set foot in the cities.

At least $13,000 of Mr. Dance’s airline tickets, hotel bills, meals and other fees were paid for by organizations sponsored by tech companies, some of which were school vendors, The Times found. The $13,000 is an incomplete number, because some groups cover superintendents’ costs directly, which means school records may not include them.

Another way tech companies reach superintendents is to pay private businesses that set up conferences or small-group meetings with them. Superintendents nationwide have attended these events.

One prominent provider is the Education Research and Development Institute, or ERDI, which regularly gathers superintendents and other school leaders for conferences where they can network with companies that sell to schools.

ERDI offered several service levels this year, according to a membership rate card obtained by The Times. A $13,000 fee for Bronze membership entitles a company to one confidential meeting, where executives can meet with five school leaders to discuss products and school needs. Diamond members could pay $66,000 for six such meetings.

Document

The Education Research and Development Institute, known as ERDI, charges membership fees to school vendors to arrange small-group meetings with superintendents who can provide product feedback.

OPEN Document

ERDI has offered superintendents $2,000 per conference as participating consultants, according to a Louisiana Board of Ethics filing. And there are other perks.

“Because we are asking for their time and expertise, we commonly offer to pay the cost of their food, transportation and lodging during their participation,” ERDI’s president, David M. Sundstrom, said in an email.

Mr. Dance’s calendar indicated that he had attended at least five ERDI events.

Mr. Dance received payment last year as an adviser for ERDI, according to his most recent district financial disclosure. It lists Dulle Enterprises, a company that owned ERDI in the past, as an employer from which he earned income.

Last February, at an ERDI conference in New Orleans, Mr. Dance met with Curriculum Associates, which makes reading software, as well as DreamBox Learning, a math platform.

At the time, both companies had contracts with the district. A few months after the event, the school board approved additional money for both companies. Each contract is now worth about $3.2 million.

A DreamBox spokeswoman said there was no connection between the meeting and its contract. “Even the appearance of impropriety is something we take very seriously and take steps to avoid,” she said.

A Curriculum Associates spokeswoman said: “These panels are not sales presentations, but rather focus-group opportunities to solicit feedback on products under development.”

Ms. White, the interim superintendent, has been involved with ERDI since 2013, according to Mr. Dickerson. He said Ms. White used vacation time to attend events, where she “provided guidance to education-related companies on goods, services and products that are in development to benefit student performance.”

Asked whether Ms. White had received ERDI payments, Mr. Dickerson said, “Participation in ERDI is done independently of the school system.” In an email, Ms. White said she found ERDI to be a “beneficial professional learning experience.” She didn’t respond to a question about ERDI compensation.

She added, “I do not believe there are any conflicts of interests” related to the district’s tech initiative.

Mr. Sundstrom, ERDI’s president, said education companies pay a fee to attend events “not to meet school leaders or make a sale,” but to get meaningful feedback on their education products from knowledgeable school leaders. He added that school officials do not make purchases at ERDI sessions and that it is their school boards that approve district purchases.

Baltimore County’s travel rules say, “No travel expenses will be paid by those seeking to do business with the Baltimore County Public Schools prior to obtaining a contract.” Mr. Dickerson explained that applied to companies currently bidding for contracts.

Continue reading the main story

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New Orangutan Species Could Be the Most Endangered Great Ape

“When we realized that Batang Toru orangutans are morphologically different from all other orangutans, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place,” said Dr. Michael Krützen, a professor at the University of Zurich and a member of the research team.

Researchers then conducted what they called the “largest genomic study of wild orangutans to date,” comparing the genes from the recovered orangutan with data collected in the past from other field sites on Sumatra. They found that the Tapanuli population had become isolated from other Sumatran orangutan populations sometime in the last 10,000 to 20,000 years.

They also found that the Tapanuli’s orangutan’s lineage was ancient — between three and three and one-half million years old — and that they appeared to be direct descendants of the orangutan ancestors that crossed into what is now Indonesia and Malaysia from mainland Asia.

“We have learned how little we actually knew about orangutan evolution despite many decades of research and how much more there is to learn,” Dr. Meijaard said. “Orangutans are ancient creatures, as old as the very first members of our own genus Homo.”

Photo

The new orangutan species lives only in an area of rain forest about 425 square miles in size. With only about 800 left, scientists contend they would be the most endangered of all the surviving great apes. Credit Tim Laman

The researchers acknowledged that there are limitations in their study, as they had access to only a single skeleton and two individual genomes. But they noted that other species have been defined with a single specimen.

Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, a Canadian primatologist who has studied orangutans for 46 years and led conservation efforts on the neighboring island of Borneo, said she was pleased – but not necessarily surprised – by the announcement.

“It was the talk 50 years ago, that there were two types, including one that had long fingers,” she said of descriptions made by residents of that area of Sumatra. .

“So what they have done is solidified the evidence, using anatomical evidence and genetic evidence, and evidence from the population.”

Dr. Galdikas, president of Orangutan Foundation International, said she hoped media attention over the announcement will further efforts to protect remaining orangutan populations in Borneo and Sumatra.

She also said she hoped it would spark new scientific debate on whether the three subspecies of the Bornean orangutan should themselves be elevated to full species of great ape, in particular the orangutan of eastern Borneo.

Continue reading the main story

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