America has too many guns. Almost every week unnecessary deaths and avoidable slaughter occur in individual or mass killings of innocent people. Since 2001 needless U. S. gun deaths, CNN reports, have averaged over 30,000 per year, and only a tiny percentage are attributable to terrorism, Suicide is the leading statistic, while individual gun deaths and mass shootings make up the rest.. While we are wringing our hands along with the public media over this senseless loss, petty thieves, urban teens on joyrides and solitary people in economic distress or personal despair take a toll of hundreds more. The reasons? Various causes, such as mental illness, malice or unstable personality and other factors, drive people to violence, but the direct cause turning these cases into mortality statistics is the prevalence and easy availability of firearms. In the wake of the latest Texas church massacre, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday that gun control should be looked at as a public safety and a public health issue.
Too many guns mean too many deaths
Further evidence that we have too many guns in this country is made clear in a simple comparison with other advanced nations. According to Nicholas Kristof in Monday’s New York Times, Americans have over 300 million firearms, more than one for every man, woman and child in America. In terms of gun deaths per 100,000 people, he continues, this “arsenal is six times more lethal than Canada’s, and 30 times worse than Australia’s.” We have successfully regulated other potentially deadly conditions in this country: namely, in public health, inadequate building construction, the consumption of liquor and, Kristof points out, the operation of automobiles, with remarkable success. Significantly, due to strict application and enforcement of auto safety requirements and drivers’ licenses, the rate of automobile deaths has dropped by 95 percent since 1921. I am most familiar with the regulation of building construction, which has prevented disasters such as we see in less evolved foreign countries, from earthquakes, windstorms and structural deficiencies.
Architects’ role in protecting people in our buildings
To prepare for the architectural profession, I had to learn how to design and engineer buildings for structural stability, sufficient light and air, freedom from fire hazards and adequate means of egress in case of emergency, along with many other functional, comfort, durability and aesthetic concerns. I had to demonstrate sound knowledge of these issues to become a licensed architect. Almost all major buildings in this country must be designed by qualified architects and engineers. Based on ongoing experience of new hazards, these codes have been improved over many years.
Building codes: effective means of ensuring public safety
“The building code is your friend,” our professors constantly reminded us. “If you follow it carefully, it will protect the people in your buildings from harm and keep you as designer in compliance with the law.” Based on national and international model codes developed and published by building officials code administrators, local building codes are created and adopted for cities, towns and municipalities large and small. They are designed to meet regional climatic, seismic and terrain conditions and enforced by communities, which must issue building permits, before new construction or major remodeling is allowed. As new conditions are experienced over many years, such as fires trapping people on a single floor of a high-rise building, tragedies resulting from inability to escape places of public assembly and the failure of certain building materials during fire wind and flood events, officials administering and enforcing codes have made suggestions and evolve better versions of these model codes. It is an interesting fact that these model codes are designed, not from the top down by a divided, out of touch and deadlocked federal government, but are discussed, amended and adopted by national committees, until they become useful, practical and locally adoptable building laws.
Murder in buildings: too many guns for public safety
As architects and citizens concerned with the safety of our people it’s time to take a stand. While building codes are essential to ensure safety of building occupants under varying conditions offer little help when dangerous firearms are brought inside. The good work of local architects, engineers and building officials will be undone by such violent weapons. It is time for a process similar to code development, initiated and developed by local citizens, law enforcement officials and legal experts, first for local and regional firearms codes, which over the years could result in real solutions, effective regulation and what might be codified into a National Firearms Code. This then, could form the basis for sweeping change, with the adoption of local then federal regulation, if necessary. It is time for the killing to stop.
Codes save lives: so where is the National Firearms Code?
Do I need even to say it? We need to develop local codes, based on a National Firearms Code. It should be obvious by now that Americans are fed up with the needless destruction of people, homes and families. Local law enforcement officials need help, protection from assault and legal backup support. Sure, we have the right to bear arms against an oppressive government. But not every day, if it defeats the right to life, liberty and happiness. Conservatives will go to the mat fighting for the right to life when it comes to opposing abortion. Don’t they care enough about life to protect innocent men, women and children form the proliferation of firearms? Let’s face it: we have too many guns.
Meanwhile as citizens, we must oppose the influence of moneyed gun lobbyists–the real Enemy of the People–on our elected officials as if our lives depended on it, which they do.
Until next time, good words to you,