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Final note: There are more than 58,000 gunshops in the U.S.

The U.S. flag flies at half-staff over the White House in Washington.

This final note today, about what happened in Newtown, Conn., this morning.

This isn't gonna be something you usually get from Marketplace. But I've got four kids, as I think I've said before. My first reaction was that there wasn't really an angle for us and that we'd leave it to others.

Then I thought about it. And we did some digging around. There are lobbying numbers and gun sales numbers and firearms permit numbers.

And then there's this.

There are, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (PDF), more than 58,000 gunshops in this country.

There are fewer than 20,000 Starbucks (PDF) in the whole world.

Jay Carney, the president's press secretary, said this morning that this isn't the time to talk about gun control.

If today's not the time, then when?

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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I'm sure that I'm not going to be very popular with this opinion, but I think that your comments (certainly heartfelt) were completely inappropriate for this program.

NPR news alone has gone on about this event for hours. Endlessly repeating the same information with reporters desperately running around trying to find out anything.
People are dead. Leave it alone. Can't we have 5 seconds to absorb this?

I would suggest watching this on youtube--Charlie Brooker's Newswipe 25/03/09
From that video, Dr Park Dietz (well-known forensic psychiatrist) said the best way to prevent these mass shootings is to do the following:
Don't repeatedly show (or name) the killer, don't make this 24/7 news, don't make the body count the most important fact, etc...

I don't own a gun, this is more due to the cost of one than not actually considering purchasing one.
Why would I even want one and who am I?
Well, here's who I am not:
I don't agree that owning every type of gun imaginable is reasonable
I don't agree with the NRA
I don't agree with uber-survivalists that act like the if they don't have 500 guns, they aren't safe
I don't agree with laws that say that if someone breaks into your house and you shoot them (because I guess that you have to wait until they're raped and are trying to kill you before you can do anything)

Jay Carney, the president's press secretary, said this morning that this isn't the time to talk about gun control. Do you understand why?
Because to discuss it today in the midst of this horrible tragedy would be a knee-jerk reaction.

I would like to put forth this scenario: you own a gun. You have a permit to carry it. You know how to use because you've taken lessons and have practiced. You have it with you.
You pull up to your school to drop off your child late because they had an doctors appointment (or whatever.)
There's crazy man walking around with a gun shooting people.
What do you do?
Because I know what I'd do.

My goodness, 58,000. How many automobile dealers are there in the U.S.? Do you know what an SUV can due to a gathering of kindergartners?

Is this the same sort of logic you use in your market analysis? Or do you actually think in terms of alternatives in that domain?

Thank you Kai Ryssdal. I own four guns and I was a NRA member before. My wife keeps telling me there is no need for me to have four guns in the house. I am really beginning to think she is correct . It is simply too easy to buy guns in the United States. I love your show and I support NPR.

Kai,
After the recent public roasting of Bob Costas, I was particularly heartened by your commentary on gun control. Of course, your plea goes down easier, given the recent tragedy in CT, but still, thank you for your comments and for exposing the ridiculous suggestion that NOW is not the time to discuss gun control.

I support the right to bear arms, but with limitation.

Continued silence can be interpreted as acceptance. Thank you for your public, vocal call for a discussion on gun control.

dee downing
park city, utah

Thank you for your statement--thank you for saying what needs to be said.

Yeah, let's throw all the nasty gun owners in concentration camps like the Nazis did before WWII.
We control light bulbs, thermostats, size of soda drinks, calorie intake, but we need to send the
Marines to the homes of the more than 5 million gun owners and control them too. The mental people
with problems need to be controlled not the guns.

By all means let's ban guns and confiscate those out there. After all alcohol prohibition worked well. Forty years and $4Trillion later, we all know it is virtually impossible to obtain illcit drugs. Well, unless one makes a phone call or walks down the street. There is truth in the old slogan, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

I recall a story some time back after England had stripped all law abiding people of the right to possess any firearm at home; some thugs were intentionally crashing houses when they knew people were home. That way any alarm was deactivated. Terrorize the residents and inventory at leisure. I have invited my anti-gun neighbor to put a sign in his front yard "This house is a gun free zone". No such sign, but one I do see once in a while, "Forget the dog: Beware of the owner".

BTW, "fear of the NRA" puzzles me. You don't like the NRA, tunnel from within! There are only about 4 million members. Four million and a few Brady types, buy membership, then vote to change name and purpose to the National Regulatory Association.

I am on the mental health side of this. We decided a long time ago that it trampled the rights of deranged people to institutionalize or even closely monitor them. A lot of these people can and should be helped, but monitored; others, sorry, I know some, they are mad as hatters and should not be running loose.

I appreciate your comment. I was trained to handle weapons by the NRA in a safe manner. My shooting skills were tested by the NRA. But this is not the NRA I remember.

They talk less about gun safety and more about absolute rights to own, brandish and carry them. The NRA should be against concealed weapon (carry laws) rather than supporting them. The NRA should distinguish between hand guns - which only have one purpose, to kill or injure humans - and focus on gun sports such as skeet or hunting - which use shotguns, rifles etc. (Why does a hunter need an assault weapon?) I have been saddened to see how their absolute attitude has blunted what should be their focus - safety.

As a mom and an elementary school teacher, I'd like to address your question. You compared the number of gun sale permits to the number of Starbucks. A better comparison would be to the number of coffee makers. Many "arms dealers" are collectors or people who simply want to take advantage of wholesale pricing.

A better question would be: How are we, as a society, going to effectively deal with mental illness? The gun was a tool. Take this tool away, and the determined individual will find another tool. Our kids won't be safe until we deal with the underlying problem.

Until we as a society are willing to pay our fair share to provide for the proper care and treatment of these individuals, we will continue to see them "slip" through the net society has provided to protect us from them. We do not put enough resources into treating this problem. Then we look for a simplistic fix so we can feel we are doing something. This gives us a false sense of security until the next horrific event, and we seek another simplistic fix. This is not going away until we treat the root of the problem. Unfortunately, that is going to cost each of us personally, rather than infringing on the rights of someone else.

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