Armed and mentally ill

Is there common ground for supporters of gun rights and gun control to stop random, senseless shootings in this country? Perhaps.

Hours after the awful shooting at Seattle Pacific University, Mayor Ed Murray appeared on campus and said, “Once again the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle — the epidemic of gun violence that is haunting this nation.” Other politicians, activists and liberal clergy echoed his words.

It will surprise the mayor and many other people to learn that gun violence isn’t rising in America, it’s falling. In fact, it’s plummeting. Gun deaths are down nearly 40 percent in the last 20 years, despite an increase in population and a rise in gun ownership. The Bureau of Justice Statistics points out an even more dramatic number: Non-fatal gun crimes free-fell 69 percent during that same period.

But mass shootings have increased. Depending on how you define them (attempted vs. actual), they have doubled or tripled in the last decade. Why are random shootings with multiple casualties up while overall “gun violence” is way down?

Let’s broaden our focus.

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