(Image credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

You might not have realized it, but our country is getting safer every day. How can that be? you might ask. Didn't the murder rate soar 30 percent in 2020, and isn't violent crime up nearly everywhere? Isn't there, on average, more than one mass shooting of four or more people every day — including a crazed gunman's barrage of 33 shots in a New York City subway this week? Yes, true enough, but look at the bright side: The sale of deadly weapons has been surging at a record pace for years, with nearly 40 million firearms sold in 2020 and 2021. Better yet, in 25 states, you can now legally buy and carry a firearm without a permit, testing, or training. For decades, the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment absolutists have assured us that the more guns there are in our communities, the safer — and "more polite," lol! — we'll all be. With nearly 400 million guns now in American hands, surely we must be the safest nation in the world.

Actually, no. All those guns have turned our streets, schools, and homes into a 21st-century version of the Wild West, with tens of thousands of casualties. Nine mass shootings erupted on a recent weekend, leaving eight dead and 60 wounded, including a gunfight at a car show in Arkansas that left 27 people — including six children — injured. Road-rage shootings have become daily events. When people feel disrespected on the road, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, "now instead of throwing up the finger, they're pulling out the gun and shooting." In NRA dogma, the best response to this endless carnage is to arm yourself and prepare to shoot back. So, when a "bad guy" sprays bullets in a crowded bar, theater, school, workplace, or subway, "good guys" can whip out their guns and return fire, while the unarmed dive under chairs. Doesn't that vision fill you with warm feelings of safety?

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William Falk

William Falk is editor-in-chief of The Week, and has held that role since the magazine's first issue in 2001. He has previously been a reporter, columnist, and editor at the Gannett Westchester Newspapers and at Newsday, where he was part of two reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes.