NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In the wake of the Connecticut shooting last Friday, some numbers were being floated on Facebook (FB - Get Report): 10,000 gun deaths each year in the U.S. compared to 57 in Switzerland, 158 in Germany, 41, in England, 35 in France...I initially just chalked this up to exaggeration, sparked by an understandable outrage. But as others began voicing all sorts of opinions about how to prevent such tragedies from happening again, old arguments against new laws emerged and I decided maybe it was worth it to look into those numbers. In his article for TheStreet Tuesday, economist Peter Morici notes some of the arguments against gun control, and observes that we can't police the problem away. We need instead to encourage a greater civility. On Facebook, in the newspapers, on the radio, others were arguing that the real issue here is mental illness, not guns. Gun rights supporters love this argument: No amount of law can stop a crazy person hell-bent on destruction. True enough. But that rationale also overlooks the obvious: A law doesn't have to be 100% effective to be a good law. We stop at traffic lights because we have arrived at a common agreement to do so. Observing the right of way allows us all to pass safely through most intersections. People will ignore the law, even harming those who would obey. But the risk of death is generally reduced; the benefits of the law remain real.
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