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No matter which side you’re on, gun violence threatens us all

Police cars near the Jacksonville Landing, a riverfront mall in Jacksonville, Fla., after a shooting was reported Sunday. A gunman armed with a handgun killed two people and wounded 11 at a video gaming tournament. The shooting suspect, a gamer attending the event, then fatally shot himself, the authorities said. [Saul Martinez/The New York Times]
Tuesday 28 August 2018 05.00

Somehow, we’ve lost our way. Can we at least agree on that?

It seems as if half the population is scared of the people with guns, and the other half is scared of the people who want to take away their guns.

Either way, we get scenes like Sunday’s tragic shootings in downtown Jacksonville where one victim declared himself lucky because he was only shot in the thumb.

Think about that. We’ve reached a point where it’s not a shock to be involved in a mass shooting, but rather to have survived.

We have descended into a state of madness, and no one can agree on causes or solutions. One person looks at all the terror and the killings and says we obviously need to restrict guns. Another person looks at the same picture and says that’s exactly why we should be allowed to carry guns.

If we’re being honest, there are truths on both sides of that argument.

The larger issue is we are so far down the road that compromise seems futile. Guns have become so commonplace in Florida, it’s hard to imagine future restrictions having much effect. On the other hand, our current course feels like a nuclear arms race with mutually assured destruction on the horizon.

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With all of that in mind, here are some gun-related numbers to ponder. Feel free to interpret any way you wish.

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75.7 Percentage of murders committed with firearms in Florida in 2016-17. That’s the highest two-year rate since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began tracking those figures in 1971. That means, if you’re murdered in this state, the odds are 3-to-1 you’ve been shot. Just 30 years earlier, in 1986-87, the rate of murders committed with a firearm was 48.4 percent.

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2 Shootings at high school football games in Florida the past two weeks. On Aug. 17, two adults were seriously wounded when gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a preseason game at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington. On Friday, a 19-year-old man was killed, and two high school students were injured by what police called a targeted shooting outside of the football stadium at Raines High in Jacksonville.

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97 Number of firearms found in carry-on bags at Tampa International Airport in 2017. That total led the state and was sixth in the nation. However, to use a boxing term, Tampa might still be considered the pound-for-pound champion, considering every airport on the list ahead of TIA handles at least twice as many travelers annually.

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21 Republican candidates for state Legislature that received grades of A or A+ from the National Rifle Association last month. No Democrats got an A. On the other hand, 13 Democrats got an F. No Republicans received an F.

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10.8 With nearly 2 million concealed weapons permits issued, Florida leads the nation. That total works out to roughly one out of every 10.8 residents. Dixie County leads the parade with one CWP for every 4.9 residents. Pinellas and Hillsborough are both around one out of 13.5, Pasco is at 11.0 and Hernando is 8.8.


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