Like Jeff Jacoby (“Inner angels vs. innate evil,” Op-ed, Jan. 2), I’m all in favor of strengthening our character and inculcating values such as self-control. Our culture’s increasing narcissism may indeed remove some inhibitions, thus contributing to aggressive behavior.
But the United States does not have more people struggling with “bad character” or “depraved values” than any other industrialized country. Yet compared with other high-income countries, firearm homicide rates in the United States are nearly 20 times higher; and in the population age 15 to 24, firearm homicide rates are almost 43 times higher here than in comparison countries.
The problem extends beyond homicide. The United States has a firearm-suicide rate almost six times higher than comparison countries.
Jacoby offers no explanation for these facts; however, surely the easy availability of lethal weapons in the Unitred States is a more plausible hypothesis than our existential struggles with the evil impulse.