A Farewell to Arms

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While we are having this discussion over Newtown, political scientist Patrick Egan asks us to remember that, overall, this is a much less violent country than it was a few decades ago, and it is also a country in which people own fewer guns.

I think it's easy to fall into a conversation about "America's gun culture," but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a shrinking group of people who collectively own a shocking number of guns:

A decreasing number of American gun owners own two-thirds of the nation's guns and as many as one-third of the guns on the planet -- even though they account for less than 1% of the world's population, according to a CNN analysis of gun ownership data.

To state the obvious, there is something more than self-defense at work here.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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