A couple weeks ago I made a statement that among the legal gun owners there are between 10% and 30% who should not have guns. After the bombardment of complaints I received, I retracted the statement and amended it to a simple 10%. Naturally, the pro-gun crowd who felt they had me on the ropes weren't satisfied with that. They were outraged. They demanded proof. They provided "proof" that the figure is really less than 1%. One guy suggested I downgrade my idea from "theory" to "hunch."
In this post I propose to offer a bit of what goes into my thinking. I won't call it proof, because as I've said before, much of this is not quantifiable. We must use common sense. So, in order to guard against bias, I'll downplay the numbers, allowing only very conservative figures to go towards the final result.
In the end, I will once again call my idea a "theory," and I would expect to never again hear the complaint that I make this up as I go along, that I say these numbers off the top of my head, and as Mike W. so eloquently put it, that I pull this stuff out of my ass.
Here goes. Let's presume there are 80 million gun owners. That means we need to identify 8 million who aren't fit to have a gun.
Good guys who turn bad. 1%
Some of you guys have generously provided the stats on concealed carry guys who get in trouble. That combined with the FBI stats of overall crime, allowing for the fact that some of the FBI criminals were not gun owners, we come up with about 1 million. So what we're saying is every year about 1 million gun owners out of the 80 million get in serious enough trouble to lose their right to bear arms. If you have trouble with that, look at the crime stats, add the felonies up and divide by 2, estimating that half the men own guns.
Alcoholics and drug addicts. 3%
It is estimated that 8.5% of the population is alcoholic. What percentage do you suppose has problems with other substances, anything from prescription medication to illicit drugs, another 10%?. Let's say 5%. That's 13.5% of our population at large and consequently of the 80 million gun owners. In all fairness, most of them, although I don't personally feel comfortable with their having weapons, won't cause any problems. But what of the worst 3%, say? These are the guys who become anti-social when they drink or party with drugs. You know the type. 3%.
It is estimated that about 8% of our population had at least one MDE (major depressive episode) in the last year. Gunowners, being no different from regular folks, can claim this same percentage, which I'll bet goes a long way explaining all those suicides. Since not everyone who suffers one of these episodes attempts suicide or does something else rash, let's call it 3%.
Rage (including road rage). 1%
One of the most frightening types of rage is called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). It is estimated that 4% of the population has yearly episodes. I say not a single one of them should own a gun. I realize some of these guys also suffer from depression and may have even been counted under "Alcoholics and drug addicts," so we can cut the 4% in half twice and settle on 1%. I'll throw in the regular rageaholics and road rage maniacs for free. 1%.
Domestic abusers. 3%
It is estimated that 22% of women in America have been abused. It's men doing that abusing, usually the domestic partner, so let's say 22% of the men out there are guilty of this behaviour. Only about half of those men are gun owners, so we're down to 11%. Now, let's eliminate the one's who slap their partners once in a while because they asked for it. Now let's cut it way down because many responsible owners of firearms can successfully separate their domestic squabbles from their proper gun management. I say 3%.
The U.S. Department of Justice statistics for 2005 say that 191,670 incidents of rape or sexual assault were reported. Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported which brings the total in 2005 to about 1 million. 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. These rapists may be some of the same guys we already counted in the "Domestic abusers" percentage. Also, some of these1 million rapes per year might be done by the same people, creating additional duplicate counting. I say we need another small entry here, say 1%.
General stupidity and irresponsibility. one half of 1%
I couldn't find anything to support this except humorous things that weren't very funny. But, just look around. You know who these people are.
There you have it, support for my "theory" that about 10% of the legal gun owners should not have weapons. I honestly believe using the same method I could make a good argument for the higher figures I'd stated earlier, but in the spirit of giving the benefit of the doubt in all cases, I'll leave it at 10% (rounded down from 13%, you probably noticed).
Some gun enthusiasts are very comfortable with the "us against them" mentality. They do it with the good gun owners and the criminal ones. They do it with the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks. It's all foolishness, say I. It is from their very midst, from this 10% that we have a significant "people flow." Not every one of the members of the group will go bad, and certainly not this year, but it is from their ranks that we see so many national headlines.
Please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear your opinion.