Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Gun-Carry Culture

Daisy, my blog-sister and one of my very first blog supporters, sent me this wonderful link.   The Christian Science Monitor, in this lengthy article is basically observing the winning ways of the gun-rights movement, attempting to plumb its mysteries and origins.

I particularly liked this.  It seems to me that the enjoyment of one's freedom to own and use guns very quickly diminishes the freedom of others.

"People are buying guns to deal with their anxiety of feeling they have no safety or they have this need for their political sense of freedom, but not everybody shares that level of personal threat," says Joan Burbick, author of "Gun Show Nation," a critique of American gun culture. "And when you're going to insist upon this in public spaces or shared spaces like a basketball game or a park, then you're really intruding into where other people get their personal sense of safety."

One of the closing paragraphs contained some statistics which I suppose are to show the innocuous and even beneficial nature of the gun obsession.

Moreover, the number of deaths caused by a gun in the US has been declining even though the number of guns carried in public has been growing. Federal statistics show that between 2005 and 2009, the number of annual murders committed with a gun dropped from 10,158 to 9,146. During the same period, the number of justifiable, or defensive, homicides rose from 196 to 261.
The declining number of murders, approximately 10%, over those 5 years is partly due to better trauma care in hospitals. Advances in medical procedures and lessons-learned from past experiences accounts for a good bit of that.  Fewer people who are seriously wounded die.

But more importantly, when either side of the gun debate presents statistics on gun violence to support their argument, they're leaving out the important fact that gun availability is only one factor. Other factors which contribute are, social conditions in the country, unemployment and education, the various waves of illegal drugs being introduced into the society. There are many variables, the gun is just one, but it is one of the most tangible and one about which something should be done, in addition to addressing the other social ills of course.

The number of defensive justified killings rose dramatically, but aren't those numbers laughingly small. Please keep in mind that many gun-rights advocates claim there are 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year, yet only a couple hundred result in death. Don't get me wrong, the fewer people killed with guns, the better I like it, but don't go telling me this handful of justified killings is why we need laxer gun laws. Guns still cause more harm than good, in my opinion.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. Well first of all MikeB's statement that guns do more harm than good depends on your notion of a "good gun use" and a "harmful gun use". The most important use of guns is in relation to criminal attacks on citizens or citizens defending themselves from criminal attacks. I am not overly concerned about criminals using guns on other criminals. Criminals will attack other criminals with whatever weapons are handy and do not have a major negative impact on citizens. In fact you could argue that it is good for citizens when a criminal murders another violent criminal. And while suicides are tragic and regrettable, they are not justification to restrict the ability of citizens to defend themselves.

    When you focus on how many times criminals use firearms to attack citizens, it boils down to about 1000 annual homicides and about 5000 annual assaults with injuries. Thus criminals use firearms to injure or murder citizens about 6000 times a year. We should also consider unintentional discharges as a "bad use" of guns. Those are about 1000 events a year that lead to injury or death.

    So the grand total number of times that guns "harm" citizens is about 7000 events annually ... which would be something like 140 events per state per year. Do citizens use firearms to defend themselves more than 140 times per state per year? I am certain of it. So yes, guns do more good than harm.

    And this analysis doesn't account for two factors that would make the case even stronger. First, if we could magically eliminate guns, how many of the annual firearm assaults which resulted in the injury or death of the citizen would have happened with another weapon? We all know that the answer is most of them. A criminal doesn't stop being a criminal simply because he lost his firearm. Second, how many more violent crimes would criminals commit against citizens annually if they were confident that citizens were not armed? We all know the answer would be higher.

    And the most interesting detail? We don't have to guess. We can look at gun ranges and police stations where the criminal violent crime rate is zero. In those "firearm rich environments", guns clearly do more good than harm.

  2. The declining number of murders, approximately 10%, over those 5 years is partly due to better trauma care in hospitals.
    You would think so, but I did a little digging around over at the FBI and this is what I found. In 2005 there were 31,735 aggravated assaults with firearms (table 19). Aggravated assault includes attempted murder in the reports. in 2009, there were 30,650 firearm related aggravated assaults(table 15). That's a 3.4% decline, so while murders with firearms has decreased, so has attempted murders with firearms.

    I originally ran the numbers for 2010 instead of 2009. What I found is that firearm related aggravated assault was down 15% between 2005 and 2010.

    ...when either side of the gun debate presents statistics on gun violence to support their argument, they're leaving out the important fact that gun availability is only one factor.

    This is true:
    social conditions (economy) is down and usually drives crime up, but we see that crime is down.
    unemployment, again, when unemployment is up, usually crime goes up, but crime is down.
    illegal drugs usually drive all manners of crime up, but, yep, crime is still down.
    the gun is just one and gun availability and permissive laws to carry firearms is way up, and again, crime is down including 'gun crime'.

  3. It's always fascinating to watch effetes who don't own guns shake their heads at the rising number of gun owners. It just makes no sense to them, so they have to develop an explanation for the phenomenon.

    The answer, of course, is simple. People like guns. We like having choices. We like achieving action at a distance. We like the fun. And yes, if a danger to our lives ever comes up, we like having the power to fight back.

    1. Greg, In you litany of why people like guns, why didn't you include, to feel like a man, to make up for inadequacy, to compensate for irrational fear and paranoia? Do those things not account for any gun ownership in your opinion?

    2. O Greg, i meant to tell you. I watched that movie you said was one of your favorites with Jon Stewart, "Something of the Heart."

      What a load of sentimental, sappy Hollywood crap. I loved it. I usually judge my movies by how much shooting there is, but once in a while I see a good one which isn't about drugs or spies or criminals or cops.

      Thanks. I liked especially how it all came together at the end. I didn't expect that really.

    3. I imagine that a few gun owners buy guns for the reasons that you named, but such people buy flashy cars, too. They wear loud jewelry. They're easy to spot. And in a free society, we can't stop them, since making up for a lack of self-confidence isn't a crime.

      I'm glad to find another convert to "Playing by Heart." It is interesting to me that you and I have common tastes in movies.

  4. This just in: A bill has been introduced in the Senate by Mark Begich and Joe Manchin, titled the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012, that substantially matches H.R. 822 passed by the House last year. Note that both of those senators are Democrats. Send a message to your senators to support this bill.