Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gun Control, Seattle Style

A recent Op Ed in the Seattle Times by Amy Wales, makes a number of questionable points about guns and how best to reduce gun violence.

Lets look at some of her points:

My father, Tom Wales, was murdered in 2001. The same year he was shot and killed in our Seattle home, approximately 29,000 firearm deaths were reported in the United States. About half were criminalhomicides and half suicides, with a small percentage also due to gun accidents. Gun violence is not just about crime.

Its actually closer to a 57% suicide to 40% homicide split, 16,907 suicides and 11,927 homicides, and that is all homicides, which includes all people who were killed by a gun, including justified homicides and self defense cases, not just criminal homicides.

Yes, criminals will continue to acquire firearms (legally and otherwise) and commit gun crimes with them.

According to the 1997 Survey of State Prison Inmates, among those possessing a gun, the source of the gun was from:
a flea market or gun show for fewer than 2%
a retail store or pawnshop for about 12%
family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source for 80%

The issue we have yet to address is that of law-abiding citizens purchasing guns that later cause the intentional or unintentional death of the gun owner or someone else.

So that is the real question... how do we keep guns legally purchased by law abiding citizens from later causing the intentional or unintentional death of the gun owner or someone else.

Well, lets see... if its the intentional death of the gun owner or someone else, which would include suicide, murder or justifiable homicide / self defense, according to Ms. Wales:
While perhaps little can be done to prevent a person who is determined to commit suicide or murder, death may be avoided in cases where the impulse is temporary and bodily violence minimized.

So it sounds like there is not much that can be done about suicide or murder so I guess she is in favor of reducing justifiable homicide / self defense.

Now if its the unintentional death of the gun owner or someone else... according to Ms. Wales, of the 29,000 gun deaths in 2003:
with a small percentage also due to gun accidents.

So what she really wants to focus on are those things that "little can be done to prevent", suicide and murder, the "small percentage... due to gun accidents", and of course justifiable homicides and self defense.

Now her solution is to treat gun violence as a public health issue:
When we give flu shots to those most in need, we are exercising a public-health strategy and targeting intervention where it counts. For guns, we can also save lives but only if we look at firearm-related death as the public-health epidemic that it is.

So gun violence is an "epidemic". Now an epidemic is defined as a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is expected. The problem is that over the last 10 or 15 years, gun violence has DECREASED. Gun deaths are down about 25% nationwide since the early to mid 90s.

Now let me suggest that we SHOULD treat gun violence like an epidemic just like we do with other epidemics like certain diseases. Lets insist that we teach proper gun safety in schools and make sure all public school children have access to trigger locks and gun safes. How about it?

I just have some questions... if gun violence is caused by the number of guns and how easily available they are, why is it that most gun deaths, and almost all cases with multiple deaths, seem to happen in places where only the murderer is armed. Why do they happen in gun free zones and not at shooting ranges or gun shows or NRA conventions or police stations? Why is it the gun control crowd thinks that someone who is in a state of mind to commit a capital offense such as murder, would somehow reconsider if they were also violating a gun control law? Do people not rob banks because they do not want to break a speeding law leaving the scene of the crime? Why is it that the recent shootings at Capitol Hill by Kyle Huff only stopped shortly after he was confronted by an officer with... a gun. How many more would have died if it had been 5 minutes until someone armed showed up or 10 minutes instead of 2 minutes? How many could have been saved if someone in the house had a concealed carry permit and knew how to properly use a gun in self defense?


meyday said...

Good call! It is impossible to follow her logic.

Playin' Possum said...

It is not impossible to follow her logic - nor is the word "epidemic" inapplicable, since epidemics wax and wane.

It is, however, reasonable to dispute her conclusions...

First of all I would ignore the suicide herring. Suicide should be a right and so it would be in a just Nation that really believed in separating religion and government.

But the other examples. First this kid, Kyle. A question I haven't heard asked or answered: Did he have a carry permit? He had a variety of weapons - were they legally obtained? Was he a "law abiding" gun owner... until he went off?

In any case the gun he used wasn't legal - it was modified; shortened. I would assume he modified it himself but I don't know that's known. And this is important. That gun left the factory a legal hunting piece that even a Canadian could own as I recall.

As for her dad... That was a hit... Getting shot is an occupational hazard of prosecutors... Loggers get trees dropped on them; prosecutors get shot. If he wanted to avoid this he could have chosen a different profession. WAAAA!

My point being there is a "danger cost" to any freedom. The monkey man is a dangerous animal and our civilization rests on accepting the danger posed by your potentially wayward, dangerous fellows as a cost of your own freedom... And vise-verse...

In a very real sense it is an act of courage to assume the other guy isn't a misanthropic maniac intent on mayhem. But be assured of this: There are no free cowards. Even the safest, most coddled coward is captive to his fears.

At least this I think we all agree on: I'll take the chances and keep the freedoms... Guns included.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis. Other points to make are related to the demographics of the % of homicides. A large % of the homicides are related to drugs and gangs. The anti-gunners want the general populace to be terrified out of their minds by convincing them that they are surrounded by gun toting lunatics that are looking for a reason to kill them. The reality is since such a high % is related to drugs and gangs then unless you are involved with, well, drugs and gangs, then you don’t have too much to be concerned about. Compared to automobile accidents, drunk drivers, work or home accidents, etc the chance of being a gun violence victim is quite small.
In addition, you have to be careful what is included in the assignment of the particular categories. I read once that the statistics used by the Brady campaign include people (in some areas) up to 21 years old as juveniles. Say what? Why do they do that? Simple, its because of gangs. By including those additional years they can include many more gang/drug related killings to make things scarier.
So when you hear the anti-gunners quoting some static about this or that, remember, they are quite deceptively throwing out numbers to accomplish their goal of abolishing gun ownership by scaring enough people into believing they are in terrible danger and therefore support a gun ban.

JoeW said...

Just to fill in some of the blanks: Kyle Huff did NOT have a CPL. His firearms were all legally purchased from storefront FFLs. Other than his vandalism with a firearm in Montana six years ago (a misdemeanor), he was law-abiding. The shotgun he used was perfectly legal. There is no prohibition on the stock/grip style on shotguns as long as the barrel is at least 18" long and the overall length of the gun is 26". The gun was legal.

Anonymous said...

As always...Millions of humans have been killed long before firearms were invented. It has never been about the tools of destruction. It has always been about the nature of cultures and societies...

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