Gun Control: About Saving Lives, Not Personal Freedom

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It seems like every time I turn on the news, there is at least one more dead from a gunshot.  Every couple of months, we get treated to a mass shooting, or rampage, or spree by someone that is obviously off-their-rockers and attempting to take as many people down as they can before ending their own life.

This is life as an American.  If we are the “lucky” ones not to have already fallen to gun violence, we have become victims of the war of the Constitutionality of weapon ownership.  Much like what is done with the Bible, some try to interpret the 2nd Amendment literally, while others think it has more of a figurative meaning.  Both sides are nonsensical.  Interpretation of the Second Amendment by modern minds is not going to retard the gun murders occurring in almost every American city every day.

We all know the statistics and I will try to refrain polluting this diatribe with any more quantifiable data than necessary. You can use your favorite online search engine to verify any of these numbers, and I recommend you do.  First off, according to the Violence Policy Center, a non-profit organization that aims to curb firearm violence through research and awareness, over 30,000 suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings result in occur every year in America due to easily-accessed guns.  About 10,000 of those are murders.

These numbers seem high, and are more eye-opening when compared to a few other countries (estimates based on the average of multiple sources):

Mexico: 2600  deaths per year            (pop. 116,901,761) (Gun laws similar to United States)

Germany: 250  deaths per year            (pop. 81,946,000) (Strict gun laws and ban on certain types of guns)

Canada: 150    deaths per year            (pop. 35,000,000) (Handgun and Assault weapons ban)

Japan: 50         deaths per year            (pop. 127,400,000) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

United Kingdom: 14    deaths per year (pop. 63,181,700) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

I chose to show these countries not because they express the point I want to make, but because they are all countries with similar laws, freedoms, and rights as those that Americans have.  However, with the exception of Mexico, all of these countries ban most or all firearm ownership.

The first thing you may notice is that all of these countries have a considerably lower population than the United States (pop. 350,000,000).  This separation could be a reason for less death.  However, if you multiply the population of each country to be the same or near the population of America, you still get considerably lower firearm related deaths each year:

Mexico:  7800 (with 351,000,000 population)

Germany: 1000            (with 328,000,000 population)

Canada:  1500 (with 350,000,000 population)

Japan:  150 (with 380,000,000 population)

United Kingdom:  84 (with 378,000,000 population)

These numbers do not take into consideration the population density increase that would come from increasing the populations by up to ten times (in the case of Canada).  A case could be made that in a more densely populated country, let’s say Japan, gun violence would increase.  However, it would not increase by 200% (which would be required to reach the same amount of firearm deaths annually in Japan as there are in America).  You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would make that claim.

I now draw your attention to the number of deaths in Mexico in a hypothetical instance of a similar population as the United States.  You will notice that it is the only country that is within even ten times the number of gun-related murders per year; it is also the only country listed with similar gun laws as America and no private-ownership ban on weapons.

The second quality to notice about these numbers is that the four countries with firearms bans, Germany, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom still have ten or less the times gun deaths that the United States has.  The closest country, Canada, would hypothetically have about 1500 per year. This number is can be accounted for by the fact that Canada does not ban hunting rifles or shotguns.

Plainly, the common denominator between all of these countries is a comprehensive private gun-ownership ban.

An argument made by gun-enthusiasts can be stated as such:  We do not need more gun control; we need better background checks and more money in the education of mental health issues.  If we can stop the mentally ill from getting firearms, we can cut gun violence.

The mentally ill are accountable for most, if not all of the mass shooting deaths in America.  In 2012, about 88 people died in mass-shooting massacres in the United States.  I will concede that more money spent on mental health education and training with increased background checks would probably prevent most of these occurrences. This, however, keeps alive the issue of the other 9912 people that die each year from petty crime, organized crime, crimes of passion, etc. It would be difficult to claim that even half of the remaining deaths would/could be prevented with mental health screenings and background checks.

Gun advocates also reason that they need weapons to protect themselves from criminals that come across guns illegally.  If you don’t believe that a gun ban would decrease amount of firearms in criminal hands (which would be irrational based on the statistics above), you may think that you need a gun to “protect yourself” or your family.

In a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, over the course of 18 months of study, 626 shootings occurred in or immediately around a residence.

“This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty.”

The conception that you are in danger in your own home is justifiable, but it appears, only if you own a firearm.  You are much more likely to unintentionally harm someone (or commit suicide) with your weapon than you are to actually use the weapon in self-defense.

In an attempt to try to reconcile the dangers of owning a gun, many people have argued that they would keep their guns locked up in a safe until they are needed.

So, the next time a burglar attempts to break into your house, I hope he/she gives you time to recognize the situation, run to the safe, unlock the safe, arm the weapon, aim, and shoot.

The final strong case that the gun advocates can make is that we have the right to own guns.  Our founding fathers wanted us to have the rights to arm ourselves against our own countrymen, or Zeus-forbid, or own government.  And to this, I also concede.

America, you do have Second Amendment rights to own guns, and as interpreted by modern supreme courts, for just about any reason you want.  I ask you, however, is an outdated, overanalyzed, and unnecessary right worth the loss and anguish that it causes?  30,000 citizens die each year.  When will the genocide be halted?  This issue is no longer about personal freedom, it is about saving lives.

Is your fear of your neighbor so great that you must arm yourself, and give those who wish to harm the innocent a means of doing so much more easily by allowing open circulation of weapons of terror?

A comprehensive weapons ban on all private ownership of firearms is the only way to prevent the streets from continuing to run red with the blood of our future as a nation.

I implore you, put the gun down, extend your arms, and come together. Do not let our country become so divided that we have to use these weapons on each other, because the pen has failed.

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

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48 thoughts on “Gun Control: About Saving Lives, Not Personal Freedom

  1. ” I ask you, however, is an outdated, overanalyzed, and unnecessary right worth the loss and anguish that it causes?”

    First of all, I appreciate all the consideration you put into your post, and the analysis. I would like to take up your question, especially the component pieces of it.

    I was in China a couple of summers ago, in Chengdu studying abroad at Sichuan University. China feels very safe, maybe because I was a foreigner, but I’m always told how crime is very low, especially violent crime. I got that impression. I also would sometimes walk by the barracks of the PLA, guarded at all times by soldiers with automatic weapons. It was eerie, downright scary. An army outpost in the middle of a giant city, in a country that has demonstrated its willingness to attack its own citizens, for millennia.

    I know, that’s China, this is America, that won’t happen here. At least that’s what we say, and that’s a testament to our belief in our own system of government. I know, the government has F-35’s, we don’t, and yes, a working representative system of civilian government will always do more than guns to protect us. However, the same history and more exists now that existed at the time of the framing of the constitution, the auctioning off of the Roman Empire by the military being one of the most incredible examples of the dangers of a monopoly on violence to me. It took forever for it to come to that, but it happened, after a peace of 200 years. We have one of the oldest governments in the world, and its really only barely older than the Roman Peace, therefore I question the certainty of the proposition that we have reached some elevated status ( it is hard not to be dizzied by the heights we’ve climbed, I’ll grant). Hold that thought.

    Two of the countries on the list were bombing the living hell out of each other, threatening their very existence, 72 years ago. We dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and firebombed their wooden cities to the ground. We still have bases in Germany and Japan. I hate the figures of mass shootings that I see. I hate that it happens. I also think there’s a better solution than an outright ban. I feel this way, I suppose, because I also see the number of people that died in gas chambers, the number of people that died in incidents like the Rape of Nanjing, the massacre of peasants by landowners and aristocrats, the number of people pressed into service to assist the annihilation of their fellow man by governments with a monopoly on violence. If we have to get down to brass tacks, I don’t like those numbers either, which sounds horrible but that’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? Deaths inflicted due to exploitation by entities with a monopoly on violence vs. school shootings? I think there is another course here, personally.

    If you can make a case for how we have transcended our evolutionary history and our written history, I would love to engage you on that. Have our institutions really come so far as to prevent the human behavior we have seen over and over and over and over and over and over and over again? Should we arm the Syrians to fight against their government while taking away our own citizens’? Will laws continue to give us equality? That would be a wonderful thing, I would like for life to be different, but I am very skeptical. I’m not afraid of the future, but I’d like to be prepared for it. I also think there is sensible legislation that can be made to prevent the release from prison of dangerous criminals, to prevent the mentally ill from accessing firearms, to do more to foster a sense of responsibility surrounding firearms, etc. Unless we’ve reached some fabled Marxist utopia of profound human solidarity and the disappearance of government, I’m not quite ready to tell people to give up their guns. It’s not that I don’t trust my neighbor, it’s that I know what life is, and what it is capable of, all morality aside. I do not have boundless faith in the cuddly goodness of the imaginary human soul. You might be right, after all, maybe we have reached a level where those events of the past will not be repeated. I’d like that, but I can’t tell the future. I think we should proceed with a bit more caution. Having more second thoughts and questions and doubts and arguments, but I wrote all of this so I might as well post it!

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    • If I understand correctly, you are advocating gun ownership in the case that there needs to be a force taken by citizens against a tyrannical government, Please forgive me if I am misunderstanding and my following statements have no necessity.

      The original purpose of the 2nd amendment was for protection of the citizens against the government. When the country was created, the citizens had just broken free of the oppression of a king and tried to make every fail-safe possible to make sure the same thing would not happen again. Some people today argue that we are under a tyrannical leader (I think that is a ridiculous statement), but those thoughts circulating only add fuel to the fire.

      In my post, I did not talk about the argument you are using (mostly because it is a very strong argument). It is possible for a government to become oppressive and warrant a removal from power.

      I, however, do not have that kind of fear of the government. I trust in the framework put forth by the Founders (not the misrepresented foundation that is perpetuated by republicans). I am influenced largely by the writings of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison.

      This is another bit of my wishful thinking showing, but I truly believe that we can in large part trust our neighbors, our government, and fellow citizens. There will be exceptions, there always are, but I like to hope that people will do what is good if they are given the chance.

      I do not know that I answered to your argument, but those are a few of my thoughts on it.

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      • A king who forbid settlers from encroaching on the western lands of the continent held by Native Americans, and who taxed the colonists for the cost of the French-Indian war because the English felt the colonies should help pay for their own defense, a cost less than that of the taxes in England itself. That is not to say that I don’t think the American constitution is the best thing since the invention of beer. My meaning is that our very existence comes from some kind of fierce independence, the kind that doesn’t want any government telling us what to do, like help pay for wars that keep you in existence, or that tells you you can’t bear arms. Thankfully, the South was forced to end slavery and was kept from massacring Mexico and Central America with their expansionist policies. But, that was just another government telling them what they could and could not do. It’s easy to get wealthy and powerful when you employ slaves for agriculture or for railroad building. You can end wars when nothing is left off the table.

        I personally think America is built on wishful thinking. We’d like to believe in something, despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m not into self loathing, but I think I can accept the American legacy, and see it in the light of the astonishing heights and horrible lows that freedom allows. You can’t have one without the other, in my view. My question boils down to this: is banning gun ownership something worth fighting a war over? If we can in large part trust our government and our fellow citizens, then why take the people’s guns away?
        Have we really come to a point where we can trust the government? They can’t make a budget, they don’t pay for wars, they squabble endlessly over taxes, and yet somehow we have replaced the British Empire. So I also go back to my previous question as well, have we reached some place where we can now give up certain rights for the good of the nation? Have we somehow invalidated the grievances given for our very existence as a nation? Britain banned slavery before us, addressed Child labor before us, instituted a system of healthcare before us, should we just reject the Revolution? Kind of thinking as I write, but I think it’s an important question of American identity, and a ban would be anathema to many Americans and their sense of identity. I hadn’t really explored this avenue of thought before, it does call to question some aspects of my historical understanding though.

  2. Thoughtful post. I studied and taught criminal justice for many years. This subject, and most relating to criminal law, is always about the tension between individual freedom and safety. The pendulum is constantly swaying throughout history (liberally or conservatively). It seems that Americans, right now, are ready for a change toward safety. Perhaps those children did not die in vain.

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    • Thank you for the comment. I agree that it does seem that Americans are leaning towards a more liberal approach to these issues as the millennial generation becomes more involved in the process of election and legislation.

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  3. If personal freedom means the right to own firearms; I don’t need it. I recently heard that law enforcement in Seattle is mostly against gun control. Why? Because it wouldn’t make any difference. The criminals will get hold of weapons anyways, they believe. You can’t stop evil, I was told, as if an unarguable fact of nature. Americans tend to rely too much on gut feelings and beliefs that may not be challenged when forming opinions about important issues, instead of facts and analysis, and without the slightest suspicion that their gut view, no matter how strong, really is nothing but untested beliefs, emotion, and biases subjected to subliminal influences.

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    • Thank you for your take on the issue. One point that I didn’t really address but probably should have is the argument that people will get guns somehow.

      The point of a comprehensive weapons ban, however, is to remove all guns from the society. In other countries, like China, this means that guns become so hard to come by that people that commit violent crimes use much-less lethal weapons, like knives.

      There are those that say that knives are just as bad as guns, but if you have any medical knowledge whatsoever, you understand of the amount of catastrophic damage that a gun can do, and the much less serious injuries that usually come from knives.

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      • The problem with that argument, is that it is supported by a belief that accommodates a bias that originates from a vested interest. No facts. No evidence. But a lot of certainty, nevertheless.

  4. Low firearms homicide and firearms suicide rates are only part of the equation. What we want are low homicide rates from all causes and low suicide rates, period. It would not be a benefit to ban guns and drop the firearms homicide rate to zero if the total homicide rate rose as a result. Certainly, there are people who owe their lives to defensive firearms use, like Sarah McKinley and Kendra St. Clair. It is really hard to quantify the benefit to citizens so we can make a reasoned judgement on benefits versus costs of civilian firearms ownership.

    Low firearms homicide rates are found in lots of places in the US. For 2010 New Hampshire had a firearms homicide rate of 0.4 per 100K, Iowa 0.7 per 100K, and Utah 0.8 per 100K. Canada’s rate is 0.4 per 100K, same as New Hampshire. None of these States has restrictive firearms laws. OTOH, Chicago and DC have very restrictive laws but very high firearms homicide rates. The US could drop the homicide rate by 5% simply by giving Chicago to Canada! Virtually all the areas of high firearms homicide rates are areas in large cities, probably due to the illegal drug problem. Drug dealers must operate in cash, must move around with a supply of valuable merchandise (because they can’t sell from a safe and secure storefront), can’t use the Police to deal with robberies, and so must defend themselves from other criminals, who want to steal their cash and drugs, on their own. I suspect this is the majority of the big city equals high gun homicide equation. Additional support comes from the fact that more than half of firearm homicide victims had criminal convictions, and a higher percentage of firearm murderers have prior criminal convictions. Drug dealers aren’t going to go unarmed even if we could majick every firearm out of existence. I would conjecture that the vast majority of drug violence will continue despite laws banning firearms. I mean, those guys sell banned chemicals already!

    Having lived for a while in Wyoming, I can also tell you there are small towns where the police response can easily exceed 30-45 minutes, and where predatory animals attack humans and livestock. Banning firearms for ranchers and farmers could easily be very problematic.

    The firearm homicide rate depends on things beyond firearms laws. Venezuela, for example, has very restrictive firearm laws (civilians can only have .22 rifles and shotguns, and pistols of all types are illegal), but a firearms homicide rate of 39 per 100K (for 2009). Switzerland permits citizens to keep assault rifles and battle rifles at home, to own licensed pistols and semiauto rifles, and permits open carry as well, but the firearms homicide rate is around 0.5 per 100K. While laws have some effect, obviously, it may not be as large an effect as proponents of restrictive laws might expect.

    Just some skeptical food for thought.

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    • First of all: Thank you for your post!

      I understand your points in the advocating of gun ownership; however I do have a few refutation points.

      I would argue that my idea of a comprehensive gun ownership ban would undoubtedly lower the homicide rate. One of the main reasons that the homicide rate in America is so high is that gun injuries are so traumatic to the body. I make that point in my post. There is an assumption made by Americans that criminals will still be able to obtain firearms, but honest citizens will not. However, the precedent set by all countries that do ban firearms is to the contrary. In those countries, including Japan, Australia, and Great Britain, less-lethal weapons are used commit crimes and I do believe that it would be the same way here with a firearms revocation. There is no statistic to say the contrary, that a criminal would still be able to obtain weapons.

      In response to your comments on the number of homicides per capita in Iowa, New Hampshire, etc.: The states listed all have less than a third of the population density of either Chicago or Washington DC. The population density along with the drug activity is likely the reason for the huge numbers of gun homicides. That being said, the restrictive gun laws in a city mean very little. Sure, you cannot legally own, or buy firearms in Washington DC or Chicago, but you can still go to the next county over and buy them (whether legally or illegally). Again, based on the statistics of other countries with complete gun bans, this problem will be abolished.

      The point is to say that America is not special. We are not that different from other countries and people of other countries. If we use the same laws that they do, we will have the same results.

      As I said in a comment to another user, I have a very optimistic point of view about this aspect of humanity which is possibly unfounded.

      That being said, I again thank you very much for you comment. It is very important to make sure there is a clean dialogue of opposing viewpoints if we are to solve these problems.

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      • “There is an assumption made by Americans that criminals will still be able to obtain firearms, but honest citizens will not“

        In their imaginations, a scary future vision grabs hold: “the criminals” and their plentiful firearms will attack innocent people who won’t be able to defend themselves. The criminals will become all-powerful and flourish and the rest of us will be at their mercy.

        It seems more realistic to expect fewer shootings if there are fewer guns around. Think of the “innocent” licensed gun owner who shoots his wife, girlfriend, or whole family in a fleeting moment of rage, the kids who accidentally kill another child or themselves after playing with a gun they found in the house, mass killings, and probably many other deadly scenarios where a “non-criminal” picks up a gun. Would the tragedy of Adam Lanza have happened if there were no firearms in his home? That’s open to speculation, but even if a majority of voters believe that he probably would have found a way for his unthinkable crime, it would not be a good argument against gun control. How callous to lean on beliefs and probabilities when serious decisions about human lives are to be made. Let’s look at the facts, instead.

      • We have a few thousand years of human history where no guns existed, and humans managed to kill each other at quite high rates. I remain unconvinced that eliminating all guns necessarily means a lower homicide rate. I’m curious if you also plan on disarming the police, too. After all, it isn’t unknown for LEOs to commit murder with their service guns. In fact, concealed carry license holders commit homicide at lower rates than the police.

        What do you think will take the place of guns for drug criminals who have to protect themselves, their cash, and their drugs from other criminals? I don’t think the homicide rate among criminals will drop any significant amount. These criminals are willing to kill with guns, and I think they will remain willing to kill without guns. They’ll either obtain guns illegally, perhaps by building them (gunsmithing isn’t all that hard), or adopt other lethal weaponry. And these criminal on criminal homicides are the majority of homicides in the US today.

        What we do know for a fact is that permitting licensed carry doesn’t result in bloodbaths. In fact, it doesn’t increase the homicide rate at all, and perhaps reduces it slightly. So why disarm a group of people who aren’t part of the problem? I don’t understand, especially since gun rights are constitutionally guaranteed civil rights.

        I think we may not come to agreement here, but that’s okay. I do understand your position. I am not convinced by it, just as you probably aren’t convinced by my argument. It is refreshing to be able to have a civil conversation about guns and gun rights, even if we may disagree on a few things. Thanks for the post and the civil response!

      • Thank you for your response as well.

        I am always open to empirical data that will support the point that guns make the country safe. The data that I have read to the contrary far outweighs those studies that do say that gun ownership protects, rather than endangers.

        It is refreshing that we can ponder this question with two opposing viewpoints and remain civil. That is the only way change for the better (or no change, and still for the better) can occur.

  5. Is an outdated (in your opinion) right worth loss and anguish that it causes? The right to bear arms doesn’t hurt anyone. I don’t believe the streets are running red with blood either, but it makes a powerful image in support of your argument. I agree with you that less guns means less gun related harm, but I don’t agree with you that less guns should be the solution. It isn’t about background checks or State funded mental illness programs. The answer lies in family. By the time a person is eligible for or put on the radar of a State agency for being potentially dangerous to self or others it is already too late. I’m with you on the banding together with arms open. We need unity and we need to improve our socialization process. Guns are just a periphery right now, in my opinion, the focus needs to be on the heart and mind of every individual. It is only as individuals working towards self-mastery that we’ll have a society that takes care of its members. I like shooting clay pigeons. I don’t feel bad about that. I am well trained and responsible, much like I am with my vehicle, the heating fuel for my house and the various other tools and consumables I used daily that are potentially hazardous. We do need to consider saving lives, but I just don’t see the problem as being guns. Also, it is a matter of personal liberty which I do not think should be infringed upon in this case.
    Nice post, I appreciate your perspective.

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    • Maybe you’re right about the streets. They aren’t running red with blood. But certain elementary schools are. If guns are just a periphery right now, as you say, are the precious lost lives also a periphery?

      No one can disagree about improving the socialization process being a good thing. Any ideas about how that can start and when? Is the wait for results worth the cost in human lives?

      Your main argument is one I hear all the time. You are a gun owner, a responsible, cautious adult, and you don’t hurt anyone. You’re an all around good guy and model citizen. If everyone were like you, there would be no reason to change the gun laws.

      It’s nice that you can shoot clay pigeons without feeling bad about it.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your opinion on the matter.

      It is the case that less guns equals less gun-related harm, as we both stated, but it is also true that less guns equals less harm overall. That is one reason why I support the abolishment of these sort of weapons. The answer is not background checks or state funded mental illness programs, because as I stated in my post, it is only a very small portion of people (mostly mass shooters that kill a total of about 80 people per year in America) that would be at all affected by those sorts of programs. The solution, then, is to make it impossible for those people to get guns, by making it impossible for anyone to get guns.

      I cannot speak to your statement that “the focus needs to be on the heart and mind of every individual” because I am not quite sure what you are stating there. If the argument is to say that many people with guns have no intention of harming people, that may or may not be true, but the facts show that people do harm people, with guns. You state that many of the things we use every day could harm people but almost all of us use them responsibly, which is true. However, the purpose of the heating fuel that we use in our house is not to kill someone, it is to heat our house. The purpose of our cars is not to kill someone, it is to transport. The purpose of a firearm is to kill someone. People do kill people, and they do it in much higher numbers with guns; the injuries from firearms are hundreds of times more catastrophic than those of other weapons, like knives.

      I realize that I didn’t get the chance to respond before someone else did. Please do not feel like you are being ‘ganged-up on’ or attacked. This is a forum for the free exchange good-spirited argumentation.

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      • I am all about discussion. Thank you for mentioning it, but don’t worry, I don’t feel attacked or ganged up on. In response to both of your comments, I don’t think the loss of life is a periphery. I suppose, and this might sound crazy, that I consider the loss of personal liberty a minor relation to the loss of life. I am one of the people who looks further down the road, which may be irrational, but I’m trying to look for what happens if the guns are taken away. Honestly, it would be great if there were no weapons, but even without weapons there will still be intent to harm. That’s what I mean by addressing the heart and mind of every individual. The intent to harm needs to be removed or prevented. Once the intent to harm exists it doesn’t matter what the tool is, although, yes, guns can harm more people in less time than most or all other easily accessible weapons.
        My concern is that we can’t rid the world of guns. I don’t think it is possible unless the change (removal of intent to harm) happens in all people first. If we give up guns, does that mean the military and the police do too? Then what happens when some outlaw gets guns and attacks? Just humor me, I know this is a lot of “what ifs?” So how do we respond? We defend with sticks and rocks? Okay, but a lot of people will die. Unless every gun is destroyed an no more are ever made I think it is dangerous to remove guns from the hands of those who will safely use them. Then of course it can be discussed who will safely use them?
        Guns are created to kill people, yes, but they can be created to kill animals and for sport. Some people, myself included, do enjoy shooting targets. If my shotgun was created to shoot non-living targets, is it intrinsically bad? Not until it is in the hands of someone with the intent to harm, that’s what I think. I can understand the argument against guns, but I worry that the removal of guns will be more dangerous in the long run.
        To complete the stereotype, I believe we all need to turn to God. Which God, or how we all need to turn to him is up to each of us to decide individually. I have my personal experiences that make me partial to a specific faith, but I think any faith in a higher power is important. I’m not saying that the issue of gun control or the regard for human life is dependent upon faith or religion, but I think the result of turning a life over to God would yield the peaceful results we all want. That’s my opinion.
        Thanks for the discussion, sorry for the long reply! I’m never afraid of disagreement, its in disagreement that I can really learn what I believe and how I feel about things.

      • Thank you for the conversation.
        To address your concerns:

        To decide that a personal freedom to one is equal to the life of another is the end we would have to meet to say that gun ownership should remain legal in America.

        It is not part of any person’s proposal (that I have ever heard) that would disarm the military and the police department. Even so, in places where guns are outlawed, like England and Canada, the police do not need to carry guns (although they can if they want) because violent crimes are committed with much-less dangerous weapons.

        There cannot be a removal of intent to harm others as long as human beings operate as individuals. Our personal gods, land, wealth, and possessions are all a part of the intent to harm others.

        As I state in my post, in countries with personal firearm ownership bans, gun-related murders happen in such small numbers that they are completely insignificant to our safety and freedom. Ask any Britain if they think they need a gun to feel safe in public or their own home and they would laugh at you.

        We all have hobbies. I enjoy reading Stephen King novels. However, if a Stephen King novel was made to deal catastrophic physical damage to a human body, but I was using it for a different purpose, that would not make my use of the item any more valid.

        I agree that it is a noble goal to attempt to eradicate the intent to harm others, but that is not a goal for a lifetime, that is a goal from many generations. Until there is a reasonable solution to that problem, shouldn’t it be a goal of ours to slow down the self-destruction that our species is causing by making it harder to harm one another?

      • I understand what you are saying. Honestly, I don’t feel the need to own a gun to feel safe. Because of safety protocols, as I think you’ve already mentioned either in the main post or in a comment, in case of someone breaking into my house I’d likely never get my shotgun unlocked and out of its case and then loaded with ammunition kept separately, all in time to have any function. But I don’t worry about it because the likelihood of that situation arising is pretty slim. And do I need a rifle I can hit a moving target with at 300 yards to defend my home? Absolutely not. Do I need 30 round magazines? Hopefully not!

        For me the issue isn’t need, it is freedom. If my right to own property, even dangerous property is taken away then I am no longer free. I understand the argument that less or no access to guns will prevent gun usage in some cases, but removing the tool doesn’t address the root cause. And I agree, it would probably take generations to resolve it, which I do believe is possible, but I think increasing gun controls or banning them altogether will only divert the issue for a time and won’t lead to the absolute resolution. We can be controlled into situations where we aren’t capable of harming ourselves, but if we don’t have the ability to harm ourselves then we won’t appreciate the times when we are choosing not to harm ourselves. Does that make sense? I guess it is somewhat of a paradox in my mind. Maybe not to anyone else. I simply can’t see how removing guns will really improve the situation, all the stats notwithstanding. If people want to hurt they will hurt. If we don’t address what causes the desire to hurt then all we can do is slow down the process of hurting, which I suppose is what your final question in the last reply was. I do think that should be our goal, but I think there are better ways than restricting property ownership. Even if it is dangerous property. I can see the weakness in my argument, but I think in the long run it is better to retain individual liberty.
        Thanks

  6. It is the case that less guns equals less gun-related harm, as we both stated, but it is also true that less guns equals less harm overall.

    That isn’t at all obvious. I can give a counter-example. Consider the US; the homicide rate is down to lows not seen in several decades, all during a period when the number of guns in private hands has risen considerably. if the “fewer guns equals less harm” observation were true, we would not see the decline in not only the homicide rate, but in absolute number of homicides, despite the population increase.

    It is true that in some areas, more firearms equals more harm, but it is not true of the country as a whole. Clearly, there must be other factors at work that are more important than simply number of privately owned firearms.

    Reply
  7. “fewer guns does not equal less harm”

    Fred,

    A conclusion one could draw from the above statement is that NO guns would not equal less harm. If that was true, then hypothetically, NO guns at all would mean a homicide rate the is the same or higher than now, but the victims will have been killed by other means than guns.

    Another hypothetical question, this time about the other end of the scale; if everyone owned at least one gun, how might the homicide rate be effected?

    I realize that some may see my angle as ridiculous or ridiculing, but that’s not my intention. To evaluate the validity of an argument—for or against anything in any debate—the most basic criteria is if it stands up to logic.

    Reply
    • I haven’t made a claim myself. I’m simply pointing out that the claim “fewer guns means less harm overall” is not consistent with facts. The US has more guns now than in 1990, and the homicide rate (and the total number of homicides!) is lower than in 1990. Fewer guns in 1990 did not result in fewer homicides (from guns, and from all causes). As you say, the fundamental criteria for evaluating a claim is 1) logically soundness and 2) agreement with empirical data.

      It may well be that NO guns would not equal less harm. After all, all of recorded human history without guns has been quite violent. What we can be sure of beyond any doubt is that banning guns will not solve the problem of violence in human societies. And let me point out that banning guns really means “banning non-governmental ownership of guns.” Very few people propose to ban the police and military from having guns.

      If everyone owned at least one gun, I think the violence rate would go up, because there are people who shouldn’t own guns (the mentally disturbed, felons, people with DV convictions, for starters). I like the system where if you are a law-abiding adult, you can make your own choice. If you don’t like guns, don’t buy one.

      Reply
      • I think the example of a violent history predating guns is valid in this discussion. There is something deeper than the weapon that needs to be addressed. The common factor throughout history is man. We can’t (really, we can’t) ban man, if we did there would be no one left to enforce the ban, which wouldn’t even matter anymore because there would be no one causing any reason for the ban. Controlling weapons is an attempt at treating one symptom. The problem is the tendency for man to group with others like himself and create division between those who are different. If we can figure out how to stop that then we wouldn’t need to discuss guns.

      • “I’m simply pointing out that the claim “fewer guns means less harm overall” is not consistent with facts.”

        My illustration is meant to show that there definitely is a correlation between gun quantity and homicide rate. Instances in time and place that don’t align with the main trend do not disprove that. Exceptions to a rule can make a valid argument in certain situations, as long as full disclosure is made about their deviation from the norm. To generalize exceptions so they appear to be the rule in order to support an argument is to misrepresent the truth, rendering the argument invalid.

  8. In other words:

    Wrong: “fewer guns means less harm overall” is not consistent with facts
    Correct: “fewer guns means less harm overall” is not always consistent

    Reply
  9. Starting to enter deceased equestrian abuse time… one more round.

    The last twenty years in the US have seen year to year increases in the number of firearms, and year to year decreases in not just the homicide rate, but the actual number of homicides in a growing population. So yes, there is a correlation between number of guns and the homicide rate. It is just the opposite of what you claim.

    I’m sure you can find small areas where the homicide rate goes up when the number of guns goes up. The drug districts in large cities are probably more dangerous after dark when there are lots of guns. But so what? A maximum security prison would undoubtedly have a much higher homicide rate of the number of guns increased, too, and probably for the same reasons. But, for the United States as a whole, the “fewer guns means less harm overall” claim is just not supported by over 20 years of facts; facts about which there is no disagreement. The claim is demonstrably incorrect.

    From the WaPo: “We’re at as low a place as we’ve been in the past 100 years,” says Randolph Roth, professor of history at Ohio State University and author of this year’s “American Homicide,” a landmark study of the history of killing in the United States. “The rate oscillates between about 5 and 9 [per 100,000], sometimes a little higher or lower, and we’re right at the bottom end of that oscillation.”

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-19/lifestyle/35929227_1_homicide-rate-randolph-roth-gun-control

    Reply
  10. Before you said: “If everyone owned at least one gun (= more guns), I think the violence rate would go up.” and I believe you agreed that no guns would result in fewer homicides.
    Now you are saying that more guns = fewer homicides, which means that to lower the homicide rate, we need more guns. Sounds like doublethink.

    Statistics do not give us truths unless sufficient relevant data is used, all variables are taken into account, and the results are correctly analyzed. Numbers can be true while conclusions are false, as you have denonstrated.

    Reply
  11. The Second Amendment was never intended as an open hunting season on Americans. It’s time to jail the board of directors of the NRA for conspiracy to commit murder.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for the perspective but I cannot accept his point if he is disallowing himself to hear the voice of any others. He is effectively opening his mouth and closing his ears, creating a monologue with no chance of dissenting interjection. That act is pollution. I am not ‘spitting’ on the grave of a dead author, but discouraging a ‘give-without-taking’ approach that promotes a rift in people as they attempt to come to a consensus.

    Reply
  13. Your article is very informative. Personally I believe if the ban of all guns is too far fetched then a compromise should be reached. I have yet to see a single reason that assault weapons and semi automatic rifles are necessary. Hunters agree that the damage they cause destroys the animal, and I assure you that a regular hand gun or even a taser would be more than enough to stop a burglar of any kind. So has it come to the point where our personal fancies for weapons of destruction supersedes our concern for our own welfare and that of her children? Some officials want to fight fire with fire by setting up armed guards in schools, all I would like to know is if your child gets stung by a bee because there is a hive in your back yard do you places three wasp hives to fight the bees?

    Reply
  14. Yet another custody dispute murder-suicide.
    A Pennsylvania man showed up for his court-allowed visitation. He killed his two-year-old son and shot his wife. He was not a criminal. He was not defending himself.

    Reply
  15. My dear, I think you have put together a well written, and researched article, but you are missing listing the “deaths” by alternative means in these comparable countries you are listing here. England, has a huge problem with knifing, bombing, and physical violence via alcohol and sports football related deaths. The English football fan is referred to as a hooligan, and its not a nice term because they follow their teams, break out into fights that have led to deaths, injuries and incarceration. Other countries dread Brit fans showing up on their doorstep to ‘celebrate’ football. Japan also experiences violence through the knife, and Mexico has had an entire town wiped out due to drug related violence with weapons involved. Just balance it out by compare and contrasting those other deaths by other means and it will be more balanced in my view. Alternatively, guns, guns, guns…. what’s the hoo ha about? Yes, there are deaths, and they are tragic, but are we forgetting the bombs used to kill massive numbers of people in Oklahoma by Terry… ? Are we forgetting those poor people who died by way of poison via Tylenol when we had less restrictive caps in place? Yes, people are killing each other, and may I ask why? And then after that…. how will being gunless stop those other horrible deaths, or death by violence at all? I think the guns are an after effect…not the up front root reason for why the shooter pulled the trigger. I want to know why people are killing other people before I take away the guns from people who feel an urgent need to defend themselves. These are my thoughts, and discussion is lovely and wonderful as long as we can really talk about it, eh? Take care, and again, well done…

    Reply
  16. I enjoyed reading all of the comments pro and con about Gun Control. I could make similar arguments as far as alcohol use. It is just as dangerous a weapon in terms of number of deaths accidental, suicidal, and physical abuse on your body. Yet it too is legal and much easier to obtain than a gun. The argument that prohibition didn’t work is nonsense. It did to the tune of over 15% of the population did quit. There was a lot of politics involved in both the alcohol ban and the lifting of it. Things like our income tax and the right for women to vote all played a part in it.

    Reply
  17. In the argument you say that the deathtoll of common crime will decrease due to the use of “less-lethal” weapons. When the criminals are roaming the streets armed with firearms they have had or acquired illegally, how will law-abiding citizens protect themselves before the police arrive? With a knife? And how will people involved in hot-robberies (when the home-owner is in the house) defend themselves from a criminal invading their home with either a gun or a knife? Gun ownership is a neccesity for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

    Reply
  18. Good luck with your endeavours to bring the US into the 21st Century. My heart sinks when I hear of the next gun-spree and the next and I do so wish your fellow citizens would manage to DO something about it. Well argued post. And thanks for visiting and liking mine!
    cheers
    Keith

    Reply
  19. I went back and read the Second Amendment because a lot of today’s arguments seem to be too murky. We seem to have lost the thoughts behind the Second Amendment.

    As passed by the Congress:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.(.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution)

    Do we have the right to take away the constitutional rights of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” of someone else in the exercise of our “rights”?
    Background checks are not infringements of rights, but some kind of restraints on the owners. Gun control does not mean the elimination of guns, but putting rational restrictions.

    Reply
  20. I understand the desire, but I don’t believe we will ever have a ban on ownership of firearms. Your call for people to put down the guns is right on.

    Reply
  21. Wow! There are so many amendments to the Constitution that are “out of date” so let’s just scrap the whole damn thing! Your generation will be the death of the most enlightened and free republic the world has ever known. I won’t get into a ridiculous statistic war with you with one exception. Explain why deaths per 100,000 in 1994 due to gun related violence was 6.2% and in 2012 it was 3.6%? 2002-2012 never got above 4.5%. Oh and we added over 118 million more guns in that time period. So many more guns yet a significant drop in gun related violence. That’s the only stat that matters. Why don’t you get as outraged over people feeding off of our social programs like welfare? Worthless leeches that do nothing but go on Jerry Springer, spit out 10 kids and never earn a thing in their life. By the way I don’t own a gun. But the Fore Fathers had the insight 230 years ago to give me that right. People like you think you have the intelligence and fortitude to question whether their insight was correct? If they lost that war they would have been hung. I take any man that has those stakes pretty serious. Instead of questioning their intelligence with your spoon fed liberal college logic try picking up a gun and putting your life on the line for this nation and see if you change your views.

    Reply
    • I can’t tell if you are being facetious or are just an outspoken layperson. You used every cliche argument that misinformed ‘Fox News’ viewers hear and then take to the table as a pseudo-coherent political theory. That being said, thank you for the ‘insight.’ I hope you got the lead out.

      Reply
    • “That’s the only stat that matters.”

      I see. Choose your stat. Never mind the truth.

      “People like you think you have the intelligence and fortitude to question whether their insight was correct?”

      Are you suggesting that it is eternally unacceptable for anyone to evaluate the views of a small group of white men 230 years ago in terms of relevance or applicability to the world of today? Or, do you mean that it is only educated people (with spoon fed liberal college logic) who should refrain?

      Reply
  22. I hope you have seen the study, under Bill Clinton by 2 anti-gun authors/professors. They concluded 1.5 million times a year (arguably up to 3 million), in the USA – a gun is used in self defense. Indisputable fact. Therefore, if guns are banned, only criminals will have them and you can expect to see (exactly like UK has experienced) a HUGE jump in violent crimes as well as deaths from those who choose to break the law.

    Let’s be intellectually honest – the thugs, gang bangers, drug dealers will not be giving up their guns, leaving the law abiding citizen at their mercy (simply look at the UK violent crime stats YOY for the last decade).

    As for hugging my neighbor – I’m down with that – it’s this guy who I’m armed against:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117695/Brutal-home-invasion-Oklahoma-couple-ends-65-year-romance-meeting-blind-date.html

    Or this list of folks who would do my family harm:
    http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen.aspx *real stories ripped from the headlines.

    I will say – IF someone could snap their fingers and all guns would disappear, I MIGHT consider a ban. But then again, that leaves the thugs in control… so probably not.

    More importantly – do the Police have a DUTY to protect and serve? NO – let me be clear, No they do not. The NYC police dept/state govt has argued exactly that in this case – they, as in TWO officers stand buy while a man is stabbed repeatedly… the cops don’t do anything until the unarmed citizen disarms the killer… 2 cops with guns, afraid – watch as this man is stabbed.

    Now you know why I carry a concealed weapon and will defend my right to carry.

    Reference to above: Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” NIJ Research in Brief (May 1997); available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles/165476.txt

    Reply

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