Guns and Kids: A New Yorker Take

A very well-written piece by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker called The Simple Truth about Gun Control.   

Those who fight against gun control, actively or passively, with a shrug of helplessness, are dooming more kids to horrible deaths and more parents to unspeakable grief just as surely as are those who fight against pediatric medicine or childhood vaccination. It’s really, and inarguably, just as simple as that. 

Keep in mind that when you have people like former Governor Rick Perry who called the Charleston mass murders an "accident."  This idiot is running for President. (He claims he meant "incident."  Still an idiot and the irony to that is that we have so many large-scale killings in this country that they are now "incidents.")  I note that Hillary Clinton says "this time we have to find answers together."  That's great but we've heard that before.  At Columbine, V-tech, New Town.  Which "incident" will it take? 

Even within this gun-crazy country, states with strong gun laws have fewer gun murders (and suicides and accidental killings) than states without them.

Gun control is not a panacea, any more than penicillin was. Some violence will always go on. What gun control is good at is controlling guns. Gun control will eliminate gun massacres in America as surely as antibiotics eliminate bacterial infections. As I wrote last week, those who oppose it have made a moral choice: that they would rather have gun massacres of children continue rather than surrender whatever idea of freedom or pleasure they find wrapped up in owning guns or seeing guns owned—just as the faith healers would rather watch the children die than accept the reality of scientific medicine. This is a moral choice; many faith healers make it to this day, and not just in thought experiments. But it is absurd to shake our heads sapiently and say we can’t possibly know what would have saved the lives of Olivia and Jesse.

On gun violence and how to end it, the facts are all in, the evidence is clear, the truth there for all who care to know it—indeed, a global consensus is in place, which, in disbelief and now in disgust, the planet waits for us to us to join. 

I weighed in elsewhere but here's what I think could make a difference. 

As Mr. Gopnik says, strong gun laws = fewer gun murders.  That's one.

Two, don't laugh but make bullets (except for law enforcement) more expensive.  A lot more expensive.

Three, make sure there are heavy civil penalties for negligence for those who do not secure their guns in their homes/cars and a gun incident occurs.  They don't have to go to jail; they just have to keenly feel the financial pain of their indifference to the power of a loaded gun.  When you hit people in their wallets, they tend to pay attention.

It's interesting because Washington State is, indeed, an open carry state but I have never seen anyone do this.  (Not saying it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen it.) 

To note, from Wikipedia:
The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act limits where a person may legally carry a firearm by generally prohibiting carry within one-thousand (1000) feet of the property-line of any K-12 school in the nation with private property excluded.


Anonymous said…
You need to remember there's more to Washington state than just Seattle. Open carry is very common on the eastern side of the state. You seem to want to push for new state laws based on the out of control violence in urban areas. Most gun related deaths are from suicide (70%). These suicides are usually committed with hand guns at the same percentages in urban and rural areas, but non suicidal gun violence incidents in urban areas are more prevalent based on the number of incidents. Fatal gun accidents tend to be about equal or slightly higher in rural areas, perhaps due to more guns or more frequent inaction with firearms.

Promoting gun locks and safety storage mechanisms might help reduce gun deaths, whether by shotguns and rifles or handguns. Physicians can familiarize themselves with the latest in safety technology and pass this along to their patients. Safety devices include gun locks, lockable plastic boxes, metal lock boxes, security cabinets, and gun safes. One can buy a trigger lock for only $9.99 or spend $1,499.99 to purchase a fire-resistant, 800-pound storage cabinet. The effectiveness of different gun lock and storage mechanisms are obvious, but serve no purpose when the assailant is the gun owner.

n said…
Curious, TT, as often as I've visited eastern WA, I've never seen a gun. You say open carry is common. How do you know? Are there studies or stats on that? Just curious as always. I do a lot of small town collecting - visiting collectible and antique shops - and I've never witnessed a gun in a shop or on the street. Are they all in pick-up trucks? I'm sure they have lots of guns but on the streets?
Anonymous said…
Here are two interesting links:

#1. Gun Violence Facts and Statistics from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Looks like TT's statement above about gun locks and safety is correct.

#2. Murders and Gun Murders by State

Washington DC has by far the highest per capita Gun Murder rate at 16.5 per 100,000 residents yet gun ownership is supposedly 3.6%, which is lowest in the nation.

Hawaii is next in gun ownership percentage at 6.7% and a Gun Murder rate a 0.5 per 100,000

Vermont has the lowest Gun Murder rate at 0.3 per 100,000 yet gun ownership is 42%

Washington State => Gun Murder rate at 1.4 per 100,000 and gun ownership is 33.1%

The 5 states with the lowest population density
Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota
all have gun ownership stats above 50%
Here are the murder rates per 100,000
Alaska 2.7, Wyoming 0.9, Montana 1.2, North Dakota 0.6, South Dakota 1.2

The 5 states with the highest population density
Washington DC, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut
average gun ownership stats below 12% (highest at 16.7%)
Here are the murder rates per 100,000
Washington DC 16.5, New Jersey 2.8, Rhode Island 1.5, Massachusetts 1.8, Connecticut 2.7

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Wow really, try visiting during hinting season. Hunters don't walk around with their guns under shirts. I think your right in not seeing guns where you tend to visit, most people that open carrying are not visiting junk stores or spending outrageous sums on old grape juice, so you would probably not run into them. Oh BTW I know because I've lived the lifestyle and have many friends who still live, work and visit the east side. They own and use guns and do not appreciate the coast trying to control the lifestyle. If you're interested in seeing hand guns on belts right out in the open then go visit Winthrop Wa, it's very common there and those folks are not driving pick-ups. I'm curious if you would rather know someone has a gun or not, or are you for the complete elimination. I personally feel better knowing there's a gun in the room rather than guessing if someone with a CWP is hiding one.

Anonymous said…
I am somewhat at a loss to accept paragraph four in the original posting.

"Even within this gun-crazy country, states with strong gun laws have fewer gun murders (and suicides and accidental killings) than states without them. "

My research shows the above statement is NOT True in regard to murders per 100,000

Here is what I found in regard to state by state gun laws
from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence =>

States that Require Registration of All Firearms (I've added murder rates /100,000)
average of the 2 states = 8.5
District of Columbia 16.5
Hawaii 0.5

States that Require Registration of Handguns
New York 2.7

States that Require New Residents to Report Their Firearms
average of the 6 states = 2.87
California 3.4
Maryland 5.1 (handguns and assault weapons)

States that Require Registration of Pre-Ban Assault Weapons or 50 Caliber Rifles
average of the 6 states = 2.87
California 3.4 (assault weapons and 50 caliber rifles)
Connecticut 2.7 (assault weapons and large capacity magazines)
Hawaii 0.5(assault pistols)
Maryland 5.1 (assault pistols)
New Jersey 2.8 (assault weapons)
New York 2.7 (assault weapons)

States that Prohibit Registries of Firearms
average of the 8 states = 2.4
Delaware 4.2
Florida 3.9
Georgia 3.8
Idaho 0.8
Pennsylvania 3.6
Rhode Island 1.5
South Dakota 1.0
Vermont 0.3

-- Dan Dempsey
n said…
I'm pretty much for elimination in urban areas. Rural is a bit different. But rural is where we have a lot of our politically-regressive uneducated voters. Cathy McMorris Rodgers who votes repeatedly to restrict including all women in violence-against-women bills. Gun-worship is a habit for those people. Heck, my grannie was in the "Stream and Wildlife"?? (I've got the magazine but buried somewhere) as she was 93 as I recall when she got her last buck in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. My dad and brother both hunters. My uncles/cousins practically own the Smith River although I haven't been in touch for years now. And they did not carry guns. Yeah, they hunted (obviously my grannie was with them) but no guns were ever in sight either at the Smith River ranch or the Butte Creek sight and none of the kids (my cousins) ever open carried even on the ranch. My first reaction to the truth of hunting was when I was learning to drive at fourteen in that tiny Montana town and drove my dad and brother out to open space (which is most of White Sulphur Springs) and watched my brother learn to shoot by nailing (or not nailing) prairie dogs. That was it. I saw no reason to kill wantonly. I reacted pretty unexpectedly and my dad understood and we returned to grannies. I lived on Queen Anne in a house that turned into a butcher shop every fall to party the deer in the basement which somehow I was used to and lived with although I didn't watch. And I ate the venison. I ate the beef which was barn-slaughtered many years later on my folks forty acre farm in Rochester. I even ate the one that was named for me as was my dad's wont to name them after family members. And, yes, I enjoyed target shooting on the farm with a .22 - my mom's. Probably why my hearing is compromised today.

I've probably had more to do with guns, hunting and slaughtering than you'll ever dream of experiencing. Does that make a big difference in my opinion on the matter?

I guess I prefer a gun cabinet much like my dads. But I really prefer no guns. Guns are dinosaurs. A world without guns would be fine with me. What, after all, is the pleasure of shooting a gun? Again, hunting for the buck once a year culls herds and I can live with that. But hand guns? Assault weapons? Better no guns than all guns.
n said…
I'll leave all the stats to you guys. Stats often do not tell the whole story and sometimes tell none of the real story. Get rid of guns and you'll have a safer society. Sometimes common sense trumps all.
n said…
And sorry for all the typos. Typing fast. But one more story: mom's house was slightly behind a small orchard in the middle of the forty. She was watching out the window when a car slowed down after seeing a buck and two doe in the orchard. Of course these rural guys with their normal rural characteristics just had to nail that buck. But, like my brother failed to nail those poor maimed prairie dogs, these geniuses managed to shoot him in the leg and lame him. My mom often thought about that buck lying beside a creek slowly dying from that gunshot wound. She was White Sulphur Spring native and no newbie to hunting, fishing or raising animals for slaughter. But she never ever ate veal or lamb because she didn't believe in eating babies - even as a kid on the ranch in Montana. Even some rural people don't like guns. She hated guns as she grew older and cherished life - even the deer that crossed through her apple orchard. I think a lot of people have changes of heard with age and wisdom. I have no belief that rural people have any more real need of hand guns and assault weapons than urban citizens. Hand guns and now assault weapons rises from the paranoia some people have is left over from frontier days, a sense of manliness, growing up on American TV westerns and is a habit that should be long gone.
Anonymous said…
"But rural is where we have a lot of our politically-regressive uneducated voters"

Let a liberal keep talking and eventually what they truly believe will come out.

I'm done here.

n said…
BTW, shooting at the buck was aiming directly at the house which sat probably a city-block away from the road.
n said…
So, you're one of those politically-regressive uneducated voters. Haha. Does my pedigree out-distance yours in the "gun" debate? I could say I'm done here, too. But in the interest of listening and learning, I'll keep reading even if it is blather from a know-nothing conservative.
n said…
Final thought (thanks Melissa cuz I'm enjoying this) - Winthrop is a resort destination. It is hardly the old west. Try White Sulphur Springs if you want old west - a sleepy, dusty, tired town. I'm sure they carry in Winthrop (although I've never seen it) to keep the old west alive in the minds if city slickers who come looking for that western experience. Old westerns keep the dream alive and the plethora of crime shows today continue it by making everyone afraid. The stats above seem to indicate not much real gun crime for the average person except for increase of multiple slayings such as Newtown and now the church. But you have to keep everybody afraid and thinking gun ownership is their only resort. I count rightwingers among the most propagandized. Crime is a result of unemployment and poverty. In the end, it is a really, really sad accounting for a people who evolved from apes into the smartest brains on the planet. Except for elephants and dolphins. :)

And TT, I know you're still reading. Now I'm done. (I hope.) It has been fun.
Anonymous said…
See how the US gun murder rates stack up with other nations.

List of Countries by Firearm related Deaths

Yes the US has a murder rate far above those of most other nations but the gun suicides are even more troubling.

US rates per 100,000 by guns in 2013
homicides 3.55
suicides 6.70
Total firearm related deaths 10.64

Korea => total 0.06

Taiwan => total 0.87

United Kingdom => total 0.25

Venezuela => 50.09

South Africa => 21.51

Columbia => 28.14

Australia => 0.86
A common misconception is that firearms are illegal in Australia and that no individual may possess them. Although it is true that Australia has restrictive firearms laws, rifles and shotguns (both of which include semi-automatics), as well as handguns, are all legal within a narrow set of criteria.

As of 2007 about 5.2% of Australian adults (765,000 people)[1] own and use firearms for purposes such as hunting, controlling feral animals, collecting, security work, and target shooting.

New Zealand => 1.45
New Zealand's gun laws are notably more liberal than other countries in the Pacific and focus mainly on vetting firearm owners, rather than registering firearms or banning certain types of firearms.

States with low population density have higher overall suicide rates and generally lower gun murder rates than more densely populated states.
The Data

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
n said…
The above was me. Not trying to be anonymous
Anonymous said…
Examining some of the data ....

My guess on high murder rates in Central and many South American countries could be tied to corruption from drug cartels. Likely a lot of high homicide rates in US inner cities may also be drug trade related. Follow the money, just a guess.

The big question on US deaths should be centered on "what to do about suicides?"

It would be interesting to examine suicides from poverty, mental health, environmental conditions, etc.

-- Dan Dempsey
seattle citizen said…
TT, you have a thin skin. You started it by dissing n's antiquing as visiting junk shops and implying that western Washingtonians out buying wine (and employing people in the eastern vineyards) are paying for over-priced grape juice. That sounds right down-homey, but please explain why any thinking person would buy a trigger lock or a gun safe for the handgun they bought for "personal protection"? It's absurd to believe that those millions of pistols and revolvers are locked up:" Uh, wait just a sec, marauding person, gotta unlock mah gun..."

And do tell, why is the number of pepole killed by guns tens, or even hundreds of times higher than in pther developed nations that either have strict gun laws, no gun-crazed culture, or both? And what are we going to do to stop the slaughter? Trigger locks? Be serious.
Anonymous said…
Seattle Citizen,

Looking a suicide rates we have another problem besides a surplus of guns. Deep Cultural disfunction . ..

The Legislature has a big problem in providing needed services through adequate funding.

Suicides are occurring at twice the murder rate.

The Legislature failed to fund education in the manner and levels specified by the Supreme Court.
Imagine where that puts funding for needed social services.

-- Dan Dempsey
n said…
Dan, think Iraq War. You might even harken back to Viet Nam. Then think unemployment and poverty for our least educated. Then you might even think Reagan's closure of mental health institutions in CA and his cutback of social programs and the subsequent continuation of cutbacks in social programs.

Thank think of a pistol-loving mom who thought teaching her mentally sick kid to shoot would give him something to be proud of. Instead, he shoots up a school.

Think all of the above and then think drugs. Our own military was handing out drugs FCS. So, are we a corrupt country?

It is still about easy guns in my opinion. Even if you factor in drugs, it is still about easy guns.

n said…
No matter why there are gun-related suicides, do you think if guns weren't so available there might actually be fewer suicides? Es posible?
n said…
C'mon Melissa. I took ownership of the post. I think you were a little sensitive on that one. Everybody has pushed the envelope from time to time. Frankly, the kind of thinking TT makes is why education and social programs are so underfunded. Our legislature is full of TTs.

Anonymous said…

I've had students who committed murder and suicide.

A girl with a gun to the head and a boy jumping from an overpass into I-5 southbound lanes. A boy hanging himself.

One by stabbing and one by strangulation.

No I do not believe that fewer guns will reduce suicides by much if any. There are plenty of over passes and other ways to end your life. USA has a definite problem with social dysfunction.

-- Dan Dempsey
n said…
You might be right. I don't know much about suicide. But I do read that military suicides are frequent esp. from Iraq. I guess I'd of thought the rate would be even higher than your data show.
Anonymous said…
Dan (and n) -- yes and no. There are suicidal folks for whom the inability to get a gun means nothing. There are others for whom it may be a deciding factor -- and I would suggest that for most of us (except those on the blog who work directly in mental health and have large caseloads of suicidal patients), what we know and think is too anectodal and subjective to be of use in figuring out policy.

I don't ordinarily recommend this book to anyone (I read it during a period where I had serious concerns about the possible suicidal thoughts of a mentally ill relative), but for those who want more information, you might want to try "Night Falls Fast -- Understanding Suicide" by Kay Redfield Jamieson. She is a physician who suffers from bipolar disorder. She has both a clinical and a personal interest (she has had bipolar friends who did not survive suicide attempts) in the subject, and she writes well. It is a very hard book to read -- it affected me for months afterwards, and still does, when I think about it, but it might help people to put guns in perspective in the larger context of mental illness (particularly depression) and suicide. If it doesn't affect your thinking (one way or the other) on gun availability -- it certainly will affect it on the way we fund and deliver mental health services.

Anonymous said…

Certainly anecdotes are not useful for policy decisions.
Thanks for your wisdom.

Any thoughts on the high US suicide rate. Could it be that other countries do not record some suicides as such?

Certainly suicide rates on many Native American Reservations are much higher than the US average. [I've lived and worked on or near 3 reservations]

I wonder if the US suicide rate in 1814 was similar to 2014 ? (200 years later).
[[ Simpler time = fewer suicides or Fewer mental health services = more suicides ]]

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the information on Kay Redfield Jamison

I'll be doing some reading.

Interesting lady.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, far more men take their own lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.

Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in US in NY Times

It is the baby boomer group where we see the highest rates of suicide,” said the C.D.C.’s deputy director, Ileana Arias. “There may be something about that group, and how they think about life issues and their life choices that may make a difference.”

-- Dan Dempsey
C'mon Melissa. I took ownership of the post. I think you were a little sensitive on that one

I have no idea what you are talking about. I have not made one comment.

As well, no one has ownership of any post unless he/she wrote it. That would be me.
n said…
Melissa, of course it is your right to delete posts.

Dan, I wonder if the layoff-rate and home foreclosures may have impacted those rates 2000-2008. I remember hearing a man on Thom Hartmann calling about the home he'd been paying on for twenty-five years about to be foreclosed. He was older. Boeing is moving part if its production down south and has told its employees - engineers with lots of seniority - that they have to reapply and most will not be moving. I know, old news. But a sign of the times.

Anecdotes have a place. They are a reflection of a bigger picture. We've been through a disastrous time for many, many people. There was a bill authorizing relief for homeowners during the transition between Bush-Obama but the only part that was actually delivered was the $350B for the banks. The homeowners $350B was left on the table if I recall correctly. And it was all political. The average working person has been left behind really starting under Reagan and intensifying under Bush 2000. Pretty sad isn't it?

Perhaps guns provide some people with a feeling of independence and security - the only real ownership they have left. Then again perhaps I'm overthinking it.

n said…
Baby boomers are also the only generation to have paid into social security twice - for themselves and for their parents. Then the age to collect rose from 65 to 67. Boomers took the housing hit and jobs-layoff hit just like the younger more resilient did when the tech bubble burst. Jobs went overseas, unions started disappearing, paychecks dwindled. Medical care costs went through the roof at a time when losing your job meant losing health care. Is it surprising the number of suicides for boomers increased? Not to me.
Lori said…
I haven't been around on this blog much the last year in part because of the time I've been spending on gun violence and suicide prevention instead. Washington state is on the leading edge nationally when it comes to suicide prevention. In fact, this fall, the state's Dept of Health will be releasing a suicide prevention plan that is the result of a year's work investigating the problem and recommending solutions. Hopefully, it will get some press and you'll hear about it soon.

I was involved in the writing the section about lethal means restriction, and I can say after reviewing all of the medical and public health literature that it does indeed work.
Making it more difficult for someone with suicidal thoughts to get a gun absolutely reduces suicides.

It works in one of two ways. First, many attempts are impulsive and borne of immediate crisis. If a gun isn't available during that moment of anguish or despair, an attempt isn't made. Most people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide, so there really is an opportunity to save lives if we can help people with suicidal thoughts get through those acute moments of crisis.

The second way it works is that for those who do still make an attempt, the method that is substituted is less likely to be fatal. Guns are fatal in 85-90% of cases. Just as one example of a less lethal means, medication overdoses are fatal less than 10% of the time. Therefore, if someone intentionally overdoses rather than uses a gun, they are far more likely to survive, short-term and in the long-run.

One of the problems we face, however, is that many gun owners store their guns loaded and unlocked, putting themselves and everyone who lives or visits their house at risk. And, too many people do not believe that suicide is preventable, and some even believe that we should not intervene, that a suicidal person has a "right" to die at their own hands. We need to do a lot of work reversing these mistaken beliefs and changing behavior around gun storage.

If you want to support an organization doing amazing work in suicide prevention, please check out Forefront at UW. They will be implementing many aspects of the state plan as well as continuing their own amazing, cutting edge work in this field.

Anonymous said…
My sister's husband's brother committed suicide by gun. It was more horrifying than anyone will ever know. He did it in front of his girlfriend. Shot himself in the head, which is not only horrible, it is a mess. Even more horrific, my brother in law and his father had to go clean the room that he did it in. Unless you hire a special company to clean up a murder scene, the family is responsible for clean up. How's that for fun times with guns?

I get hunting. I have no issues with hunting and the guns that go with hunting. And everyone I've ever talked to feels the same way--hunting is fine as long as you're engaging in responsible hunting practices and they are using the hunting guns to hunt animals and not people. And, I get the need to carry a rifle if you're walking to school in the wilds of Alaska where bears frequently come out and try to eat you (true story from a friend of mine).

But I've always been confounded by the folks who want to carry around a gun in a non-wild outdoor place. I.e., in the middle of a city or a town. Who needs a big gun on your belt walking around at the mall or sipping coffee in Starbucks? I don't get it. Is it for decoration? Or to make a statement (e.g., my [whatever] is bigger than your [whatever])? I've always suspected that there is some sort of fantasy life that these people have where they are living in the OK Corral and they feel like at some point, there will be a shoot-out over the ownership of someone's horse that they will win. And at the end of which they will be patted on the back and everyone will go back to their business, leaving the dead body to kind of disappear like it does in the movies. Or, the alternate fantasy that they will be the one-in-a-million person who somehow is in the right place at the right time when a mass murderer open fires in a movie theater and they magically don't get shot but they get to shoot the killer and become a hero. Because other than these scenarios, I don't get the desire or need to carry a gun in civilized society.

North End Parent
Anonymous said…
I'll bet dollars to doughnuts the Tuba man wish he was carrying a gun. People seem to forget there are bad people out there and they can overpower women, children and the weak. You are stupid to believe the police are going to save you in our civilized society. Maybe if Nicole White was carrying she might of had a chance!

No Treading
Anonymous said…
Um, how about gun control for police, they seem to be the ones doing all the killing lately. Then we are left will only the military having guns and we all know who controls the military. Yep we are so very civilized we can stop all the social justice talk right now!

Drinking COOLAID
Anonymous said…
I would love to give a zero guns (really VERY limited) policy a try. Pro gun people will say that violence will not go down if we give up our insane obsession with guns, but why don't we prove that by getting rid of guns? Let's see if there are fewer suicides and shootings. Let's try giving common sense a try instead of the NRA types making the nonsensical decisions that are harming the country.

I cannot believe that so many people are fine with the mass shootings happing all too frequently now. With the horrific shooting last week in SC, the two other mass shootings, that also happened last week, have been less talked about (only one person died of the 20 shot, but that was only due to bad aim and not the desire of the shooter).

I don't like thinking about my kid getting shot at school. This is not a concern that anyone in a reasonable country should have, and it is not happening in other places around the world. Why are we okay with this?

I thought a room full of shot children might finally change this, but it didn't. Now people want to arm teachers. I am fed up.

The problem with all the shootings, I am sure, is that we just don't have enough guns out there. NOT.

You are stupid to believe the police are going to save you in our civilized society.

I like that juxtaposition of "stupid" and "civilized." I personally do not want to live in the Wild West with everyone having a gun.
Anonymous said…
How do we stop people from wanting to rob, steal and injure others. Once we figure that out we can go back to carrying foils.

Anonymous said…
People seem to forget there are bad people out there and they can overpower women, children and the weak.

Yes, that is something Nancy Lanza forgot. So did the Padgetts of Troutdale, Oregon, the Fryberg family of Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Reyes family of Sparks, Nevada.

One of the problems we face, however, is that many gun owners store their guns loaded and unlocked, putting themselves and everyone who lives or visits their house at risk. And, too many people do not believe that suicide is preventable, and some even believe that we should not intervene, that a suicidal person has a "right" to die at their own hands.

It's so weird to me how some Americans see logical and sensible risk reduction as "the enemy." Jon Holzwarth of Lake Stevens claims his firearms are ALWAYS locked up, so why didn't he frisk the neighbor tot for weapons before letting him in the house to shoot his kid? Or it could be that Jon Holzwarth lied, and campaigned against I-594 because no legislation should save others from his stupidity and negligence.

How is removing firearms from mentally ill people like Joel Reuter and Ian Stawicki a violation of the Second Amendment? How do schizophrenics, suicidally depressed teens and felons participate in a "well-regulated militia" to keep the US populace safe from government tyranny?

A lot of people, gun owners or not, rely on "optimism bias" to blind themselves to the danger they are to other people (e.g. Mrs. Elizabeth Rachel Dove of Gresham, Oregon: "as long as I'm using my phone camera to video my kid while I'm driving, that shows I'm a loving and responsible parent. I just don't understand how the three high school students I struck with my car in a crosswalk don't see that about me!") and a whole lot of people cling to statistically inaccurate myths: many frontier towns of the Old West had sheriffs who enacted and followed strict gun-surrender policies; "the bogeyman" who tries to kill you is more likely to be someone you know than some stranger (the surviving boy of Honorario D. Yango's house learned this a truly horrible way); and there must be a galactic load of cognitive dissonance in the head of the person who remembers the details of the murder of four Lakewood police officers and who believes "a good guy with a gun will always stop a bad guy with a gun." More optimism bias: "Nothing bad can happen to my adolescent's developing brain while s/he's being medicated with pharmacological antidepressants", there won't be any terrible interactions with inconstant hormone levels or brain development AT ALL!"

Panic, anguish, despair, negligence, PTSD, chemical imbalances in the brain can all lead people to do irreparably stupid and harmful things. If it weren't for panic, anguish, despair, PTSD, illegal drug trade, violent psychopaths, and negligent people who can't keep their guns away from "the bad guy", most of the firearms would be with hunters, farmers, security personnel, gun ranges and law enforcement, and I'd be mostly okay with that... (thinking of Derek Carlile of the Marysville Police Department, he has a history of not following sensible gun safety rules).

But it could just as easily be any combination of the US culture of fear, income inequality, pervasive racism, pharmacological disasters escalating the homicide victim statistics.

-- Durned Ferner
Anonymous said…
Drinking CoolAid wrote:
"Um, how about gun control for police, they seem to be the ones doing all the killing lately."

NO WAY completely inaccurate.

I appreciate those who make statements based on reality.

Please check murder rates in any heavily urbanized city. The number of persons killed by police is extremely small in number in comparison to total homicide victims.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
I didn't know there is a threshold before a death was significant. Check these stats out, I bet there are more shootings by police than legally armed civilians. Many of the police shootings are questionable some are murder. Usually people with CWP play it cool and rarely brandish their weapon. One problem I have with CWP is the lack required firearm training needed before you're issued a CWP. There are people out there legally carrying hand guns who cant hit a target 3 feet away. I would say if you commit a crime using a gun then you should go to prison for life. We can fund the prison term with a $50 tax on all weapon sales or transfers.

n said…
Britain and New Zealand police carry no guns. From the article:

By only allowing some officers to be armed — like a firearms unit in every police force in Britain and cops who patrol security-sensitive places like airports, for example — the logic goes, there's less of a risk of gun violence overall.

A New Zealand police commissioner wrote in an editorial in 2009:

I have no doubt that carrying handguns would compromise officers' ability to do their regular work, because when you carry a weapon, your primary concern is to protect that weapon. If this was balanced by a clearly demonstrable increase in personal protection, it would be a price to consider paying. But the protection offered by a firearm — particularly a pistol — is more illusory than real.

This has actually worked out quite well. The UK and New Zealand fare rather well compared to other countries when it comes to violent crime. They have some of the lowest homicide rates in the world:

Of course, the article goes on to add that criminals have fewer guns as well. Why not America? Also, another article included Ireland and Norway. We have a culture of guns. I think North End Parent and Durned Ferner summed it up pretty well.

Anonymous said…
Yep Norway the site of one of the worst non conflict related mass homicides in history. You see there are an estimated 875 million know guns in the world and another 2 million ghost guns. You will never me able to collect and destroy even 100 million of them. If only one person would have been armed on Utøya things might have turned out different.

So I would recommend focusing on what is possible vs what is impossible. Life behind bars for crimes committed with guns is a good start and would most likely end all the gang banging. Mandatory training for those who want to carry a gun with or without a CWP. Now what to do about all those pesky police shootings?

Mentally ill people(MIP) are possibly the top threat and many MIP can and do buy guns. Like the cafe racer shooter. His family begged for help, but there was nothing anyone could do. I think the bartender used a bar stool and helped save several customers, had he had a gun things could have turned out much better.

Anonymous said…
In Northern Ireland, all police officers carry firearms. In the rest of the United Kingdom, police officers do not carry firearms, except in special circumstances.

Here is an article from the Washington Post

5 countries where police officers do not carry firearms — and it works well

In Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and New Zealand, officers are unarmed when they are on patrol. Police are only equipped with firearms in special circumstances. It's a strategy that seems to work surprisingly well for these countries. Police officers there have saved lives -- exactly because they were unable to shoot.

Firearm related deaths per 100,000

country : homicide, suicide, : unintentional , undetermined

U Kingdom : 0.04 , 0.18 : 0.01 , 0.02

Norway ...: 0.04 , 1.72 : 0.02 , 0.00

Iceland ..: 0.32 , 1.25 : (not available)

New Zealand 0.26 , 1.14 : 0.05 , 0.00

USA .....: 3.55 , 6.70 : 0.16 , 0.09


Guns per 100 residents

88.8 -- USA

6.6 -- UK

31.3 -- Norway

30.3 -- Iceland

22.6 -- New Zealand

4.3 -- Ireland

USA has about 3 times the per capita guns more than either Norway or Iceland.

Here is the total of firearm deaths per capita for
10.64 -- USA
1.78 --- Norway
1.57 --- Iceland

USA has about 6 or 7 times as many firearm deaths per 100,000 population

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
More restrictive gun laws in urban vs rural areas? Seriously? What other civil rights work that way? Do voters have different rights in urban vs rural areas? How about free speech? Religion?

There's an undercurrent of racism in liberals' thinking on this. They apparently feel more comfortable if rural people (a whiter population) have guns but want to disarm the urban population (a less white population). This is unacceptable to me.

Civil rights for all.
Anonymous said…
Manchin, Toomey both interested in reviving gun control push, how ironic they want gun control here at the same time they are sending tanks to Europe, how debonair !

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