Saturday, April 27, 2013

In the Gun Debate, Facts Matter Except When They Don’t


As proof that gun control is a bad idea, a couple of my gun owning friends have passed around this story from Salt Lake City, Utah’s ABC television affiliate. According to the story, a man bought a knife from a local store, and then began stabbing innocent bystanders on the street. Another fellow in the vicinity drew his gun and ordered the assailant to drop the knife. The assailant complied and was arrested, thereby preventing further injuries.
That’s all well and good; and kudos to the brave individual who happened to have a firearm and knew how to use it. But what does the story really tell us about gun control? Actually, not very much.
As an initial matter, if we’re going to keep track of incidents in which gun-wielding heroes stave off assailants and save the day, we also have to keep track of the incidents in which people have used guns to kill or maim. Right? If good-guys-with-guns stories are relevant to the gun control debate, then so are bad-guys-with-guns stories. And the statistics don’t help the anti-gun control side. According to Mother Jones, a recent study by the Violence Policy Center shows that in 2010, out of 8,505 reported fatal (non-suicide) shootings, only 230, or 2.7%, were deemed to be justifiable acts of self-defense. The remaining 8,275 – or 97.3% – were classified as criminal homicides. Moreover, the number of suicides in a given year usually dwarfs the number of homicides. In 2011, for example, of 30,867 total gun fatalities in the U.S., 19,766 were suicides. So, the number of times guns are used to kill in self defense is infinitesimally small in comparison to all gun deaths.
Those statistics, of course, don’t address non-fatal instances where guns are used in self-defense or in defense of others. But the Violence Policy Center study does:
For victims of both attempted and completed violent crimes, for the five-year period 2007 through 2011 in only 0.8 percent of these instances did the intended victim in resistance to a criminal engage in a self-protective behavior that involved a firearm. For the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that there were 29,618,300 victims of attempted or completed violent crimes. During this same five-year period, only 235,700 of the self-protective behaviors involved a firearm. Of this number, it is not known what type of firearm was used or whether it was fired or not. The number may also include off-duty law enforcement officers who use their firearms in self-defense.
For victims of both attempted and completed property crimes, for the five-year period 2007 through 2011 in only 0.1 percent of these instances did the intended victim in resistance to a criminal engage in a self-protective behavior that involved a firearm. For the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that there were 84,495,500 victims of attempted or completed property crimes. During this same five-year period, only 103,000 of the self-protective behaviors involved a firearm. Of this number, it is not known what type of firearm was used, whether it was fired or not, or whether the use of a gun would even be a legal response to the property crime. And that number as well may also include off-duty law enforcement officers. In comparison, new data from the Department of Justice shows that an average of 232,400 guns were stolen each year from U.S. households from 2005 to 2010.
(Emphasis in original.)
None of this means that people who legally own firearms shouldn’t use their weapons in self-defense or the defense of others. But if your intent is to demonstrate that all forms of gun regulation are bad, it strikes me as odd that you’d do so by citing one of the rare cases in which a firearm was used successfully to stop a criminal, because you’re essentially begging gun control advocates to point to the overwhelming statistical evidence that undermines your case.
Then, too, if you look at the specific incident in question, you’ll see that it doesn’t refute any of the arguments in favor of gun control today.
What’s particularly telling about the Salt Lake City story is what’s missing: We don’t know what kind of gun the gentleman used to stop the knife-wielding assailant; we don’t know whether his firearm had a high-capacity magazine; we don’t know where he purchased it; we don’t know whether he had to go through a background check; we don’t know if he carried openly or concealed it. We don’t know the answers to those questions, because they’re not really relevant. Even if Utah or the federal government had laws on the books that prohibited the man from owning a military-style weapon, or from owning high-capacity magazines, he could easily have accomplished the same thing with a simple handgun. Even if he had been required to undergo a background check (as most gun owners already do), there’s no evidence to suggest he wouldn’t have passed it and still obtained his gun. Even if he was prevented from carrying a concealed weapon, he could still have carried openly it and stopped the assailant. None of those regulations would have altered the outcome of the Salt Lake City incident.
And here’s the kicker: After the Supreme Court’s rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S. Ct. 3020 (2010), those are the types of regulations that remain available to state and federal authorities. They can’t ban handguns or hunting rifles; they can ban military-style weapons like M-16s and they can impose reasonable regulations on the ownership of handguns and hunting rifles. So state and federal authorities can enact regulations that fall within the parameters the Supreme Court laid out in Heller and McDonald, and lawful gun owners will still be able to do what the gentleman in Salt Lake City did just the other day.
So, given the statistical evidence of gun fatalities and the scant few incidents in which guns are successfully used to prevent crime, I’d suggest the facts actually support reasonable, constitutionally permissible gun control efforts. If, you know, you care about the facts.

9 comments:

  1. Dave:

    Great post. Here's a couple of other data points that you might want to consider (I don't have links handy). The first is that States like MA and NY which have fairly stringent firearms regulation (particularly around issuance of open carry or ccw permits have fewer murders. The second is that states with fewer handguns/more stringent regulations have fewer suicides.

    John Lott and Gary Klecks bullshit "research" notwithstanding, the number of reported DGU's in any given year is miniscule when compared with the number of crimes committed or registered guns. Gunzloonz, when asked about the apparent discrepancy, typically say that many people don't report such things to the authorities. I call bullshit on that; there is nothing that the NRA or that moron Larry Pratt likes better than touting ANY DGU as proof positive that "More gunz = um, FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOMWOLVERINES!!!!

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  2. So, if I read this right...

    In 2010, there were 8505 fatal (non-suicide) shootings and 230 of those were defensive.

    On average during 2010, there were 47,140 defensive uses (obviously non-fatal) of firearms in defending against violent crime.

    Another 20,600 non-fatal defensive uses of handguns in property crimes.

    So, if I understand the statistics, it appears that there are many more defensive, not-fatal uses of firearms than murders. or suicides. So, maybe I am mis-reading the statistics, but it certainly appears that they point to the benefits of guns.

    There are many examples of defensive gun use in the paper, many involving multiple assailants, many have shown the need for large capacity magazines.

    So, semi-automatic rifles are semi-automatic rifles and not of them are weapons of war. By that, I mean that no military would equip it troops with AR-15.

    Also, 60% of firearms homocides occur in the 62 largest metropolitan areas. So if instead of looking at states, you look at cities, where most homicides occur, NYC, Newark and Boston don't look too good.

    So, while sensible regulation is always a good thing, but seldom happens about anything, we should be so lucky on guns. My real question is, there are 22,000 gun laws on the books. The Newtown killer broke no fewer than 41. How are we going to come up with a sensible set of gun laws the reduces the amount of gun violence without violating the 2A.

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  3. "There are many examples of defensive gun use in the paper, many involving multiple assailants, many have shown the need for large capacity magazines."

    By whom, where, when?

    Don't know? then your assertion is nothing but hot air.

    "My real question is, there are 22,000 gun laws on the books."

    an oft cited bullshit number does not make it true. Without a citation, your "statistic" is exactly that. Thanks for playing, concern trolling is one of the things that ReiKKKwing fucktards excel at. It's not that it works, but it sure makes them feel smart.

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  4. Wow,you are a real joy.

    I have listed a few. There are hundreds. They aren't on MSNBC because it doesn't fit with their programming. A few minutes on google could lead you to a world of information about people defending themselves with guns. Sometimes assailants can take 5 or more rounds and keep coming. Sometimes there are more than a few assailants.

    As far as assertions being hot air, compare the gun homicide rates in cities rather than states. Since 60% of gun homicides happen in the 62 largest metropolitan areas and those areas skew the per capita ratios in states like NYC and Chicago, it is more appropriate to look that the gun homicide rates in those metropolitan areas. Although that won't provide very good data for your argument.

    But back to the original statistics in the blog post, the numbers of defenses by guns for violent and property crimes far exceed the number of homicides or suicides. Those aren't my numbers those are the Violence Policy Center's numbers. The numbers are the numbers. In case math isn't your strong suit, I took the total number of gun defenses over a 5 year period, then divided by 5 to get the average number of gun defenses per year.

    So, there are many gun laws. I admit to utilizing hyperbole without a license. The ATF guidance for gun dealers which only include laws that affect them is more than 500 pages of state laws by itself. They still don't stop bad guys from buying and using guns. Some states double the penalty if a weapons is even found at the scene of a felony crime, it hasn't had an impact. Crack cocaine has larger penalties than powder. Doesn't change the equation.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/618090/north-carolina-home-invasion-two-suspects-killed-by-homeowner/

    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9062720

    http://www.wral.com/woman-shoots-two-intruders-at-elm-city-home/12256152/

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/woman-hiding-kids-shoots-intruder/nTm7s/

    http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/01/10/listen-911-call-released-after-georgia-mother-shoots-home-intruder

    http://www.easybakegunclub.com/news/2982/Neighbor-killed,-homeowner-wounded-during-home-inv.html

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  5. Oh, boy, five links, three incidents since Jan 2013.

    Here ya go:

    http://accidentalgunshots.tumblr.com/

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  6. So, I am not sure what game we are playing with the dueling links. Here is the base article. I fully agree that NRA's 2.5 million a year is unsupportable. However, the V.P.C.s number of 67,740 defensive gun uses a year is supportable and if anything is low, because there are bound to be defensive gun uses that aren't reported. But for the argument let's use 67,740.

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/defensive-gun-use/

    According to the national institute of justice (NIJ), in 2005 74% of gun homicides occurred during the commission of a felony. 80% of gun homicides in the US are gang related.

    In 2011, 3200 gun homicides occurred in just 12 cities. None of them know for active KKK clans, large groups of bitter clingers or rednecks.

    The bottom line, we have a gang/criminal problem, not a gun problem. The KKKers (founded by democrats to disarm minorities and Jews), the bitter clingers and the rednecks are really not the problem. In those large cities that account for most of the gun homicides, 80-90% of the victims have prior felonies. Most of the rest are innocent bystanders, mostly blacks.

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  7. The bottom line, moron, is that we have a gunz are real eezy to get if you live in a state or next to a state or have a fucking car or a girlfriend, wife, brother, pal, "connection" who is willing to be a straw and buy you a gun that you are prohibited from owning in YOUR city because of current laws or past felonies/domestic abuse convictions.

    "The bottom line, we have a gang/criminal problem, not a gun problem. The KKKers (founded by democrats to disarm minorities and Jews),'

    It was founded by bitter, unreconstructed racist traitors to the U.S., you dissembling piece of shit.

    I don't argue with fucking liars. You're a fucking liar. End of conversation, troll.

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  8. "dissembling piece of shit". I was impressed. Although I am not sure what I have tried to conceal.

    So if I understand your argument, because the criminals can get guns by breaking the law in the next city or state, if we outlaw guns, they will not be able to? Of course the only small flaw in your logic is that the drug gangs import tons of drugs from outside the country, it would seem reasonable that they could import tons of guns.

    While I certainly agree that founders of the KKK were unreconstructed racists, they did serve as a unregulated military force for the democrat party with the primary mission of keeping blacks from education, economic advancement, voting and the right to keep and bear arms. So whether you like their politics are not, that is who they were. The next generation of the KKK was turning fire hoses and dogs on the Civil Rights Marchers. The white guys in the pictures, they were republicans, even Mitt Romneys dad was there.

    So it appears to me that you are the person bouncing up with lots of accusations and f-bombs, not not actually talking about the statistics or presenting a rational argument. Maybe you should rethink that troll accusation.

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  9. Dave,
    Love the blog. We may not always agree, but I learn something almost every time.

    I apologize for the thread, I really hoped to see some rational argument at some point.

    Greg

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