Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gun Ownership Myths

Many recent conversations on gun control have sparked my need to look it all up. Since most people I speak with are pro-guns I thought I'd collect some data and post it here.

Where do you stand on Gun Control?

To be clear: I like the idea of having the right to own a gun. I just don't want one anywhere near my family or home.

So, you're for and against gun control?

It seems a bit contradictory, but this isn't a simple subject and the people generating the discussion are not helping. Examples include the NRA trying to stop government funding for safety research or Congress creating laws that do not allow the public to see Gun Store compliance records. Here is a list of pro-gun arguments that I think need some looking at:

1. Owning a gun makes you safer.

If you own a gun you have a higher risk of accidental death, suicide and homicide from a gun. In 2011, you were ten times as likely to be shot & killed in an argument than to stop a crime. In fact, for every time someone uses a gun in self- defence seven times as many die from assaults & murders, eleven times as many die from suicide attempts, and 4 times as many die in gun related accidents. Most of which happen near the home.

Of households with kids and guns 43% have at least one unlocked firearm. When testing kids, one third of 8-12 year-old boys who found a handgun also pulled the trigger. In Philadelphia you are 4.5 times more likely to be shot if you carry a gun and your odds of dying are 4.2 times greater. In states with higher gun ownership we have higher homicide rates (see graph above).

Even for women, having a gun in the home make you nearly 6 times more likely to be shot by a husband, boyfriend, and ex-partner than to be murdered by a male stranger. If you're in an abusive relationship you are 7 times more likely to be killed if he has access to a gun. In states with higher gun ownership rates, women were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than in states with lower gun ownership.

2. An armed society is a polite society.

This is simply not true. If anything it fuels aggression. Armed drivers are more likely to make obscene gestres and follow other drivers aggressively. Stand your ground laws have led to a 7-10% increase in homicides in the states that have them. Even concealed-handgun licenses make people more likely to threaten other people.

3. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

This one's my favorite because it assumes that without guns the same number of people would die each year. Guns do have an effect on homicide rates. For example states with the highest percentage of gun owners have a 114% higher murder rate than the states witht the lowest percentages of gun owners. States with gun restrictions tend to have lower rates of death by guns.

4. The Government Is Going to Take Your Guns

The thought here is that the Government is somehow going to pass a law that requires you to turn in your guns. Not only is this unlikely, it is also unconstitutional. We have no idea how many guns there are in the US, but there are approximately 260 million guns here, most of which are owned by private citizens which will outgun all enforcement agencies 40 to 1.

5. We don't need more gun laws we just need to enforce the ones we have.

2 out of 5 guns were purchased through a private seller which does not require a background check. 40% of inmates that used guns in their crimes purchassed them privately. 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn't pass a background check. Undercover researchers were able to convince 20% of licensed California gun dealers to sell them handguns. All evidence that our existing laws are unable to properly deter mis-sale of firearms.

Ban Guns?

Heavens no. We just need to figure out a better way to get things done. I'm not sure what that is yet and you can bet I'll make a post about it when I do. Till then, think for yourselves. If you don't want the risks, don't buy the guns or at the very least: make sure the guns you have are hard for even you to get to.

Be safe.