This whole dealio that grew out of Newton (and Aurora, and Columbine and Virginian Tech and … and… and) is getting very tiresome. By now, most people who are not crazy are able to conclude that you do not need an assault weapon to kill a deer. But there are still many who choose to go along with the PATENTLY WRONG assumption that “guns make us safer”. THEY DON’T!
Okay, let’s create an experiment. The experiment is to find yourself a community that has a bunch of gun owners in it, and also has a lot of non-gun owners in it. Choose equal numbers of each type. Don’t forget: you have to balance for age, race, and gender! So, an even smattering over age, race, and gender, equally divided between gun owners and none-gun owners. So far, so good!
Now, the next part. Follow the evidence to see if a link can be established between gun ownership and getting shot. And there you go! Actual scientifically-derived information regarding the possible correlation between OWNING a gun and getting SHOT by a gun. And, as Nate Silver demonstrated in the last Presidential election, scientifically-derived statistics can be pretty darned accurate. And here’s the best part: SOMEBODY ALREADY DID ALL THIS WORK FOR YOU!
Professor Charles Branas and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania examined this in their 2009 paper investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault. Dr. Branas is a Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, so not exactly a mad lefty ACORN Obama-loving 2nd Amendment hater.
Branas and his colleagues compared 677 cases in which people were injured in a shooting incident with 684 people living in the same area that had not suffered a gun injury. The researchers matched these controls for age, race and gender. They found that those with firearms were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who did not carry.
Um, what? Yes, you heard correctly: they found that those with firearms were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who did not carry.
But wait! At CPAC, the annual conservative love-fest, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the biggest gun lobby group in the US, defended his call to put armed guards in every school and declared that the answer to violent crime was to put guns in the hands of more people. Is it possible he doesn’t know about these statistics? Or, could it be … his huge kickback arrangements with gun manufacturers are afflicting his judgement?
One might ask why gun owners are more likely to get shot than none-gun owners, and Dr. Branas addressed that as well. The reasons for this, the authors suggest, are many. “A gun may falsely empower its possessor to overreact, instigating and losing otherwise tractable conflicts with similarly armed persons. Along the same lines, individuals who are in possession of a gun may increase their risk of gun assault by entering dangerous environments that they would have normally avoided. Alternatively, an individual may bring a gun to an otherwise gun-free conflict only to have that gun wrested away and turned on them.”
So, for stupid, asinine, machismo-ridden, idiotic reasons, you might find yourself the victim of your own weapon. Or, just as likely, pull a Zimmerman and shoot somebody who doesn’t deserve it, or worse yet, shoot somebody who is innocently going about their business when you decide to “clean your gun” or “play Russian roulette” or “kill yourself”. And interestingly, this too has been scientifically investigated: guns have a curious psychological effect on males. A 2006 study by Dr. Jennifer Klinesmith and colleagues showed men exposed to firearms before an experiment had much higher testosterone levels and were three times more likely to engage in aggressive behavior relative to the subjects not primed with a weapon.
Who could have seen THAT coming? Except probably for every human being who happens to possess lady bits instead of imaginary rhino-sized swinging tackle.
Right on cue, Wayne LaPierre said another crazy thing at CPAC (I know it is hard to keep track of his hoot-owl wall-eyed nutbaggery, but that’s why I’m doing it for you). He said, “The one thing a violent rapist deserves is to face is a good woman with a gun!”
Way to go, Wayne! Guess what! Wrong again!
DO YOU REALIZE, Wayne LaPierre, that the vast majority of rape and murder victims are not harmed by creepy strangers, but by people they know, and often love – friends, family members, lovers? As has been pointed out numerous times, in a variety of publications not from the NRA, a gun in the household is more likely to be used in domestic violence than anything else. And police officers LOVE to intervene in domestic violence episodes when the participants could well be armed with a deadly weapon. And double uh-oh! According to this Johns Hopkins fact sheet – again, scientifically researched and peer-reviewed – women living in a home with one or more guns were three times more likely to be murdered. For women who had been abused by their partner, their risk of being murdered rose fivefold if the partner owned a gun. So ladies, if you own a little pink pistol that you are going to use to “protect yourself”, be very aware that you are more likely to be killed by it than scare anybody else. Sad but true.
Now I think I’ll go shoot a few ducks outta the sky with my F-16 fighter plane, and maybe do some target plinking with my bazooka. And I bet I’d get enough venison for my freezer this year if I nuked the Cascades with my dirty bomb. Hey! Wayne said I could! After all, I have a right to bear arms, according to the 2nd Amendment, that, incidentally, was written in the Flintlock Age and also had a pretty important part in there about a “well-regulated militia”. So there.