Halcyon Days of The Pro-Murder Club

gun violence

Comforting, was it not, to have Paul Ciancia reaffirm for us all with his assault rifle at LAX, the invincibility of our “Second Amendment rights”.

Liberty, in the strange and perverse interpretation of the National Rifle Association, and in the reactionary lexicon in general, almost exclusively becomes the right to exact physical or economic harm on others free of accountability, from Stand Your Ground laws to the regulatory anemia allowing businesses and corporations to poison their neighbors’ water and air as they see fit.

Let the point be nothing less than emphatic: Whether Aurora or Sandy Hook, whether the Washington Navy Yard or Columbine, whether the other marquee names in mayhem, or the anonymous hundreds of thousands of individual victims of gun slaughter, all are very much the fruits of the demented labor of the murder advocacy of the National Rifle Association, its stalwart Republican fuck buddies, and the occasional NRA-possessed Democrat.

America, the gun promiscuous charnel house, unique among the nations for its plethora of weaponry and the resulting deaths, for its jejune, mythologized gun culture, and its delusional reverence for the iconic firearm, is a wholly invented place, created and promoted, lobbied and advertised, fed to the American consumer with a bastardization of history and a grotesque mangling of the Constitution.

The fiercely pursued campaign across the country, at the local, the state and the federal level for anyone anywhere to own a firearm, and to keep and use it anywhere and everywhere by the pro-murder club has created these, our halcyon days of death by gun: the NRA and Republican elected officials all but co-conspirators in homicide and genocide.

It should be unmistakably clear to all: an individual right to possess a firearm is not supported either by the Constitution or history. In fact, the absence of such an illusory right has been sustained by two hundred years of court decisions, until the current extremist court simply created it.

In a civilized country, which this demonstrably isn’t, the National Rifle Association long ago would have been designated officially a terrorist organization, its bloody extremity, sheer depravity and destructively unhinged propaganda criminalized, or at least stigmatized out of existence.

For our gun proliferation and the murder of innocents that it all but guarantees, it is the murder mavens in our midst we have to thank. Indiscriminate and pervasive slaughter is what the National Rifle Association, their ilk and their fellow travellers have wrought, and will continue to spawn until they are finally stopped.

From Slate, gun deaths since Newtown: Using the most recent CDC estimates for yearly deaths by guns in the United States, it is likely that as of today, 11/3/2013, roughly 29,276 people have died from guns in the U.S.

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9 responses

  1. Americans use a firearm up to 2.5 million times a year in self defense and upwards of 400,000 lives are saved with guns in the hands of private citizens.

    Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern)
Guns and Violence Symposium,
vol. 86, no. 1, 1995: 150.

    ARMED RESISTANCE TO CRIME: THE PREVALENCE AND NATURE OF SELF-DEFENSE WITH A GUN
    Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz
    http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/kleckandgertz1.htm

    lwk

    • It’s indicative of the intellectually deplete state of the gun lobby, not to mention its somewhat sad dishonesty that after all these years it has only this one, long-ago debunked study to trot out in its shaky defense.

      For those seeking accurate information about guns and homicides, and gun violence more broadly, provided below are selected studies and reports, out of many, debunking the bogus, and silly, Kleck “study” cited above.

      These are followed by studies demonstrating the link between the number of guns and gun violence, research showing that states with stricter gun regulation have a fewer number of deaths by firearms, and reporting on America’s unique status as gun murder capital of the developed world.

      http://home.uchicago.edu/~ludwigj/papers/JPAM_Cook_Ludwig_Hemenway_2007.pdf

      The Gun Debate’s New Mythical Number: How Many Defensive Uses Per Year?

      Philip J. Cook; Jens Ludwig; David Hemenway

      Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 16, No. 3, Special Issue: The New Public

      http://www.stat.duke.edu/~dalene/chance/chanceweb/103.myth0.pdf

      The Myth of Millions of Self-Defense Gun Uses: A Case Study of Survey Overestimates of Rare Events

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

      Harvard Injury Control Research Center

      1. Where there are more guns there is more homicide (literature review).

      Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

      Hepburn, Lisa; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and homicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 2004; 9:417-40.

      2. Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.

      We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries from the early 1990s. We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.

      Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries. Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88.

      3. Across states, more guns = more homicide

      Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states over a ten year period (1988-1997).

      After controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

      Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997. American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993.

      4. Across states, more guns = more homicide (2)

      Using survey data on rates of household gun ownership, we examined the association between gun availability and homicide across states, 2001-2003. We found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide. This relationship held for both genders and all age groups, after accounting for rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and resource deprivation (e.g., poverty). There was no association between gun prevalence and non-firearm homicide.

      Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/

      The Geography of Gun Deaths

      Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).

      http://www.guncite.com/cnngunde.html

      ATLANTA — The United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths — murders, suicides and accidents — among the world’s 36 richest nations, a government study found.

      The U.S. rate for gun deaths in 1994 was 14.24 per 100,000 people. Japan had the lowest rate, at .05 per 100,000.

      The study, done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first comprehensive international look at gun-related deaths. It was published Thursday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2007-releases/press01112007.html

      Boston, MA — Firearms are used to kill two out of every three homicide victims in America. In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of Social Science and Medicine. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.024

      These results suggest that it is easier for potential homicide perpetrators to obtain a gun in states where guns are more prevalent. “Our findings suggest that in the United States, household firearms may be an important source of guns used to kill children, women and men, both on the street and in their homes,” said Miller.

  2. “It’s indicative of the intellectually deplete state of the gun lobby, not to mention its somewhat sad dishonesty that after all these years it has only this one, long-ago debunked study to trot out in its shaky defense.”

    It is indicative of the “intellectually deplete state” of your argument that you only have assertions of “debunking” and probably have never actually read the study.

    Quoting:

    Criminologist Marvin Wolfgang, who described himself “as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country” and whose opinion of guns was “I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns–ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people” defended Kleck’s methodology, saying “What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator”. He went on to say that the NCVS survey did not contradict the Kleck study and that “I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.” [21][22]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Kleck

    -end quote-

    It is also indicative of the “intellectually deplete state” of your argument that you are quoting people like Hemenway and colleagues who are notorious for not releasing their data and methodology to critics for peer review.

    Typically if you were a medical researcher and wished to have your study published in the NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine) on, for example, measles vaccine efficacy you would have to submit your data and methodology for peer review. If not then it was not “science” and not published.

    But of late (last couple decades) the NEJM and other avenues for publishing advocacy research on gun control has been the exception in not being required to prove what they were doing was science.

    regards,

    lwk

    • As I pointed out, and as you demonstrate, it is indicative of the sad state of the gun lobby that it must hang so much on a single, debunked study, when there are countless studies, some of which I have provided, demonstrating the very real connection between gun saturation and gun deaths. The connection also has the virtue of basic common sense.

      It is further commentary on this sad state, and speaks persuasively to the reliability of Kleck, that his own Wikipedia page, cited by you, provides this caveat at the beginning:

      This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

      A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (March 2013)

      This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2007)

      As for Wolfgang, oft trotted out in the hapless Kleck’s defense, he refers himself to the obviously silly extrapolation of 2.5 million defensive gun uses on the basis of 5,000 telephone calls. Wolfgang has appended his own “defense” of Kleck:

      http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/1996/12/16/dgu-00026/

      “The usual criticisms of survey research, such as that done by Kleck
      and Gertz, also apply to their research. The problems of small
      numbers and extrapolating from relatively small samples to the
      universe are common criticisms of all survey research, including
      theirs. I did not mention this specifically in my printed comments
      because I thought that this was obvious; within the specific
      limitations of their research is what I meant by a lack of criticism
      methodologically.”
      (J of Criminal Law and Criminology 86:2 p617-8)

      One of the limitations of survey research that Wolfgang considered too
      obvious to be necessary to point out is there is no guarantee that all
      respondents told the truth.

  3. “For those seeking accurate information about guns and homicides, and gun violence more broadly, provided below are selected studies and reports, out of many, debunking the bogus, and silly, Kleck “study” cited above.”

    And for those who would like to see Kleck’s response on Hemenway you might want to check this out too:

    THE ILLEGITIMACY OF ONE-SIDED SPECULATION: GETTING THE DEFENSIVE GUN USE ESTIMATE DOWN
    Gary Kleck & Marc Gertz *

    http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/KleckAndGertz2.htm

    Quoting:

    It is obvious to us that David Hemenway (H) had no intention of producing a balanced, intellectually serious assessment of our estimates of defensive gun use (DGU). Instead, his critique serves the narrow political purpose of “getting the estimate down,” for the sake of advancing the gun control cause. An honest, scientifically based critique would have given balanced consideration to flaws that tend to make the estimate too low (e.g., people concealing DGUs because they involved unlawful behavior, and our failure to count any DGUs by adolescents), as well as those that contribute to making them too high. Equally important, it would have given greatest weight to relevant empirical evidence, and little or no weight to idle speculation about possible flaws. H’s approach is precisely the opposite–one-sided and almost entirely speculative.

    lwk

    • It is less than surprising that Mr. Kleck would attempt to defend himself, even if he doesn’t do it very well. And for good reason.

      It also is less than surprising that you retain the conviction that it is those debunking Kleck (“Hemenway and his colleagues”) rather than Kleck himself at fault. Convenient.

      In any case, though you have no substantive criticism of Hemenway, merely a baseless accusation, debunking of Kleck is virtually a cottage industry:

      The Contradictions of the Kleck Study

      In a 1992 survey, Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, found that there are 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGU’s) per year by “law-abiding” citizens in the United States. Another study from the same period, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), estimated 65,000 DGUs annually. The NCVS survey differed from Kleck’s study in that it only interviewed those who reported a threatened, attempted, or completed victimization for one of six crimes: rape, robbery, assault, burglary, non-business larceny, and motor vehicle theft. That accounts for the discrepancy in the two results. A National Research Council report said that Kleck’s estimates appeared to be exaggerated and that it was almost certain that “some of what respondents designate[d] as their own self-defense would be construed as aggression by others” (Understanding and Preventing Violence, 266, Albert J. Reiss, Jr. & Jeffrey A. Roth, eds., 1992).

      The 2.5 million figure would lead us to conclude that, in a serious crime, the victim is three to four times more likely than the offender to have and use a gun. Although the criminal determines when and where a crime occurs, although pro-gun advocates claim that criminals can always get guns, although few potential victims carry guns away from home, the criminal, according to Kleck’s survey, is usually outgunned by the individual he is trying to assault, burglarize, rob or rape.

      Kleck’s survey also included gun uses against animals and did not distinguish civilian uses from military of police uses. Kleck’s Interviewers do not appear to have questioned a random individual at a given telephone number, but rather asked to speak to the male head of the household. Males from the South and West were oversampled. The results imply that many hundreds of thousands of murders should have been occurring when a private gun was not available for protection. Yet guns are rarely carried, less than a third of adult Americans personally own guns, and only 27,000 homicides occurred in 1992.

      HEMENWAY CRITICISM OF KLECK

      “Since a small percentage of people may report virtually anything on a telephone survey, there are serious risks of overestimation in using such surveys to measure rare events. The problem becomes particularly severe when the issue has even a remote possibility of positive social desirability response bias.
      Consider the responses to a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of over 1,500 adults conducted in May 1994 by ABC News and the Washington Post. One question asked: “Have you yourself ever seen anything that you believe was a spacecraft from another planet?” 10% of respondents answered in the affirmative. These 150 individuals were then asked, “Have you personally ever been in contact with aliens from another planet or not?” and 6% answered “Yes.”
      By extrapolating to the national population, we might conclude that almost 20 million Americans have seen spacecraft from another planet, and over a million have been in personal contact with aliens from other planets. That more than a million Americans had contact with aliens would be incredible news—but not the kind actively publicized by reputable scientists. Yet the ABC News/Washington Post data on aliens are as good as or better than that from any of the thirteen surveys cited by K-G as supporting their conclusions about self-defense gun use.”
      http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/Hemenway1.htm

      STUDIES SHOWING RISK OF GUNS OUTWEIGH BENEFITS

      “Given the number of victims allegedly being saved with guns, it would seem natural to conclude that owning a gun substantially reduces your chances of being murdered. Yet a careful case-control study of homicide in the home found that a gun in the home was associated with an increased rather than a reduced risk of homicide. Virtually all of this risk involved homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.”

      – Arthur L. Kellermann et al., Gun Ownership As a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home, 329 New Eng. J. Med. 1084, 1087 (1993)

      In 1997, Cummings and colleagues at the University of Washington reported that the legal purchase of a handgun was associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death.

      DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STUDIES CONCERNING DEFENSIVE GUN USES

      DOJ study reported 83,000 annual defensive gun uses from 1987-1992. During same period, there were more than 135,000 total gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. annually.
      http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/hvfsdaft.txt

      As for the notion that those using firearms to fend off attackers were more effective in avoiding injury than those using other weapons or no weapons, the DOJ study makes the following exclaimer: “Care should be used in interpreting these data because many aspects of crimes–including victim and offender characteristics, crime circumstances, and offender intent–contribute to victims’ injury outcomes.”

      What is also interesting is that the study notes that “In most cases victims who used firearms to defend themselves or their property were confronted by offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms.” Specifically, only 35% of those who used a firearm in self-defense actually faced an offender who had a gun. DOJ makes no judgments in this study on whether the level of force employed by these individuals was appropriate or consonant with the threat they faced. It may very well be that the presence of firearms in many of these incidents escalated what otherwise might have been non-violent (or non-fatal) encounters.

      According to the DOJ study, gun owners also provided criminals with ample opportunities to arm themselves through firearm theft: “From 1987-1992 victims reported an annual average of about 341,000 incidents of firearm theft. Because the NCVS asks for types but not a count of items stolen, the annual total of firearms stolen probably exceeds the number of incidents.” It should also be noted that there is no federal law requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and almost no state laws in this regard. There are undoubtedly thousands of stolen firearms that go entirely unreported every year.

      http://vacps.org/public-policy/the-contradictions-of-kleck

  4. “f the gun lobby that it must hang so much on a single, debunked study, …”

    Quoting from response to Hemenway:

    Our estimates recently have been strongly confirmed by yet another large- sample national survey, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and conducted under the auspices of the Police Foundation.[72] We can be certain that H knew about this survey because he served on the NIJ Advisory Committee for the project and was thanked for his comments on a draft of the grant report describing the survey’s findings, including its DGU estimates.[73]

    H does not mention the results of this survey, perhaps for an understandable reason: It almost exactly confirms our results. We estimated 2.55 million annual DGUs, using a person-based one-year estimate.[74] The most comparable estimate generated by this survey was 2.45 million, well within sampling error of our estimate.[75] Many of the other estimates were even higher.[76]

    http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/KleckAndGertz2.htm

    Hemenway depends on the NCVS survey for much of his criticism, but even many gun control supporters are now abandoning that. Quoting from Kleck and Gertz’s original study:

    “At least thirteen previous surveys have given a radically different picture of the frequency of DGUs [than the NCVS].”

    http://www.saf.org/lawreviews/kleckandgertz1.htm

    At this point many studies have given much larger results than the NCVS which has many, many well documented flaws that would lead to grossly underestimatings defensive gun uses (DGUs). The question now is not whether Americans use firearms a lot in those situations. The real question is just how often. Kleck and Gertz have never asserted their answer was the final one.

    So when you say “must hang so much on a single, debunked study” you are not being honest.

    regards,

    lwk

    • You accuse me of dishonesty for pointing out Kleck’s debunked study is all the gun lobby is reduced to promoting, and then who do you hoist up right away to make your point? Gary Kleck.

      Next you drag out a survey conducted by the Police Foundation, careful to exclude the portion noting: “Kleck was the principle consultant on the Police Foundation survey”

      Kleck, Kleck, Kleck.

      After that, you cherry pick a sentence referring to “thirteen previous studies,” though these are cited by Kleck only because they report a discrepancy between National Crime Victimization Survey numbers and DGU numbers, not because they are 13 peer review studies that replicate Kleck’s with similar results, as you would mislead a reader to believe.

      These 13, even for the narrow purposes for which they were actually designed, don’t elicit a lot of confidence from Kleck. He refers to them with qualifications such as:

      “The surveys, summarized in Table 1, can be labelled the “gun surveys” because they were all, at least to some extent, concerned with the ownership and use of guns. Some were primarily devoted to this subject, while others were general purpose opinion surveys which happened to include some questions pertaining to guns.”

      “None of the surveys were meant as exclusive studies of DGU. Indeed, they each contained only one or two questions on the subject. Consequently, none of them are very thorough or satisfactory for estimating DGU frequency, even though they otherwise seem to have been conducted quite professionally. “

      “The least useful of the surveys did not even ask the defensive use question of all Rs, instead it asked it only of gun owners, or, even more narrowly, of just handgun owners or just those who owned handguns for protection purposes. [36] This procedure was apparently based on the dubious assumption that people who used a gun defensively no longer owned the gun by the time of the survey, or that the gun belonged to someone else, or that the R owned the gun for a reason other than protection or kept it outside the home.”

      “Most importantly, the surveys did not ask enough questions to establish exactly what was done with the guns in reported defensive use incidents. At best, some of the surveys only established whether the gun was fired. The lack of such detail raises the possibility that the guns were not actually “used” in any meaningful way. Instead, Rs might be remembering occasions on which they merely carried a gun for protection “just in case” or investigated a suspicious noise in their backyard, only to find nothing.”

      “Nevertheless, among these imperfect surveys, two were relatively good for present purposes.”

      Perhaps my favorite excerpt from Kleck Agonistes is where he declares what any gang homey in any banger neighborhood can tell you: “DGUs usually involve unlawful possession of a gun by the gun-wielding victim, and sometimes other illegalities as well.”

      The gun lobby vision of transforming every neighborhood into a gang bang shooting gallery, where everyone is armed and dangerous, and disputes are settled with weaponry is not appealing to most Americans, for very rational reasons. Everyone is armed in the ghetto and gun violence is profuse. Surprise, surprise.

      While it perhaps is likewise mirth-inducing, another excerpt offers some useful insight into the mindset of the gun fetishists. “Data indicate that even in the very disadvantageous situation where the robber has a gun, victims who resist with guns are still substantially less likely to be injured than those who resist in other ways, and even slightly less likely to be hurt than those who do not resist at all.”

      It’s eye opening, to say the least, or perhaps simply warped, that the only options offered are gun vs. inferior weapon, or gun vs. unarmed victim. Unmentioned of course is the scenario where neither has a gun, or neither can get a gun. What are the chances of a gun related death in that scenario, or even a death at all?

      But to paraphrase Bogey: “We’ll always have Kleck”.

    • As if we needed more, here are more data to add to the existing plethora debunking the defensive gun use mythology spread by the pro-murder club.

      http://vacps.org/public-policy/the-contradictions-of-kleck

      sTUDIES SHOWING RISK OF GUNS OUTWEIGH BENEFITS

      “Given the number of victims allegedly being saved with guns, it would seem natural to conclude that owning a gun substantially reduces your chances of being murdered. Yet a careful case-control study of homicide in the home found that a gun in the home was associated with an increased rather than a reduced risk of homicide. Virtually all of this risk involved homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.”

      – Arthur L. Kellermann et al., Gun Ownership As a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home, 329 New Eng. J. Med. 1084, 1087 (1993)

      In 1997, Cummings and colleagues at the University of Washington reported that the legal purchase of a handgun was associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death.

      DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STUDIES CONCERNING DEFENSIVE GUN USES

      DOJ study reported 83,000 annual defensive gun uses from 1987-1992. During same period, there were more than 135,000 total gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. annually.
      http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/hvfsdaft.txt

      As for the notion that those using firearms to fend off attackers were more effective in avoiding injury than those using other weapons or no weapons, the DOJ study makes the following exclaimer: “Care should be used in interpreting these data because many aspects of crimes–including victim and offender characteristics, crime circumstances, and offender intent–contribute to victims’ injury outcomes.”

      What is also interesting is that the study notes that “In most cases victims who used firearms to defend themselves or their property were confronted by offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms.” Specifically, only 35% of those who used a firearm in self-defense actually faced an offender who had a gun. DOJ makes no judgments in this study on whether the level of force employed by these individuals was appropriate or consonant with the threat they faced. It may very well be that the presence of firearms in many of these incidents escalated what otherwise might have been non-violent (or non-fatal) encounters.

      According to the DOJ study, gun owners also provided criminals with ample opportunities to arm themselves through firearm theft: “From 1987-1992 victims reported an annual average of about 341,000 incidents of firearm theft. Because the NCVS asks for types but not a count of items stolen, the annual total of firearms stolen probably exceeds the number of incidents.” It should also be noted that there is no federal law requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and almost no state laws in this regard. There are undoubtedly thousands of stolen firearms that go entirely unreported every year.

      http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/charts-debunking-myth-guns-self-defense

      Charts: Challenging the Myth That Guns Stop Crime

      One of the gun lobby’s favorite talking points is that America’s arsenal of 300 million civilian firearms makes us safer by preventing millions of crimes. This contentious idea has taken fire as of late for relying on bogus stats and ignoring that most criminal shootings involve people who know each other, not gun-toting homeowners and midnight intruders. A new report from Violence Policy Center shoots even more holes in the argument that a well-armed society is a safer society.

      The report finds that less than 3 percent of gun-related homicides are committed in self-defense: (Justifiable Homicides: 2.7%, criminal homicides 97.3%)

      The gun lobby often claims that firearms are used for self-defense an estimated 2.5 million times a year. But according to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, the actual number is just a fraction of that: (Uses of Guns for Self Defense 2007-11: Gun Lobby Claim: 12,000,000. According to Federal Crime Data: 338, 700)

      Guns are used for self defense (both successfully and unsuccessfully) by less than 1 percent of all violent crime victims: (Guns Used In Self-Defense: 67, 600. Theft of Guns: 232,400.

      http://www.armedwithreason.com/less-guns-less-crime-debunking-the-self-defense-myth/

      LESS GUNS, LESS CRIME- DEBUNKING THE SELF-DEFENSE MYTH

      The NRA hasn’t updated its sources since 1995:

      It’s important to highlight that the only academic source which substantiates the claim that guns are used millions of times a year in self-defense is a 1995 publication by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz from Northwestern. This paper forms the entire basis behind the National Rifle Association’s talking point that “Americans use guns for self-protection as often as 2.1 to 2.5 million times a year.” Even if this paper had statistical merit, it’s rather curious that the NRA, Congress, and the media are still using a statistic computed from data that starts in 1981, the peak of the post-Vietnam crime wave, and is clearly inconsistent with a modern reading of literature on the subject .

      However, even if you felt that a paper from 1995 still has social relevance, you should know that the entire paper has since been eviscerated by scholars who have pointed out that Kleck and Gertz’ paper suffers from errors so severe that their entire estimate is useless.

      Guns are rarely used in self defense:

      In 2010, according to the most recent data on justifiable homicides from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, there were 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm in self-defense during either an attempted or a completed crime. In the same year, there were 8,275 firearm homicides. This means that, for every one justifiable firearm homicide, there were 36 criminal homicides. Contrary to the gun lobby’s claim that, between 2007 and 2011, guns were used 12.5 million times in self-defense, the most reliable data on this question clearly show that firearms were used only 338,700 times in self-defense, and this includes off-duty police. Clearly, then, despite living in a country with 300 million guns, the use of firearms in self-defense appears to be an exceedingly rare phenomenon.

      http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/02/26/nras-media-misinformation-series-pushes-systemi/192799

      NRA’s “Media Misinformation” Series Pushes Systemically False Information About Gun Violence

      Furthermore, contemporaneous data from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization survey suggested that while over one million violent crimes were committed with guns each year, guns were used defensively 60,000 to 120,000 times.

      The most recent data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports found that in 2010, for every single justifiable homicide by a civilian using a firearm there were over 37 criminal firearm homicides. In the same year, the Centers for Disease Control, which has more complete data on gun violence than the FBI, found that gun homicide outpaced “legal intervention” with a firearm by a 32-to-1 ratio.

      During a February 19 segment, Edwards again cited the discredited 2.5 million defensive gun violence figure – this time falsely attributing the statistic to a government study conducted during the Clinton administration – in a failed attempt to rebut an accurate claim in Mother Jones magazine that “[o]wning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.”

      Mother Jones accurately linked to research in peer reviewed journals demonstrating that owning a gun increases the risks of homicide, suicide, and gun accidents. The article also cited research by A.L. Kellermann that examined firearm incidents where the gun used was known to be stored in the home. That research found a gun in the home was used in assaults or murders, suicides and accidents more frequently than in justifiable homicides. [Private Guns Public Health, pg. 80]

      http://www.ericgarland.co/2013/09/25/debunking-specious-arguments-gun-lobby/

      Firearms are Americans’ number one choice for murder and suicide, amounting to 30,000 fatalities per year, and the commission of 415,000 serious felonies.

      According to the University of Sydney’s Gun Policy project, the United States has approximately 110 million rifles, 86 million shotguns, and 114 million handguns, accounting for licit guns and approximating stockpiles of illicit guns.

      Handguns are currently the preferred weapon in America for murder, as they have been for thirty years or more. You can see that prior to the mid-1990s, homicide by knife was more prevalent than by other types of firearms such as shotguns and rifles. Murder with firearms other than handguns has been climbing even as overall murder rates have been falling.

      Thousands of murders in America are of one person at a time, though it is mass murders that catch the public’s attention. I have heard representatives of the gun lobby assert that the choice of tool is no matter when it comes to mass murder:

      If a criminal wants to kill dozens of people, he will do so irrespective of the weapon.

      The data says, to the contrary, that firearms are the overwhelmingly popular choice of mass murderers.

      If you want to kill a single person in America, you choose a firearm over 60% of the time, but if you are aiming to kill two or more people, firearms are your choice in almost 80% of instances.

      Less than five percent of murders of officers in the line of duty are committedwithout the aid of a firearm. Let’s underline this part – the fact the police are armed and fully-trained to use firearms in close combat does not guarantee that they survive a shootout. Bear this in mind when gun lobbyists tell us that adding firearms to the classroom will allow teachers to stop armed lunatics and save the day.

      The weapon used to commit murder varies depending on the relationship one has with the killer. The US Department of Justice states that you have a 75% chance of being acquainted with your murderer; only a quarter of murders are committed by a stranger.

      For murders committed by a stranger, the overwhelming choice of murder weapon is a firearm.

      When looking at the 25% of homicide victims that are female, the majority killed by men known to them, once again the weapon of choice is clear –firearms.

      There are other data about how and why guns are used for violence in America. That Bureau of Justice Statistics report tells us that heated arguments, family disputes and crime are the overwhelming factors behind murder, not mentally ill people making irrational choices. This is followed on by a recent paper in the American Journal of Medicine entitled “Guns Do Not Make a Safer Nation” that sought to correlate mental illness with gun violence. Their conclusions showed that while mental illness did not correlate with increased gun violence, there was a strong statistical assocation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of firearm deaths.

      Data suggest that when you give guns to otherwise normal people, regular social altercations end up with people shooting each other, such as last week’s road rage double murder in Ionia, Michigan where two men with concealed carry permits became involved in a traffic incident, pulled into a car wash, dove for their guns and shot each other dead.

      http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/09/idea-guns-make-nation-safer-debunked-study

      The idea that “guns make a nation safer” is not true, according to a study published today in The American Journal of Medicine.

      For the study, Dr. Sripal Banglore of New York University’s Lagone Medical Center andDr. Franz Messerli of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons analyzed data for 27 developed countries. Only countries with available data on gun ownership and not currently involved in a civil war were included.

      The analysis found that the United States has far and away the highest rate of gun ownership, with 88.8 privately owned guns for every 100 people (“almost as many guns as it has people,” Bangalore and Messerli note). The country with the next highest rate is Switzerland, with 45.7 guns per 100 people.

      The United States also has the highest firearm-related death rate: 10.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. Switzerland has the third highest rate: 3.84 per 100,000.
      At the other end of the spectrum are Japan and the Netherlands. Japan has a gun-ownership rate of 0.6 guns per 100 people, while the Netherlands’ rate is 3.9.
      Those two countries also had two of the lowest death-by-gun rates: 0.06/100,000 for Japan and 0.46/100,000 for the Netherlands.

      The United Kingdom also ranked low on both lists. It has a gun-ownership rate of 6.2 per 100 people and a gun-death rate of 0.25 per 100,000.

      “Although correlation is not synonymous with causation,” write Bangalore and Messerli, “it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit-by-bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US.”

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