guns (Re: Cell phones of death!)

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From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Tue Dec 12 2000 - 12:21:21 PST

On Tue, 12 Dec 2000, Bill Stoddard wrote:

> I have owned firearms all my life as have most of my friends and family. I
> have never known anyone who has been injured by a firearm (well I got a
> blister on my hand from the recoil from shooting my .44 mag, but that doesn't
> count) or injured someone else with a firearm. I know of several cases where a
> firearm was used in self defence (no shots fired). Oh, and I have never know
> anyone to commit a crime with a firearm either. My experience is not
> uncommon, dispite what most "Journalists" in the media would have you to
> believe.

It depends what you mean by "uncommon". With 200 million guns in
America[1], certainly 99% of them are not used in fatal shootings each
year. Most guns are sitting in a closet or gun rack most of the time, so
any gun use (outside of target practice) could be considered uncommon.

But the other set of statistics to look at are the circumstances in which
guns *are* used. Of the ~37,000 gun deaths each year, about 17,000 are
suicides, 6,000 are accidents, and about 14,000 are homicides. Of the
14,000 homicides, about 250 are considered justifiable (according to the
FBI)[1,2]. The average person who shoots someone in his home is 22 times
more likely to kill himself or someone he knows than to kill in

(BTW, I'm surprised when FoRKers use anecdotal evidence to counter
statistical evidence. The fact that Uncle Charlie smokes two packs a day
and is 80 years old does not dispute the statistical proof that smoking is
likely to kill people.)

The trickier numbers to get are the non-lethal successes, such as scaring
a burglar off by showing your gun. Of course, non-lethal incidents from
the other side, where a criminal holds up a liquor store or robs someone
at gunpoint, also have to be counted (and generally are, in police
reports, at around 1 million criminal handgun incidents per year [2]).

Perhaps a good question to ask is, "If we had strict enforcement of gun
control laws, would there be as much need to defend ourselves with guns?"
E.g., how many of those 250 justifiable shootings were at people who
pulled a gun on the homeowner, as opposed to a knife? I think the
evidence from Canada, Japan, and Europe suggests we would be safer with
strict gun control.

-Matt Jensen

[2] FBI UCRs,

p.s. - [This thread does not pull in 2nd Amendment arguments, etc.; it's
only talking about personal safety.]

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