Thursday, January 26, 2012

Educating those outside the gun culture who've been defrauded

As I mentioned the other day, my post "Defending yourself, for those outside the gun culture" was a repost of something I wrote in another forum.

It received several responses, one of which was generally positive, but included these lines:
"I would hesitate to advise one to carry a gun only because many people do not fully understand the reality that if not prepared to use the weapon and possibly kill a human being, one risks having that weapon taken from then and used on them...

I am not up on current statistics but I believe from past classes that the statistics were pretty high on injuries and deaths from ones own weapon."
I wasn't going to do this, because as I said, this can be an emotional issue for many; and because of the huge infodump required.... But I really hate to see it when a fraud is unknowingly perpetuated by someone, who doesn't know any better.

To the point about injuries; actually the reference being made, is to a fraud perpetrated by gun control groups, and then repeated by a media who don't bother to verify facts, so long as the fraud fits their spin on the story.

There are two specific fraudulent claims that were frequently made by gun control advocates, and then endlessly (and mindlessly) repeated by the media, and by defrauded people who don't know better.
"You are 14 times more likely to be injured by a gun in your own home, than if you don't have one"
"Thousands of children are killed by guns in the home every year"
Let's talk a bit about those claims.

First of all, neither are remotely close to true, or have any basis in fact. They were essentially entirely made up on the spot by gun control advocates; and have been thoroughly and publicly disproven. Thus, most gun control organizations no longer make specific claims like that, only saying "much more likely", "many times more likely" etc...

However, media reports very frequently reference those two claims even today; as they are very easy to find in a quick google search.

The reality is very much different.

Excluding suicides, injuries or deaths among the general population from their own firearms are very rare; almost always self inflicted, almost always while abusing drugs or alcohol, and in the majority, with firearms that are possessed unlawfully;  which even then constitute a tiny fraction of a percent of all gun owners.

When taking only lawfully possessed firearms, by clean and sober people, the incident rate drops to even tinier fractions of a percent... Essentially so close to zero as to be statistically insignificant, and well within the margin of error of any statistical analysis.

There are perhaps a few hundred incidents a year total; the majority of which are from hunting accidents, the police (yes, the police in this country have a very poor firearms safety record), and from firearms owners who are not properly educated about safety.

Most commonly the incidents with police and with poorly educated gun owners; occur when someone pulls the trigger on a loaded gun either while holstering the gun, or with a gun they thought was unloaded, but didn't properly unload; either before cleaning the gun, or while at a range or shooting spot. Most commonly the individual shoots themself, usually in the foot, hand, or leg. Very rarely, they shoot someone else.

Incidences of criminals using the firearm of someone who was defending themselves with it, by "taking the gun away from them" are almost non-existent; again, so close to zero as to be statistically insignificant and well within the margin of error of any statistical analysis.

In fact, police officers are shot with their own weapons FAR more than the general public.

Of the 200,000 or so sworn active duty law enforcement officers in the U.S (there are about 800,000 working in law enforcement in some capacity, but only about 200,000 are street cops, detectives etc...), about 40-60 are killed by gunfire in the line of duty every year (of 125-175 total annually). Of those, approximately one out of 8 is killed with their own gun.

The FBI and DOJ estimate that at least 60% of the 150,000 or so people shot annually in this country (some years as many as 200,000, some years as few as 125,000), are one criminal shooting another; and at least 95% of shootings occur during the commission of a crime.

Only about 1 in 20 shootings is accidental, or about 7500 a year (some say it is as high as 15,000 in some years); and of those, only about 1500 die (again, some say as many as 4000 in some years).

Oh and, in general, 80% or so of people shot in this country, don't die from it.

Given that there are 300 million people in this country, and about 3 million of them die every year; even including the 95% of shootings that occur during a crime, gunshot wounds don't make the top 25 causes of death. When you take into account just the accidental shootings, they don't make the top 100.

Similarly, incidents of children injuring themselves or others with firearms are incredibly rare; and almost always involve children involved in criminal activity, or parental negligence (usually due to drug or alcohol abuse, and funny enough most often in states with very restrictive gun control).

Kids in "gun friendly" states, generally don't shoot themselves or their friends; because their parents teach them properly about gun safety, and because their parents handle firearms properly.

Gun control groups post hugely inflated numbers, with no basis in fact. When they are forced to fall back to something with statistical validity, they then inflate the numbers further, by counting from birth to age 24 as "children"; when in fact nearly 100% of the incidents they cite occur among young men, age 16 to 24, and nearly 100% of the incidents they cite occur during criminal activity.

Funny enough, more than half of all violent crime is committed by young men, age 16 to 24 (according to the FBI and DOJ about 56%). Most drugs are dealt by young men age 16 to 24. Violent crime is a leading cause of death among young men 16 to 24 etc... etc... etc...

The problem isn't guns, it's young men, mostly those from broken homes, mostly those who come from severely economically and educationally depressed or deprived backgrounds.

Once again, and I'm sorry to be repetitive but it bears repeating; when you exclude young men age 16 to 24, and criminal activity, the incidents of children being injured by firearms falls to a near statistical invisibility.

There are about 60 million children under the age of 16 in this country. Something like 400 a year are shot accidentally by lawfully owned firearms, outside of criminal activity, and less than 1/4 of those die (it's very hard to get exact numbers because every state, and the CDC records things differently, and age and criminal breakdowns are hard to extract). That's a rate of .000006, 6/10,000ths of 1 percent, or 1 in 150,000 being shot, and 1 in 600,000 being killed.

Even if we add back in all the criminals, and the drug use, and the unlawfully owned weapons, and we include all "youths" (meaning from birth to age 24); even the New York times concedes that the number of accidental deaths by firearms is only 300 per year.

Out of the more than 100 million "youths" age 0-24 in this country, about 300 die per year through firearms accidents or negligence. That's a rate of .000003, 3/10,000ths of 1 percent, or one in 333,000.

You can say that "Oh my god thats DOUBLE the rate!!!!" which of course is what gun control advocates and the media do... but you're doubling from "almost zero" to "a little bit more, but still almost zero".

There are at least 300 million guns in this country (there are no reliable statistics, but guns pretty much last forever, and we make or import at least 10 million a year - in 2009 it was 14 million -  so most people guess that number is low); and about 50% of the households in this country have guns (some say as low as 40% some as high as 60%).

About 40% of the population of the country lives in the 11 states where there is both restrictive gun control, and comparatively little private firearms ownership: California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, and Michigan (Michigan is an odd one, since almost everyone in rural michigan has guns, and almost no-one in urban michigan does; but the population of Michigan is mostly urban).

Outside those 11 states, it's more like 75% or more of households have guns. In many states, it's pretty damn close to 100%.

Funny enough, in those states where almost everyone owns guns legally, almost no-one gets shot accidentally (or in crime for that matter. All 11 of the states with restrictive gun control have very high rates of violent crime, most of the 39 states that don't -30 or so of the 39-, have pretty low rates of violent crime).

The vast majority of incidents of people injuring themselves, or injuring children, accidentally or negligently with firearms, occur in those 11 states with restrictive gun control, or in the urban islands of the gun friendly states where lawful gun ownership is comparatively rare.

The best way to avoid these accidents though, is not to avoid firearms... frankly, in this country, you can't, and it's futile to try. By doing so, you are simply elevating the gun to an object of mystery, desire, and power (something television and movies do a pretty good job of anyway); and when your child does come across one, they're going to want to play with it.

The best way to avoid a tragedy, is to educate yourself, and your children, about firearms safety.

Even if you don't own guns, you should have a responsible gun owner you know teach your kids; or find a range or call the NRA, and they will let you know when and where a session of the award winning Eddie Eagle gun safety for kids program is being held.

The fact is, although these tragedies do happen, they are vanishingly rare.

The use of firearms to defend ones self, ones family, and ones property, is not rare at all.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of defensive firearms uses in this country every year (the best estimate is between 150,000 and 200,000). The vast majority (between 80% and 90% any given year) do not involve firing a shot, and many don't even involve drawing a weapon. Merely showing a potential offender that you have a firearm and are prepared to use it is often sufficient.

Of course, don't count on it. If you have a gun, you must be prepared to use it... or the bad guy WILL take it away from you and use it on you, and on others.

For sources you can reference, "More guns, less crime" by John R. Lott, Lott and Mustards various academic works, Gary Klecks various academic works,  "Shooting Blanks" by Alan Gottleib, the CDC, DOJ, and FBI reports on causes of death, and violent crime. Most of these are available either in full or in extract form online.