Thursday, February 28, 2013

Research about guns and killing

Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the Center for Disease Control's gun violence research in the 1990s when he was head of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, described the research's results before Congress cut off funding for it in 1996:

One of the critical studies that we supported was looking at the question of whether having a firearm in your home protects you or puts you at increased risk. This was a very important question because people who want to sell more guns say that having a gun in your home is the way to protect your family.

What the research showed was not only did having a firearm in your home not protect you, but it hugely increased the risk that someone in your family would die from a firearm homicide. It increased the risk almost 300 percent, almost three times as high.

It also showed that the risk that someone in your home would commit suicide went up. It went up five-fold if you had a gun in the home. These are huge, huge risks, and to just put that in perspective, we look at a risk that someone might get a heart attack or that they might get a certain type of cancer, and if that risk might be 20 percent greater, that may be enough to ban a certain drug or a certain product.

But in this case, we're talking about a risk not 20 percent, not 100 percent, not 200 percent, but almost 300 percent or 500 percent. These are huge, huge risks. (Joaquin Sapien, "What Researchers Learned About Gun Violence Before Congress Killed Funding," Pro Publica, Feb. 25, 2013)

About 30,000 Americans die annually because of gun violence. None of those Americans dies defending her or himself against governmental tyranny. The evidence very strongly supports debating the merits of the second amendment, with an eye toward advocating its repeal.

If you're unwilling to go that war, consider that political columnists David Brooks and Mark Shields, one a conservative and the other liberal, who rarely agree about anything, last week agreed that implementing a universal requirement for a background check for anyone wishing to purchase a gun was a good idea. (PBS News Hour)

Guns are dangerous and generally unnecessary, except for the relative few people who hunt or target shoot. Even in those cases, storing the guns unloaded, with the safety on, under lock and key is an important step toward avoiding injury and death.


Ted said...

I agree we need to have better checks on people buying guns. This said, after 9/11 the law enforcement agencies were supposed to have merged their data banks so a quick and simple background check was to be available. You could add mental health care to this data bank and quickly decide whether a person qualifies for owning a weapon.
Of course this has not happened and each group throws up road blocks to make it
happen. Even laws to protect people from being threatened or shot are being diluted in the criminal system. I don’t even have to think about the ACLU and their concern for individual rights.
So the best thing is to scare people about owning weapons. So many studies find people are much more dangerous to others and themselves with a weapon in their home. We have a habit of using data to our advantage no matter what the topic. Surveys, statistics and local numbers do not tell the whole truth. So depending on which side of a discussion you are leaning, there is “proof” to support you opinion.
Just go to this web site and read some of their findings. Too many crimes have not been committed by the mere showing of a weapon. If they did not produce a weapon, then one can only guess how the other numbers of incidents would increase.
As an example of how bad the system is concerning background checks, this excerpt says a lot. Today a news story is about a Viet Nam Army vet who was denied a permit from a fight he had in 1967. “According to federal agents interviewed in a 2004 U.S. Justice Department investigation, the "vast majority" of denials under the federal background check system are issued to people who are not "a danger to the public because the prohibiting factors are often minor or based on incidents that occurred many years in the past." As examples of such, agents stated that denials have been issued due to a 1941 felony conviction for stealing a pig and a 1969 felony conviction for stealing hubcaps. “
Of course until we get serious about the use of guns and the penalties for the user, all we can do is scare people.

George Clifford said...

You're right. We have a long way to go before we have sensible laws about guns.

Anonymous said...

"About 30,000 Americans die annually because of gun violence. None of those Americans dies defending her or himself against governmental tyranny. The evidence very strongly supports debating the merits of the second amendment, with an eye toward advocating its repeal."

Two thirds of those unfortunate deaths are suicides. How many would still commit suicide with something other than a firearm? I don't want any of them to, mind you. But the to call the suicide portion a "gun violence" problem is ridiculous. The remaining third are dominated by urban gang and drug violence. These lives are precious, too. But your idea of gun control for this segment is irrelevant. As long as we have a porous border, we cannot exclude things that are in demand (cheap labor, drugs, and guns if there was no domestic supply).

Lastly, you remain stuck on this notion that the only reason for the 2nd amendment is storming the Bastile. For law abiding citizens, it is defensive, either in a personal protection sense (as noted by the SCOTUS in the Heller decision) or a defensive check on tyranny. By that I mean raising the political and financial cost of suffering the fate of some 100 million individuals who were easily taken into custody and sent to Gulags, collectives, or concentration camps.

George Clifford said...

Anonymous, you raise some points worth a response; I'll publish another post on this subject in a week that addresses those points. Although your comments appear to have a prima facie appeal, they do not hold up under closer examination.