ANTI-GUN FANATICS

A 15 year old student in New York attacks her teacher with a hammer. Shall we hear the politically correct demand expanded laws for "hammer control?"

Three boys under 11 years old attack a 3 year old girl with a brick in Texas. Shall we hear the politically correct demand expanded laws for "brick control?"

Yet when children shoot their fellow students, the first words out of the mouths of the ever-so-enlightened sophisticates is "gun control". Those who want to disarm the American population never rest. They use phony statistics and personal vilification to advance their agenda. They demonize their opponents by labeling people who believe in the Constitution as 'fanatics', while they who want to destroy our freedoms distort the facts, turn logic on its head, and yet are lauded as eminently reasonable. The gun-grabbers are the true fanatics, and their ignorance, phony statistics, flawed analysis, and blatant lies deserve to be exposed.

One phony argument which has been making a reappearance lately is that "...a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill its owner, spouse, a friend or child than to kill an intruder." This lie was first propounded in the New England Journal of Medicine more than a decade ago, and the statistical methodology which was used has been soundly refuted, yet the anti-gun fanatics care nothing for the truth, and have dredged this one up again. For the record, the "study" which led to that remarkable statistic included the following methodology:

The number of deaths included not only family members, but also acquaintances. This broad category includes your neighborhood drug dealer and gang member, who are equated with "friends." The study thus ignores the fact that all living environments are not equal. Obviously, those who tend to associate with drug dealers, drug users, or gangs, are more likely to encounter gun violence than those who do not. A further fudge factor which inflates the NEJM study is its inclusion of death by suicide committed with firearms, which account for 84% of the gun deaths in the study. If suicides were removed from the risk equation, the "43 times" statistic would deflate to six. But that's just the beginning.

The NEJM findings are also framed specifically to belittle the defensive utility of firearms in the home. In order to reduce the importance of justifiable homicide, the study compares justified defensive homicides with all other gun fatalities in the home, and thereby generates the scare statistic that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a household member or acquaintance than to kill an aggressor and save innocent life.

This is misleading because the rate of justifiable homicide is properly measured as the ratio of justifiable homicides to total homicides, rather than as the ratio to all other gun fatalities in the home, which the study uses. And since the study only counts deaths by guns when considering the utility of keeping a gun in the home for defense, the vast majority of defensive firearms uses where a shooting did not result were ignored: only 2% of civilians' defensive use of firearms results in fatality or injury.

Criminologist Gary Kleck determined that "A gun is 32 times more likely to be used to defend against criminal threat than to kill anybody." Then there is the battered wife situation. A battered wife who grabs her husband's gun and shoots him with it is also counted as one of the "43 times more likely to be used to kill its owner". How many of those battered women would themselves become mortality statistics if they are deprived of the means to defend themselves against abusive husbands? Yet the vast majority of radical feminists align themselves with the gun-grabbers, when logic would dictate that allowing a woman the means to defend herself against battering is the ultimate female empowerment which they pretend to espouse.

The factor of personal responsibility is also ignored by the NEJM study. Would it be proper to conclude that careful and sober drivers run the same risks of causing or suffering vehicular death as do reckless or drunk drivers? Obviously not, yet that is precisely the sort of analysis upon which the NEJM study relies.

The conclusion of the NEJM study (and other similiar exercises) seems to be that a firearm is more than simply an assemblage of machined metal, in fact firearms seem to possess mystical powers, according to the gun-grabbers, powers which render human will and individual choice irrelevant. The simple act of purchasing a firearm somehow, magically, transforms Ward Cleaver into Charles Manson. In sum, the NEJM study is an exercise in politics, not statistics. (this analysis is from Preston K. Covey, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics, Carnegie Mellon University.)

Then there are the raw numbers. Bill Clinton has said that firearms are the number one cause of death of children. The actual numbers from unbiased data collection agencies, however, soundly refute his claim:

According to the National Safety Council, for 1995, if we consider "children" to include anyone under 15 years old, we find deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents: 2900; accidental deaths associated with fires: 1300; accidental deaths caused by drowning: 950; accidental deaths caused by poisoning: 650; accidental deaths caused by inhalation and ingestion of objects: 300; accidental deaths caused by firearms: 200.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau, for people of all ages, for 1992: deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents: 40,982; accidental deaths caused by falls and fractures: 12,646; accidental deaths caused by poisoning: 7082; accidental deaths caused by drowning: 3524; accidental deaths caused by inhalation and ingestion of objects: 3128; accidental deaths caused bycomplications due to medical procedures: 2669; accidental deaths caused by firearms: 1409.

The Centers for Disease Control also has numbers of accidental deaths for 1995. Those caused by motor vehicles: 43,484; accidental deaths caused by falls: 10,483; accidental deaths caused by poisoning: 9072; accidental deaths caused by suffocation: 4247; accidental deaths associated with fires: 3761; accidental deaths caused by firearms: 1619.

The scale and relative risk of these various forms of accidental deaths are apparent. Any way you look at it, accidental deaths by firearms are way down on the list. And it is important to keep the focus of the debate on ACCIDENTAL deaths, not intentional killings with firearms, because we already have a vast array of laws dealing with intentional homicides, whether by firearm or any other nstrumentality.

Yet the same crowd which will go to any lengths of deception to ban firearms starts going weasly whenever the discussion gets around to actually enforcing those laws against intentional homicide.

They are eager to punish people who have committed no crimes and merely want a firearm to protect themselves and their families, but when it comes to actually punishing criminals who have committed crimes, they will dream up any number of excuses to avoid jailing and executing murderers. We've heard them all: society's fault, a broken home, an abusive parent, poverty, violence on TV or in music (some conservatives are also fond of this one), it's uncivilized to execute people, pity for the parents of the killer, compassion for the killer...the list seems endless.

It has been correctly observed that, regardless of the gun control laws which are enacted, criminals will always get guns if they want them. Even if the Constitution is repealed and guns of every sort are banned outright, there is nothing to expect such a ban would be any more successful at deterring criminals than laws against illegal drugs have successfully eliminated cocaine and heroin from our streets. Because of this obvious fact, the gun grabbers have adopted a new line of argument, enunciated by an official of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: "Most of the guns used in crimes originated as legally sold items." These legal guns then get into the hands of criminals in three ways: theft, guns provided by "straw" purchasers, and dealers who knowingly sell guns illegally. The conclusion we are supposed to draw is that by simply banning all legal ownership of guns, we will eliminate illegally possessed guns. As if smuggling does not exist. But before the anti-gun fanatics drag up that unwarranted conclusion, the numbers should be analyzed.

The ATF traces about 50,000 crimes each year involving weapons. But there are over 200 million legally owned firearms in this country. So only 0.025 of 1 percent of the guns in this country are involved in weapon offenses. Now compare the 50,000 criminal uses every year (the ATF's own number) with the over 750,000 times every year in which firearms are used for justifiable defense, according to criminologist Gary Kleck's initial study. Even the Justice Department admits to at least 62,000 (or 108,000, or 4.7 million, by the latest study) proper defensive uses of firearms every year. Kleck has since devised new methodology to more rigorously analyze the defensive use of firearms.

He attributes the difference between his initial estimate and the Justice Department's estimate to a natural reluctance of those interviewed to admit the possession and use of a gun to a government agency that has the name and address of the person interviewed. A not unreasonable reluctance, given the ATF's demonstrated hostility toward lawful gun owners. Based on Kleck's new methodology, he determined an even higher number for defensive uses: 2,000,000 every year.

So, once again, any way one analyzes the numbers, even using the government's own figures of 50,000 criminal uses versus its lowest estimate of 62,000 defensive uses, the risk/benefit analysis comes out favoring more, not less, private gun ownership. Using Kleck's newest estimate, 50,000 criminal uses versus 2,000,000 defensive uses, the benefit of private gun ownership outweighs the risk by 40 times. The anti-gun fanatics pretend to engage in a risk/benefit analysis which concludes that it is 43 times more dangerous to own a gun than not to own a gun. A proper risk/benefit analysis of the defensive use of guns, however, brings precisely the opposite conclusion: benefits outweigh risks by 40 to one.

Putting aside all the numbers, however, common sense will of course lead to the same conclusion, which shows how far the gun control debate has drifted into the realm of irrational fantasy. When foreign countries ban all firearms and demand that they all be turned in to the authorities, does anyone really think that the criminals turn in their weapons also? If you are walking down the street minding your own business, and some thug tries to mug you, are you safer with a gun in your possession or without?

If you are a woman and some rapist attempts to do you bodily harm, are you safer with a gun in your possession or without? When Colin Ferguson commenced his slaughter on the commuter train, would those commuters have been safer if one (or more) of those commuters had been armed, or would they have been less safe? When some lunatic goes on a shooting spree, in a school yard, or a post office, or an office building, would the victims be safer, or less safe, if one (or more) of them was armed?

If you were a victim in any of those situations, wouldn't you hope for the prompt arrival of the police, precisely because they are armed? If you are at home with your family and some thug breaks in, which would you rather have within easy reach: a copy of Bill Clinton's Brady Law...or a loaded gun?

"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity...will respect the less important and arbitrary ones... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants, they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Thomas Jefferson

FOR MORE INFORMATION...

NATIONAL SAFETY COUNSEL: http://www.nsc.org/



NATIONAL CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS (NCHS):



http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/index.htm



CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/



"GUNS AND VIOLENCE: A SUMMARY OF THE FIELD":



http://weber.u.washington.edu/~tourette/point-bl.htm



"GUN STATS AND MORTAL RISKS": http://www.ssaa.org.au/covey.html



"FIGHTING BACK: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun":



http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-284.html



E-mail Mr. Kim Weissman at BEVDAV@worldnet.att.net
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