True! I can’t speak for society, but IMHO that’s the price we pay—and by that I mean someone else, obviously—for living in a country where we can defend our lives and the lives of our loved ones with a firearm. Or two. Or more. And hunt. Don’t forget that we’re free to shoot animals too—where it has been deemed legal to do so. And stop the National Guard from doing the cold, dead hand-prying thing—unless the Governor declares a State of Emergency. To be a bit more specific about the debit side of the column . . .

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reckons there were 31,224 firearms-related fatalities in 2007 (including accidents and suicides). The U.S. population at the time: 301,579,895 (give or take a ten million or more “undocumented” Americans).

So, during International Heliophysical Year, people wielding firearms took out (nearasdammit) .0104 percent of the population. Quoted at sfgate.com, University of Mississippi scholar and essay collector (The Changing Politics of Gun Control) John Bruce seems slightly peeved at the notion.

Me, I can live with it. Sure there are things we can do to reduce gun violence, as Ralph points out below. But we should be careful not to throw the ballistic baby out with the bombastic bathwater. And there will always be a certain level of collateral damage.

What about you? Do you accept firearms-related death and injury as part of the cost of freedom?

35 Responses to Question of the Day: True or False: “Our society has collectively decided that we’re willing to accept tens of thousands of firearms fatalities each year.”

  1. Freedom isn’t free because of what some people sacrifice to maintain it, or in the sense that some people will choose to make decisions with fatal consequences. Seems worth it to me.

  2. Its the same price that should be paid at the airport – we shouldnt have to get to the airport an hour early to catch a flight just because of extra security. Let CHL holders carry on airplanes and lets be done with it.

  3. Yes. And every time I climb into my automobile and venture out onto the roads to vie with all the lunatic drivers I accept the risks involved.

    For as long as I can remember my father has been handicapped; suffering partial paralysis due to an automobile accident when I was still a baby. The injury has been a significantly debilitating part of his life for forty years now, and yet he never hesitates to get in a car whenever he needs to because he believes the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. He is an adult, after all.

    To those in our great society who are afraid of the risks inherent in all of life, I say take a lesson from folks like my dad and grow up. Life is an adventure full of perils and rewards for those who are willing to take risks. In the end you have to give it all up anyway.

    • Excellent comment, which puts the risks in poignant context, e.g. there are ~29 times more motor-vehicle accident deaths per year than firearm-related deaths (some relatively small portion of which are legally justified).

  4. True! I can’t speak for society, but IMHO that’s the price we pay—and by that I mean someone else, obviously—for living in a country where we can defend our lives and the lives of our loved ones with a firearm.

    If you examine a single case of murder or suicide there can be an incredible number of factors and causes. Trying to ascertain the causes of over 31000 suicides and murders is considerably more complex than the incalculable complexity of a single human being. The number of people killed by guns is not solely attributable to the number of firearms or the ease with which they may be obtained. The murder and suicide toll by firearms is not caused by the firearms or the freedom that makes firearms so available in this country. People do not attempt suicide or murder because they have or can get a firearm. I haven’t ever read of a suicide note that said “I’m killing myself because I have this gun”. Nor have I ever read of a murder in which the killer said “I did it because I had that gun.” Even those killed “accidentally” are not killed because of the gun, rather they die because of the lack of knowledge or application of the knowledge of how to safely handle firearms.

    This is not the price we pay for having firearms. The death toll is the price we pay for using our resources in ineffective or counter-productive ways. Many of the murders are attributable to the “War on Drugs”. So are some of the suicides. Many of both are attributable to mental illness. Instead of trying to help those who are ill our country usually ignores them or feeds them drugs, some of which make people suicidal. Less directly we also have a culture that is federally subsidized and directed and indoctrinated – a culture of war and consumerism in which life is not valued, in which life is a mere commodity to be bought, sold, traded, and used up, a culture of collectivism in which the individual life is made not to matter, a culture of disposable products of dubious quality with no things of great beauty or of lasting value. Our lives are crappy, cheap, and disposable – is it any wonder that people don’t value the lives of other people or their own?

    No, the 31000 killed with a gun are not the price pay for guns. They are the price we pay for our fascist collectivist totalitarian empire.

  5. people wielding firearms took out (nearasdammit) .0001 percent of the population.

    That is incorrect. The correct percentage is 0.0103535, or rounded to four digits, .0104 percent. That means the odds of a firearm being used to cause an American’s death in 2007 was a little more than 1 in 10,000.

    For those who followed the simple rule of “Don’t kill yourself with a gun” the odds drop to 0.004599776 or 0.0046 percent of the population, or less than 1 in 20,000.

  6. Well, there is nothing I can do about it. And I am not responsible for the actions of others. And again, “society” doesn’t exist. Only individuals do.

      • You’re coming dangerously close to the collective point of view known as Libertarianism.

        Libertarianism (with a small “l”) is an individualistic point of view that is mutually exclusive with collectivist points of view.

  7. You know whats funny? we as a society accept guns, its proven in polling, so why don’t we have programs that teach kids safe gun handling in school, have a cop or nra instructor come in (with a gun! OMG) and teach just the basics of safe handling.

    • That’s where I learned gun safety. My (private) high school had a LEO come in and teach us the basics and I never forgot them.

  8. I am unwilling to “accept” the present level of gun deaths. Shooting sports were once part of school after-hours programs and jay’s suggestion — to teach gun safety in schools — would certainly reduce accidental gun deaths. Criminals belong in prison not on the streets, so stiffer sentences for gun crimes would IMO reduce the murder rate. The War on Drugs has shown itself to be a disaster of unprecedented proportions and should be done away with now. Let’s start there.

    • Your opinion is great, but there is a zero shred of evidence that says that harder punishments for criminals with guns lowers the murder rate. If you cant do it with a gun, you will do it with a bat. More people die from second hand smoke every year than they do guns. Why arent we going after smokers? Same with cars, should be ban those too?

      • I think Ralph’s point regarding stiffer sentences was in reference to longer time spent in jail. That would in fact lower the murder rate.

        “More people die from second hand smoke every year than they do guns.”

        You can no more stop smokers then you can stop people from committing suicide. Or can you? Any ideas?

        “Same with cars, should be ban those too?”

        The more you write the less your reply to Ralph has anything to do with Ralph’s post. What would you do about the car situation?

        If you have an argument present it.

        I’m with you Ralph and Jay. Awareness and stiffer sentencing. Awareness will take away the fear and misconceptions. Teaching kids to shoot will take away the ‘can’t have it’ mentality that make guns mysterious. I say make it so that more people can see how badly done Hollywood shoot-outs are and all will be better.

        • “Criminals belong in prison not on the streets, so stiffer sentences for gun crimes would IMO reduce the murder rate.”

          “I think Ralph’s point regarding stiffer sentences was in reference to longer time spent in jail.”

          My point is that your reasoning only make sense if murderers served little to no time in jail. If they murder someone they are at least going to be in there 25-life, unless they plea out. People who are caught with guns that arent licensed are carrying them usually due to cultural issues that longer jail time will not solve.

        • “My point is that your reasoning only make sense if murderers served little to no time in jail. If they murder someone they are at least going to be in there 25-life, unless they plea out. People who are caught with guns that arent licensed are carrying them usually due to cultural issues that longer jail time will not solve.”

          Here is where we come full circle. Murderers do not serve full sentences in jail, they do not do so in part because of overcrowding and because murderers often are not tried as murderers because of lack of credible evidence to go for the higher charge.

          As for them being out and carrying those guns we go back to why they are out. Point is, with stiffer sentences (much longer time served, no pussy judges with their ‘make the news’ sentencing) they would not be out on the streets carrying those guns, committing those crimes.

          If you ask me what to do about the overcrowding and whatnot that’s a whole other topic.

    • Unfortunately, the game today is not designed to go after the “criminal.” Today, the target is the “Law abiding citizen. Why, you ask? It is the 100,000,000 American gun owners that the Far-Left Marxist liberals fear the most. Their work is designed to try and disarm the citizens so there is no ability to stand up to them. From citizens we become sheep/chattel to do with as they please. The violent crime rate in England is 5 times higher than ours and they are 1/6th our size. Yeah, gun control works!

      • Are we talking about firearms or the “justice” system in general?
        In general, most “justice” sytems seem to be increasingly set up to create “gotchas” for the normally law-abiding. This creates low-hanging fruit – the cops can pad out their arrest records and make overtime, prosecutors can quickly build up a record of successful convictions in furtherance of their careers, and on it goes.
        Far less effort expended than going after hardcore, recalcitrant bad guys.

  9. It is when you analyze those fatalities that the true meaning of them comes to light. At 30,000 fatalities per year, or 0.00974% of the population half are suicides, self-inflicted GSW. The other half are broken into segments; cops killing bad guys, bad guys killing bad guys, and self defense situations. The MSM never publishes the fact that between 1.5 – 2.2 million times per year guns save lives. Sometimes just by showing that you have one.

    To keep my freedom and liberty I will keep the current statistic. After all in most other countries around the world it is much more damgerous!

  10. As far as the stiffer sentences preventing murders. A few sure. But to be clear since you sound like it would have a big impact. Most murders are a one off crime of passion/revenge/whatever. Most murderers are not repeat offenders. The stiffer sentencing would primarily be of any help I think on the gang types, and in their case as long as it’s just each other I think that’s a more effective management tool. (Sadly there are others targeted not just each other.)

  11. Phrase it “Our society has collectively decided that we’re willing to accept hundreds of thousands of weapons fatalities each year.” Anybody care to venture how many people (worldwide) are maimed or killed by weaponry manufactured in the US? What are the gross receipts of all US weapons manufacturers? How much is that as a percentage of GDP? “Our society” is perfectly willing to profit from arming the world. What’s with limiting measly small arms at home? I say a few thousand weapons related deaths in the US goes with the territory.

    Think of it this way; gun control in the US is a contradiction given we are the world’s greatest arms supplier. The truth about gun controllers is they can’t handle the truth.

  12. So… if I am following you correctly, there weren’t really 31,224 firearms-related deaths in the USA in 2007. That’s entirely the wrong way to look at it. Rather, firearms were involved in eliminating .01 percent of the entire U.S. population in a single year. Oh, well, that’s totally different. Thanks for clearing that up. When you put it that way…

    Here’s an idea. The gun lobby could send a letter to each of the 31,224 families, using this statistical insight to illustrate how, in the big picture, the deaths of their loved ones are totally inconsequential. That should be very persuasive and no doubt help them to find closure.

    You certainly wouldn’t want to portray the deaths this way: that 31,224 is over 10 times the number of people killed in the World Trade Center attacks, but on a regular annual basis, year in and year out. That would be…unfair. Or something. Or that it’s 30 percent more deaths than leukemia claims in a single year, or three times as many as AIDS. Or that 68 percent of all homicides are committed with firearms. These aren’t really the best statistics for your purposes.

    • And what are my purposes, then? To suggest that the deaths are meaningless? No. I’m saying that it is an acceptable price to pay for our freedom. We should work to make gun deaths lower—but not at the expense of our constitutional rights. As horrible as these deaths are, they do not indicate a generally unhealthy society. Take it from someone who has lived abroad, and traveled the world.

      • Critic got this exactly right a bit earlier: Firearms fatalities are not “the price we pay for having firearms.” These deaths have no value at all. When an 8 year-old finds his daddy’s loaded handgun and kills his little sister, it doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s just one poor little girl who died for no purpose. The tragedy is needless, pointless, and useless. It doesn’t advance the cause of civilian firearms whatsoever. It only threatens it.

        • And what is your point? You claim to be a firearms owner. Are you saying that you would line up to put them in the crusher? Be the change you want to see in the world. You are the one you’ve been waiting for. Hope is a strategy.

  13. Freedom isn’t free and it sucks that some people have to pay for it with the lives, but as they say “shit happens”. I guess the really bad part is when it happens to you.

  14. How about this:

    “Our society has collectively decided that we’re willing to accept tens of thousands of automobile fatalities each year.”
    “Our society has collectively decided that we’re willing to accept tens of thousands of swimming fatalities each year.”
    “Our society has collectively decided that we’re willing to accept tens of thousands of medical error-caused fatalities each year.”

  15. There is a computer science saying: Any language “smart” enough to keep you from doing anything dumb will also keep you from doing anything brilliant.

    People in the United States have accepted the automobile despite the fact that it has killed more adults and more kids than any other device ever invented by man. We accept backyard pools despite the fact that a child is an order of magnitude more likely to die in a pool than being in a car or beside a gun.

    Why? All of these items have a higher utility value than their danger. Millions drive back and forth to work, etc. Millions hunt, and thousands or millions (depending on the numbers) defend themselves with a firearm yearly. Thousands enjoy themselves in a swimming pool yearly.

    Making guns into the nasty, evil “outlier category” is stupid. Yes, people are lax with their guns, just as people are lax with their drain cleaners, car keys, and pools. As Mrs. Clinton says about a lot of things, the fix is awareness.

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