More Gun Laws to Prevent Accidental Shootings. Or Something.

Friday March 16th‘s Seattle Times had four letters to the editor, all of which were about the tragedies of three accidental child shootings in recent weeks. The first and last of which were especially egregious in their gleeful exploitation of the terrible shootings. The first writer, a Bob Geary from Seattle wrote, “It’s time for a discussion about enhancing our gun laws to prevent any future needless deaths. Three simple steps might help: First, all guns must be registered so we know who owns them and where they should be. This should be a national database.” Not to sound too obtuse, but, huh?

How on Earth is an entry in a government database going to prevent:

  1. a child from retrieving their cop parent’s gun from a glovebox?
  2. a child from retrieving their parent’s gun from under a car seat?
  3. a child from getting hold of a gun while visiting his meth-head mother?

No, that proposal hasabsolutely nothing to do with preventing these sorts of tragedies and everything to do with accomplishing a legislative goal that has been on the antis’ wish-list for decades. The claims are:

Registration would make the legal owner of a gun responsible for its safe use and transfer to another owner, dramatically reducing the flow of guns from the legal to criminal market.

Registration would also help police track weapons that are passed on to another person in a criminal or negligent way, including “straw” purchases where a legal buyer purchases guns on behalf of someone prohibited from owning them.

I don’t see anything there about reducing accidental shootings. As for being responsible for a gun’s safe use and legal transfer, legal owners are already responsible while illegal owners, by definition, aren’t required to register their guns. Back in 1968 the Supreme Court ruled that requiring criminals to register their guns was a violation of the Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.

“But wouldn’t registration prevent straw purchases” my inner anti asks? No more than existing law does. See here for my illustration of the futility of lost/stolen reporting laws.

Antis blithely toss around utopian ideas like ballistic tracking or firearm registration without ever saying who’s going to pay for it. According to the U.S. census, 15.8% of households move annually and there are 114,235,996 households in the U.S. That means about 18 million moves each year.

Let’s assume that gun ownership and purchasing is distributed the same across the movers as across the population as a whole. According to JustFacts.com, as of 2010 between 40% and 45% of households owned guns. A Gallup poll from 2005 puts that number at 42%, so let’s go with 42.5%. JustFacts also states that as of 2010 there were 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. That’s consistent with the 270 million guns in 2007 cited by GunPolicy.org given sales of 8-9 million guns per year from 2007 – 2010. According to numbers from the NSSF, gun sales topped 10 million in 2011 and are continuing to climb, but lets go with 10 million firearms per year for simplicity (and conservatism).

So 310 million firearms in 114 million households is 2.7 guns per household (or GPH). Which means that initially we will have to register 310 million firearms, and then 10 million new registrations annually. Add in registration updates on another 18 million households that move times 2.7 GPH = 48.6 million more registrations.

If we figure that each registration takes 5 person-minutes of labor (receive the postcard in the mailroom, distribute to data entry and actually entering the data), and the average data entry clerk works uninterrupted for 6 hours per day (lunch, bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, pop runs, etc.) that is 72 entries per day. So just for initial data entry you’ll need 4,305,555 person days which is 41,400 employees for 1 year.

Add 10% supervision and 10% support (H.R., I.T., payroll, etc.) and that brings us to 49,680 so let’s call it a nice round 50,000 new federal employees. For one year. The average taxpayer cost of a federal worker is $75,000 so for the first year, just to enter the data (we haven’t even begun to include infrastructure or any of that) and we are looking at a cost of $3.75 billion or about $12.09 per gun. And then the ongoing costs of registration just for data entry will be $587,574,000 per year.

Of course that’s just commercial sales to private parties. According to the Legal Community Against Violence:

An estimated 40% of the guns acquired in the U.S. annually come from unlicensed sellers who are not required by federal law to conduct background checks on gun purchasers.

So registering those sales would add another $235 million or so for a total of $822.6 million dollars a year.

Here’s an idea – let’s spend one tenth of that to put firearms safety classes in every school in the country.

But Bob continues:

Second, gun owners must have liability insurance for their weapons, as we require of the owners of automobiles.

Again, Bob, how would having insurance have kept a meth-head’s son from getting hold of an illegal weapon from her home? Or a cop’s kid from grabbing a gun out of the glove box? No this is just another item off the antis’ legislative wish-list, trying to make gun ownership so inconvenient and expensive that people get tired of jumping through all the hoops and give up.

But even if we were to accept Bob’s argument that gunnies should have insurance, how much should it cost? Well between 1999 and 2009, car accidents caused 475,223 deaths or 43,202 deaths annually. In the same time period there were 7,733 accidental firearm related deaths or 703 annually. In 2006 there were 203 million licensed drivers giving us 21.28 deaths per 100,000 drivers. Now according to MSNBC there are more than 6 million permit holders in the US which gives us 11.72 accidental deaths per 100,000 permit holders. So half the risk means half the liability, right? I currently pay about $30 a quarter for liability on my car insurance so I would just have to pay $15 per quarter for gun insurance right? WRONG!

  1. Driving is not natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.[1]
  2. Pools, knives, and pillows cause more accidental deaths than guns so I am not going to let you anti-gun weasels demonize my self-defense tool just because it makes you wet your pants.

Bob finishes his letter with another law which would not have changed the outcome of any of these shootings:

Third, the owner must prove that he/she possesses an effective trigger lock for each weapon.

Yeah and after requiring that you own a trigger lock, the next “reasonable, common-sense” restriction will be that all guns must be kept locked (ask the Carpenter family how well that worked out for them). Then since your guns have to be locked up anyway, they really aren’t useful for self defense so they should be kept outside the house, like at a gun range. As Mafia hit-man Sammy “The Bull” Gravano said: “Safety Locks? You will pull the trigger with a lock on, and I’ll pull the trigger. We’ll see who wins.”

In fact, now that I think about it, in the most recent shooting why did the boyfriend put his gun under the seat instead of putting it in a holster and carrying it with him when he went to pump the gas? Could it be because gun laws aren’t too lax but are, in fact, too strict and that led him to decide not to carry openly at the gas station? Just a thought.

Then there’s the missive from Rachael Levine:

Thirty thousand gun deaths occur in the U.S. every year, approximately 12,000 of which are homicides.

And 17,183 of those are suicides. Since suicide rates are independent of method we can go ahead and remove them from the total which leaves 12,750 homicides and accidental deaths annually (averaged over 1999 – 2009). So now that we have a more realistic number, what does Rachael have to say?

There are those who still believe that the right to bear arms should not be limited in any way. If we could think of 30,000 as the manifestation of a public-health threat that could be reduced or prevented by some inoculation, we would surely demand that this be done.

And once again an anti gunner tries to perform a cost-benefit analysis without looking at the benefits. Tell me Rachael, if your inoculation program would save 12,750 people a year, but would kill 25,000 people a year would you still be in favor of it? Because 25,000 is a very conservative estimate of how many lives are saved annually in DGUs.

Rachael then blathers on a bit more about the costs of guns (again, without touching on the benefits) and finishes up with this little gem:

This is a big price to pay for the antiquated language of the Second Amendment.

And listening to the mindless blather of brain-dead hoplophobes is a big price to pay for the antiquated language of the First Amendment, but as Thomas Jefferson once said:

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

comments

  1. avatar caffeinated says:

    When will these people learn that laws won’t do anything. By constantly making the gun culture taboo and evil through written and broadcast media, the leftists have really caused this. Firearms safety training had been neutered through the 1980s and 1990s with gun bans and public attacks on gun rights. Anything to do with firearms was seen as evil and taboo. Only crazy people would want one. Gun free-zones became places of mass shootings.

    This created a culture of ignorance in the youth who had never been exposed to firearms outside of violent movies and games. Short of “Act of Valor,” we’ve all seen how safely actors handle firearms.

    Making more laws won’t solve anything. Making guns more mainstream and providing access to safety training will.

  2. avatar Jay W. says:

    Well done!

  3. avatar caffeinated says:

    Accidental gun deaths can be blamed on a number of sources; primarily the poor storage by their owners in many cases. Let’s take this one step back though. What is the root cause?

    In the 1960s through 1990s, politicians and media alike went out of their way to demonize firearms and turn them into a taboo subject. Multiple firearms bans and punitive legislative measures were passed and pushed to the American public. By the time I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, guns were cast as evil in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Lethal Weapon” as well as print and broadcast media. Gun ownership was sensationalized as “Who needs one of those” or “You must be crazy.”

    The mainstream taboo of firearms ownership was also spread at the public school level where teachers were constantly telling children how awful and dangerous firearms were. Fortunately, my parents took me to a NRA sponsored safety class at an early age where we learned responsibility and respect towards firearms. Most of my fellow students were not so lucky and just grew up in ignorant bliss about firearms.

    This has lead to an entire generation of Americans unfamiliar with basic firearms safety or handling. Rather than providing firearms safety training, all the powers-that-be focused on pushing fear to the general public. Firearms safety is at a deficit, despite the record sales of firearms this day and age. As the American public has woken up and figured out that normal people own firearms; they want a piece of the American Pie as well.

    Firearms safety training needs to be mainstream much like the push for regaining lost gun rights. It shouldn’t be mandatory, but should be pushed much like the media and politicians pushed the evils and fear of firearms for the last four-plus decades.

    1. avatar caffeinated says:

      Sorry first one didn’t post so I typed out a better thought out response.

  4. avatar KYgunner says:

    “Now according to MSNBC there are more than 6 million permit holders in the US which gives us 11.72 accidental deaths per permit holder.”

    It’s still early Bruce, so we’ll give you some slack for not having time for the coffee to kick in… 11.72 accidental deaths per permit holder? That would mean 70,320,000 accidental shooting deaths…. Now thats a number that the anti’s could run with. Check your math 🙂

    1. avatar Derek says:

      Yea, I saw that too. I was like 😯

    2. avatar DoctorHog says:

      I’ll fix Bruce’s math: It should read “a rate of 11.72 per 100,000 permit holders per year.”

      There, all better.

      1. Correct. Text amended. Thanks.

        1. avatar Ron says:

          Between 1999 and 2009 there were 7,733 accidental firearm related deaths.

          Does this statistic reflect only firearms owned by the 6,000,000 licensed holders or does it include all 300,000,000 privately owned firearms?

          If the latter is correct, I’m thinking the actual percentage of licensed holder incidents will be lower.
          Much,much,much,much lower.

    3. avatar Ron says:

      7,733 ÷ 6,000,000 = 0.00128 ÷ 10= 0.000128 annually between 1999 and 2009

      1. avatar Ron says:

        7,733 ÷ 6,000,000 = 0.00128 ÷ 11 = 0.000116 annually between 1999 and 2009

        Ammended

  5. avatar Joe C. says:

    I’m glad locks like the one pictured above have been made available as a common sense gun control solution. I think they are very effective. For locking small gates, bicycles, etc.

    1. avatar Buuurr says:

      I find they are great for keeping a gun you don’t want in play out of play. That’s about it. If unattended with a kid in the house they are priceless.

    2. avatar Bill Fletcher says:

      Great for guns too. When you need to protect yourself, swinging your gun by the locked cable makes an effective bludgeon. And two guns locked with a single cable makes a nifty set of nunchuks.

      1. avatar cmd says:

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
        I got a mental image on that one.

      2. avatar Longtime Lurker says:

        Now this is priceless!

      3. avatar Buuurr says:

        Wouldn’t happen, Bill. Mine sits on my hip at all waking hours. The one I don’t want to get shot with is secured. It isn’t rocket science.

        It’s kinda like when I am riding my mountain bike. I have the lock off of it while riding but my road bike has it’s lock on it so no one else can steal it or use it.

        A fairly new concept, I know, but a good one.

        1. avatar Bill Fletcher says:

          You, of course, are right. I just couldn’t let the opportunity to be a smartass go by.

        2. avatar Buuurr says:

          I have the same issue at times, Sir.

      4. avatar C. Walther says:

        I think you just gave me an idea on how to use the Arsenal Second Century in a practical manner!

        1. avatar Buuurr says:

          That’s the only practical manner for that gun. Wow.

  6. avatar Longtime Lurker says:

    Excellent write up, and backed up with facts. Unlike the antis arguments consisting of fantasy and ignorance.

    I feel some antis are so only because they are ignorant and don’t know better. The only solution to a situation they have heard is “make a law for it”. If they were presented with fact such as this write up and did their own research perhaps some antis would be converted to advocates.

  7. avatar V65Magnafan says:

    Seattle? Just drive about 120 miles north, and you will see the gun ban crowds’ ultimate fantasy–short of total confiscation. Not one of the stringent Canadian laws or regulations have prevented or solved even a single crime. In Vancouver, and all other Canadian cities, criminals routinely carry concealed handguns and shoot people every day. Yet, the law-abiding are all sitting ducks.

    Gun laws in Canada?
    1. Make all firearms illegal and then issue a license for legal acquisition and possession–at the whim of government.
    2. To acquire and possess a handgun legally, an individual must take two days of safety classes, written and practical safety tests–but no live firing.
    3. The applicant must submit to a grueling background check, including finances and past relationships, and get written approval from current partner.
    4. There is a provision for legal CCW, but the bureaucracy blocks all applications.
    5. In-dwelling storage provisions are draconian. In Ontario, at least, if you use a firearm for self-defence, you will be arrested, incarcerated, you firearms will be confiscated, and you will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to set things right-if you are lucky.
    6. You must obtain written permission from the Chief Firearms Officer of the province to take your handgun to or from a shooting range, a gun smith, or a retail store.

    After all this, Canadian criminals can obtain all the handguns and ammo they want, and they carry when and where they want to. Canada leads the U.S. in school massacres. Their violent crime rate is falling, but only 2/3 as fast as the U.S. crime rate.

    Seattle, look north. Look startled. Settle down. Find something else to ban.

    1. avatar Buuurr says:

      Exactly. Being from Canada I could never understand those laws. My uncle Bob had a great collection from the British/France wars fought around the Hudson. Guns. Guns that were so rusted and dented that firing was not ever possible. He had the collection for 10 years passed on from his father and so on and on. Priceless collection. His step son got to talking in school one day about his step dad’s guns. Boom! Arrested. Charged with illegal procession. A month in jail with actual criminals and a criminal record. So ridiculous.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Just direct “Bob” there to look at what the costs and benefits were of the Canadian gun registry. One will find there was a huge expense and no benefit.

    Gun registration has been the hue and cry of liberals for decades. The trouble is, no registry has ever been shown to prevent crime, anywhere, in any country, much less cities and states in the US where they have had such requirements.

    And you’ll notice the return to the “public health” angle on gun crime, as tho owning guns is a social disease you catch through interaction with a bad element, much like a dose of the clap.

    Liberals are amusing in that they keep flogging the same ideas that have been tried and proven ineffective or outright failures…. they just think that they weren’t tried hard enough, or with a heavy enough hand from the government.

    1. avatar Buuurr says:

      So true, Dyspeptic Gunsmith. They recently banned BB guns in my home town back in Canada. You can’t use them in the city or you will be arrested (kids parents that is). Vandalism and property damage have gone way down but eyes being put out have gone up. The kids just use the gun inside the house when mom and dad are not home and end up causing an injury or being the victim of one.

      It just doesn’t work.

  9. avatar Silver says:

    “Tell me Rachael, if your inoculation program would save 12,750 people a year, but would kill 25,000 people a year would you still be in favor of it? Because 25,000 is a very conservative estimate of how many lives are saved annually in DGUs.”

    Yes, she and most antis would still be in favor of it, because they hate and fear legal gun owners; we’re a physical representation of the self-reliance they can’t muster, the confidence they lack, the intelligence they can only hope for, and the freedom they wish to crush. Like most “tolerant” leftists and gun-grabbers, their greatest fantasy is that we all drop dead.

    Remember, gun-grabbers don’t care at all about preventing violence…it’s all about power and emotional immaturity, plain and simple.

  10. avatar Guywithagun says:

    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

    Thank you so much for that quote! I wish I was aware of it when I was trying to make a point in another post. Pure Awesomeness!

  11. avatar Wheelgun says:

    The left is far from concerned about curbing violence. Oh sure there are real tree hugging liberals who, while listening to Jon Lennon in a 60s-esque haze of misguided, overly emotionally charged, well meaning hope would like to save the world, but generally the left is preoccupied with advancing its agenda on the backs of those types as well as clueless soccer moms who of course think less guns = safety. They want socialism, totalitarian control and while they can’t succeed marching tanks down the streets and going door to door seizing guns, they do it this way. Exploit these tragedies in an effort to get done what they want. It is doubtful they care at all about the victims, thet see it as simply another good crisis to exploit for their gain. Hey, don’t blame me, they said it themselves, remember? Rob Emmanuel said it,” Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Mandatory firearms liability insurance has been proposed for years by the wingnuts as a potentially effective backdoor route to regulation. If one’s ability to own a gun depends on whether or not the owner can obtain insurance, then the owner had better follow the insurance company’s requirements. Since insurance companies are highly regulated, I expect that insurers will be told by their regulators what the firearms requirements will be.

    Strangely enough, some gun owners may already have insurance liability coverage through their homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Read your policy and check with your agent.

  13. avatar CarlosT says:

    In fact, now that I think about it, in the most recent shooting why did the boyfriend put his gun under the seat instead of putting it in a holster and carrying it with him when he went to pump the gas? Could it be because gun laws aren’t too lax but are, in fact, too strict and that led him to decide not to carry openly at the gas station? Just a thought.

    In his particular case, it’s because he’s a total freakin’ moron. Washington has open carry without a permit and he had a CPL, so there was no reason at all to leave the gun behind. Nothing can fix stupid.

  14. avatar Michael says:

    It just so happens that I’m a white male in the Seattle area between 35 & 44 years old and I’m not all freaked the shit out about getting killed by a firearm. Not worried about me or someone making a mistake with a gun. Not worried about committing suicide with a gun. Not worried about some evildoer killing me with a gun. And here’s the link to why I’m not worried about it: http://tinyurl.com/7tuuvxj

    From 1999 to 2006 the most white males between 35 & 44 years old
    in Washington state killed with a firearm, that’s murder suicide and accidents combined, was 80 in 2004 and the firearms death rate for people in my demographic has been going down since ’04.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, the people who tell me I can’t be safe without a gun and the people that tell me that I can’t be safe with a gun around are both wrong.

    1. avatar Ron says:

      You are absolutely correct.
      The people who tell you you can’t be safe without a gun are wrong.
      The people who tell you you can’t be safe with a gun are wrong.

      Fact is most people who don’t have guns live completely safe, secure lives without ever having the need of a gun.

      Fact is most people who have guns live completely safe, secure lives without ever having the need of a gun.

      Fact is the few people who have guns and experience a situation at some point in their lives that requires a gun for defense, have a gun.

      Fact is the few people who don’t have a gun and experience a situation at some point in their lives that requires a gun for defense, don’t have a gun.
      They must defend themselves by some other means or rely upon others to do it for them.

      I have never been able to devise a good defense plan where I could substitute anything for a gun, when a gun is needed. I have tried.
      I have even asked mikeb and others to help me do so. So far, no luck.
      I have never been comfortable depending on others to defend me or those I care about. Most are too slow responding and / or have no vested interest in doing so.

      So I choose to carry a gun just in case of the extremely remote chance that one day I become one of the few who find themselves in need of a gun.

      But I would never tell you ( or anyone ) you can’t be safe without a gun.

      Fact is we will all probably live completely safe and secure lives with or without a gun.
      Probably.

  15. avatar Tom says:

    Registration would make the legal owner of a gun responsible for its safe use and transfer to another owner, dramatically reducing the flow of guns from the legal to criminal market.

    Registration would also help police track weapons that are passed on to another person in a criminal or negligent way, including “straw” purchases where a legal buyer purchases guns on behalf of someone prohibited from owning them.

    We actually have gun registration in the USA. FFL forms anyone? E-Trace?
    Even FTF paperless ownership could be determined with about 3 well place phone calls.

    1. avatar caffeinated says:

      It takes a little while, but I can tell you that ANY LE agency can fill out a firearms trace form with ATF and they will do the leg work and find out who it was sold to. If that isn’t registration, I don’t know what is.

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