Kevin Jersey of the Los Angeles Valley College Valley Star has decided to grace us with his thoroughly researched, amply foot-noted fact-based analysis of campus shootings and the broader question of “gun violence”. Or not. “Early this month, seven people were killed at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. A former nursing student, upset that he had been expelled, entered a classroom, told the students to line up against the wall and opened fire. Each of the seven deaths from that day is tragic. But just as tragic is the fact that thousands of Americans are killed each year by guns and nothing is being done about it. This must change.” . . .
What was tragic was that those seven people, disarmed by law and policy, and disinclined by education and training to defend themselves, stood like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. As long as our campuses remain Victim Disarmament Zones, as long as we continue to teach our children that all violence, even that used in self-defense, is bad and as long as the mentally ill are with us, there will continue to be these sorts of mass murders, and people like you will continue to bleat that the people who didn’t do it should be disarmed.
As for the thousands of Americans … killed each year actually there is something being done about it; the roughly 17,850 murders each year (11,800 of which are committed with firearms) are investigated by police and, when caught, perpetrators are prosecuted and frequently incarcerated.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and Americans have taken full advantage of this right. There are currently around 270 million guns in America, nearly one for every person in this country. That is despite the fact that guns are created for only one purpose: to kill.
Yes it does guarantee that right, and yes we have and do take full advantage of it. But no, guns are not created solely to kill, they are created to threaten or utilize deadly force, but they are used far more often to save lives than they are used to criminally take them. Even if that were not the case, however, I would remind you that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.
Guns have killed an average of more than 32,000 people per year over the past three decades, according to a report from the Firearm & Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s almost a million lives that could have been saved if guns weren’t so easily available.
Actually no, people have used firearms to commit homicide an average of 13,450 times a year (according to the CDC’s WISQARS) between 1981 and 2009; they have similarly used firearms to commit suicide 17,600 times a year. Since, however, repeated studies have shown that suicide rates are independent of means, you can’t blame guns for suicides (see chart). That brings your a million lives number down to a little over 400,000.
Yes, almost half a million murders are nothing to boast about, but, oddly enough, over the last three decades gun ownership has been going up while homicide rates have been going down. If gun availability were some sort of causative factor, we should be seeing murder rates on the rise. The below graphics, one comparing U.S. handgun supply to murder and suicide and the second comparing murder rates to gun ownership rates pretty well puts a stake in the idea that they correlate.
Advocates argue that guns are necessary for self-defense and that they have a right to protect themselves and their property. Yet, a study from the American Journal of Public Health shows areas with higher rates of gun ownership have significantly higher rates of gun fatalities.
Now the Journalist’s Resource mentions such a study, (but since Kevin is not specific I am unable to verify that it is the one he is citing) and as they point out, the authors do not provide any information about causation and as the antis are so wont to remind us (especially when Dr. Lott’s work is being discussed) correlation does not equal causation. In addition, since they were unable to get data on specific states’ gun ownership rates they used a “proxy” value:
At the state level, published data on reported household gun ownership are available for only a nonrandom sample of 21 states. To analyze all 50 states, we used a proxy for household firearm ownership: the fraction of all suicides in a state that involve a firearm, referred to hereafter as FS/S.
Not being a statistician I am unable to judge whether this is a valid proxy, but one problem leaps immediately to mind: States with low overall gun ownership tend to be those where it is difficult and expensive to get a gun, so when someone in such a state is looking for a method of committing suicide 1) they may well not think about using a gun because they don’t have one and aren’t used to the idea of having them and 2) because it is difficult and expensive to get a gun.
Aha! shrieks my inner anti; tough gun laws do save lives! To which I must point out that repeated studies have shown that overall suicide rates are independent of method. Just because guns are hard to get doesn’t mean someone is going to give up on the idea, they are just going to use a different method.
Additionally, people carrying guns are no less likely to be injured during a crime than unarmed people. In fact, guns increase crime rates rather than bring them down. For every person killed by a gun, more than 35 others are victims of a crime that involved a gun, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Again that is simply not true: As stated in Gun Facts ver. 6.0 (quoting the British Home Office):
You are far more likely to survive a violent assault if you defend yourself with a
gun. In episodes where a robbery victim was injured, the injury/defense rates were:
|Resisting with a gun||6%|
|Did nothing at all||25%|
|Resisted with a knife||40%|
And for every person killed by a gun-wielding thug, at least two peoples’ lives are saved (see here for the analysis). Which, again, is completely immaterial because, the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.
People are killed at work, at home and, like those at Oikos University, even at school. These are places that are supposed to be sanctuaries of safety, free from danger; but, as long as people continue to carry guns, no place is ever completely safe. Since the infamous 1999 Columbine massacre, there have been more than 170 deaths in school shootings—including 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007. And, as tragic proof that not enough is being done to eradicate campus gun violence, two more people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2011.
I agree, people are killed in all of those places. And what characteristic does every (with the exception of Tucson) mass casualty shooting in the U.S. share? They were all committed in supposedly gun free zones. You have it exactly backwards Kevin; as long as law-abiding people are prevented from carrying guns, no place is ever completely safe. As for the “two people” who were killed at VA Tech last year, one was a cop killed from ambush and the other was the shooter who suicided, and, let me point out, the school was still a “GFZ”.
Despite all this, gun advocates adamantly oppose any kind of gun regulation. The National Rifle Association pushes laws like Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which famously led to the killing of Trayvon Martin in February.
No, not “despite all this” rather because of all this. You cann’t blame “SYG” for the Trayvon Martin shooting. First because the law did not change the circumstances under which deadly force is authorized, it merely removed the duty to retreat. Second, I think the bashing George Zimmerman’s head on the concrete probably had more to do with it that SYG.
Politicians are quick to lend their support, with presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaking at the NRA’s annual convention last Friday to assure gun owners that he’s on their side.
Obviously Kevin did not listen to Mitt’s speech. He did practically nothing to try and convince the people there that he was on our side in the civil rights battle, he just said he wasn’t Obama.
They continue to believe the solution to gun violence is to have more guns when, in fact, the opposite is true. Quite simply, if there are guns around, they are going to be used to kill people.
Mine must be defective. I’ve had guns around for more than a decade and haven’t killed anyone yet (although my landlady did use one to put down her dog). And again, your assumptions are not supported by the facts. As Dr. Lott pointed out in this piece:
Among peer-reviewed national studies by criminologists and economists, 18 find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 claim no effect, and just one claims one type of crime temporarily increases slightly. The possibility that permit holders might lead to more crime is easily evaluated by looking at how incredibly law-abiding they are, with them losing their permits for any firearms-related violations (usually trivial ones) at hundredths or thousandths of 1 percentage point.
Did you catch that Kevin? Permit holders are losing their permits at the rate of hundredths or thousandths of a percent.
This is a violent country, but it doesn’t have to be. Fewer people should have guns, and there should be fewer guns available. Laws making it easier for people to obtain guns are the cause and not the solution to the problem of gun violence. And until people realize this, no one will be truly safe.
Actually this is not a particularly violent country; with the exception of murder, violent crime in the UK and Australia are significantly higher than in the U.S. and since our non-firearm homicide rate is also much higher than theirs you can’t blame the guns for our homicide rate. Laws making it easier for people to get and carry guns just plain don’t increase crime (see above about the 28 studies). I know it is counterintuitive, but complex systems often react counterintuitively, that’s why people do studies and publish their results.
And that’s why journalists should do some research before opening their ill-informed yaps.