Sanjay Sanghoee is not your run-of-the-mill anti. He has only recently started writing on the subject of gun control. He has an MBA, is a published author, a banker and columnist on Indian politics, art and culture. In short he is not a professional blood-dancer permanently sucking at the Joyce Foundation teat. He does, however, have one requisite skill of the professional anti down pat: he can lie like a sonofagun. To wit: the opening paragraph of his latest piece at HuffPo After Three Shootings, America Needs Zero Tolerance on Guns . . .
My first reaction to the killing of a cop and a civilian in Texas by a man armed with an automatic gun was disbelief. First Colorado, then Wisconsin, and now this, all in a space of weeks. This can’t be happening, I thought. Are we turning into a nation of trigger-happy psychopaths? I really hope not.
The Texas shooter was not armed with an automatic weapon; according to police he had “several long guns and pistols.” A story from The New York Times reported that he idolized snipers like Gunny Hathcock and Russian Vasily Zaytsev, had pictures of “assault rifles” on his Facebook page and posted back in May that he had purchased a Russian Mosin-Nagant ; a bolt-action rifle with a fixed internal magazine. Heck, that doesn’t qualify as an “assault weapon” even in California.
Once past the lying part, Sanjay jumps in with his suggestions on how lives can best be saved:
There is a lot of quibbling over which weapons should be available to private citizens and which should be banned. I know there are vast differences between different types of guns, but when it comes to deadly weapons, nuances don’t matter. We are not talking about complex financial instruments here, but things that are used to kill people. If the real purpose of guns, as ratified by the Supreme Court, is defense of one’s home.
Screech go the brakes! No Sanjay, defense of the home is only a very small part of the “real purpose of guns.” The reason that was the primary thrust of the ruling in the Heller case was because that was the primary thrust of that case.
Just as Brown v. Board of Education was preceded by a bunch of narrower, more limited cases and rulings. So it’s going to be a long road until the court rules that the Second Amendment means what it says. The complaint in Heller was:
… Respondent Heller, a D. C. special policeman, applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home, but the District refused. He filed this suit seeking, on Second Amendment grounds, to enjoin the city from enforcing the bar on handgun registration …
Hence the narrow ruling. But back to the matter at hand . . .
As for the classification of guns as “things that are used to kill people,” the same could be said of any number of items. Cars are used to kill people, but everyone knows and accepts that they are a useful tool as well. Likewise gasoline, knives, baseball bats, even rat poison. I take daily doses of the rat poison/blood thinner Warfarin so I don’t get blood clots and stroke out.
The point is you can’t do a cost-benefit analysis without looking at the benefits. So what are the benefits of guns? Well, how about two lives saved by DGUs for each life taken by a CGU? Don’t believe me? Well, here are the facts.
According to the Kleck-Gertz study from the early 1990s, there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs annually. Now there are a lot of people out there who deride this number as ludicrous. They’re unable or (more likely) unwilling to accept that Dr. Kleck is not a shill for the Gun Lobby™. This, despite the good doctor disclosing in his 1997 book Targeting Guns (quote from GunCite.com):
The author is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Independent Action, Democrats 2000, and Common Cause, among other politically liberal organizations He is a lifelong registered Democrat, as well as a contributor to liberal Democratic candidates. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of, or contributor to, the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc. nor any other advocacy organization, nor has he received funding for research from any such organization.
But skeptics will always be skeptical and antis will always prefer their own “reality” so let’s go ahead and throw the K-G number out in favor of a more conservative one.
Let’s use the numbers from the study which was commissioned by the Clinton DoJ shortly after the K-G study came out (to refute the K-G numbers maybe? If so: Oops!). That study, conducted by Drs. Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig (who both have a long record as very strong proponents of very strict gun control) concluded that there were 1.46 million DGUs per year.
I imagine that some may find even this lower number dubious, probably preferring to rely on the numbers from the National Crime Victimization Surveys which show between 50,000 and 100,000 DGUs per year.
Unfortunately for those hopeful doubters, the way the NCVS is structured means that it seriously undercounts the number of DGUs. I’ll let Tom Smith explain:
First, it appears that the estimates of the NCVSs are too low. There are two chief reasons for this. First, only DGUs that are reported as part of a victim’s response to a specified crime are potentially covered. While most major felonies are covered by the NCVSs, a number of crimes such as trespassing, vandalism, and malicious mischief are not. DGUs in response to these and other events beyond the scope of the NCVSs are missed.
Second, the NCVSs do not directly inquire about DGUs. After a covered crime has been reported, the victim is asked if he or she “did or tried to do [anything] about the incident while it was going on.” Indirect questions that rely on a respondent volunteering a specific element as part of a broad and unfocused inquiry uniformly lead to undercounts of the particular of interest.
There’s another problem with the failure to directly inquire about DGUs: the DGU question is only triggered by someone saying they were the victim of a crime. If someone came towards me with a knife saying “Gimme your wallet,” and I put my hand on my weapon and replied “I don’t think so, Skippy,” causing the assailant to retreat, was I actually the victim of a crime?
Before I started researching these issues I would have told the NCVS interviewer that no, I hadn’t been the victim of a crime so they never would have learned of my DGU.
So to try to figure out how many lives were saved, I turn once again to Kleck and Gertz’s article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun. They found that 15.7% of people involved in a DGU believed that they “almost certainly” saved their life of someone else’s.
That might strike some people as an awfully large percentage, but if you take into account the fact that most locales regard the mere act of pulling a gun as using deadly force and combine it with the fact that most places also require someone to be in “reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm” before he or she can lawfully use deadly force, the number seems more feasible.
In addition to the “almost certainly” pool, The K-G study also found that 14.6% of respondents believed that someone “probably would have” been killed if not for their DGU.
Because I want my numbers to be distinctly conservative let’s say that 9 out of 10 of the “almost certainly” folks were wrong, and let’s say that 99 out of 100 of the “probably” people were also incorrect. That means we can state with a fair degree of certainty that at least 1.716% of the 1.46 million DGUs saved a life.
Doing the math that translates to over 25,000 lives that are saved annually by guns.
So we’ve determined that at least 25,000 lives per year are saved by DGUs, and according to the CDC, between 1999 and 2009 there were an average of 11,800 gun-related homicides annually, which means that for every criminal homicide with a firearm there were more than two lives saved by DGUs.
Keep in mind, however, that this statistic is completely irrelevant since 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.
But let’s allow Sanjay to continue:
If the real purpose of guns, as ratified by the Supreme Court, is defense of one’s home, then anything that can be used to fire dozens of rounds a minute, accommodate high-capacity clips of ammunition, or spray bullets, should not be in the hands of civilians. Period. There are no legitimate uses for such weapons in civilian life, regardless of whether you need to pull the trigger once or multiple times. So stop the quibbling and let’s agree on something reasonable on this front.
So with that ‘dozens of rounds a minute’ criterion, Sanjay is saying that virtually all modern metallic cartridge firearms should be banned (except for cops), because any magazine-fed semi-auto can easily fire that many shots (even limited to 10 round mags).
In addition, since the advent of various kinds of speed-loaders, revolvers (24 shots and 3 reloads in 40 seconds) and even shotguns have also become that fast (in the shotgun video you can see he loaded 8 rounds in under 10 seconds).
As for whether there are legitimate uses for weapons like these 1) ask the inhabitants of L.A.’s Koreatown or post-Katrina New Orleans or indeed, anywhere that law and order has broken down and 2) 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.
Now the problem with Sanjay’s something reasonable is that most antis (as shown in their amicus briefs in Heller) believe that a complete ban on operable long guns and all handguns fits their reasonableness criterion. From the Violence Policy Center‘s brief:
If the Court were to hold that private individuals unaffiliated with a militia have a Second Amendment right to keep handguns for use in their homes, the Court should also hold that such a right is subject to reasonable restrictions, and that the District of Columbia’s handgun ban is an eminently reasonable restriction.
From The American Academy Of Pediatrics, The Society For Adolescent Medicine, The Children’s Defense Fund, Women Against Gun Violence And Youth Alive!:
Because of the proven harm attributable to handguns and especially because of the unique risk handguns create for children and adolescents, the District of Columbia reasonably enacted legislation to mitigate a pervasive public health crisis. The reasonableness of the District of Columbia’s attempt to preserve the public’s health is confirmed by both domestic and foreign data.
In all there were 20 briefs filed supporting the view that a complete ban on handguns constituted “reasonable” regulation.
Sanjay has more, but it’s mostly rehashing what he offered above so let me close by actually agreeing with Sanjay on something reasonable: If you don’t try to take our guns away we won’t shoot at you.