What Can We Learn From 100 Million American Gun Owners?

Kyle Cassidy Americans with Guns

courtesy slate.com and Kyle Cassidy

By MarkPA

Academic articles typically end with an admonition that more data and research are desperately needed to resolve the question under study. That’s where this article begins.

Professional gun controllers cry out that there is an epidemic of deaths from gunshot wounds in America. In the next Supreme Court session or two we are apt to see confirmation of the right to carry by lawful citizens, thereby overturning the “may-issue” laws of about 10 highly populated states. Soon, we should expect predictions of a veritable pandemic of gunshot wounds and deaths caused by licensed carry. Rivers of blood running in the streets. 

Activist researchers claim there is a consensus that gun control is desirable. That was easy to conclude, since their survey group included mostly pro-control authors, without ensuring that they even did peer-reviewed research.

The group was mostly composed of medical and public health academics, without the large number of economists and criminologists who recognize far better the value of armed citizens. John Lott, PhD pointed out other faults in the survey and contrasted it with another recent one by Gary Mauser, PhD that was better designed and came to the opposite conclusion.

Gun owners, who are frequently armchair statisticians, point out that 100 million Americans lawfully own 400 million guns. More than 17 million of these are permitted to carry in public. Still more carry in states requiring no permit.

They casually observe that if these gun owners and carriers were causing a problem we would have noticed by now. Not good enough—this is anecdote. We need to know hard facts, not speculation. Moreover, gun culture varies greatly from state to state. Vermont shares long borders with Massachusetts and New York, but Bostonians and Manhattan dwellers know nothing of the training to arms taken for granted by Green Mountaineers.

Criminal justice researchers should develop a common report form intended to be implemented nationwide. To this end, data from the current 40 or so right-to-carry states would be needed as a benchmark for comparison with data from may-issue states.

Virtually all gunshot suicides, homicides, and non-fatal gunshot wounds come to the attention of local police departments. The difficulty will be getting uniform background data compiled and reported to a centralized database. Sometimes there will be no more evidence than a few brass cartridge cases found in the wake of a report of gunshots heard. Other situations will produce a wealth of evidence produced at trial.

We need demographic data about the shooters. Sex, age, place of residence, criminal background (or lack thereof), training in gun safety and law of self-defense.  Prohibited-person indicators, if any. Circumstances of the incident and legal disposition. Victim(s) and their relationship to the shooter. Often, police can identify the victim but not the shooter. In such cases, tentative conclusions about the shooter might be inferred from similar cases in which the shooters have been identified (e.g., gang or domestic violence cases).

Suicides are, by far, the largest number. There will be less difficulty in acquiring relevant background data. Did a life-long gun owner kill himself with a gun lawfully acquired in his youth? Did a child come upon a parent or guardian’s carelessly stored gun? Was the child a resident or visitor in the place where the gun was stored? Without such background information, there is no way to know whether waiting periods or safe storage practices provide any efficacy whatsoever.

With homicides it’s critical to distinguish between lawful vs unlawful gun possessors. Are there any sympathetic cases among the latter? (A pregnant Krissy Noble killed a home invader using her husband’s lawfully-owned gun. She has been exonerated on the homicide, but charged for felony possession due to a prior pot charge.)

More important, to what extent are lawful gun possessors charged and convicted or exonerated of unlawful use of lethal force? Are the incidents accidents or deliberate? Are these inexperienced or knowledgeable gun owners? Are they well- or little-trained in gun safety, self-defense law?

Assumptions might be sustained or refuted. Suppose we discovered that charges and convictions are disproportionately found among experienced male gun owners who are untrained in the law of self-defense? Or, recent female gun owners who are untrained in gun safety practices but well trained in the laws regarding self-defense?

Suppose we discovered that patterns in misdemeanor crimes (disorderly conduct, simple assault, traffic violations and the like) correlate strongly with gun incidents. Any patterns emerging from research on such data would inform public policy for state carry laws.

Congress cannot mandate that states gather this information, but could fund it. Most states should be eager to learn what they collectively can. Data would probably show significant differences in the urban and rural environments affecting the risks of shootings.

The cost of collecting and compiling such data should be relatively trivial. There are only 30,000-some gunshot deaths and 70,000 or so injuries in the United States each year. That’s not a lot of paperwork (compared, for example, to the number of tax returns or crime reports of all types).

Also, valid extrapolations can be made from substantial, though incomplete, samples. Suppose, for example, that only 25 states holding half the nation’s population participated. Very likely, the demographics of these states and their counties would be useful in illuminating non-participating states’ corresponding demographics.

It should be sufficient to sample representative cross-sections of large samples. For instance, public health officials could select representative cases from sex/age/occupation cross-sections to investigate for background information (e.g., medical conditions, history of gun-ownership, recent traumatic events such as death of a spouse).

The gun control side probably imagines that better research could disprove the efficacy of most of their legislative agenda.  They should fear that the data will not support waiting periods, age limits, background checks, or any other so-called “common sense” “gun safety” laws, and will probably fight gathering data which would reveal that evidence. But criminologists are well aware of the human and economic costs of ignoring defensive gun uses, too. (Gary Kleck recently confirmed from secreted CDC data that there are likely more than 1 million DGUs each year).

Gun rights advocates shouldn’t expect any surprises, so we have the most to gain from such research. We have every reason to expect that good data covering all firearm uses will prove conclusively that there is no efficacy or any economic justification for most forms of gun control.  Although any constitutional right deserves “strict scrutiny”, this would enable judges to conclude that most gun control laws fail even intermediate scrutiny or the rational basis test.

In any case, the public will become informed as to what works in promoting responsible gun-ownership, and what is superfluous—even counterproductive.  What role does education in gun safety or self-defense law play?   What role do experience and practice play?   What about live-fire training?  What exercises and scores correlate with “good shoots”?  And, for anything, how much is enough?

Do violent misdemeanors or drug violations correlate with bad shoots? Which antecedents (crimes, mental illness) do not correlate with bad-shoots?  Should non-violent felons be designated prohibited persons? Should people who can’t balance their checkbooks be so designated?

We are rational people who want to enjoy liberty consistent with public safety. We should want to know what works—what makes for responsible gun ownership and what indicates unacceptable risk. The default presumption should always favor liberty. When a liberty is declared an enumerated right, every limiting law must meet strict tests of necessity. Failing that, popular opinions are just guesses based on hunch and emotion.

 

MarkPA’ is trained in economics, a life-long gun owner, NRA Instructor and Massad Ayoob graduate. He is inspired by our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and holds that having the means to defend oneself and one’s community is vital to securing them.

This article originally appeared at drgo.com and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar John says:

    I would not recommend anyone posting pics of their family, particularly kids. Presenting yourself and the family on the internet as pro 2A, Patriots etc is an even bigger reason to be cautious in the advertisement aspect. You never know how low and dirty the anti American alt left is going to be. Don’t expect them to fight fair.

    1. avatar el Possum Guapo Standartenfuher " they think we're making pizza's Oberst von Burn says:

      I wouldn’t want the government or LEO’s after me, but them anti Constitution types best not mess around here. I’d plaster gun swag all over my place if the Gov wouldn’t target me. Like back during the Clit onn regime, NRA stickers and camouflage clothes was a no no

      1. avatar Babe says:

        Possum, like he said they won’t give you a fair fight. They will target your kid(s), wive/gf, your grandma, your dog. They will drive by and throw a firebomb. They are not all violent (yet), but the frenzy generated by a mob can get them there.

        Recently the BLM showed up to trash a cop’s wedding in CA, nobody was hurt apparently, but they showed up and ruined the day. Because they are “upset” and to them cops are never off duty, and cops’ friends and relatives must also be “fascists”.
        It is a similar “logic” with the alt left vs the normal people of the USA, they don’t care they are FILTHY and they are only looking for direct confrontations when they are in Portland, Seattle, or California. It makes them even more dangerous, cowards and degenerates are dangerous.

        1. avatar Bearpaw says:

          What’s with all the bipod?

      2. avatar Mad Max says:

        Be sure to be an operator operating operationally.

        Keep a low profile, a chambered round, spare mags, and a BUG on you at all times.

    2. avatar New Continental Army says:

      Just imagine how bad they’re going to get if they lose the midterms. There will be an honest to God leftist terrorist movement then. I predict there will be several. They will go on with several riots, arson, bombings, shootings, and abductions. They will target children. They will target police. They will also target veterans and the elderly. But the minute a few of them get a round between the eyes it’ll all about how bad “we” are and how “oppressed” they are.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        2nd American Civil War is likely unavoidable. I’d prefer not to be geriatric.

    3. avatar James A. "Jim" Farmer says:

      John has a valid point here. American gun owners must remain more vigilant, careful,
      and pro-active than ever. We must collectively protect ourselves, the Second Amendment, as well as our firearms privacy. Read my letter posted below:

      Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune: Sunday, July 31st, 2011
      LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

      Sunday’s July 24 MT via Dear Amy, page 5C, featured “On wedding days and packing heat.” Mentioned were family guests revealing the carrying of handguns.

      No one is more aggressively pro-Second Amendment and pro-gun than myself. Yet with all due respect, this practice demonstrates poor judgment. Perhaps Massad Ayoob in his booklet: “In The Gravest Extreme: the Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection” (Chapter 11) states it best: “revealing the carrying of a gun is a temptation to be avoided. It serves no purpose; indeed in our society, it can detract from your public image.”

      “In The Gravest Extreme” is a must for anyone who owns a firearm for self defense/house protection, or who possesses a valid concealed carry permit. First printed in 1980, this book has withstood the test of the judiciary and courts for over 30 years and is endorsed by judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law enforcement. It remains available from Lethal Force Institute/Police Bookshelf at http://www.ayoob.com.

      Two other valuable resources on concealed carry include “The Concealed Handgun Manuel” by Chris Bird and “Armed and Female” by Paxton Quigley at http://www.paxtonquigley.com.

      — James A. Farmer, Ashland
      Now a resident of Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

    4. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Well, Austin is far and away more liberal than the rest of Texas, but it is still Texas, so I’m not really worried. The flakes you worry about know better.

    5. avatar Ralph Humphrey says:

      Exactly! I can see CPS knocking down their door now!

  2. avatar GS650G says:

    The left grows more violent daily. I just drove past a large campaign sign for a Republican state hour candidate that was Xd out. And this is just a house race locally.
    They are getting what my grandpa called uppity

    1. avatar Queens says:

      And recently where I live signs for a democrat were stolen or defaced.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Yes demtard party has long had organized “mobs” paid to put up yard signs for dems. To tear down Rep yard signs AND to tear down some Demtard signs then call the MSM to wail.

    2. avatar HP says:

      They just trashed a GOP office in NYC. Granted, NYC is a liberal sewer, but still….

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    WE can learn WE have the vast majority of guns. And we should act like we do!!!

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      +1 FWW!

      We claim that 2A is our hedge against government overreach. But do we really mean it? If we do, we ought to start acting that way.

  4. avatar ollie says:

    Trump Derangement Syndrome is rampant…..is it contagious or maybe a side effect of weak brain cells ?
    Dan Quayle was right when he stated “A mind is a terrible thing to lose”.

    1. avatar HP says:

      “The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century.” – Dan Quayle

      I miss the guy.

  5. avatar GunnyGene says:

    Send me a form for all that kind of information and I’ll use it to start a bonfire in my backyard. If that ain’t clear enough: I don’t give a damn if the public or the govt. is better informed.

  6. avatar Tome says:

    If every gun owner went out and shot one person it would be a Epidemic of shootings. It would make a big hole in the people. But a few Thugs go and shoot a couple people is not a Epidemic! It is a few worthless thugs doing something that their parents failed to teach them. What less than 1% of the people ever shoot anybody. Because most people are not thugs! But because it becomes a Epidemic because of few thugs.

  7. avatar el Possum Guapo Standartenfuher " they think we're making pizza's Oberst von Burn says:

    100 million gun owners and the lack of the number of gun related deaths we have is quite impressive. Although I am assuming there are more then 100 million gun owners. Of the small group of gun enthusiast I associate with five of those own nothing but ghost guns, firearms purchased through private sales or by trade. Then there is the southern immigrants, most of those individuals guns were not purchased using a 4473. As far as the Supreme Court, hmmmmm , we shall see what we shall see.

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      It all depends on whom you define as a “gun owner”. Relatively few guns, mostly pistols, are actually registered to a particular person. Even though I bought all my guns, isn’t my wife also an owner? Just like the coffee maker I bought on Amazon last week and everything else in the house.

      On the other hand, criminals who “possess” guns that were stolen or obtained on the black market are not gun owners. They have no authorized or legal right to those guns as their property.

      I would define a gun owner as anyone who lives in a household (or any domestic arrangement) who has legal authorized access to at least one gun. e.g., if the need a gun, they have one. Of course, that would not include under-age children or persons not expressly permitted without consent. I’ll bet that comes to a helluva lot more than 100 million. I would think the number of households alone is at least 100 million.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I think you are confessing, here, to being a “straw purchaser”. Seriously! Buying a gun for someone else’s use is apparently illegal, though what that has to do with straw I haven’t figured out. And, if we get UBC, you’re going to prison!

  8. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    I can sum it up real simply….

    No.

    The government has no business knowing anything about me and even less compiling it into some database that the anti gunners can mine for data points to cherrypick.

    All this data is already collected and compiled by the FBI. Go ask them and leave the rest of us alone.

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      Exactly.

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      Sorry the FBI is busy. Still trying to find russkis, to get rid of President Trump and to find their ass.

  9. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

    “Suppose we discovered that patterns in misdemeanor crimes (disorderly conduct, simple assault, traffic violations and the like) correlate strongly with gun incidents. Any patterns emerging from research on such data would inform public policy for state carry laws.”

    You are giving them just what they want, an excuse to drastically expand the ‘crimes’ that make someone a prohibited person. To make drastically more people prohibited persons.

    As far as I’m concerned, the only crimes that should make someone a prohibited person are crimes of physical violence against another person.

    If you give them an inch on this, they will take 10 miles…

  10. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    We should propose background checks and permits to be able to vote in elections. Wait ! That would be too onerous to go thru to exercise a constitutional right.

  11. avatar K42inPO says:

    That dog looks a bit nervous.

    1. avatar Ron says:

      I would be too, creepy!

    2. avatar WiffleballTony says:

      Its dropping a deuce

    3. avatar Tim says:

      He looks sad. “Where’s my gun?”

      1. avatar DesertDave says:

        That’s what I thought! Looks like he was an AR to go after the neighborhood cats.

  12. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    ” In the next Supreme Court session or two we are apt to see confirmation of the right to carry by lawful citizens, thereby overturning the “may-issue” laws of about 10 highly populated states. Soon, we should expect predictions of a veritable pandemic of gunshot wounds and deaths caused by licensed carry. Rivers of blood running in the streets. ”

    Why bother as Constitutional carry is the supreme law of the land and all 50 states signed on to that when they entered the union,it needs to be enforced.

    “Moreover, gun culture varies greatly from state to state. Vermont shares long borders with Massachusetts and New York, but Bostonians and Manhattan dwellers know nothing of the training to arms taken for granted by Green Mountaineers.”

    Speaking of the Green Mtns. Constitutional carry has been enjoyed by Vermonters since 1791 and before that. The streets,lanes and dells have never been awash in blood. Vermont is one of the safest states in said union,the same can’t be said of two of Vermont’s neighbors,Commiechusetts and New Yorkistan where strict anti second amendment laws are the norm.

    The three safest states in the nation and new england are Vermont,New Hampshire and Maine and all have Constitutional carry. Commiechusetts and New Yorkistan do not and they rank much lower in there citizens safety,can you see a trend here. The safest states carry laws remain much as the founders intended.

  13. avatar Sora says:

    I think NRA should fund it, along with crowd source for funding (imagine tricking the liberals to pay for it) using a government appointed research group that will release the data, but not conclusions to open source to come up with their own analytics.
    That will avoid the “government funding” and “biased research”. Just raw data, let others do the analysis.
    Something CDC failed to do in their “research”.
    Trump can order the DOJ to gather the data using these “independent funds”.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    MarkPA,

    While your thoughts and approach are righteous and honorable, they only matter to a tiny few fence sitters. The overwhelming majority of gun grabbers hate firearms and firearm ownership/possession on an emotional level. All the facts and statistics in the world will not matter to them.

    Here is how it works:
    (1) Gun grabber decides on emotional basis that firearms are awful.
    (2) You ask gun grabber why firearms are bad.
    (3) Gun grabber says because alleged reason X.
    (4) You provide facts and statistics that alleged reason X is actually false.
    (5) Gun grabber says because alleged reason Y.
    (6) You provide facts and statistics that alleged reason Y is actually false.
    (7) Gun grabber says because alleged reason Z.
    (8) You provide facts and statistics that alleged reason Z is actually false.
    This goes on forever without the gun grabber ever abandoning their emotionally based position.

    Gun grabbers merely vomit words in a desperate attempt to either win you, shame you, or bully you to their side. They constantly move the goal posts. Providing facts, data, figures, and statistics does not matter. Just like someone who smokes tobacco does not care what the statistics say about lung cancer from tobacco smoke, a gun grabber does not care what the statistics say about responsible firearm ownership and possession.

    Again, I applaud your honorable mindset. Unfortunately, it will be wholly ineffective. We need a different approach that can break through and/or work with the masses who only care about an emotional basis for their positions.

  15. avatar Ironhead says:

    I forget where I saw it, but this quote stuck with me.
    “If gun owners were as violent as gun grabbers say they are, there would be no gun “grabbers.”

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Search for “logic dictates gun owners” and you’ll find a crap-ton of Spock memes. Good stuff. http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3seqe6/

  16. avatar JJ says:

    Never let them study gun ownership stats it will only give them more knowledge for confiscation.

  17. avatar Pg2 says:

    Statements like “We are rational people who want to enjoy liberty consistent with public safety” are Trojan horse statements. Sounds like another collectivist trying to soft sell the greater good, public health, etc, ideology over individual rights.

    1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

      Many in pre-war Germany considered the Nuremberg Laws the way to a “greater good, public health, etc,”.

      1. avatar Pg2 says:

        That’s your opinion, not sure what meaning it has to my observation? Btw, doesn’t Israel share some similar laws banning marriage of Jews and non Jews?

        1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

          Pg2,

          I believe that only the Orthodox in Israel have issues on marrying outside of the faith.

    2. avatar GunnyGene says:

      I reckon the founding fathers forgot to include that “rational” word in the 2nd Amendment. Or figured that “Irrational” people would be eliminated by their rational neighbors as needed.

  18. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    “tentative conclusions about the shooter might be inferred from similar cases in which the shooters have been identified “.

    This is a nice way of saying “Scientific Wildass Guess” which is polite way of saying creating a bullsh!t statistic for purposes to be determined, usually without our best interests in mind.

  19. avatar Craig in IA says:

    The entire premise of this article is flawed in that it presumes that the “ban private firearms ownership” crowd is interested in a fair and unbiased hearing of the facts. They are not.

    The fact that some arrogant, pseudo-educated elitist cannot get you to automatically bow down and worship them and their idol because you, the out-dated, unwashed and uniformed have the power to not only resist, but to terminate their efforts absolutely drives them out of their sanity if they ever possessed it in the first place. If our firearms were not a threat to their being able to take their annointed positions, they wouldn’t even give us, or the guns a second thought.

    Personally, I hope we’ll be dealing with this for a thousand years. If we aren’t, we have likely lost our protected, God-given right.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Do you think that after ” additional studies” they uncovered the fact that most violent crimes and or shootings were done by Democrats ( socialists) . I am sure they would publish this fact.

      1. avatar Craig in IA says:

        🙂 !!!

  20. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    “Not good enough—this is anecdote.”

    Sorry, Mark. That will have to do.

    1) Anti-rights people don’t really care about statistics. Oh they use them when it’s convenient–for them.

    B) Statistics only organize past data. They do not reliably predict future events when human beings are involved.

    III) I don’t trust any bureaucracy to collect and safeguard such sensitive data, like many others.

    x) You can’t prove a negative.

  21. avatar Geoff says:

    “What Can We Learn From 100 Million American Gun Owners?”

    That we outnumber those who would deprive us of our Life and Freedom and are willing to fight to protect both.
    At least I am. Veteran and NRA Life Member.
    And I have 18 of those 400 million (or more) guns.

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      There’s a whole lot more in private hands than anybody knows. At least 70,000 people have full auto’s or other class 3 weapons, including artillery and tracked armor that the ATF knows about. I’d be willing to bet there’s 5 times that they don’t know about.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        actually, they’re not very good at tracking class 3 either…best to keep your
        ‘paperwork” handy…as the burden of proof [and legality]…is on you….

      2. avatar HP says:

        I’ve often felt that if the progressives ever manage to fully take over our government and attempt confiscation, it will be the people with registered full autos that they’ll come after first. Everyone seems to think they are going to sort through 4473’s and go knocking, but that would come after the full autos. Of course, imagine if an order to turn in all those registered guns came. Would all 70,000 be turned in? Let’s say 50,000 are. That still leaves 20,000 guns that would need to be collected by force. That’s a lot of guns. Would it even be feasible? I don’t think it would. As for the rest of the guns, forget it.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          And a majority of that 20,000 is no-shit, no bump stock, machine guns. Yeah, boss, Pretty sure I’m gonna be sick tomorrow, but you guys just go on ahead without me. I’ll see you when you get back to the shop.

        2. avatar BRUCE CLARK says:

          Define “They” who is that? Do you really think “They” have the manpower and resources to go door to door to collect guns in this country. First “They” will simply make guns illegal after all the buyback programs end. Then “They”, will close down all domestic ammunition manufacturers in this country and stop the importation of ammunition from foreign sources. Eventually everyone will have expensive door stops and wall hangers. Then we’ll all revert back to a “Law of the fittest” society like it was 2000 years ago. The biggest and baddest in society will once again own everything. Collecting all the guns would be a monumental task, but eliminating ammunition would only require a few simple strokes of a pen. Fuck worrying about guns, start stockpiling ammo while you still can. Because Ammo is where “They” will force disarmament.

  22. avatar Mad Max says:

    We only really need to know one thing; “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    1. avatar RWE says:

      AMEN! That is the only thing we need to know!!

    2. avatar BRUCE CLARK says:

      Yea Mad Max that sounds like really good advice? Know any other snappy quotes that you can throw at the authorities while they drag you off to the FEMA camp? Lmfao.

  23. avatar BRUCE CLARK says:

    I see it all the time. Take pride in what you own yes, but why do people seem to think it’s a good idea to post such pictures? Is it some kind of “keeping up with the Joneses “type of thing to insist on posting on the internet everything of any value they buy? I don’t get it. Does it somehow give them some sense of pride? Are their lives so shallow that they are willing to risk a burglary or robbery to brag about something there’s no one needs to know about? I don’t understand it. The truly wealthy in this world would never do this. I mean look at the Dog, does he look like a ferocious guard dog? Look around the house, does it look like this family is living in the lap of luxury? At the very least they should have borrowed a 90 pound male “Pitbull” to sit in for the dog in the picture to notify a potental Thief of what is lurking on the premises when they’re away. Lmfao.

  24. avatar suspicious says:

    I would not post photos of ANYONE holding weapons, especially my own family. I find it strange that so many folks who post on forums feel OBLIGATED to list all of their proud pocessions ( guns ). It’s common in all areas of discussion and seems odd to me.

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