The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Ownership Violence has come out with another one of their “reports.” This one’s titled How Guns Have Affected the Athletic Community & What It Tells Us About America’s Gun Violence Crisis. They start out with an executive summary and one of their typical “facts”: Each year in America, guns claim more than 30,000 lives – over 3,000 of them children and teens – and over 70,000 more are injured . . .
According to the CDC’s WISQARS website, between 1999 and 2009 (inclusive) there were an average of 30,255 firearm related deaths per year, including suicides. The misleading part of this statistic is that, as we have shown before, suicides are means independent. That is to say if you make it harder to commit suicide with a gun, people just switch to other methods and the overall suicide rate remains essentially unchanged. So we can remove from consideration the average 17,183 firearm related suicides a year. That brings our average annual “gun death” toll down to 13,072.
Likewise, of those 3,000 children and “teens” (more on that in a moment), 847 are suicides, bringing that number down to 2,153. About those “teens”…it is true that “teens” is defined as persons between 13 and 19 inclusive. However, when most people think of the group “children and teens,” they discount 18 and 19-year-olds since they’re adults.
Including these nominal adults in their figures allows the Bradys to more than double the number of their “victims.” Between 1999 and 2009 firearm related accidental deaths and homicides in the 0 – 17 age group averaged 1065 a year; among 18 and 19-year-olds that number was 1088.
Unsurprisingly, the Bradys injury numbers are inflated, too. Again, going to WISQARS we find that between 2001 and 2010 an average of 68,208 people suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds. But when we pull out the “self-harm” (i.e. attempted suicide) numbers we get an average of 64,646 injuries a year.
But the biggest problem with these numbers and the Bradys’ treatment of them is that they only look at the “cost” of firearms to society. There is an old pro-gun argument you don’t hear much anymore; that cars kill more people (an annual average of 43,202 accidental MV deaths between 1999 and 2009) than guns. It is a weak argument not because it isn’t true, but because everyone is familiar with how beneficial cars are to individuals and society. Most people have no clue how many DGUs there are annually and thus no way of knowing how many lives are saved by guns.
Briefly back in the early 1990’s, Doctors Kleck and Gertz performed a study on defensive gun uses (DGUs) and determined that there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs annually. In response, the Clinton Department of Justice commissioned a study from Doctors Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig. That study concluded that there were 1.46 million DGUs per year. Now, in the K-G article they found that 15.7% of people involved in a DGU believed that they “almost certainly” saved their life of someone else’s. 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.
So to be conservative, let’s say that 9 out of 10 of the “almost certainly” people 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, which means slightly over 25,000 lives are saved annually by guns.
So we have 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.
So much for that bogus factoid, What do they have next?
- Medical costs for firearm injuries range from $2.3 billion to $4 billion with additional annual indirect costs estimated at $19 billion.
Again going to the CDC (see figure), in 2005 there were 38,884 non-fatal gunshot injuries treated in hospitals, with approximate lifetime medical costs of $571,632,000. That seems an awfully low number of injuries given the 70,000-ish injuries annually we saw elsewhere, so I’ll double their numbers, giving us $1,143,264,000 in costs.
But I really don’t think we should include the self-harm numbers (see note about suicides above), nor should we include the “legal intervention” injury costs (unless they’re arguing to disarm the cops too). Removing those costs leaves us with $973,502,000, or less than half of the Brady’s low figure.
Remember the antis old “gun show loophole” bogey man? As so many of us “paranoid gun-nuts” predicted they are widening their net:
- In virtually every state, a criminal can buy a gun from a “private seller,” without a Brady background check.
This is completely true and just as completely irrelevant. As pointed out in table 8 of the DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics report on Firearm Use by Offenders, less than 2% of inmates purchased their guns by way of any sort of private sale “loophole.” Almost 80% of inmates reported they got their gun from either a “family or friend” or “street/illegal source.” It’s a sad but undeniable fact that criminals don’t obey the law. Expecting that making it more illegal for a felon to illegally buy a gun to do illegal things with is A) ludicrous and B) exactly what the antis want people to believe.
But the Bradys have one more facticle for us:
- Firearms are the only product not subject to federal consumer product safety standards.
Yes, that is true. And it was done precisely to keep the antis from using “product safety” laws to destroy the gun industry. But let’s pause for a little reflection here…according to GunPolicy.org, in 2007 the U.S. had 270,000,000 privately owned guns. And according to the ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturers And Export Report, between 2008 and 2010 U.S. companies manufactured (and didn’t export) some 14,647,000 guns. I couldn’t find numbers for 2008 and 2009 but according to TheFirearmBlog.com, in 2010 we imported some 2.8 million guns. So throwing out a SWAG, let’s say the number of ‘civilian’ guns has risen 25,000,000 since 2007, putting us at 295,000,000 guns.
So going back to the CDC for the accidental firearm related death and injury numbers (that’s what product safety laws are supposed to prevent, right?), over the last 10 years or so we averaged 703 deaths and 16,652 injuries annually. If there are 295 million guns in the U.S., we average 0.00024% of firearms involved in an accidental death and 0.0056% involved in an accidental injury.
To put it in layman’s terms: if you buy 13 Powerball® tickets, you are more likely to win $1,000,000 than for any given firearm to accidentally kill someone.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the first death that the Bradys are celebrating:
In 2009, gun violence claimed one of its approximately 30,000 yearly victims in this country: former National Football League MVP Steve McNair. …
On the night of July 4th, 2009, McNair was sleeping on his couch in Nashville when his girlfriend, Saleh Kazemi, shot him twice in the head and twice in the chest, killing him instantly. She then turned the gun on herself, committing suicide.
Kazemi was 20, not old enough to buy a handgun legally from a licensed federal firearms dealer (“FFL”), so she would not have passed a Brady background check. But she obtained her gun for $100 through a “private sale” by Adrian Gilliam, Jr., a convicted felon, in a mall parking lot. Gilliam also obtained the gun from the private sale loophole, as he was prohibited from purchasing a gun from a FFL.
So let’s get this straight: are the Bradys are trying to tell us that if only Ms. Kazemi’s illegal gun purchase had been a little more illegal she would not have committed this murder-suicide? If only she hadn’t gotten that handgun she would have lovingly reconciled with Steve and they both would have lived happily ever after? She would not have gone to a FFL and bought a shotgun or rifle to shoot him with? She wouldn’t have bought a couple of bucks worth of gasoline and a Zippo to end their lives in an inferno? She wouldn’t have run him over with the Escalade he bought her and then driven herself off a bridge? She wouln’t have . . . well, you get the idea.
The Brady Bunch would have us believe that if it weren’t for the malevolent influence of a handgun bought without a background check, a young woman who was willing to commit murder and suicide would have done neither.
Next on their list is Sean Taylor:
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was in the prime of a stellar professional football career when he was shot and killed in his bedroom during a robbery in November 2007.
Taylor, one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL, was in his hometown of Miami, Florida, when several people broke through his bedroom door and fired two shots, one hitting Taylor in the leg. He later died at the hospital.
Five people were charged in connection with Taylor’s death, ages 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 at the time of the shooting. The alleged shooter should not have been able to obtain a handgun, even from a private seller, because he was under the age of 18. In fact, it was illegal for him to even possess a handgun.
Wow, criminals were carrying guns, quelle surprise! Something the Bradys don’t mention in their sketch is the fact that the thieves made enough noise breaking in that Sean was able to arm himself in an attempt to defend not just himself but his girlfriend and their 18-month-old daughter. Unfortunately, due to some of those strict gun laws that the Bradys push for, Sean couldn’t have firearms in his house. So despite the fact that his home had been burglarized a week before, the only weapon he had was a machete. So instead of being able to scare off the thieves with some warning shots, or engage them at a distance, he had to let them get close.
Would there have been a different outcome if Sean had been able to arm himself with a shotgun or pistol? We’ll never know, but what we do know is that, as shown by the table below from GunFacts.info, using a gun is the safest way to defend yourself against a robbery or assault.
 Defensive Gun Uses
 although I am not a fan of warning shots, they do have their place