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There’s an old parody New York Times headline that pokes fun at the paper’s obvious biases – World Ends Tomorrow; Women and Minorities Hardest Hit. It’s only funny because it so closely matches their actual editorial output. But look out, Gray Lady. There’s a new kid in town and he’s a real contender… describes itself as featuring “the latest discoveries in all fields from scientists at the top universities in the US, UK, and Canada.” OK then.

So what’s the chuckle-inducing lede?

Stray Bullets Often Injure WomenThe first nationwide study of stray-bullet shootings shows more than 80 percent of the victims were unaware of the events leading to the gunfire and more than 40 percent were women.

I never did well in the more numerically oriented classes I was forced to endure while becoming ‘educated.’ But doesn’t the inverse – or is it the converse – of these results indicate that men are the most likely to be struck by stray bullets? Something on the order of (checking my math here…) 60% of the time?

But somehow that just doesn’t seem quite as seksi, does it? “Men Most Likely to be Struck by Stray Bullets.” What a snoozefest. Not much more news-breaking than “Sun to Rise in East Tomorrow.” Then there’s the fact that it doesn’t fit the narrative very well. Gun violence affecting the softer, fairer sex draws more sympathy and generates outrage toward those damned guns.

UC-Davis professor of emergency medicine Garen Wintemute is the director of the school’s Violence Prevention Research Program. He’s also the author of Ring of Fire: The Handgun Makers of Southern California. For the (no doubt federally funded) study, he used a year’s worth of Google reports containing the phrase “stray bullet” to compile his data. I’m not sure how scientifically valid that is, but let’s run with it.

He defined stray-bullet shootings as situations where a bullet escaped an intended sociogeographic space and resulted in the injury of at least one person, either from the gunshot itself or a secondary mechanism, such as an injury from glass sent flying by a stray bullet. Typical scenarios included violence, shooting sports, celebratory gunfire, and related activities. Cases also included shootings of bystanders who had no active role in a violent incident, and unintentional gunfire when the shooter and the person shot were not the same person.

So, if I shoot at Home Invader #1, miss, and hit Home Invader #2 standing twenty feet behind him, has the bullet escaped Home Invader #1’s sociogeographic space? Just checking.

“Stray-bullet shootings create fear and insecurity in many communities,” says Wintemute. “People stay indoors, don’t let their children play outside, and alter the patterns of their daily lives to avoid being struck by a bullet meant for someone else. Yet no research has been conducted at the national level to explore the epidemiology of these shootings. Such information is often important to identifying preventive measures.”

I’ll take a shot in the dark here and guess that stricter “common sense” gun control measures are Dr. Wintemute’s prescription. From his bio:

Recognized as one of the nation’s foremost scholars addressing violence as a public health problem, he has weathered death threats, complaints about his scientific integrity and demands for dismissal from his job. A gun company president once advised him to keep his life insurance premiums paid up. He has published numerous scientific articles on gun violence, testified on the subject before Congress, the California Legislature and various local governments, and provided comments to Frontline, CNN, the Washington Post and other media outlets.

Perhaps of greatest importance is Dr. Wintemute’s longstanding commitment of service to federal, state and local policymakers and law enforcement agencies. He collaborates regularly with staff at the California Department of Justice and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” His vigorous and unrelenting leadership in the fight to end gun violence is an outstanding example of scholarly public service.

So unlike Futurity’s furious spinning, people – male or female – being hit by stray rounds isn’t a bit funny. No matter if the source is a drive-by, “celebratory fire” or Dick Cheney bird hunting. So let this be a lesson to you kids out there. Rule number four – learn it, live it, love it. Know your target and what’s behind it. And if you can’t think of any other reason, do it for the women.

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  1. I don’t know what raised the hairs on the back of my neck more, the phrase “escaped an intended sociogeographic space” or the fact that he consults for the ATF.

    I love how gun-grabbers seem to always refer to guns, bullets, and such using the passive voice. It’s never “the idiot firing the gun missed,” or “he didn’t check to make sure his line of fire was clear of other targets” but “the bullet escaped an intended sociogeographic space.” Wow. Now THAT’S some torturous, convoluted reasoning.

    • Should I lock up my bullets or in some way improve the restraints? I have been so foolish. I jsut keep the bullets in the box or in the magazine of the weapon. I had no idea in all my years of gun handling that the bullets would escape.

      Your honor, I did not shoot that man. The bullet escaped and he was in the path. All 5 times.

    • I’m glad you’re a half-full kinda guy, Mike. But I have to believe that, if those were the actual numbers, Futurity’s headline would have been something like,

      Women and Children Struck by Stray Bullets Most Often.

      N’est-ce pas?

  2. How many women and children are struck by stay automobiles? Did they leave the intended sociogeographic space as well? If straight white christian males were the winner in this lottery, would this be an issue?

  3. Is this the same Wintemute who came out with the “study” from Seattle that “proved” you are “43 times more likely to have a family member shot by a gun in the home than you are to stop an intruder with it”?

    This thoroughly discredited “study” looked at families of drug dealers and drug users, and extrapolated their levels of violence to everyone. The “43 times” number is still being used by the Brady Coalition to Promote Helpless Victimhood.

    • No, that was that other dodo-head, Arthur Kellerman. I think you are combining two of his “studies”, one of which purported that a handgun in the home is 43 times as likely to kill a member of the household than KILL an intruder. 37 of the 43 were suicides. Intruders wounded or scared off were not counted. The other study was a comparison between Seattle WA and Vancouver BC. Seattle had a higher homicide rate than Vancouver, the excess acccounted for by firearm homicides. However, by race of victim Whites, which were 75-80% of each city, actually had a lower rate of homicide in Seattle. The difference in homicide rates was entirely accounted for by Seattle’s minority population (predominantly Black) getting killed at a far higher rate than Vancouver’s (predominantly Asian) To avoid appearing racist, just note that if Seattle was more dangerous because of firearms, the effect would have been seen in the White population.

  4. I feel very bad for stray bullets. They must be sad, poorly fed, sickly little things, running around the streets with no families to play with. I think that every bullet deserves a home, but I really can’t take in any more bullets. Our zoning laws restrict me to 10,000 bullets, and I’m getting pretty close. So people, take in a stray bullet or two now. And for the sake of our future, make sure it’s spayed, not sprayed.

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