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Bob Dickerman of the Staunton, Virginia News Leader writes:

It’s reassuring, I think, that so many homes in our area have more guns than books. As the NRA keeps reminding us: the more guns our citizens have, and the easier they are to get, the safer we all are, and the better society we have. Right?

Seriously? More guns than books? My wife and I have over 1,500 books just in our bedroom. We’re over 5,000 books total (she keeps track of them using an online library app) and that’s just the paper ones. I have at least 200 more on my e-book reader. But because I know my wife and I are hardly your typical household (we have over 400 cookbooks and we read them for pleasure) let’s look at the bigger picture…

According to, in 1999 alone 923 million books were sold. Also according to bookmarket, the average woman owns 15 cookbooks (Jeez, Louise! Only 15?). According to Hepburn et al.‘s paper: “The US gun stock: results from the 2004 national firearms survey” in 2004 there were about 218 million guns in the U.S. with an average of 6.6 guns per gun-owning household. According to the Brady Campaign we purchase 4.5 million guns a year (and who could quibble with the Bradys’ statistics?)

So as of 2011, assuming no one had any books before 1999 and book sales fell 10% a year there should be almost 6.9 billion books in our homes and almost 250 million guns. So forgive me if I find it hard to believe Dickerman’s factlet about guns vs. books.

As to his second point, more guns leading to less crime is certainly true. But the statement suffers from the classic logical fallacy of more is better. Look at vitamins; the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A for men 14 and up is 900 µg so under the more is better fallacy 10,000 µg a day should be even better. But it’s not. Nevertheless, he’s correct about more guns making us a better, safer society. Just look at the graph of people living under “shall-issue” or Constitutional carry laws versus crime rates (you can see the full-sized version here):

Laid out like that, it really isn’t hard to see that Heinlein was correct when he said, “an armed society is a polite society.” Of course more goes into crime rates than simply the number of guns, but as this graph clearly shows, more guns does not bring about more crime.

Our politicians have certainly done all that they can to increase our citizens’ safety by maximizing the percentage of our fellow citizens on our roads, in bars and restaurants and in churches who are carrying weapons, whether concealed or not.

Well, yes, because assaults and murders can happen anywhere. I’d have to respectfully disagree, though, that the politicians and bureaucrats have done all they can to maximize the number of people carrying. They could, for instance, do away with permits entirely (as has been the case in Vermont for years). Short of that, they could charge a nominal fee (like $10) for a ‘shall-issue’ permit system with no restrictions on when and where you could carry. After all, people in MN have been carrying in bars and most churches for years without problems.

As for the concealed or not snark, I wish the antis would make up their minds. When Ohio was trying to pass “shall-issue” they said it wasn’t needed because under the law, people could already carry openly. The same arguments were made when Wisconsin was trying to pass their law. But when Minnesota passed its law, the antis were practically wetting themselves because it doesn’t require you to conceal your weapon. It’s almost as if the antis are in favor of open carry when it is likely to get you arrested at Culvers or proned out in Philadelphia, but otherwise they want cops to be able to arrest people who open carry or (as in Texas) even if it’s only accidental printing.

In spite of all the good work by the our Second Amendment friends, there are still numbers of our fellow citizens who don’t have weapons … or don’t have enough weapons … or don’t yet carry them. How is the Second Amendment going to protect you if you’re not armed?

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Second Amendment doesn’t protect people any more than guns kill people. People protect people. And in answer to the ‘how will you protect yourself if unarmed?’ question, not as well or as safely as you would if you had a gun. For the rest, there are some people “scrupulous of bearing arms” either for religious or philosophical reasons, so we should not try to pressure them to do things they aren’t comfortable with.

For people who don’t have enough weapons, maybe a tax credit? The more people are armed, the less crime there will be and the fewer police will be needed, so letting people deduct the cost of their guns from their taxes actually makes economic sense, right?

Of course the policeman who was killed on the Tech campus Dec. 9 was armed. But if all Tech students were packing heat, might he still be alive today?

Hmm, not terribly likely given the circumstances. The shooter waited in ambush for the officer, so it’s unlikely he could have been stopped by a lawful carrier. Now if he had gone on to start shooting up some classrooms, then armed staff and students would definitely have saved lives.

The answer? We need Gun Lending Libraries just as we now have Book Lending Libraries. This would immediately raise the number of law-abiding citizens carrying weapons as we drive, go to school, shop, relax and work. And this would make our community a lot safer. Right?

Absolutely! That is a brilliant idea! People could borrow different weapons to try out until they found the one(s) best suited for them. And better still, if you had a Holster Annex people could try out different holsters until they found ones that worked, thus avoiding the dreaded holster drawer phenomenon.

Our safety would be further enhanced if these Gun Libraries follow our Virginia Gun Show rules: No Questions Asked. None.

Huh, I guess Bob has never actually been to a gun show, otherwise he would know that every law that applies outside the show applies inside. If a FFL holder was selling guns “no questions asked” s/he would quickly (and possibly violently) be shut down by our gunwalking friends at the ATF.

Not that selling or loaning guns under that policy wouldn’t be a good idea; after all, if someone can’t be trusted with a firearm, then they can’t be trusted without a custodian. *sigh* Baby steps, Bob, baby steps.

So very many of our public services are being cut. But few of those ‘services’ have been addressing our gun deficit, anyway.

Okay, I’m not exactly sure what Bob means by services addressing the gun deficit, but he is correct; all over the country police departments are experiencing cutbacks, so it just makes sense to encourage people to borrow guns if they can’t afford to buy them.

It’s so nice to see that some reporters/editorialists actually have a grasp on self-defense realities.

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  1. I still think that all the kids in school should take a Hunter Safety Class and shoot at least a .22 target rifle with the school Rifle Team. Maybe all adults as well. At least then the Anti- Legislature type folk could at least carry on an intelligent conversation about guns versus talking about the shoulder thingie that goes up.

  2. I think most people have a lot more books, magazines, newspapers, and other such printed material around; than fire arms.
    I still think that electronic devices will be more dominant in the future. As internet wireless bandwidth and coverage increase, mobile devices will become more prevalent.

  3. In fairness to Mr. Dickerman, I have more guns than books on reloading.

    What is most illuminating to me about Dickerman’s piece is his opening thought that gun owners have more guns than books. That’s a sly way of implying we’re not very educated, certainly not well-read, and sort of dumb. I hear that a lot from the antis. I’m not big on the “elitist” charge (heck, I have more degrees than most people have guns), but I think it’s fair to level it against the antis.

    • You’re right that the antis like to play the “stupid redneck” card. And they are elitists. But don’t assume they’re all liberals or Democrats. They’re elitists. And sometimes mayors of NYC.

  4. I recall a survey that showed that gun owners, on average, are better educated and more prosperous than those who do not own guns. Of course, like much of reality, this does not fit the stereotype of gun owners that leftists want to propagate.

    Gun owners are more likely to have books and to be readers than those who do not own guns.

    • I agree completely with this. Given that a good percentage of the criminal population is usually lesser educated i.e.: people who complete formal education have less reason to turn to crime as a livelihood – they would likely be denied legal access to firearm ownership in the first place.

      • True, legal gun ownership is limited to people who don’t get in trouble as teenagers or young adults. Conservatives, on average, are better educated and wealthier than liberals. Guns are expensive.

  5. I own more pistols than I do articles of clothing (no I am not a bum, and yes I am being serious…collector)

    I could see where people could have more guns than books.

  6. “My wife and I have over 1,500 books just in our bedroom. We’re over 5,000 books total (she keeps track of them using an online library app) and that’s just the paper ones. I have at least 200 more on my e-book reader. But because I know my wife and I are hardly your typical household (we have over 400 cookbooks and we read them for pleasure)”Good for you! I’m a bookworm too.

    Years ago, a woman from India who was teaching yoga told me that a person who has read many books is living many lives from the wisdom and depth they can gain. I assume she was referring to quality books with substance and not the garbage stuff that is in also in print or online.

    BTW, can you suggest a good cookbook on Amish or Shaker cooking? Thanks.

  7. Mr. Dickerman’s pose as an intellectual reminds me of an image from C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man.” Lewis was describing men, in that case educators, who thought themselves smart, but had no core virtues, such as courage or honor. The reason their heads looked so big was their chests were so small.

    Lots of educated people own guns. The panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Emerson case, responding to an argument that it would be a scarey thing if everyone had an individual right to bear arms, answered the attorney to this effect: “We don’t want to alarm you, but the three of us could arm a small Latin American army.”It’s possible Mr. Dickerman knew he didn’t have much of an argument, and therefore resorted to sarcasm and derision.

    Not wanting to fall into the same trap, I’ll say I sincerely trust Mr. Dickerman is better than his pose.

  8. An “intellectual” is one who garners his worldview from a desk rather than experience.

    Further, claiming to be smarter than another group, even if true, really isn’t such a noble or moral victory. Intelligence does not make you a good person. Intelligence does not make you a worthy part of the human race. No matter how smart you are, if you’re a sleazy, selfish, narcissistic coward, you’re equal to a cockroach as far as I see it.

  9. It’s good to have (and read) a lot of books. Books can be far more dangerous than guns. I like both, but I’d have to build a new house for my guns to outnumber my books. Read books you think you disagree with.

  10. I don’t know offhand how many guns I have (if you know, then you don’t have enough), but I have more gun books than I have guns. One whole wall in our living room is covered with books from the floor to about 8′ up. Maybe Mr. Dickerman hangs out with illiterates.

  11. .22lr pistols and ammo are/is super cheap (relatively speaking). I think a $100-150, state-sponsored, police-administered classroom and range time day, that comes with a CCW permit, a pocket .22 of your choice (semi vs. revolver), and a 100-rnd box of high quality high velocity .22lr, would be awesome. Everybody gets a gun! Is .22 great for self defense? No. Is it better than a sharp stick? Darn sure. Plus it gets you in the door to something more practical later. Plus, an armed crazy getting 10 or 15 .22 rounds in the torso from 2-4 Armed Intelligentsia is a lot better than getting tackled during a botched reload.

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