We’ve fisked Leonard Pitts more than a few times here on TTAG. Today’s installment [via pressherald.com] surrounds Lenny’s article, As toddlers are sadly proving, a gun only makes a home less secure. You know the drill: it’s more likely that a kid in the home will shoot himself with a gun than a gun owner will use a firearm to defend his family. It’s the anti-gun rights crusaders’ go-to argument, mandatory for convincing disarmed Americans to remain disarmed, and vote for measures that disarm armed Americans. Lenny asserts that the belief that a home defense gun helps a home owner defend their home is “completely at odds with statistical fact.” Which raises an important question . . .
How many times do home owners use a gun to defend their home? You know; setting aside the obvious deterrent effect in gun-equipped neighborhoods. Strangely, Mr. Pitts doesn’t once mention the statistical evidence regarding defensive gun uses (DGU’s). wikipedia.org tells us that the lowest estimate – prepared by notorious anti-gun rights researched David Hemenway – pegs that number at approximately 55,000-80,000 DGU’s per year.
How many of those occur in the home? Let’s be conservative (so to speak) and say it’s 10 percent, yielding a total of five to eight thousand home-based DGU’s per year. NOW let’s look at Pitts’ analysis of firearms-related accidents involving toddlers.
It was the kind of a statistic that would have left a sane country stunned and shamed.
This country barely noticed it.
It came last month, courtesy of The Washington Post [ED: no line provided], which reported that, as of mid-October, toddlers in America have been shooting people this year at a rate of one a week.
You know how the story goes. Little one finds an inadequately secured gun and starts playing with it, too young to know that death lurks inside. The thing goes off with a bang, leaving a hole – sometimes a fatal one – in human flesh.
Sometimes it’s Da-da. Sometimes, it’s Nana. Sometimes, it’s the toddler himself.
Da-da. Nana. The toddler. Oh the humanity! Seriously, that sucks. But raw emotion and rational thinking are two different things.
In 2012, 444 1-4 year olds died in car accidents. The same story reports that 895 5-14 year olds also died in car accidents that year. That’s 1,339 in total. Pitts combines children dying in firearms-related incidents with people shot by children to come up with his total of 55. Setting that aside, that’s one firearms-related fatality per week (out of a population of 320 million) compared to the 25.75 children per week who die in car accidents.
I know: if gun control saves ONE CHILD it’s worth degrading and destroying Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. And we should tackle BOTH firearms and vehicular-related childhood deaths. With, I dunno, safety campaigns? Meanwhile, Lenny reckons it’s OK to fear having a gun in the home but not OK to fear home invaders. Like this:
A 2014 study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, found that exposure to violent crime on TV dramas intensifies the fear that one may become a victim. “CSI,” anyone? And a 2003 study from the same source found that the more people watch local TV news – where if it bleeds, it leads – the greater their fear of crime.
And here, it bears repeating: We have less to fear from crime now than we’ve had in many years.
But, though lacking cause to fear, we fear just the same, fear all the more, making life and death decisions about personal security based on perceptions that have little to do with reality.
Lacking cause to fear? The reality: home invasions – and other criminal attacks – do occur. Here’s a Department of Justice report from 2010.
An estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year on average from 2003 to 2007. In about 28% of these burglaries, a household member was present during the burglary. In 7% of all household burglaries, a household member experienced some form of violent victimization.
That the downside of not having a gun to protect yourself and your family in that situation leaves you without the most effective method for ending that attack. An event that also does occur. If Leonard was facing a hot burglary would he want to have a gun? Millions of Americans have contemplated that question and made their decision. A decision that Leonard and his ilk should respect. But never will.