Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shooting America

Despite the public revulsion with guns over here, there are more than 120 million firearms in private hands in the USA. About half the homes in America contain one or more gun. If you ask an American why he keeps a handgun in his house he will likely tell you that it’s to protect his property, or perhaps for self defence.

The real reason is less obvious. In a classic study Kellerman and Reay reviewed all the gunshot deaths in a five-year period in and around Seattle. Among one and a quarter million people there were 743 firearms-related deaths, of which just over half occurred at the residence where the gun was kept.

Only two of these 398 involved an intruder shot while attempting entry to the premises while another seven people were killed in self defence. There were 12 accidental deaths and 41 criminal homicides. In both categories the victim was usually a family member or friend.

But by far the largest group of firearms related deaths, accounting for 80% of the total, were suicides, often alcohol related. So the real reason that Americans keep a gun in the house is to shoot themselves with.


Burke said...

"So the real reason that Americans keep a gun in the house is to shoot themselves with."

If a person chooses to commit suicide, his problem is not guns.

About 25 years ago, I held an intruder at gunpoint in my bedroom. After he was captured, the police told me that he was a parolee they had been chasing and that I was lucky to have had a gun.

"Studies" by anti-gunners here, most of whom are leftists, have been shown over and over to be false.

I read a news report during the recent violent political protests in Egypt quoting a doctor there saying he wished he had a gun.

I get the impression you have a lot if unfriendlies in your country, Doc, many of whom don't like Christians. I would recommed an AR-15, but I guess you don't have that freedom there, do you.

I heard a foreigner say on the radio here not long ago that the big difference between the US and Europe is that people over here protest govt programs giving them things like healthcare, and people there protest to get more.

As a lawyer, I know that cops have a sorry record of protecting people from crime. I tell people that their best protection is to get a gun and learn how to use it.

Terry Hamblin said...

Suicide is definitely linked with opportunity. The greatest reduction in suicide in the UK came when we switched from CO-heavy coal gas to CO-free natural gas. Having a gun handy certainly facilitates suicide.

On the other hand the small number of intruders killed makes it unlikely that this is a very great problem in America - or at least in Seattle which may be a very crime-free spot anyway.

I have never even seen a gun in the UK except in the hands of the military. In my childhood the whole of the UK had about 160 homicides a year and although there are 5 times as many today, the vast majority are either spousal killings or gang warfare in parts of London.

Burke said...

If the fact that others can be irrational is grounds for violating my rights, I have no rights.

The number of crimes committed by private criminals is miniscule compared to the crimes committed by govt's.

If my ancestors had not had guns, we would all be talking differently today, I believe.

The Japanese, for example, decided not to invade the US West coast after Pearl Harbor reportedly because they feared that there would be "a gun behind every bush."

Terry Hamblin said...

Well, we have all seen the movies about the wild west. And your ancestors were the same as mine. Why is the UK so less violent for all that it is more crowded? Just more mature?

I don't mind your having a gun. Most Swiss men have a gun in their wooden chalets in the Alps. When my son was living in Washington State he told me that without a hunting rifle many families would go hungry.

Can't eat people, though.

I'm not sure that the Constitution Fathers intended there to be armed householders rather than as in Switzerland recruits for the Militia when they wrote what they did. Hey, your the Jurist not me.

Anonymous said...

How much violence among individual citizens was there in, say, Stalin's former Soviet Union? My impression is that the govt did most of the killing, albeit vodka was responsible for a lot too.

People are not a herd of animals to be controlled by govt.

The old saying was that God created man, but Sam Colt made them equal. And it evens things up for the gals, too.

Anonymous said...

Guns kill simple as that, they have no other purpose in life.

One of our Church elders sons shot himself with the farm shotgun, suicide. The son could have been still alive today were it not for that shotgun.

Terry is right.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the leftists here in the US who claim to be so concerned about gun violence are utterly unconcerned about the prospects of the mad mullahs of Iran getting nukes, unconcerned about the many millions who were murdered by communists during the 20th century, and unconcerned about the tens of millions who died from malaria because of the bans on DDT, a completely harmless chemical.

The fact is that they don't give a hang about all their causes. These causes are just platforms for attacking happy, successful people and the free nations that make happiness and success possible.

Anonymous said...

A point about suicide.

Like it or not, if a sane person wants to commit suicide, he has a "natural" right to do so. Many have committed suicide without using a firearm to do so. Many are doing so slowly with the use of drugs right now, and attempts to prevent this with the so-called "war on drugs"
are proving counterproductive, as Prohibition in the US did with alcohol- except that the war on drugs is far more destructive. Look at what's going on in Mexici, for example.

In the Middle East hundreds of millions of people are taught from birth that virtue consists of dying a violent death for Allah. Much of the cultural heritage of the West is similar, although this influence was reduced by the effect of the Enlightenment. Socialists teach that prople should be sacrificed for "society."

Our problem is the prevalence of anti-life outlooks not the implements people use to kill themselves and others.

(Burke. For some reason, the feature that allows me to identify myself as the author of my posts here
ceased working last night.)

Terry Hamblin said...

It turns out that many attempted suicides are 'cries for help'. With coal gas it turned out to be irreversible because of the build up of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood stopped people changing their minds. The same was true for barbiturates and alcohol. Suicide by handgun is similarly irreverisble and often committed when under the influence of alcohol. Taking away the means of easy suicide reducues the numbers of suicides. Most suicides are committed while in a temporary state of despair.

Anonymous said...

The son of our Church elder who shot himself was struggling with various personal issues, it came as a complete shock to his parents when they heard a load bang and found their son with a fatal gun shot to the head. Had the gun not been available he would not have had the means to kill himself.

Listen to what Terry is saying, he is right.

Get rid of your guns and put your trust in God for your protection and your families protection.

TJK said...

The Kellerman "study" was thoroughly discredited by Kellerman himself: the groups he compared (his description) and methods introduced clear bias, and to this day he has refused to release his detailed data records.

Suicides account for about half the shooting deaths in the U.S., not 80%.

Suicides are often not due to temporary depression, nor impulsive. They are very often rational decisions based on the despair arising in single or combined circumstances of depredations of aging, loss of self-worth from social or financial causes, or deteriorated health.

Moreover, there is a strong cultural component in suicidal behavior. The Japanese people do not have guns, but die in large numbers by their own hand, nonetheless, and at rates far exceeding the suicide rate in the U.S. The Japanese make their opportunities with resolve and planning.

Finally re suicide, the potential means are many, and all around us. As with any other human behavior, the determining factor is human motivation, not an implement or method.

The reason so few intruders in the U.S.are shot to death is two-fold. Mostly, criminal intrusions are deterred by the knowledge of criminals that arms are common among the populace. Second, when they occur, many intrusion attempts fail because the criminal flees when the lawful occupant shows arms, often without shooting, and generally without delivering a fatal shot. In this type of encounter, wounding is far more common than fatality, therefore the actual numbers of uses of firearms in home/personal defense are skewed low when only deaths are counted.

This concept of deterrence is at the heart of the Second Amendment: It is very difficult for a tyrant to get over on an armed populace; the political system stays on track because the alternative is not practical.

At the risk of error, but judging from what I read, there is a good deal of crime in the U.K., and not must gov't effectiveness in stemming the tide, except to discount self-defense as a criminal act.

Guns have the multiple purposes of their owners and users. Saying the only purpose of guns is killing is bumper-sticker-level non-thought.


Manu Manickvel said...

Death & destruction are powerful images evoked by possession of firearms; and most definitely depression / alcohol add to the mix(just ask a psychiatrist)either to kill oneself or others. But it is very hard to convince those who think their defence lies only in guns.