Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Trying to make a convert III


The very first study you mention just happens to be the most flawed and most quoted study on guns that I have ever seen.

Study Name: Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home

What did this study study?

It studied the injuries and deaths caused by firearms in the home, it did NOT study the risks and benefits of firearms in the home. Once the study looks at injury data Kellermann then makes a conclusion about “guns kept in the home”. The injury data is an entirely different, although a component of studying “guns kept in the home”. The injury data is a subset of the information needed to decide if owning a gun is a good decision.


Where did the gun come from?

If all the shootings were from guns kept in the home then Kellermann’s study would probably hold up. The injuries and deaths are not all from that set of data. Many of the injuries and deaths were from guns brought into the home by an outsider.

A subsequent study, again by Kellermann, of fatal and non-fatal gunshot woundings, showed that only 14.2% of the shootings involving a gun whose origins were known, involved a gun kept in the home where the shooting occurred. (Kellermann, et. al. 1998. "Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home." Journal of Trauma 45:263-267) ("The authors reported that among those 438 assaultive gunshot woundings, 49 involved a gun 'kept in the home where the shooting occurred,' 295 involved a gun brought to the scene from elsewhere, and another 94 involved a gun whose origins were not noted by the police [p. 252].") (Kleck, Gary. "Can Owning a Gun Really Triple the Owner's Chances of Being Murdered?" Homicide Studies 5 [2001].)

This study also includes officers acting in the line of duty, which most likely they did not live at the home in question.

Gun usage
The study also fails to study all gun uses. If you brandished a gun in the home to stop a criminal or scare one away, but no one was injured the instance of gun use would not have showed up in this study. Along the same line of thought, if a gun was discharged but no one was injured, it would also not be in this study. The uses of guns in this manner, according to some studies, make up a significant amount of actual gun uses.

An analysis by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz (Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, v. 86 n.1 [Fall 1995]) of successful defensive uses of firearms against criminal attack concluded that the criminal is killed in only one case in approximately every one thousand attacks.

Minor flaws

Another flaw, of unknown size, is data concerning guns which were purchased lawfully and which ones were not. Most likely, at least some of the guns were bought illegally.

Secondly, the population samples used were skewed. Two of the cities used where high crime areas at the time. Although that data can be corrected for, it does not strengthen the study at all.

Finally, when applying the study to a handgun owner or prospective buyer, it is important to note the difference between rifles, shotguns, and handguns. This study lumped all firearms together in one block.

Padding the numbers

Suicide and guns

When studies start including the number of people who decided to end their life, who attempted to end their lives, or who actually ended their lives, I start to suspect the study’s motives. This group of people is being used a political pawn in gun control efforts. I personally find that particularly disgusting.

Mr. Kellermann was pleasant enough to do a study on the effects guns have on suicides also

Study Name: Suicide in the home in relation to gun ownership

In this study he concludes: “CONCLUSIONS. Ready availability of firearms is associated with an increased risk of suicide in the home. Owners of firearms should weigh their reasons for keeping a gun in the home against the possibility that it might someday be used in a suicide.”

Does owning a gun increase the risk of suicide? Or do other factors, such as a history of mental illness, increase the chance of suicide, and the risk of using a gun for suicide increases if you have one in the house?

Another study, which I found looks at data before and after laws which limit “access to guns by certain psychiatric patients”.

Study Name: Guns and suicide: possible effects of some specific legislation

“Both sets of data indicate that gun control legislation may have led to decreased use of guns by suicidal men, but the difference was apparently offset by an increase in suicide by leaping. In the case of men using guns for suicide, these data support a hypothesis of substitution of suicide method.”

Accidental deaths and guns

Accidents do happen, and every life that is lost due to an accidental shooting is one that could have been prevented. Though the claims of limiting guns for this reason is weak in my opinion.

Accidental deaths by gun occur less than any other recorded cause of accidental death except poisoning by gas and vapor.

This is not to minimize the death of anyone who was accidentally killed by a gun, but accidental gun deaths are not a common occurrence. It is rare, and confined mostly to those who should know better. Children are accidentally killed by guns, but are not the group most likely to suffer, although that is not what some groups would like to you believe.

This page at the CDC can answer in detail you questions on unintentional deaths by firearms. The results can be broken out by year and age.

246 accidental gun deaths happened in the years 1999- 2001 for children 14 and under. 2,402 total gun deaths happened for the three years mentioned. That means children younger than 14 made up a little more than 10 percent of unintentional deaths by firearms.

824, 776, and 802 unintentional deaths occurred in 1999, 2000, and 2001 by firearms. That is pretty good considering there is one gun for every single many woman and child in America.

Brady campaign

From the Brady campaign website, “In 1996, handguns were used to murder 2 people in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, 106 in Canada and 9,390 in the United States.”

The fact that American has more firearm deaths than other country is not a surprise. Please look at a worldwide ranking of America compared to other countries in the total crime (per capita). You should have not problem finding us, because we near the top of the list, at number 5.

Of all the developed countries America is number one in assaults per capita.

We are number three for Murders (per capita) for developed countries.

We are fifth for Assaults (per capita) for developed countries.

We are ninth for Car thefts (per capita) for developed countries.

We are ninth for Rapes (per capita) for developed countries.

American is one of the most crime ridden first world countries in the world, and that is with the violent crime rates the lowest ever.

Here are several different graphs that show the declining crime rate in America.

Firearm deaths are not the problem; they are a symptom of the crime problem. The Brady campaign has set its agenda against guns, when the real problem is crime. The firearm death problem will be solved when the crime problem is solved; it is as simple as that.

Guns and Crime on a personal level

Guns are tools used to kill, that is a fact. They kill quickly and effectively. They do not require large amounts of skill or strength to operate, but if a skilled operator were to gain access they only increase in damage potential. The combination of power, ease of use, and lethality make these weapons the choice of criminals and protectors of the peace.

These characteristics are what make a gun idea for self-protection; and because of their lethal nature they have a profound mental affect on attackers and would be attackers. In a game of knife, rock, or gun. Gun always wins, and cannot be replaced, only matched.

Trent Lott a gun advocate has done extensive studies on CCW (Conceal and Carry Weapons permits).

The benefits of concealed handguns are not limited to those who carry them or use them in self-defense. That these weapons are concealed keeps criminals uncertain as to whether potential victims will be able to defend themselves with lethal force.

A range of different gun laws as well as other methods of deterrence, such as the death penalty, were examined [in reducing deaths and injuries from multiple victims in a public shootings]. However, only the concealed-handgun laws succeeded in reducing deaths and injuries from these shootings. When states passed them, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted by 90 percent, injuries by 82 percent.

Other studies have not been so conclusive, but have not shown allowing CCW permits increases crime.

"Shall Issue": The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws

“In the states discussed above, the dire warnings of the gun control lobbies were not realized. It should not be surprising that the carry laws appear not to have a noticeable impact on the homicide rate in most states (Florida, perhaps, excepted). To begin with, it is important to notice that in most of the states studied, the general rise and fall of murder rates before the new laws took effect roughly approximated the rate in the rest of the country. This suggests that, in general, the causes of changes in murder rates are largely determined nationally.”

Crime is one reason I have chosen to purchase and carry a gun. I have several risk factors associated with violent crime. I am a young male, rent, and live near a high crime area.

Please do some searching at the Memphis crime mapper.

Notice the difference in the number of burglaries, domestic violence incidents, larcenies, and car thefts; as you move westward from my aparment [edited to conceal my apartment complex]

Another reason to own a gun is that the personal protection and protection of property is a personal responsibility.

"It is well-settled American law that the police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen from crime, even if the citizen has received death threats and the police have negligently failed to provide protection."


Owning a gun and choosing to carry the gun are serious decisions that do incur certain amounts of risk, but so does owning a toaster. The serious discussion of owning a gun for home defense and carrying a gun for personal protection are topics that should be discussed with sober judgment, clear, unbiased information; and a full knowledge of the responsibilities that come with owning and using a gun.

Unfortunately, biased studies get in the way of discussing lawful gun ownership and the risks. They pad their numbers, overstate their claims, and practice incomplete scholarship. The profound mental effect guns have, has let fear get in the way of clearly studying problems.


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Vestigial Fish said...

It's not that we're more violent as Americans. It's just that we're better shots...

I do agree that the presence of guns in the home statistically raises the possibility that there will be a gun related injury or death. Having a gun in the home of an irresponsible owner is worse. Of course owning a car drastically increases the chances of suffering an accident...

On the suicide note, guns are a fairly immediate and violent way to end one's life. I would say that the gun's lethal nature turns more ATTEMPTED suicides into successful ones, rather than increasing suicide rates. I have no data on this, so take that as you will.

As far as the deterance factor of a gun, I am less convinced of that. I feel dogs and other large, toothy animals are better deterants than guns. Ill-tempered Geese work wonders as well.

Finally, what it really comes down to is what you believe in. Yes, guns increase deaths. Yes, guns increase accidental injuries. Yes, unlike cars, guns are far less useful to the functioning of society. However, I feel that the number of deaths and injuries created by guns do not justify their removal from society.

Cubicle said...

"I do agree that the presence of guns in the home statistically raises the possibility that there will be a gun related injury or death."

Based on what study? What numbers? And if the chance of being in a gun related injury or death is rasied how much is it raised by?

The only studies that i have seen which confrim that idea or by kellermann, and i think it is clear his stuides are not worth much.

"I have no data on this, so take that as you will."
I do and it is in the post, and you are right. The decrease in gun death sucicdes are just off set by sucicde by other methods.

"As far as the deterance factor of a gun, I am less convinced of that. I feel dogs and other large, toothy animals are better deterants than guns. Ill-tempered Geese work wonders as well."

As to do the derterence factor, this is hard to quanitfiy, becuase just pulling a gun does not warrent a call to the police, so surveys (or polls essentially) are done to come up with numbers, so I admit you have a point there and that more studies need to be done.

Dogs could work well, but I would prefer a dog for company, and a gun for protection. Also, the right to own dogs for protection is being taken away also as we speak, go over to say uncle and search for breed specific legistiontion (BSL)


Cubicle said...


I am impressed by your research and have gained a valuable tool with the crime tracker. Note to self: avoid Lamar at Winchester.

It is very difficult, even for the CDC to find true statistics on the increase of danger in owning a gun at home. Each person should evaluate their situation because numbers can be manipulated on both sides depending on the points they wish to prove. We could both cite examples and poke holes in them.

There is an undeniable, inherent risk in owning a gun. There is a risk when driving a car, using a toaster, and eating a blowfish. However, an item with such efficient power as a gun is more likely to cause an injury than a fluffy-puff marshmallow. Responsibility is the key and with proper training and storage as well as other correct physical and mental health actions, your risk reduces. Feelings of security and strength are also beneficial byproducts.

It is yours and every American's right and decision. You have clearly made one.