Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Guns in the home

with 11 comments

I believe that, once the research is done, it will turn out that having firearms in the home is more likely to harm rather than protect the homeowner and his family: guns fired at family members in the heat of argument, guns during periods of depression for suicide, guns accidentally discharged leading to death or injury, and so on. Oscar Pistorius’s story in court today perhaps is one example, as stated in a NY Times report by Lydia Polgreen and Alan Cowell:

. . . Mr. Pistorius said he and Ms. Steenkamp had gone to bed early on Wednesday night, but in the middle of the night he heard a noise from the bathroom and went to investigate on his stumps, not his artificial legs.

“I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes,” he said in the affidavit. “I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.”

He was nervous, he said, because the bathroom window did not have burglar bars and contractors who had been working there had left ladders behind.

The room was dark, he said, and he did not realize that Ms. Steenkamp was not in bed. He felt vulnerable and fearful without his prosthetics and opened fire at the door, he said, calling to Ms. Steenkamp to telephone the police.

Only then did he realize that she was not in bed, he said. He put on his artificial legs and tried to kick down the door before breaking it open with a cricket bat to discover Ms. Steenkamp.

He carried her downstairs, he said, and “she died in my arms.” . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

19 February 2013 at 10:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Guns

11 Responses

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  1. I wonder that this article isn’t proceeded by the declaration to remove items with a higher accident rate. For instance a person is five times more likely to die from accidental drowning by having a private swimming pool than a person with a gun in the home is to die from accidental shooting.

    Further at what mortality rate are you willing to accept in order to enforce a removal of guns from the home? Prohibition era levels? Drug war levels?

    There are more registered guns in the US than there are people and an estimated 50% of households have guns. That means twice as many people view self defense as a fundamental right as have voted any President into office. Remember that the NRA only represents 2% of gun owners.

    All prohibitions come with an increase in violence, but surly offending such a widely held right would prove to be the bloodiest prohibition of them all. So sad anecdotes aside, how many human lives is your position worth?

    J

    19 February 2013 at 11:02 am

  2. As noted in the post, I’m interested in finding the actual statistics on how harmful guns are. For some reason (one can only speculate) the NRA has strongly opposed obtaining actual data, but their influence seems to be waning as they are seen as extreme.

    But you seem to have access to actual data and studies of harm from guns in the home, based on your comment comparing harm from swimming pools vs. guns. Could you provide a link to that study? (I’m sure you realize that the Internet is rife with made-up statistics, so links are always desirable.)

    I’m certainly not suggesting a prohibition of firearms—never would do that. Indeed, I enjoyed hunting in my youth. And as shown with alcohol and drugs, prohibition causes serious problems. I’m suggesting instead regulation and control: for example, background checks required for any purchase (i.e., no loopholes); limited magazine capacity (5 rounds, say); limits on non-hunting weapons (i.e., weapons used primarily for killing people).

    Certainly the number of human lives lost in the current situation is horribly high—in the US, I mean. Other nations, with better controls, have much lower rates of deaths due to firearms (and those statistics are well-established and readily available). That is, improved gun regulation and control will save lives, not cost lives—at least that is what the data show.

    LeisureGuy

    19 February 2013 at 11:31 am

  3. >As noted in the post, I’m interested in finding the actual statistics on how harmful guns are.

    Actually I haven’t had any problem finding information on guns vs swimming pools. Here is an article from science blogs http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2001/07/27/levittpoolsvsguns/

    It’s also no secret that cities with the strictest gun laws (New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles) have the highest gun mortality rates.

    >For some reason (one can only speculate) the NRA has strongly opposed obtaining actual data, but their influence seems to be waning as they are seen as extreme.

    As I mentioned the NRA only represents 2% of gun owners. I am not a member of the NRA, so I don’t pay much attention to them, but I haven’t heard of them blocking any studies. Can you point to that?

    I do notice that gun control advocacy articles are always full of breast clutching and have very little in the way of data, but perhaps the Lord of Drones, Commander in Cheif of the worlds largest military and the heavily militarized local police departments are simply being thwarted by the NRA. I do notice that no one bothers to count the number of times that home owners use guns to desuade crime. Certainly someone interested in a truly objective position would notice that omission.

    >I’m certainly not suggesting a prohibition of firearms…I’m suggesting instead regulation and control: for example, background checks required for any purchase (i.e., no loopholes); limited magazine capacity (5 rounds, say); limits on non-hunting weapons (i.e., weapons used primarily for killing people).

    Five rounds?! My goodness, you must be a hell of a good shot. Certainly better than my brother and son who compete and better than the police who use as many as ninety rounds in pursuing an assailant. So, a prohibition on ammunition and a prohibition on handguns. :/ And you must figure no one will see through that.

    Our right to self defense so fundamental that it is probably more accurate to describe it as a reflex. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone concerned out eroding civil liberties and collapsing economy could suddenly decide it was a good idea to abandon any of the few rights we have left. We’ve lost our right to due process, and our right to assemble, to free speech, to free press, and even to free thought is heavily curtailed. Do you imagine we will gain something by kissing the jack boot? Do you think the parasitic class will suddenly be kind to us if we turn over our firearms?

    J

    19 February 2013 at 12:39 pm

  4. I have to say that I don’t altogether trust Leavitt. In any event, the statistic cited is for deaths of children under the age of 10. I was referring to all deaths (and injuries) due to guns in the home, not merely those of small children. In the story posted, the victim was 29, for example. So I don’t find this statistic relevant to the argument.

    If you compare nations rather than cities, those nations with the strictest gun laws have mortality rates due to deaths from firearms stunningly smaller than the US—and some actually reversed a trend: after a mass shooting in Australia, they stiffened their gun laws (including size of magazines) and since then no mass shootings. Mass shootings (3 or more) in the US are increasingly routine.

    The NRA, regardless of the number of gun owners represented, has a big war chest (funded by gun manufacturers) and has been highly influential in Congress. So far as blocking studies on gun fatalities and the like, I used Google: take your pick of these.

    “breast clutching” and such locutions are mere rhetoric: can we stick with facts? I also haven’t seen counts of crimes thwarted by homeowners with guns—perhaps because that is relatively rare? Who knows, until we have data.

    Yes, police do shoot a lot. Probably a bit too much sometimes: Sean Bell and his two friends were shot more than 50 times by the NYPD; the three men were unarmed. In a recent post I included a photo that shoed 39 bullet holes (at least) in a blue Toyota Tacoma pickup driven by two Latina women when police opened fire to shot the large African-American Christopher Dorner who was driving a gray Nissan Titan pickup. Amadou Diallo, 23 and unarmed, was killed when three NYPD detectives fire 41 shots at him.

    I’m not particularly wedded to 5-round magazines, though I think anything over 9 could be dispensed with and not seriously hamper police or hunters. But what is your suggestion?

    “Kissing the jack boot”: there you go again. Can we discuss the issue without these rhetorical flourishes?

    I am not sure what you propose. Should we just accept the weekly, sometimes daily, multiple killings? the on-going toll is human life that (obviously, by the example of other developed nations—all other developed nations) is unnecessary? Is you solution just to accept the deaths? Is that what you would tell the parents of Newtown? The people in Aurora? That it’s all worth it so we can (of all things) defend ourselves?

    I truly am interesting in hearing what you propose. So far as I can tell it’s “Make no changes. Everything is fine.”

    LeisureGuy

    19 February 2013 at 1:27 pm

  5. I just had a thought. There’s something wacky going on that I don’t understand. You say:

    Our right to self defense so fundamental that it is probably more accurate to describe it as a reflex

    and also

    There are more registered guns in the US than there are people and an estimated 50% of households have guns. That means twice as many people view self defense as a fundamental right as have voted any President into office.

    What seems weird is: the US rate of gun ownership is astonishingly high (as you point out); then it would seem that the US would lead all nations in self-defense. And yet, US citizens are killed and injured by firearms at MUCH higher rates than in other countries, which are not nearly so well-armed. Doesn’t it seem possible that the firearms are possibly the problem, not the solution?

    Take a look at this chart (click to enlarge):

    firearm-OECD-UN-data3

    That’s from this story in the Washington Post.

    Why, if guns are truly useful for self defense, are so many more Americans getting killed than in countries where citizens do not have firearms for self defense? Does it not seem that something is awry in your argument?

    LeisureGuy

    19 February 2013 at 2:37 pm

  6. I will need to come back to address some of this later but here is a perspective that demonstrates the value of a tough target:

    England and Wales
    Guns per Capita 6.2 per 100 people (2007)
    Violent Crime 1,977,000 (7/2011 – 6/2012)
    Population 56,170,900 (mid 2011)
    Violent Crime Rate 3,519 per 100,000 people

    United States
    Guns per Capita 88.8 per 100 people (2007)
    Violent Crime 1,203,564 (2011)
    Population 311,591,917 (7/1/2011 Estimate)
    Violent Crime Rate 386 per 100,000 people

    I’m guessing most people don’t care if they’re killed by a gun or spoon. Dead is dead. So this shows that you are ten times more likely to be a victim of violent crime in a society without a second amendment. Further, there is no free speech in the UK, they are hemorhaging young people, their pensioners are the poorest in any developed nation and their government buys five times as many cameras per capita as any other country in the world. That stuff is linked. You can’t (rationally) say I want the house but not the mortgage.

    J

    19 February 2013 at 3:52 pm

  7. Oh, and my sources

    FBI, Violent Crime in the United States – http://www.fbi.gov...

    Office for National Statistics, Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending June 2012 – http://www.ons.gov.uk…-Viol ence

    Office for National Statistics, Population Estimates for England and Wales, Mid-2011 – http://www.ons.gov.uk...

    Wikipedia – Number of guns per capita by country – en.wikipedia.org…

    J

    19 February 2013 at 3:53 pm

  8. Let’s look at homicide rates instead of violent crime rates—as you say, murder is murder, whether with spoon or gun, so the heavily armed US should have murder rates far less than other countries.

    The Wikipedia article on homicide rates by country allows you to sort the country list by rate.

    The US rate is 4.2 homicides/100,000. The UK rate is 1.2/100,000. The US homicide rate, for all that our citizens are better armed than those in the UK (or, more likely, because all our citizens are better armed) is 3.5 times the homicide rate of the UK. Even though the US (according to your statistics) has a violent crime rate 11% of the UK’s, our homicide rate is 350% of the UK’s. Having all those guns is not helping us, is it?

    As you say, dead is dead. The fact that people are much more likely to be killed in the US is ominous, and being heavily armed has not helped. In fact, if you look at the rate of gun ownership and how that correlates with homicides among developed countries, it seems very much that it hurts. According to this article, the US has 88.8 guns per 100 residents. Switzerland (45.7/100) and Finland (45.3/100) are next (ignoring Yemen). England and Wales have 6.2 guns/100 residents. Perhaps that explains the lower homicide rate? Maybe?

    It is interesting that all that surveillance via CCTV has not helped the violent crime rate in the UK: looks like that effort hasn’t panned out at all.

    At any rate, I am eager to hear what you propose.

    LeisureGuy

    19 February 2013 at 4:49 pm

  9. >I have to say that I don’t altogether trust Leavitt.

    Yeah. Tonal arguments don’t do much for me. Goebbels was, well, Goerbbels, but he still had plenty of astute observations about public manipulation that have proven true again and again and if you were to refute some argument he made I would hope we could avoid logical fallacies like call to authority and it’s cousin the ad hominem. I don’t think much of Wapo, but rather than discount your source because Ezra Klein think bailouts are awesome, how about we both try to focus.

    >The NRA, regardless of the number of gun owners represented, has a big war chest

    That’s true, but the banks are behind the public suppression, including buying insurance for the NYPD so that they were free to be violent with OWS and they have a bigger chest. It’s disingenuous to pretend that powerful interests aren’t behind gun control.

    > I also haven’t seen counts of crimes thwarted by homeowners with guns—perhaps because that is relatively rare? Who knows, until we have data.

    The most widely known study was conducted by criminologists Gleck and Hertz in the 1990’s. The crime rate was higher then than now and they put defensive home uses at between 830,000 and 2.45 million per year. Gleck and Hertz did telephone interviews and included defense against animals in their studies.

    It might also interest you to know that the history of gun control in this country started as an effort to disarm blacks during the 60’s (wikipedia).

    >If you compare nations rather than cities, those nations with the strictest gun laws have mortality rates due to deaths from firearms stunningly smaller than the US

    But what is omitted is that after the UK gun ban in 1997, gun deaths went up 44% in the UK and stayed there until 2003. In 2003 they fell 40% but remained slightly higher than before the crack down, until 2007 when it fell to an equal level. All those people in that spike are dead because of prohibition and now 15 years later the saving of life is nil, but financial cost in micromanaging adults most of whom are brighter than politicians is being born on the backs of the citizens.

    I honestly don’t know how anyone alive to witness the cost in life of Nancy Reagan’s Drug war – from gang deaths to the atrocity of private prisons – could ever think that ammunition prohibition would be in the best interests of their fellow citizens. Obots, like their brethren the Teabaggers are absolutely the blind faithful.

    And as far as what do I suggest, I think our government is too far along in it’s corruption for anything positive to come from it and it’s collapse will be slow and outlast you and I.

    It is fun to speculate though and in a perfect world I would favor as many non state solutions as possible. I am of the opinion that Governance is a myth – that there are only those with lethal force living a parasitic relationship with those without lethal force and that the greater the discrepancy in power the more burdened the host.

    The last time there was such a difference between the state capacity to kill and that of the populace, no amount of rebellion offered a solution and in the end it took the black plague to free people. Likely it will take something equally cataclysmic this round.

    J

    19 February 2013 at 7:03 pm

  10. My distrust of Leavitt is based on some studies that struck me as problematic, but perhaps you’re right. In any event, as I pointed out, the statistics for persons younger than 10 are, I believe, irrelevant.

    The chart from the Washington Post seems consistent with other findings. I hadn’t noticed it was Ezra Klein, but in general I trust him.

    In my case I was not being disingenuous or pretending, I simply was ignorant of what you say: that powerful interests are behind gun control. Indeed, the impression I have had over the past 20 years or so is that all the power is on the side of free access to firearms. I would be interested in a link. Certainly we have seen Congress repeatedly bow to NRA pressure—it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

    Regardless of trends in UK gun deaths, the fact remains that gun deaths in the US are 3.5 times as frequent. That is what I see as significant. And this is despite (or because of) arming the US at 88.8 guns/100 households.

    I probably wasn’t clear, but I think I did state that in no way was I discussing prohibition, and I’m somewhat surprised that you bring it up again. Specifically, I stated:

    I’m certainly not suggesting a prohibition of firearms—never would do that. Indeed, I enjoyed hunting in my youth. And as shown with alcohol and drugs, prohibition causes serious problems.

    Perhaps we can now drop discussion of prohibition as a remedy. How on earth did it come up again?

    So you have nothing to suggest. Okay, I sort of suspected that. Let’s end the discussion, given that you admit you have nothing to offer.

    LeisureGuy

    19 February 2013 at 7:21 pm

  11. More on NRA’s influence on Congress. From today’s Washington Post.

    LeisureGuy

    20 February 2013 at 3:37 pm


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