Gun Control — Enough Already

A friend of mine (Mikal Gilmore) tweeted: That old line that if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns is, in fact, an ideal we should consider aspiring to. I’ve never heard this point made before, and now I’m surprised I haven’t. If only outlaws had guns, would more lives be saved or lost? Here are the figures I found:

– Every time a gun injures or kills in self-defense, it is used:

11 times for completed and attempted suicides (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263).
7 times in criminal assaults and homicides, and
4 times in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.

– Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings (Harvard Injury Control Center).

– In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States. [The year for those figures is 2008.]

I got these facts from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website.

In the upper-right hand corner of the website there’s a live update of shootings in America. Right now it says 54,455 were shot so far this year in America—it went up three as I typed that!! It’s now 54,458! By the time I finished uploading the photographs below it went up to 54,464. Now 54,466. 196 people have been shot so far today in America. Christ.

Update: I found out later that the figures from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website are estimates based on the statistics from previous years. Very misleading and annoying!

Shots of helicopters from my Audubon cruise last weekend. Between the boat I was on and the helicopters, I couldn’t get anyone to stop moving long enough to get the shots I wanted.

Helicopter in the East River

Helicopter in the East River

Helicopter in the East River

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “Gun Control — Enough Already

  1. Hi Stacy,
    this is one of those perennial topics that probably will never be resolved.

    The anti-gun lobby feels that somehow removing firearms from individual citizens is the only right thing to do.

    The pro-gun groups find it insane that people would voluntarily make themselves defenseless in the face of a violent society.

    Both sides, to the best I can see, are very sincere.

    In the old days I used to follow the arguments a little and keep up with some point, counter-point arguments relative to the issue.

    I no longer do that, because I finally realized that neither of these points of view is going to change.

    However, here are a couple of things I remember from back in the days when I tried to think about this issue.

    Statistics are not kept about the number of times that lives and property have been saved because someone was able to stop violence or criminal activity with the use of a gun.

    It was estimated that the number of people who stop crime with a firearm exceeds the number of people injured unjustifiably with a firearm.

    I also remember a canard that statistically demonstrated a large number of children being killed by firearms in their homes. The spin on the statistics suggested there were all these kids getting hold of mom and dad’s pistol and inadvertently shooting other children.

    When the statistics were examined, they discovered that almost all of this youth violence was done by teenage gang members in the process of drug deals. In fact, when the gangland activity was removed, the remaining statistic shrank to a very small one.

    These are just a couple of things I remember.

    Now I will deal with reality for a second.

    In the United States, we have the Second Amendment to the Constitution. When the Supreme Court has tried to determine whether the Second Amendment was an individual right, they found in fact that is was an individual right, and individuals have the right to bear arms.

    This pleases me personally because it is an affirmation that in the United States, we underscore the right of an individual to protect his own life and the lives of others, because here we value individual life. Here we say that if you are a citizen of the USA, the country acknowledges your value in your personhood to be so profound that you can view your life and the lives of your family and friends as something worth keeping and caring about and affirming and appreciating and saving. This is different from most other countries.

    I would also say that you have already done everything you can do about this, because New York City does not allow the legal possession of firearms by regular citizens.

    Our gun laws are established by state legislatures as states’ rights. The Constitution affirms the integrity and personhood of every citizen by declaring that citizen’s right to self-defense. However this will manifest itself is disposed by state legislatures and the rights given to the states.

    As a consequence if you are against gun ownership and you live in New York City, you have already achieved your purpose. I believe that there is some hunting upstate, and many people in Syracuse would not be in agreement with the sentiment in New York City. So that would give you the option of trying to persuade the state of New York to have more stringent gun laws.

    After you have dealt with your state, you have little to no voice in respect to the rest of the country.

    I’m happy to report that I am in better shape than Buddy and Finny. However, I am recuperating from rotator cuff surgery — the stitches are out, I’m in physical therapy, and in 2 or 3 months I should be as right as rain.

    Give my best to the cats.

  2. You can legally own a gun in New York. I have friends here who own guns. And the statistics I quoted do address the number of times a gun was used to stop a crime vs the number times it was used in other, less positive ways. I don’t know if preventing property crime was included but you could check the study. Basically all the numbers speak for themselves. We’re not protecting ourselves as much as we are killing ourselves and others. If this were not the case you wouldn’t have people like me arguing for more stringent gun laws, and a ban on assault weapons. I’m not doing this to be a spoilsport, or to prevent anyone from protecting themselves. I’m not asking for a ban of gun ownership. I’m asking for a compromise.

    I’m glad you’re recovering though!

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