Here is a graphic on Accidental Firearms Fatalities from 1974 to 2002:
Source is here at Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. – data from National Safety Council. Quoting from the SAAMI article:
“Firearms ownership and use have increased significantly over the years, with an estimated 200-250 million firearms currently owned by some 75-85 million law-abiding Americans. Yet, accidental firearm fatalities have declined dramatically during this time and are at their lowest levels since statistics were first compiled a century ago.” — Decades of Success In Reducing Firearms Accidents
A lot of people seem to believe that accidents with guns and accidental firearms fatalities are on the rise. Replied to one such blog post the other day, a post called The Only Protection From Idiots with Guns is . . . More Idiots With Guns. The blog owner declined to approve it because, among other things, it was too long. I also suspect that my comments did not align with the views of the blog owner.
So here it is.
“I think every gun accident and death is unnecessary and horrible.”
And car accidents, and toddlers drowning in a swimming pool, or any of a plethora of much more likely ways people can die accidentally? Is there something more “unnecessary” about an accidental gun death?
If firearms served no useful purpose then yes, maybe we ought to do away with them. But it is a well established fact (and well ignored fact by many) that guns do save lives and prevent injury. How many lives is debatable but something like 13 major studies showed that they were significant.
Dr. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz document some of the many studies in their work on defensive uses of firearms:
Some will question the numbers Kleck came up with, but the fact is that many studies have shown the number is not trivial. In the past people would simply count the number of criminals killed with a gun as recorded by police reports. As it turned out that number was a pathetically low undercount because the vast majority of defensive gun uses never involve actually shooting anyone. The bad guy discovers the intended victim is capable of inflicting lethal force and goes somewhere else to victimize someone who is not as much of a threat to him.
So yes, it is a tragedy when someone is killed accidentally with a gun, especially younger children. But it is no more of a tragedy than many other accidental deaths.
One has to ask the question, why don’t we teach gun safety in our schools from kindergarten onwards? If a kid might pick up a gun and accidentally shoot herself or her playmate then why don’t we use something like the NRA Eddie Eagle program to teach young kids in schools that if they see a gun to leave the room and go tell an adult?
If people are concerned about these accidents why are so many so voraciously opposed to teaching kids enough about guns so that these accidents become less likely?
“I think the security around grammar and high schools is heart-breaking.”
I absolutely agree. The idea of declaring schools “Gun Free School Zones” and prohibiting responsible adults, including teachers and administrators, from having the means to protect kids is absurd and ridiculous. Does anyone in ther right mind believe that an Adam Lanza is going respect that law, or a ridiculous sign that says “Gun Free Zone”?
No, it is ridiculous and absurdly irresponsible to expect signs and laws to protect kids from crazy people. If there had been a locked cabinet in Newtown with a couple loaded AR-15s with 30 round magazines accessible to the principal and other office staff to protect kids then Adam Lanza most likely would have had his story told in a minor news item on the evening news, if it even made the news.
In Texas we have one (maybe two now?) school district where teachers can get a CHL (concealed handgun license) and if approved by the principal of the school, carry a concealed handgun in school to protect kids. They have been doing it for years with absolutely no problems (and no shootings).
We protect our money in banks with people with guns. Was in a jewelry store the other day with an armed guard protecting their diamonds and other valuables. I see Brinks trucks with armed people picking up money at big stores. Politicians are often protected with armed people. The President has Secret Service around him with fully automatic sub-machineguns under their coats.
But kids, they are not important enough to us to protect with guns? Makes no sense to me.
“I think people should be able to watch a movie without being gunned down.”
The most recent incident that I heard of was of a retired police officer who by law was still able to carry a concealed handgun.
All of us want to be safe and for our families to be safe. For that reason I have a CHL in Texas and habitually carry a loaded handgun (concealed) in public. If we want to deter violent criminals and crazies then we have to convince then that they are likely to be met with determined and deadly force if they attempt anything in public.
“I think being able to purchase guns and bullets at Walmart is absurd.”
I don’t think it is in the least bit absurd. I have proposed a scheme for universal background checks here.
The executive summary is that everyone should have a background check done on them when they get a driver’s license or state issued id and the results should be encoded on the back of their driver’s license. For example, on my driver’s license there is a code that says I have to wear glasses when I drive in Texas. Why not a code that says I passed the background check when I got my driver’s license?
“The NRA is a huge money-making, money-churning lobby …”
On that I think you are perhaps a little deceived. The power of the NRA, and I have been a member for a very long time, comes from the large number of members, and an even larger number of people who are not members but believe the NRA’s position on many issues makes good sense. And they vote, ergo they have power. I call that democracy.
I wrote a post called Guns And Drugs that you might find interesting.
The executive summary is that the legal drug industry in this country has profits at least 100x the size of the firearms industry that supplies civilians (not the military). A very large number of our kids are prescribed psychoactive drugs for various diagnoses like ADHD and these drugs can lead to violent ideation and other issues that might contribute to the mental state of some of the school killers.
If any lobby has the money to buy Congress Critters it is the pharmaceutical industry, far more so than the NRA or firearms manufacturers.
“…as long as politicians can be bought.”
One way to lessen that is to take away their power to sell favors (i.e., smaller government with far less power). Politicians cannot sell power they do not possess. If politicians have a lot of power, and they stay in Congress long enough, they will sell it. Term limits would be a good start.
“I’m very tried of the 2nd amendment being brought up”
Me too. I am sick and tired of people who want to treat law abiding gun owners as if they were sex offenders that should have to wear an ankle bracelet monitored by the police. A little sarcasm there. :)
“… weapons into the hands of people who should not be handling weapons?”
I am in favor of that as long as those “reasonable” regulations do not impact the right of law abiding citizens to exercise their God-given right to self defense and to own weapons appropriate to that purpose (including a semi-automatic AR-15 with 30 round clips – own one made by Colt myself).
That is where I stand. I do not propose that anyone should be able to own or buy a gun. I support teaching kids about guns and especially about gun safety. I support keeping guns out the hands of criminals and crazies as much is practically possible without infringing on legitimate rights. But ulimately I have to agree with Wayne LaPierre that you need guns in good hands to stop bad guys with guns.
The following is a quote of unknown origin (often attributed falsely to George Orwell) that basically tells the story:
“We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.”
The simple fact is that many things in society can lead to both good and bad outcomes, depending on who is using them and how careful and responsible they are. That is I think the fact of reality the blogger I replied to above refuses to face.
You will often hear the phrase; “If it will only save one life!” spoken with great emotional force. But the people speaking that way are always speaking from their emotions and not their mind.
A rational person who looks at all the data must reach the conclusion that yes, “idiots with guns” (and criminals with guns) cause tragedies. But a whole lot more people who are not idiots and do have guns save a lot lives and prevent a lot of tragedies. We could have a lot of education in our schools to educate people about gun safety but the reality today is that a kid is likely to get expelled or reprimanded for even drawing a picture of a gun in school (or chewing a pop tart to resemble something that looks like a gun).
If you think about it, those folks who so oppose teaching gun safety in our schools might have a little culpability in some of those accidents with guns.
p.s. Note to Elect2Care:
I will more than likely approve your comments on this article. I am not averse to having dissenting opinions on my blog unless they are exceptionally rude and without actual content.