My Opinion

Our obsession with guns – killing us slowly


Great Guns

Great Guns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the WSJ front page April 4, 2013

Arkansas eliminated prohibitions on carrying firearms in churches and on college campuses. South Dakota authorized school boards to arm teachers. Tennessee passed a law allowing workers to bring guns to work and store them in their vehicles, even if their employer objects. Kentucky shortened the process for obtaining licenses to carry a concealed gun.

One group says there is a clear link between liberal gun laws and violence, another says there is less crime when people are allowed to carry guns.

I am hooked on the History channel series Vikings. They all walk around with swords, knives and axes to protect themselves from the other Vikings who walk around with swords, knives and axes. In one episode a women nicely gutted another Viking who tried to rape her and was promptly accused of murder… she got off, sort of. A relative’s vengeance resulted in her village being obliterated. The good news is she saved her swords, knives and axes. All this was in the 10th century.

It is clear we have made a great deal of progress, at least with the type of weapons we carry to school, church and work.

Forget for a minute whether there is a right to carry a gun, heck I’ll even assume there is. Let’s talk about the social environment, the psyche if you will, that causes Americans to feel the need not only to be armed, but to accumulate multiple firearms for self protection. Is that truly the state of the American society?

The pros and cons read one review:

To assess the benefits and costs of pervasive gun ownership—there are currently 300 million firearms in the U.S., and roughly 80 million gun owners (, 2/4/13)—it’s useful to compare the self-defense numbers to the gun crime numbers.

The National Institute of Justice reported that in 2005, “11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm.” Or, to put it in starker terms, the FBI’s Crime in the United States report for 1998 found that for every instance that a civilian used a handgun to kill in self-defense, 50 people lost their lives in handgun homicides.

With a gun murder rate about 20 times the average of other industrialized countries (Washington Post, 12/14/12), it’s hard to argue with Hemenway’s conclusion (Harvard Injury Control Research Center, “Homicide”): “Where there are more guns, there is more homicide.”

A New England Journal of Medicine study (10/7/93) in 1993 concluded that a gun in the home raised the chances someone in a family will be killed by nearly three times, with the danger to women—who are more likely to be killed by a spouse, intimate or relative—even greater. A 1997 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (4/14/97) reinforces that danger, finding that the homicide risk for women increased 3.4 times in a home with one or more guns. Taken together with the heightened risk of suicide and accidental deaths posed by guns in the home, these numbers demolish the argument that guns enhance family protection.

Based on the above statistics, there is a 0.15% chance of being a victim of a crime committed with a firearm.


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2 replies »

  1. “A New England Journal of Medicine study (10/7/93) in 1993 …”

    If you were to write factually, you would write “A DISCREDITED New England Journal …study…” falsely claimed a gun in the home, etc., etc.



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