This is an interesting article. I can’t count the number of ridiculously anti-gun Slate articles I’ve read, so while this one is hardly Wayne LaPierre’s column from the National Rifle Association it’s interesting.
Background checks are back. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden said that five U.S. senators—enough to change the outcome—have told him they’re looking for a way to switch their votes and pass legislation requiring a criminal background check for the purchase of a firearm. Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who led the fight for the bill, is firing back at the National Rifle Association with a new TV ad. The White House, emboldened by polls that indicate damage to senators who voted against the bill, is pushing Congress to reconsider it.
This scares me a little bit given the recent confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy. Now I don’t like that he’s insanely anti-gun, but this confirmation really upsets me given that he is so young and has spent more time carrying water for President Obama than practicing medicine. Dr. Murthy is to medicine how Joe Biden and Barny Frank are to law. His doctoral degree was nothing more than a stepping stone into politics, and this makes him horribly unqualified for the position.
Still the likely shift in votes is likely from soon-to-be unemployed Democrats who no longer need to worry about an anti-gun vote upsetting their re-election campaign. Given that the recent election featured gun rights so prominently in most races with some work even a signing of this terrible bill could be quickly overturned before it take effect after the changing of the guard.
We’ll fight that battle when it’s time. Onto the points in the article:
1. The United States has an indisputable gun violence problem. According to the report, “the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.”
More anti-rights people focusing on “Gun Death”, we’ll revisit this later. Let’s just say for right now that guns are NOT the problem.
2. Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse. “Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,” the report notes. “Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.”
Note that incidents have remained stable, but the population is growing, this means a DECLINE in the rate of firearms crimes. Add in the fact that firearms ownership is at an all-time high this again points that guns are NOT the issue.
3. We have 300 million firearms, but only 100 million are handguns.
…4. Handguns are the problem. Despite being outnumbered by long guns, “Handguns are used in more than 87 percent of violent crimes,” the report notes. In 2011, “handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents.” Why do criminals prefer handguns? One reason, according to surveys of felons, is that they’re “easily concealable.”
Combined these two, and I’ll just skip ahead because he makes my rebuttal to his claims for me:
7. Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”
And what guns are the majority used for self defense? Handguns! For the same reason criminals prefer them. They small and compact and easy to carry. When you’re out and about you aren’t going to war, so a handgun makes for a light, portable defensive arm that won’t interfere with your day-to-day activities. Also they’re easily concealable if you are either required to do so by law, or simply do it by personal choice, or since winter is upon us, it’s physically impossible to open carry a handgun safely on a cold snowy day. Further as much as you all may love your carbine or shotgun for home defense, the handgun is the king of defending your castle. You aren’t slinging a rifle when you’re cooking dinner at home. Some people may have long guns tucked away in every room of their house, but that can get expensive, and potentially dangerous if you have young children, so the best solution for home defense is to always carry a gun. Even if you’re just slipping a pocket .22 in your pocket, if somebody kicks down your door, breaks a window, or even impersonates somebody to get you to open the door that little gun will give you something to fight back with, even if that is just laying down suppressing fire so you can get to your rifle. Also come bedtime a handgun is easily tucked in a night stand or locked in a quick-access safe for when you need it fast!
So while he claims “handguns are the problem”, they are also the solution.
5. Mass shootings aren’t the problem.
Yep, they’re amazingly rare, that’s why it makes national news whenever one happens, and often STAYS on the news for weeks. While people wring their hands about the specter of Mass Shootings, 100 times the amount of dead bodies will be made on the streets of a city near you.
6. Gun suicide is a bigger killer than gun homicide.
I talked about this in this week’s Gunblog Variety Cast, really lumping “Gun Suicides” into “Gun violence” is comparing apples to oranges because they are two completely different problems. Also singling out “Gun Suicide” is as foolish as focusing on “Gun Death” because it ignores the bulk of the real problem by fixating on the method rather than the motivation of the people who aren’t bound to a set tool for their deed.
8. Carrying guns for self-defense is an arms race. The prevalence of firearm violence near “drug markets … could be a consequence of drug dealers carrying guns for self-defense against thieves or other adversaries who are likely to be armed,” says the report. In these communities, “individuals not involved in the drug markets have similar incentives for possessing guns.”
Why are antis so quick to lump criminals engaging in criminal acts illegally carrying arms with lawful citizens lawfully carrying? Pure crap!
9. Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives.
This almost makes sense if you ignore point #7. I personally have mixed feelings about protection orders. On one hand I love them because when somebody is threatened it gives them a no-nonsense tool for legally telling somebody who is making their life a living hell in the most serious sense of the term to “Back Off”, and while the order will make buying, owning, or possessing a firearm illegal, it works just as well as that “Gun Free Zone” sign on the door. Still if the victim ends up killing the subject of the restraining order they have a damn good foundation for a legal defense, this goes double for if the attacker had a now-illegal gun.
Still they are so frequently abused. Of all the divorces I personally have seen go down all but a few of them had a protection order thrown around. I’ve also seen it in domestic partnerships that broke up. There was no violence, just angry people lashing out with any tool they could use. Again given point #7 which shows the prevalence of using a gun for self-defense, it would be hard to say the small percentage of lives saved through these orders is larger than the lives lost because suddenly the subject was unarmed.
Also let’s be honest here, even if the subject is an honest-to-god stalker and has been harassing somebody, this is bad, but we’re talking death penalty bad. Even a stalker killed by a mugger or a home invader is somebody who didn’t deserve to die. The numbers just aren’t that simple!
10. It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.” However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.
This is by far the most transparent look at the “Bad Apple Dealers” claim, and even still the numbers are really lacking. Still it’s much better than what the less honest antis say.
So yeah there it is. Much of it is anti-gun boilerplate, but still it shows a shift in even the more “Progressive” views of guns in America.