If I’m wrong about guns, can you please explain why?

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, as a country we are all taking a step back, looking at our laws and our policies and thinking about what we can do to prevent unspeakable tragedies like the deaths of those children from happening again.

I am not a gun owner and never will be, but I am not advocating getting rid of all the guns. I totally get that there are responsible gun owners out there, people who use them for hunting and sport, keep their guns safely stored, and would never think of using them (or allowing them to be used) to hurt anyone (or at least anyone who wasn’t in the act of attacking them). Those are the people I’d really like to help me understand a few things.

First of all, can you help me understand the problem with universal background checks? In his senate testimony, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA said that they will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them. That’s true, of course. But I can’t understand how one gets from there to saying that it’s okay that 40 percent of gun sales happen without background checks. I know that bureaucracy is a hassle and background checks can miss things. But I don’t get why saving some lives isn’t worth a hassle–and why we shouldn’t make at least the basic attempt to stop people with mental health problems or a criminal background from buying guns. Am I missing something?

Second: assault weapons. I need help with this one too. I need someone to explain to me why people feel so strongly about having them. The fact that they are flying off shelves is disturbing to me. I get that they are cool, that it could be exciting to own something so powerful. But they are guns designed for maximum carnage. They are meant for military use, not civilian use. I understand that the data suggests that the assault weapon ban didn’t lower crime–but these are the guns that killed all those children in Newtown, that killed the people in Aurora….in the wrong hands, they can cause not just murder but devastation. There needs to be a really good reason to keep them available–can someone please tell me what that reason is?

Third: what’s up with the marketing to children? I was so upset to read the article in the New York Times about the various efforts of the gun industry to recruit and engage children–even young children, younger than 12. It was absolutely chilling to read about marketing military-style rifles for “junior shooters” (who can’t buy them legally, but whatever), the semiautomatic hand gun competitions for youth, and the other ways that gun manufacturers and gun organizations are targeting children. I understand that parents might want to pass on a hobby or tradition–that is their choice. But marketing, by definition, isn’t about teaching values and safety–it’s about selling things. Can someone explain to me why it’s okay to market something to children that they can’t buy legally and don’t have the maturity to use responsibly, something that could literally kill them or someone else?

Watching Gabby Giffords struggle to speak at the hearings was heartbreaking. A gun did that to her. We have to do something, she said haltingly. It will be hard. I think she’s right–I think it will be incredibly hard.

But we have to do something. Background checks, banning assault rifles, and looking honestly and critically at gun marketing seem like good places to start. If I’m wrong, can you please explain to me why?

Claire McCarthy is a primary care physician and the medical director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Martha Eliot Health Center.  She blogs at Thriving, the Boston Children’s Hospital blog, Vector, the Boston Children’s Hospital science and clinical innovation blog, and MD Mama at Boston.com, where this article originally appeared.

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  • P. Littleton

    “But I can’t understand how one gets from there to saying that it’s okay
    that 40 percent of gun sales happen without background checks.”

    Look, even the AP and WaPo fact-checkers conceded that that old, stale claim is false. Repeating already-debunked falsehoods does nothing for the anti-gun mob’s credibility.

    I stopped reading at that point. You’re not interested in the facts, otherwise you wouldn’t be regurgitating anti-gun talking points without even bothering to check for yourself whether they’re true or not. You’re really no different to an anti-vaxxer who keeps repeating “facts” like “68% of autism is caused by vaccines!”, not because they have anything to back that up, but because they heard it somewhere, and since it suited their narrative it was just too good to check.

    • Guest

      *De*institutionalization, not institutionalization…

  • Edward Stevenson

    The problem with background checks is not that they are not “universal” enough but that people find means of avoiding the check entirely, partial or universal. if I want to sell my gun to my brother in law the proper way is to go to a registered firearms dealer, pay them a fee, let them do a background check and log the transaction. there is no way to enforce a cash sale in my basement.

    Please look up the real definition of an assault rifle. basically it is a low powered hunting rifle with cosmetic effects that make it useful and safer for soldiers to carry, thing like collapsible stocks, the ability to attach a bayonet, the style of grip like having a thumb guard. none of these change the firing ability, the bullet or the killing power of a gun. the media is so caught up in banning “assault rifles” simple because the word “assault” is in there, if we called them cosmetically modified low-powered hunting rifles they wouldn’t get any attention.

  • bladedoc

    I am a trauma surgeon and gun owner. And I will attempt to address these questions in the assumption that the OP is asking them in good faith. Firstly I will remind the readers that gun injury, crime, and death is LOWER now than since the early 1970s even though the number of guns owned has risen steadily.

    1. The 40% background check number is a myth. Firstly the data was taken from the first few years of the background check requirements, secondly they tendentiously lumped the “I don’t knows” with the “no check group”, thirdly they lumped inheritance and family gifts in that number. The true % of guns sold without a background check even in that time (mid 90s) was 15% and the number today is likely <10%.

    The only way to reduce that number further is to require all transfers of guns to go through a federal firearms dealer including family inheritance and gifts. And the only way to enforce that is a universal registry of all privately held weapons.

    2. The "assault weapon" meme is also ridiculous. The AR-15 is the single most popular rifle purchased in the US for many reasons that make it a great sporting rifle. Its "lethality" is ridiculously overhyped. The .556 bullet is low caliber (small diameter) and doesn't penetrate nearly as well as most hunting rifles which is why it's a poor choice for hunting anything bigger than coyotes, feral pigs, southern deer and varmints. Therefore it has a low recoil and is very light making it much more fun to shoot at the range without it banging up your shoulder or your ears like a standard hunting rifle.

    Rifles in general are used in <1% of all gun crimes and ARs and similar in <1% of those. Trying to lower gun crimes by banning those is like trying to prevent arson by banning flint and steel.

    3. You can't buy a gun until you are 18. Guns are not marketed to children. They are marketed to adults who want to get their children involved in the shooting sports.

    • NormRx

      Great article, I don’t mean to be picky, but you are off by one decimal point in the 5.56 or .223 round. The 5.56 round is measured in millimeters and when it is converted to inches it is a .233 round. The other commonly used round is the 7.62 mm round which is approximately a 30 caliber round. I am sure you are aware of the above information bladedoc, but I though I would cover this for the readers that are not as informed as you.

      • bladedoc

        Absolutely, sorry — I hate typing on the iPad

    • Elvish

      Mr. Trauma Surgeon. Do you see a problem with the figures below ?
      Murders by handguns ( typical annual figures) :
      Australia 13.
      UK 33.
      Sweden 36.
      USA 13,220.
      Source: OHCS 7thE p720.

    • ConcernedToo89

      “Firstly,” the percentage of murders with a firearm is 70%. Crime goes down for many reasons–but the vast majority of murders are still committed with a firearm. The firearm homicide rate in Spain is 21.8%; in Germany, 26%. Does that make the issue statistically starker for you?

      Secondly, the 40% background check number will soon be confirmed one way or another scientifically. More than anything, the data is very old. In Michigan, where the laws have been changed in ways that clarify the data, studies are showing the figure more closely approaches 50%. In view of the fact that there were close to zero firearms purchased in 1993 (the year the data was collected) vs. today–and law enforcement stings demonstrating that as many as 60% of online meetup sellers were perfectly happy to not conduct a background check on someone who told them they didn’t want one–and the fact that there are even more gunshows now than there were in 1993–all leads the cautious scientist not to be too certain that 40% is a “myth” as you maintain.

  • icecoldchickenwings

    1.) Most gun owners are not against background checks when purchasing a firearm from a retailer (this law is already in place). The issue that gun owners are generally against is background checks on private sales. Ie. If I gift or sell a firearm to my brother in law I do not feel that I should have to have him submit to a background check. Yes criminals will buy firearms from non-dealers in order to avoid this but they will do so anyway. Some of the bills being considered would have required a background check for the above sale I was giving as an example.

    2.) There is little difference between an “assault weapon” say the AR-15 and the most common hunting rifle used in the United States. Both are semi-automatic (pull the trigger once and they fire one bullet). Most of the difference is pure cosmetics (hand grips, stocks, lights, etc.) . Yes people like to buy certain firearms because of how they look but from a functional standpoint there isn’t much difference. The line here between civilian and military use is a bit blurred because the functionality of the two isn’t very different ( as opposed to a grenade launcher, an RPG, or a mini-gun which are illegal to own.). In fact a deer hunting rifle actually has a more powerful cartridge than an AR-15. Your “assault weapon” is really only a low powered hunting rifle with flashy cosmetic features.

    Laws currently exist to prevent people from owning weapons that are classified as destructive devices. I have a friend who wanted to purchase a functioning Lahti L-39 (a Finnnish 20 mm anti-tank rifle from WWII) after seeining one on a television show but is unable to do so because it is classified as a destructive weapon. Even at smaller caliber and non-destructive device weapons it requires a specific Federal license to have an automatic weapon (fires repeated bullets with one trigger depression until you release the trigger or it is out of ammunition) which is expensive and very difficult to obtain.

    Part of the difficulty in passing legislation to restrict “assault weapons” is that you either end up banning the most common hunting rifles in the United States or you end up banning silly cosmetic features, magazine size, or other features that won’t have much impact on gun-crime. Most fatalities from firearms are not from “assault weapons” but are from handguns, of which no legislation is currently being considered to be regulated. Furthermore in D.C. vs. Heller handguns were specifically cited as the most common firearm used for self defense.

    3.) ” But marketing, by definition, isn’t about teaching values and safety–it’s about selling things.”

    Mcdonald’s does not teach safety when selling their products. Neither do car manufacturers. Sure they have warnings on their coffee and please wear your seatbelt, but the responsibility for the use of the product is the end user. More people die from eating poorly and in car accidents than die as the result of firearms. It is not the responsibility of any manufacturer to teach safety and values. Society and individuals have the responsibility to teach their friends and family morals and safety as they see fit.

    “Can someone explain to me why it’s okay to market something to children that they can’t buy legally and don’t have the maturity to use responsibly, something that could literally kill them or someone else?”

    In a piece from 2001: More children die in pool accidents than from the result of firearms. “In 1997 alone (the last year for which data are available), 742 children under the age of 10 drowned in the United States last year alone” “About 175 children under the age of 10 died in 1998 as a result of guns. About two-thirds of those deaths were homicides.” Children can’t legaly purchase either, but I don’t hear a public outcry to ban pools.

    • Trey

      “Most gun owners are not against background checks when purchasing a firearm from a retailer (this law is already in place).”

      I think a lot of people don’t realize that. Looking at the comments here, many of the most fervent anti-gun activists seem to believe that there is some “gun show loophole” which allows anyone selling or buying a gun at a gun show to bypass the existing background check system.

      If these people don’t even have a grasp on the regulations ALREADY in place, why should anyone give them any credibility in proposing NEW regulations?

  • JD

    The other commenters have made some compelling and well thought-out points, I thought I would add some additional, general points to address your questions. Please bear in mind that I do not own a gun, never have, and never will.

    1) It is entirely natural for any group of people to be concerned with laws against their rights, no matter how reasonable they may appear. This is because such laws may set a precedent for further laws that are less reasonable. In other words, gun owners might not have anything against background checks, but it would still be reasonable for them to worry that this is the beginning of a trend towards gun banning. This reflects a general distrust of politics, which I hardly think you can fault gun owners for.

    2) The solution to gun violence in this country is beyond you, me or any individual. What is the solution? I don’t know, and i am not smart enough to figure it out, at least not on my own.

    The problem is, our society and our government is filled with people who are unable to admit that. Every person has a fool proof way to fix things: ban something, regulate something, check something. Do something, and get re-elected. Yet, incidents like Newtown continue.

    The first step that we should take is to acknowledge that people providing the solutions to gun violence (usually politicians) are the absolutely LEAST qualified to do it. No only do they lack he intellectual background, but their agenda is, by definition, politically driven.

    So, how to proceed? First, we need more DATA. Objective data, with rigorous peer review, obtained by scholars who have no agenda other than the truth. There are many bright people out there who have no particular alliance with, or opposition to, guns. These people are driven purely by curiosity. These are the people who should be doing the studies. What is the actual background check rate? What is the most common gun implicated in violence? How does the rate of gun ownership compare to other countries. How does the rate of gun violence compare to other countries? We need numbers that are accurate and unbiased.

    Second, we need a group of these people: economists, statisticians, academic lawyers, psychologists, scientists, social scientists. The most important feature of this group is that they are OBJECTIVE. Politicians, or those affiliated with political groups, need not apply.

    Third, we do whatever this group of people comes up with.

    Before you, or anyone else, ridicules my suggestion, I would add that the major triumphs that we have achieved as a country – technology, treating and preventing cancer, were achieved exactly through this process.

    It is time to address gun violence with objectivity and intellect.

  • Anon

    1. Background checks:

    Mass shootings by mentally deranged individuals get the most attention, but practically all handgun murders occur in urban ghettos and are committed by career criminals who have no qualms about obtaining their guns through theft or illegal means.

    When innocent whites get killed en masse, there is a visceral reaction of, “That could be me!” that leads to politicalization of guns. When innocent minorities get slaughtered on a daily basis by minority thugs, we hear crickets.

    2. Assault weapons:

    “Assault” weapons, by definition, have flash suppressors and pistol grips that are associated with the military. Cosmetically, they look cool and intimidating, but do not enhance lethality.

    The M-16, what the civilian AR-15 is based on, is NOT designed for maximum carnage. It was designed to be light and fire the SMALLEST possible round. The advantage is of a light gun and small .223 rounds is that is a lot cheaper to airlift lightweight guns and ammo to an army half the world away in Vietnam. The M-16 was chosen for maximum LOGISTICAL effectiveness, not carnage.

    The unintended consequence is that a small round fired from rifle velocities tumbles through flesh, creating a larger wound that the bullet diameter would suggest. However, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have complained that the .223 round lacks stopping power because it passes through enemies that are not armored and enemies can often continue fighting after getting shot.

    For maximum carnage and bang per shot, what do you think wins?

    An AR-15, or a traditional rifle or shotgun designed to take down 350+ pound animals in a single shot?

    The popularity of the AR-15 is due to the militarization of America. You cannot turn on the TV without seeing the image of the M-16 kicking butt in the “war on terrorism”. The M-16 is associated with the winning team, whereas in the 80s, the memory of Vietnam was fresh and the M-16 was part of the losing team.

    3. No idea about the marketing to kids.

    But I would guess that a 10 year old kid that lives on a farm and participates in shooting competitions and hunting under the supervision of his parents is 100 times less likely to shoot people than a kid from Newark raised by a single mom.

    In sum, your article is typical of the well-meaning but uninformed reaction to sensationalized gun crimes. In reality, cracking down on urban crime is what would make a difference in gun crimes but there is a lack of political will.

  • Kimberlein

    1. I am a gun owner. And I live in California, where we have
    universal background checks. Buying my gun, from the time I walked into the store to the time I walked out took 20 minutes. I showed my
    drivers license, my electric bill, filled out/signed some forms, took
    the brief test that proved I knew how to safely store/operate a handgun,
    and paid. Two weeks later (mandatory waiting period) my gun was in
    hand. I don’t know what the big deal is about background checks.
    Anyone who can’t take 20 minutes to make a sales transaction and wait 2 weeks to get their gun in hand probably shouldn’t have one.

    2. As for assault weapons, non-gun owners don’t fare well in this debate because they don’t know enough about guns to have the discussion. Most consumers can’t buy real assault weapons. Guns used in mass shootings are commonly and often wrongly referred to as assault weapons. Someone should write an infographic about the difference between a semiautomatic pistol (the gun most gun owners own for home defense, like a 9mm Glock–a semiautomatic pistol is any pistol that doesn’t require you to manually cock the hammer before shooting) and a real assault weapon. Semiautomatic pistols were used in many of the mass shootings, but these are not assault weapons! Also, non gun owners need to learn the difference between assault weapons and guns with high capacity magazines.

    3. It’s ludicrous that gun companies can market to kids. Tobacco companies and energy drink companies shouldn’t be marketing to kids either. This is part of a bigger problem.

    Conclusion: people who don’t own guns should learn more about them. That’s the only way for us to have a productive debate about gun control in this country. I went to a reputable, certified, firearms safety instructor for a course in November, and bought my first handgun weeks before the Connecticut shootings. My point of view on the issue AFTER taking a gun safety course and after shooting/owning/learning about guns was very different from what it would have been before.

    • FL Girl

      “I don’t know what the big deal is about background checks.”

      It’s the idea that a Federal Universal Background Check could well lead to a Federal Gun Registry, and given the way the current administration has been abusing its power to “get” its “political enemies” lately, a lot of gun owners say that (A) a Federal Gun Registry is not going to do one thing to lessen gun crime, and (B) How is the administration that sicced the IRS onto Tea Party and Patriot groups and used their information to punish them going to use THIS information?

      One of my weapons came from a gun show, one from a shop, I was background-checked both times since both sellers were FFL dealers. I don’t have a problem with that, once I’ve checked out all right the information is not retained. And then to get my CCW permit I underwent even more detailed scrutiny and mandatory training. I don’t have a problem with that either. But what it comes down to for me, is why do the Feds want to get involved? Who does it benefit? Will their regs really decrease crime, or are they just another power grab?

      My state laws are good enough for me. Despite (or because of?) over 1 million Floridians being CCW holders, I feel far safer here (not just from murder, but from robbery and rape) than I would in Mr Gun Control’s beloved “gun-free” Chicago.

      • Kimberlein

        Yes, other parts of the system are broken. Yes, the government abuses its power. But none of that is a good enough reason to say that we shouldn’t be doing universal background checks for guns.

        Alcohol laws are a good proxy. Plenty of kids under 21 can get hold of alcohol. But lots of other underage kids can’t, because laws exist to make it hard for them. If there were no laws making it hard for kids to get alcohol, alcohol injuries, death, and abuse among kids would be much higher.

        So, why not tighten gun laws? No, it won’t stop gun violence (not even close) but if it stops SOME gun violence that’s worth a lot. Even if we could reduce gun deaths that would be a victory.

        Not sure why so many people think that a law that would make things BETTER should not be pursued because it wouldn’t solve all of our problems. This issue is too complex for a single law to fully address it. Let’s treat tighter laws as a step (one of many) in the right direction.

        • FL Girl

          But gun violence has been plummeting on its own, anyway – despite the fact that successful media campaigns have led a majority of Americans to believe that it’s gone UP.

          Between 1993 and 2010 there was a 49 percent drop in the per capita gun-related homicide rate, and also from 1993 to 2011 there was a 75 percent drop in the rate of per capita victimization by violent crimes involving a firearm. This, despite liberalization of gun and CCW laws in many jurisdictions, the increase in gun sales and the expiry of the “assault weapons” ban.

          I see no reason here to give the Federal government any more power. “Why not?” is not a good enough reason. I ask “Why should we?”, and need a better answer than the emotive “But if it saves just one child’s life…!”. As the extreme anti-abortion crowd take great glee in pointing out in the wake of the Gosnell case, the “But if it saves just one child’s life…!” could also be used to justify greater Federal regulation & control of abortion. Ugh.

          • Kimberlein

            It’s easy. We should because we know that restricting access to things makes people buy less of them.

            I already gave one example: fewer underage kids buy alcohol because it is restricted.

            I’ll give another: fewer people who want to make crystal meth buy Clarirtin D-24 over the counter because it is restricted.

            I’ll give another reason, related to the first two: there should be no double standards in this country. It shouldn’t be that people have easier access to guns than they do to allergy medicine. If I need to show my drivers license before buying Claritin in the pharmacy, I damn well better have to show it before buying a gun.

            And, remember, I am not anti-gun. I am a gun owner! I say this as someone who believes that most Americans should have a right to buy a gun. But I don’t think that dangerous people should have that right. Dangerous people have other rights taken away, like being free (lots of “dangerous” people in jail again points to the double standard–why should some dangerous people be able to build a firearms arsenal unchecked while, for others, we lock them up and throw away the key?)

          • FL Girl

            “fewer people who want to make crystal meth buy Clarirtin D-24 over the counter because it is restricted”


            Yes, they just get the ingredients elsewhere now. The new laws have done nothing to stop crystal meth production, they’ve just enriched violent criminal gangs who now run the black market in pseudoephedrine. If anything, our meth problem is now worse than ever before. As a Florida resident, this is something I’m well aware of.

            I’m not sure your example draws the parallel you meant it to draw, but however unintentionally, you make a good point.

          • ninguem

            In Oregon, they get the raw ephedrine direct from the manufacturers.

            Removing the Claritin-D and similar from the picture, means the meth is being produced by big Chinese and Mexican gangs.

          • Anon

            And, irony of ironies, the growth of illegal drug gangs leads to a growth in illegal gun crimes. SMH.

          • meyati

            Is there a legal drug gang?

          • C.L.J. Murphy

            “And, remember, I am not anti-gun. I am a gun owner!”

            With all due respect, so are gun-control advocates Gabby Gifford and her husband Mark Kelly, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Chuck Schumer.

            There are plenty of people who, owning guns themselves, don’t want to let others have that privilege.

          • meyati

            Our lady republican governor ran on guns 4 all and defeated an anti-gun candidate. Now our governor came out B4 Sandy Hook and said that there should be lots of gun control. She said that it was OK for her to pack, bc as a DA, she was a member of the judiciary and now she’s the gov. Last month about $60,000 was spent on state police body guards that accompanied her husband to a Louisiana hunting trip. By the way, Mr. Governor is a sheriff. So don’t even trust republicans. She wanted to put the hammer down after Sandy Hook. They presented a hard line gun control bill, and the amendments-like you can use an oversized magazine when a rooster isn’t crowing at dawn. That having a thumb on each hand exempts a person from magazine restrictions, etc. It went back to the committees where it never got out. She was furious—the republicans and democrats told her that she asked them to work together. If Susanna Martinez runs for president-don’t be fooled by that gun on her hip. She wants to be the only woman with a gun.

          • Trey

            A very good point.

          • meyati

            I do show my ID. You’re just jealous because I have a nuclear security clearance and it takes about 2 minutes to pass, and that’s with my FFL giving his code word and stuff. He’s a real shady character-He was an XO on nuclear subs-well he started as an ensign and worked his way up.

          • mmer

            You realize that this drop in gun violence has coincided with a drop in gun ownership?

            … “According to the General Social Survey, household firearm ownership has fallen from 43 percent in the 1990s to 35 percent in the 2000s.
            Overall household ownership is down from 50 percent in the 1970s.”

          • Anon

            The NYT article you got that from also admits:

            “Gallup, which asks a similar question but has a different survey design, shows a higher ownership rate and a more moderate decrease.”

            Gallup’s poll on Oct 26, 2011 showed that 47% of Americans have a gun in their house or on their property. And unlike your pollster, Gallup isn’t funded by gun-control advocates.

          • ENDIF

            Go to a gun store and look at the empty shelves, then realize this is just a spike in buying on top of a 6 year binge, before you realize that the single poll you’re citing is inaccurate because people aren’t reporting ownership as often because they think, rightly or wrongly, it could be used in a future confiscation effort.

          • meyati

            Not in my family or area-gun ownership has increased. Why don’t you go to a gun store and ask if about a S&W M&P, or a decent Sig Sauer-try to find 22 Long Rifle bullets. You might find a box of 20 gauge shells sitting there. And why does the Department of Homeland Security need to buy over a billion bullets of all calibers? We have the military for national defense, we have the FBI, ATF for internal security-except when Obama’s ATF shipped thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels to catch a nitwit 19 year-old kid in New Mexico. Then we have local police–who in the world is DHS planing on shooting?

          • ConcernedToo89

            70% of homicides are committed with firearms–that percentage has not budged. All crime is down, not just gun crime, due to a variety of complicated factors, but the murder weapon of choice, the vast majority of time, is still a gun.

      • mmer

        //It’s the idea that a Federal Universal Background Check could well lead to a Federal Gun Registry//

        Slippery slope fallacy much?

    • meyati

      The NICS isn’t up-to-date. Only 10 states sent in data. I wouldn’t like a national or local registry for my guns. I can’t prove where I got them from. I hear you anti-gun people hyperventilating right now. One was bought from a ship’s store-it had nuclear missiles on it, and the other was from the John F. Kennedy. With many USN transfers-we lost the paperwork and one ship was scrapped. Another one was a sentimental gift from my new X, so I could protect myself in my life as an X. He drove off with a blonde younger than our daughter. By the way, the DOD repaired and re bored one gun that was damaged by a hurricane. I can shoot the engine out of a Humvee if I desire too.

  • Elvish

    Murders by handguns ( typically annual figures) :

    Australia 13.

    UK 33.

    Sweden 36.

    USA 13,220.

    Source: OHCS 7thE p720.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Australia population: 23 million and change.

      UK population: 63 million and change.

      Sweden population: 9.5 million and change.

      US population: 315 million and change.

      You know, as long as we’re comparing apples to locomotives, without regard to context…

      • Elvish

        When you adjust the numbers you will see how we are #1 .
        It is simple, you can actually do it in your head.
        UK casualties:population =33:63000000=>1:2000000
        US casualties:population=13222:315000000=>1:23000

        So, UK are 1/5th of our population, so you would expect them to have 1/5th of our casualties, i.e., 1/5th of 13220 and that is 5000. In reality they are only 33 !
        See the difference ?

        When people get shot in real life, they die, get paralysed, lose limbs, lose organs with life long disabilities and so many other disastrous outcomes. Life is not a movie. I`ve seen war and I`ve seen what guns can do to our fragile bodies !

        • Ambulance_Driver

          I have been a paramedic for twenty years, and worked in a busy ED for at five years.

          I’ve seen the toll of gun violence, so you can spare me your tedious lecturing and sanctimony.

          The fact is, the UK has ALWAYS had a far lower firearm death rate than the US, even when our gun laws were comparable. The same is true of Australia.

          Bottom line is, we’re comparing apples and oranges. UK violent crime rates are far higher than the US, even accounting for the fact that you only count violent crimes that have been prosecuted and cleared, whereas we count those reported, and you categorize fewer crimes as violent than we do in our statistics.

          Our gun culture was far more pervasive than yours to begin with, we were a far more fractious and difficult people to begin with.

          If we were easy to tame, we’d still be English subjects. Thank God we are not.

          Perhaps it’s because America is a fundamentally more violent society.

          I’d imagine that scares people like yourself, right up to the point you need us bloodthirsty Yanks to fight on your behalf in the odd war, or subsidize your national defense so you can devote the money saved to free universal healthcare, or whatever you’re spending it on this week.

          Frankly, I could care less how they deal with gun violence in that place that used to be Great Britain.

          Find your own solutions, and don’t meddle in ours.

          • meyati

            I don’t think that happy people left happy homes to come to the US. One side of my family fled because they printed up leaflets for democracy and passed them out. That made them terrorists. The other side made bombs-that made them terrorists too. We need to watch the government-the APS is under attack- the first amendment is under attack. That should cause some critical thinking about what the feds are feeding us.

        • meyati

          Darling- they just use pit bulls, baseball bats, fists, poison, cars, and knives in the UK. A bobby friend asked me if I could make my Sig Sauer invisible and send it to him.

          • Elvish

            What would happen if they had guns ?

          • Mika

            They did used to have guns. And they still didn’t murder each other at anywhere near the rate Americans do. It’s a cultural issue, not one of hardware.

          • mmer

            There is a different between using guns and knives, bats, etc, ie. “the mortality rate for gunshot wounds to the heart is 84%, compared to 30% for people who sustain stab wounds to the heart” ..

          • Mika

            The murder rate in the UK is lower than in the USA, it always has been. Even before they cracked down on guns. It has nothing to do with the availability of guns.

    • Original_Cait

      Australia has always had a much lower murder rate than America, even before the gun ban went into effect. Even in the days when kids rode to school with guns slung over their shoulders as part of their Cadet kit, they still didn’t go around shooting each other dead with them. I’d say that one’s more about culture than about what hardware each country’s respective citizens have at their disposal to kill each other with.

      As long as we’re throwing figures out there, though, I’ll point out that Australia’s assault rate is currently double what America’s is (2.4% vs. 1.2%) and the rape rate is more than double (1% vs. 0.4%). The suicide rate is even higher there too, proving that a determined person doesn’t need a gun to off himself.

      Those stats are via Nationmaster-dot-com, doing a crime comparison Australia vs. USA. (compare/Australia/United-States/Crime)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ed.mathes Ed Mathes

      Look at the “rate per capita”…. rather than raw numbers.

      • Elvish

        Just scroll down.

    • ENDIF

      None of those countries have the highest incarceration rate due to putting casual drug users in gang run prisons with hardened criminals.

      None of them have violent drug cartels causing most of the gun violence in this country as they literally fight in the streets over the $400 billion US drugs black market, thanks to that same drug war.

      None of them are the center of empire, with the inherent use of international violence that comes with same.

      None of them glorify violence to the degree that we do throughout their media.

      None are huge experiments in social darwinism, as exemplified in conservative policies and world view.

      All of them have solid social safety nets.

      All of them have a freer press than we.

      All of them have better socio-economic mobility and equality than we.

    • Trey

      “Murders by handguns”

      Murders by PEOPLE. I have a handgun and it has never and will never just independently and of its own volition go out and murder someone. Most legally-owned guns never will.

      NB: Chicago’s gun laws are stricter than Australia’s or the UK’s.

      • Elvish

        1. When we say murders by handguns, we mean the mean.

        2. Chicago case: the city is part of the state of Illinois, surrounded by other cities and states with loose gun control measures; you don`t have to go through a port of entry to get into the city.

        3. Americans are the problem; crazies, under-educated, misinformed individual who want everyone to own a gun, without regard to criminal records, mental illnesses or household circumstances.

        Whether you like it or not, Americans are not fit to own guns.

        • Trey

          “Whether you like it or not, Americans are not fit to own guns.”

          Whether you like it or not, Constitutional rights are not up to you nor to any mere politician to decide.

          • Elvish

            The constitution was written by men, like us, in the 18th century. Almost 300 yrs ago.

            Time has changed.

            Americans are not fit to enjoy this privilege anymore.

  • Ambulance_Driver

    You are wrong about guns, and I will explain why.

    Whether you heed the explanations is another story.

    1. The 40% figure, as others have stated, is a myth. It has been fact-checked and debunked by numerous unbiased sources.

    Much ado is made about the “gun show loophole.” The vast majority of sales at gun shows are through licensed dealers, already required by law to perform a background check. The same is true of Internet gun sales. You may purchase a gun on the Internet, but to take possession of it, you must pick it up at an actual brick-and-mortar dealer who holds an FFL, who is required by law to perform a background check.

    As others have pointed out, criminals will ignore the background check anyway. The will either purchase the weapon illicitly, or steal it.

    But I’d like you to explain, HOW exactly, a background check will reduce or prevent gun crime.

    The reality is, it will do nothing to prevent gun crime. If anything, it may make it easier to track the weapon used in the crime back to the last person WHO LEGALLY TRANSFERRED IT. These are not your shooters, Dr. McCarthy.

    2. When you use the term “assault weapon” the way you do, you demonstrate an ignorance of firearms and their functional characteristics. It is akin to a podiatrist believing himself to be proficient at brain surgery merely because he is an MD.

    First, the weapons you refer to as “assault weapons” are NOT designed for the military. They resemble military arms only in aesthetic features that do nothing to enhance lethality. In short, they are merely scary LOOKING weapons.

    What you refer to as “assault rifles” are SEMI-automatic firearms no different in functional characteristics than my grandfather’s duck hunting shotgun, or my father’s deer rifle. They fire one round per pull of the trigger. FULLY automatic weapons have been tightly regulated and out of reach of all but a very few civilians, and have been since 1934. Those restrictions were tightened in 1968.

    Modern AR pattern rifles are not easily converted to fully-automatic weapons, and to do so has been a federal felony since 1986. It is illegal to even own the parts to do so, if you also own a weapon those parts will fit.

    Moreover, those fully automatic weapons still extant and in the hands of civilians are virtually NEVER used in crime.

    The 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington cartridge used in our military’s ACTUAL assault rifles (and the vast majority of semi-automatic AR15s that resemble them) pales in lethality to just about any deer rifle cartridge you can name. To call it “high-powered” demonstrates a monumental lack of ignorance, and any hunter worth his salt would scoff at the assertion.

    In fact, it is so puny a cartridge that a number of states still do not allow it for hunting anything larger than small game and predators. It is a marginal caliber for deer, at best.

    We had a “scary looking weapons ban” for 10 years. By the FBI’s own admission, it did nothing to curb the use of such rifles in crime, or gun crime in general. It focused on banning such meaningless aesthetic features as bayonet lugs, collapsible stocks and flash hiders.

    I follow the news and public health literature pretty closely, but I seem to have missed the epidemic of bayonet attacks that required banning that feature.

    Likewise, only the ignorant believe that a collapsible stock makes an AR15 more concealable. The only thing it does is allow a 5’6″, 110 pound woman to shoot the same gun as her 6’3″, 240 pound husband.

    On the subject of flash hiders, it is a physical impossibility to hide muzzle flash from anyone but the shooter – which is the sole purpose of a flash hider. Knowledgeable gun people know this, but most doctors, media pundits and politicians do not.

    So when you propose a ban, you will either A) ban the aforementioned meaningless features, resulting in a toothless law that does nothing, or B) you regulate the operating characteristics of the weapon, and wind up banning a host of other hunting guns with the same operating characteristics that are most assuredly NOT the “assault weapons” that frightened you so much.

    The forgiving among us would say that demonstrates why doctors and politicians should not propose regulating things of which they are wholly ignorant, but the cynical among us would say the broader net is by design; they want ALL our guns, not just the assault weapons they whipped up such a public fervor over.

    Either way, it breeds suspicion and distrust among the gun-owning moderates you are trying to court.

    3. You said it yourself: the children can not legally purchase these kid-sized guns. Their PARENTS are the target market.

    In every culture, parents seek ways to teach respect, maturity and personal responsibility to their children They often use family-oriented activities to do this.

    In some places, it may be father and son (or daughter) rebuilding Dad’s old hot rod together. It another, it may be woodworking. It may be a mother teaching her daughter (or son) to cook or sew. It may be a parent teaching their child to swim, and the skills learned there translate to the step into adulthood that is a teenager’s first summer job as a lifeguard.

    For me, and millions like me, it was hunting and a love of the outdoors. My father taught me to be a steward of the land, to hunt responsibly, to kill cleanly and as humanely as possible, and to never disrespect or take for granted the bounty of the outdoors.

    And guns were the tools we used.

    That may be an alien concept to you, but keep in mind that all the life lessons learned therein were the same as that father teaching his son to rebuild an engine, or a mother teaching her daughter to cook or sew, or a host of other parent-child activities.

    Gender stereotypes aside, I’m sure you can identify with that.

    That is the gun culture, Dr. McCarthy. You mistake it for the thug culture, of which we are not a part.

    The thug culture, you will never succeed in regulating. Hopefully, we can educate it away.

    The senseless gun deaths you abhor, the murders, the suicides, the accidental shooting of a sibling by the toddler who found his father’s gun…

    … these things aren’t happening with Cricket or Rascal single-shot .22 rifles built to child-sized dimensions. The reason why is those child-sized rifles you fear are bought by parents of the GUN culture. In that culture, Daddy doesn’t leave his guns lying around unsecured, and Junior has been taught from the time he could walk to handle guns responsibly, and never without adult supervision. And he’d never think of using that gun to murder someone, any more than another child would dream of mowing down a pedestrian in the hot rod he helped Dad rebuild, just as soon as his legs are long enough to reach the pedals.

    The senseless gun deaths are occurring in the THUG culture, or in the well-meaning but ignorant household when one lapse in attention resulted in tragedy, because Junior was never taught about guns, and Daddy’s grown-up pistol is still an object of wonder and mystery, something he is never allowed to even touch, much less shoot.

    And perhaps,it was because some well-meaning but ignorant physician told him that’s the way the issue should be handled. When you advocate ignorance about contraception and safe sex, you get teenagers with STD’s and unwed mothers. When you preach ignorance about guns, you get children handling guns ignorantly.

    Lastly, I’ll close with one comment you made that stands out:

    “A gun did that to her.”

    No, doctor, a man did that to her. A gun was simply the tool he used. It could have been a hammer (used in significantly more murders than so-called assault rifles), or a car, or any number of things.

    If you want to discuss strengthening and broadening mental health reporting requirements to the NICS system, provided adequate safeguards are built in for restoration of rights for those unjustly accused or proven to be of no danger to themselves or others, I’m all ears.

    If you want to discuss ways to improve our mental health system, I’m right there with you.

    But until then, you’re just another podiatrist who thinks she’s qualified to do brain surgery.

    • FL Girl

      Bless you, Ambulance Driver. As a lurker on your blog, I was kinda hoping you’d show up here to lay down some facts :)

    • John Smith

      +1 x 1,000,000

    • NormRx

      Great column. I equate talking to anti-gun people like trying to reason with a rebellious teenager. They stick their fingers in their ears and go la,la, la, la,la, I can’t hear you.

    • SBornfeld

      Please define “thug culture”, and explain which of the recent mass shootings occurred within that culture.

      P.S.: Podiatrists do NOT possess an M.D.

      • Ambulance_Driver

        Thug culture: Urban black males under 35 egaging in and glorifying the sale or purchase of illicit pharmaceuticals, and shooting eachother while doing it.

        None of which would be affected by Dr. McCarthy’s wish list.

        And none of the statistical anomalies that are mass shootings (save for perhaps the Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans) were committed by members of that culture.

        But Dr. McCarthy’s wish list wouldn’t have prevented those, either.

        Thanks for the correction on podiatrists, though. Just insert “pediatrician” and the point would be just as germane.

        Cue indignant accusations of racism from the gun-totin’ redneck in 3, 2, 1…

        • SBornfeld

          If the shoe fits, Driver. And please, explain away the mass shootings by calling them “anomalous”–yeah, tell the victims they don’t count.
          Please feel free to call physicians ignorant on a medical blog.

          • Ambulance_Driver

            Ahh, yes, when you can’t counter the facts, play the emotion card.

            And calling doctorsignorant of guns?

            Yeah, if the shoe fits.

            Or am I supposed to give you a pass on ignorance because you went to medical school?

            I’m not going to place much faith in your knowledge of economic policy and geopolitics either, unless they somehow worked thatinto your medical school curriculum.

          • SBornfeld

            If there’s a reason for you to bring economic policy or dental school into this discussion I’ll listen; otherwise I see no reason to continue–enjoyable and productive as it is.

          • Trey

            Statistically, events like Sandyhook ARE anomalies. “Something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.”

            The vast majority of shooting victims in the USA are NOT cute little white kids. Y’all just care about them more, is all.

    • ConcernedToo89

      That 40% figure is old, partly because funding for scientific research into the causes of violence involving guns has been greatly hampered by gun lobby sponsored laws. That despite the fact that to this day, 70% of homicides are committed with a firearm. What’s changed since that 40% figure first emerged? The Internet. Law enforcement stings show that over 60% of online sellers are willing to bypass the background check at the request of the purchaser. Also, there are more gun shows now than ever.

      Here’s how background checks help in reducing crime in states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia that prosecute illegal attempts to purchase guns at licensed dealers: they arrest and prosecute the people doing the attempted purchasing. That’s thousands of people arrested and prosecuted just in those two states–but not all states are alike, and there are many ways just those two states could improve their databases, close the gunshow loophole, etc.

      As for the term assault weapon, perhaps if it had never been invented by gun manufacturers to describe guns based on military style rifles in the 80′s, we wouldn’t be using their term. Now that the name is a liability instead of a marketing tool, they want to rewrite history. “Ignorance” indeed.

      • Mika

        “close the gunshow loophole”

        According to surveys DOJ conducted of state prison inmates, only two percent who owned a gun at the time of their offense bought it at either a gun show or flea market.

        • ConcernedToo89

          Yes, I see this from time to time despite headlines such as those in Oklahoma demonstrating how easy it is for felons to purchase guns in that state at shows. What is the reason exactly for not requiring background checks at gunshows? The inconvenience of attendees? Because that is a higher priority than preventing someone adjudicated mentally incompetent from purchasing a gun from a show?

          • Trey

            “What is the reason exactly for not requiring background checks at gunshows?”

            It is only when one private individual sells (or gives) a gun to another private individual that no NICS background check is required.

            Businesses and firearms dealers must do NICS checks no matter where they sell their guns, even at gun shows.

            There are no special laws (or lack of laws) at gun shows, just the same laws which apply everywhere else.

  • ninguem

    The mistake you’re making is to think that Claire McCarthy is really interested in your explanation.

    • C.L.J. Murphy

      It’s like arguing with a birther, a truther or a vaccine conspiracy theorist. Facts and empirical evidence matter naught, they’ll just keep chanting whatever mantra (“experts agree the birth certificate is fake”; “fire can’t melt steel”; “Andrew Wakefield’s data proved…”; “40% of guns sales happen without background checks and gun crime is skyrocketing”) supports their narrative.

      It’s a shame to see medical doctors falling in to that trap, I must say. One might have thought that this would be one profession where evidence trumps emotion-laden anecdote.

      • adh1729

        Indeed jet fuel fires don’t melt steel. Another fact in the same vein: only 3 high rise, steel buildings in the US have ever fallen as the result (or the purported result) of fire, and they all fell on 9/11/01. One, WTC 7, wasn’t even hit by a plane. All 3 buildings fell in a matter of seconds, symmetrically, onto their own footprint. Other high rise buildings have burned longer and hotter without falling. The problem with truthers is, they have the truth on their side. US government and media were lying.

        • adh1729

          Does voting against the truth, make it no longer true?

  • mmer

    According to the most recent data from Nationmaster, the US has the
    8th highest gun homicide rate, right below the Mexico and Zimbabwe
    (great company) and the 8th highest overall homicide rate. A 2003 study
    by Hemenway that compared the United States to other member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and
    Development found that the firearm homicide rate in the United States is 19.5x the average of other high income countries. The US has the highest gun ownership per capita of any country on Earth.

    Here are some other things to consider:

    “Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional
    studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US,
    where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for
    homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”
    Hepburn, Lisa; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and homicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior:

    “We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability
    using data from 26 developed countries from the early 1990s. We found
    that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there
    are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.”
    Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries.

    “Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the
    relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states
    over a ten year period (1988-1997). After controlling for poverty and
    urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have
    elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”
    Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states

    “Using survey data on rates of household gun ownership, we examined
    the association between gun availability and homicide across states,
    2001-2003. We found that states with higher levels of household gun
    ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide.
    This relationship held for both genders and all age groups, after
    accounting for rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment,
    urbanization, alcohol consumption, and resource deprivation (e.g.,
    poverty). There was no association betweengun prevalence and non-firearm homicide.”
    Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership

    “Across the key indicators of gun violence that we analyzed, the 10
    states with the weakest gun laws collectively have an aggregate level of
    gun violence that is more than twice as high—104 percent higher, in
    fact—than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.”
    The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    “This paper uses a unique data set to demonstrate that increases in
    gun ownership lead to substantial increases in the overall homicide rate. This is driven entirely by a relationship between firearms and homicides in which a gun is used, implying that the results are not driven by reverse causation or by omitted variables. The relationship between changes in gun ownership and changes in all other crime categories is weaker and typically insignificant, suggesting that guns influence crime primarily by increasing the homicide rate”
    More Guns, More Crime – Mark Duggan

    • Anon

      How do you explain that as gun ownership in the US has risen, gun crime has gone down?

      • mmer

        Gun ownership has risen since when?

        “According to the General Social Survey, household firearm ownership has fallen from 43 percent in the 1990s to 35 percent in the 2000s. Overall household ownership is down from 50 percent in the 1970s.”

        • Anon

          As I point out below, the YT article you took that from also admits:

          “Gallup, which asks a similar question but has a different survey design, shows a higher ownership rate and a more moderate decrease.”

          Gallup’s poll on Oct 26, 2011 showed that 47% of Americans have a gun in their house or on their property. And unlike your pollster, Gallup isn’t funded by gun-control advocates.

          Also your claim was that “where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for
          homicide”. There ARE more guns in America than there were five years ago, yet gun crime has gone DOWN.

          • mmer

            FYI – the GSS is funded by the National Science Foundation. The Gallup poll has been conducted since the early 90′s whereas the GSS since the early 70′s.

          • meyati

            Your mind is really closed isn’t it? You still don’t give us a population base of region, age or gender. Also you try to put us down as uneducated. I’m sure that Dr. Kev appreciates your assessment of his readers and contributors.

          • mmer

            So instead of looking at the broader national trends over a longer timeline, ignoring all international data, and ignoring the data in between states (an article published by the American Medical Association in
            March found lower rates of gun-related homicides and suicides in states with the most firearms laws), we’ll pick a 5 year time-frame that just happens to coincide with our pre-established thoughts on the topic.

          • ConcernedToo89

            All crime is down, but 70% of homicides are still to this day committed with a firearm. That rate has not budged.

          • Kim

            Why on earth does it matter HOW they’re murdered?

          • ConcernedToo89

            I’ll allow the doctors who read this page to judge for themselves why it’s important to focus on the weapons that are used to accomplish the vast majority of murders in this country. Blunt instruments (e.g., hammers) were used in 4% of homicides per the FBI in 2010, while knives were used 13% of the time. Explosives, by the way, were used intentionally to kill 12 Americans in 2011, compared with over 8,500 Americans who were intentionally killed with a bullet.

          • ENDIF

            Since you can’t be bothered to back up any of your claims, I’ll just paste in the FBIs numbers on murder and method.


          • ENDIF


          • ConcernedToo89

            You do understand the distinction between an absolute number decreasing (i.e., all crime) and the degree to which firearms are an inextricable component of murder in the United States? There is no way to characterize 70% of homicides being committed with firearms as anything than the vast majority of murders. The absolute number of murders may increase or decrease, but the percentage involving firearms has remained static.

          • ENDIF


          • ConcernedToo89

            I rest my case.

          • Trey

            “I rest my case–gun violence is NOT down as a percentage of homicides.”


            Nobody except you claimed that is was.

            The fact of the matter is that there are more and more guns out there, and gun-related homicide rates keep falling.

            More guns != more gun crimes; so there’s no basis to imply that fewer guns will = fewer gun crimes.

          • Mika

            So? The fact of the matter is that as gun sales are soaring, gun crimes are plummeting.

            This is your inconvenient truth.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Mika, scientists take note when anything is reduced in absolute numbers (overall total murders) while a percentage of the total (homicides by gun) remains the same. That would lead one to believe that guns play some sort of crucial role in the vast majority of homicides, since their rate of use in the vast majority of homicides remains identical at 70%. What conclusions might be drawn from the fact that the weapon used in the vast majority of murders continues to be used for murder at precisely the same rate DESPITE the fact that the number of murders have decreased? Many people would argue that in fact “gun violence” has not been reduced if the percentage of use of firearms remains precisely the same despite the decrease of overall murders in absolute terms. It’s certainly worthy of study, but the gun lobby has sought to block all funding for such studies.

        • Ambulance_Driver

          “Overall household ownership is down from 50 percent in the 1970s.”

          If you believe people answer such surveys honestly, when their government is actively pushing for gun bans.

          If this is your idea of science, it’s pretty weak sauce.

          My stock answer when a pollster asks if there are firearms in my home, is, “None of your business.”

          Of course, given the political bent of the organizations commissioning such polls, that probably gets recorded as a “No.”

          • mmer

            So, instead of using empirical data from “liberal polls” (I find it curious that conservatives reject all polls that come to conclusions they don’t like as “liberal” – how incredibly scientific!), we should instead govern ourselves by our political ideology and the irrational belief that the government is on the verge of takin’ urr guns – got it, makes sense.

          • Anon

            “the irrational belief that the government is on the verge of takin’ urr guns”

            They also told us that our belief that the government was using the IRS to punish its political enemies was “irrational”. Uh-huh.

          • ENDIF

            Still not true.

          • meyati

            I learned in my first semester at college that polls can be skewed to have a determined outcome-the bias of the pollster. If you want a pro gun result-you go to a gun range and poll people. Since I live in the Rocky Mountain region-I really don’t know what demographics would be used to get an anti-gun poll through. Obama kept saying 96%, then 95%, then he got stuck on the 93% want more gun regulations. Where is that 93%-93% of what population? An honest poll tells what population group was polled, how many were polled. None of that is in his data–

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1370575920 Dave Blackmon

          Does that really make since with record sales for the past 6 years?

          • mmer

            If most new purchases during that 6 year period took place amongst people who already had a gun, then yes, it does makes sense (a person with 1 gun or 5 guns still counts as a person in the category of gun owner and isn’t differentiated in the study, which perhaps it should have been).

            If most new purchases took place amongst new buyers, then it could make sense, depending on how that 6 yr time period compared to the larger time-frame the referenced study took place in.

          • ENDIF

            If then if? That’s a whole lot of speculation.

          • Kim

            He’s making it up as he goes along.

          • mmer

            There are two scenarios, and since I wasn’t sure about whether which one was true, I merely explained what would happen under the scenarios. I couldn’t find data concerning what percentage of gun purchases in the last six years were new buyers vs. previous owners.

          • ConcernedToo89

            It does if the very same gun owners are simply buying more of them. That doesn’t equate to a rise in gun ownership for the population at large.

        • Mika

          GSS is a slanted, partisan survey. Gallup says 47% of US households report having a gun, and of course going under the radar are all those who, especially in this political climate, are not going to volunteer to some stranger over the phone whether they have one or not lest they end up having the Google Earth details of their home put on the front page of the local rag, or make themselves a target for political abuse (IRS harassment of “political wrongthinkers”, anyone?)

      • ConcernedToo89

        70% of homicides are still committed with a firearm. That’s the vast majority of murders. All crime has gone down, not just gun crime, but that percentage (use of guns for murder) has not budged.

        • mmer

          To put in context, US has 7th highest % of homicides with firearms (between Zimbabwe and Paraguay), and the 14th highest overall homicide rate (between Moldova and Ukraine).

          • ConcernedToo89

            The figure I find most disturbing is that over 80% of the world’s children shot with a firearm are American children, although we account for 5% of the world’s population.

          • Kim

            What percentage of the world’s children who are murdered are American children? What difference does it make whether a child is bashed to death, stabbed, strangled, speared, bombed, had its neck slit or is shot with a gun?

          • ConcernedToo89

            Again, 70% of murders are committed with a firearm. 70%. Certainly there are many ways to kill a human being, the vast majority of time, a gun is the weapon that is used to do it.

          • ENDIF

            Still waiting for you to back up any of these numbers you keep throwing around.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Let’s see, 2007, over 14,000 murders, over 10,000 committed by firearm. 2011, over 12,000 murders (a decrease of at least 2,000 overall), and over 8500 committed by firearm–the percentage of firearm murders remained the same, despite the decrease in the overall total number of murders. 2,000 fewer people were killed, but the firearms were still used at the identical rate to kill people. http://www.fbi.Gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8

          • ENDIF

            And all of them were committed by people. With motives. Who took actions. Perhaps we should be addressing those.

            Unless you think Maximum Overdrive was a documentary, and no human agency is required?

          • ConcernedToo89

            You’ve made clear that you are unimpressed that while the absolute numbers of murders have decreased in recent years, the percentage of those committed with a firearm have not. While you’re entitled to your views, I assure you that there are many doctors and scientists who are curious about these numbers and they should be allowed to explore that curiosity via studies.

          • ENDIF

            I strongly encourage curiosity. I strongly discourage flawed preconceived opinions about correlation and causation. I strongly encourage focusing on solutions that will actually reduce violence.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Let me ask you a question: do you believe that if guns magically disappeared (just by magic, not by tyranny), that the US homicide rate would remain identical, because a majority of the 70% of murderers who chose a firearm would use an alternate weapon?

          • ENDIF

            I think the difference would be minimal, but that the homicide rate would go down very slightly.

            If only we lived in that magic pretend universe where that was possible, eh? I’d wager that’s where the unicorns are hiding.

          • Guest

            The road toll would also drop if cars magically disappeared. Magical thinking is childish and unproductive. It shows us the level you’re at.

          • Guest

            “Again, 70% of murders in the US are committed with a firearm”

            And most of them were committed by males, blacks, aged 18-24.

          • ENDIF



          • ConcernedToo89

            You can call it nonsense all you want, but that doesn’t make it less true.

          • ENDIF

            You’re seriously claiming that more children are killed in the US than in active warzones?

            I loled.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Maybe that’s why we’re competing with the West Bank/ Gaza over who has a higher per capita firearm homicide rate. US per capita firearm homicide rate: 67%; West Bank / Gaza: 72%. You don’t find that appalling? http://www.washingtonpost.Com/wp-srv/special/nation/gun-homicides-ownership/table/

          • ENDIF

            We should be focusing on the actual problems that lead to violence – weak social safety nets, accelerating income inequality, and the travesty that is the drug war.

          • Mika

            Being killed with a gun is one of the least likely causes of death for American children. Less than 1.5 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under are related to guns. Take away 100% of Americans’ guns, and 98.5% of the children 14 and under killed in any given year would still be just as dead.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Why under 14? Does that work out better for your statistics? Teenagers are given more freedom by parents in order to encourage independence during formative years–but they are not adults. What are the statistics when you add back in children under the age of 18?

          • ConcernedToo89

            Also–separate to my other reply below–these sort of statistics are intended to distract from the fact that our firearm homicide rate (67%) is higher than Zimbabwe’s (65.5%) and comparable to that of the West Bank / Gaza’s (72%). Meanwhile–Canada’s is 32%; Netherlands, 30%; Germany, 26.3%; Spain, 21.8%. http://www.washingtonpost.Com/wp-srv/special/nation/gun-homicides-ownership/table/

          • Trey

            Why are you so hung up on “firearm homicide rate”? Is someone killed by someone with a gun more dead than someone killed by someone with a machete?

            Do you similarly think that rapes committed at knifepoint are somehow less traumatic than rapes committed at gunpoint?

            And are you seriously comparing the US unfavorably to ZIMBABWE?

          • Trey

            “over 80% of the world’s children shot with a firearm are American children”


            And relevance?

  • Ambulance_Driver

    Sounds like you need to emigrate across the big pond, then. ;)

  • C.L.J. Murphy

    Americans have always had a higher murder rate than the British, and it has nothing to do with the NHS or how much money each respective nation spends on welfare. Correlation is not causation. You might as well claim that the UK’s lower murder rate has to do with their not having debased the Queen’s English, or the fact that they prefer tea to coffee. No, it’s just because Americans are who they are. Radical rebellious Colonial extremists who have “issues”, as they say, with submitting meekly to authority. Recall the British gun control program that precipitated the American Revolution: the 1774 import ban on firearms and gunpowder; the 1774-75 confiscations of firearms and gunpowder; and the Colonials’ unhappiness with the use of necessary violence to effectuate the confiscations. Recall how that one ended. I wouldn’t want to be part of the government that tried something like that on again, believe you me. Americans are not the type to meekly hand their guns in to the government when asked, like the Brits and Aussies were. Disarming the American people is just not going to happen.

    • Elvish

      Sir, you do realise that we are not in 1774 anymore, nor are at war with the British Empire, don`t you ?
      You do realise we are supposed to be living in a modern democracy, don`t you ?
      What are you going to do with your guns ? Shoot ducks ?
      Y`all don`t even want to register nor undergo background checks.
      Keeping a registered weapon at home by “fit” citizens is different from having people with bipolar and anxiety disorders walking around with their guns.
      Measures need to be taken and grown ups need to stop this fantasy !

      • C.L.J. Murphy

        1) I don’t own any guns
        2) I am a British subject

  • SBornfeld

    The answers here (and the responses to them) illustrate why you will never have a meaningful interchange of ideas on this subject.
    Since the prevailing sentiments are so different from those of the AAP , I rather think many of these responses are not from medical people. That doesn’t minimize the problem, but it does cast the problem in context.

    • ConcernedToo89

      Well said.

  • meyati

    Excuse me—First the homicide by gun data above is flawed. It does not differentiate between police or civilian shootings. It doesn’t differentiate between justified shootings and murder.

    Then the DOJ has been handing out millions in grants to upgrade police departments-which is good. But there was a condition for this-that states make an effort to keep the NCIS data banks updated about arrests and/or convictions for murders, violent rapes, especially domestic violence. Many of the states have not done so. .articlesfactory.com/articles/government/how-does-the-national-instant-criminal-background-check-system-work.html It states some states aren’t connected electronically to keep the NICS updated. It’s a neutral link that tells how it works.

    Have you checked with your state to see if they’ve helped update the national data system? Considering this, is it wrong for gun owners to insist that current laws be enforced first? As long as police departments and states do not follow the law to have adequate data sent into the system-more laws are useless. Here’s an idea about national data bases from the UK-where they are much more concerned about guns.

    An assault weapon is a gun that fires as long as you pull the trigger. Why people insist in thinking that a semi-automatic, where you have to pull the trigger for each shot is an automatic or an assault weapon I don’t know. The press likes to say assault weapons–

    Right now, I’m not seeing much to inspire my trust in government. In Feb. my disabled vet son answered the door. A man was looking for work. My son talked and said, “No”. He grabbed my son and tried to force his way into the house. I had a bad feeling, so I was there. I threw my body against the door-pushing most of him out. My son called 911-and the operator kept asking us to turn the TV off so she could hear. My son was giving the address over and over. He got next to me and we were both pushing against the door. An hour and five minutes later the police showed up and asked “What happened to your door?” Did I tell you that one coonhound attached herself to the man’s arm? We were able to sort of close the door enough to keep the hounds from getting out. I spent that night sleeping by the front door with my 12 gauge, a 9 shot revolver, and some back up. We replaced the door next morning.

    Why is the Department of Homeland Security buying billions of bullets in every size during the Sequester? We have the military for national defense, the FBI and DOJ for big time internal crime-like violent bank robbers, home grown terrorists, etc. and we have the local police-whenever they show up. The DHS is saying the bullets are for target practice- Hollow points are unsuitable for target practice. Considering the feds and Associated Press-we need to worry about all of our constitutional rights, and I’m a Democrat-a western dem that likes to hunt and shoot. I was on the Los Angeles County youth rifle team when I was 12. I fired my first pistol when I was 6, a snub nose police special. That was in Los Angeles also..

    • ConcernedToo89

      Oh, the gun lobby puts in overtime so that there’s no head of the ATF, its funding is minimal and its officers few. All this “enforce the laws” out of one side of the mouth, while making sure it will never happen. Pure hypocrisy.

      There are, on the other hand, a number of states that heavily prosecute attempts to purchase guns illegally at gun dealers (try googling fact checker graham prosecution). But is that uniform throughout the states? No, because plenty of states have weak laws, and even states with strong enforcement have gunshow and online sales loopholes. Sure, enforce the laws we have, but when there aren’t any laws to enforce in a variety of jurisdictions, that’s just another bit of hollow rhetoric.

  • ConcernedToo89

    One thing I don’t see discussed often, but it’s quite apropos here on a medical forum, is the difference in muzzle velocity between guns such as Bushmasters vs. Glocks. The Bushmaster has a muzzle velocity 2.5x that of any Glock. I doubt Giffords, for example, would have survived being shot by an AR-15. Physicians find that high muzzle velocity causes a shockwave in the body that breaks bones, rips blood vessels, and damages organs without any fragment of the bullet touching them. Needless to say, children are particularly vulnerable to the concussive force of a high velocity weapon. See, for example (cut & paste) http://usatoday30.usatoday.Com/news/nation/2002-10-22-bullets-usat_x.htm

    • ENDIF

      Yes, rifles are more effective at damaging a target than pistols. And?

      • ConcernedToo89

        It’s fascinating that you describe it as “damaging a target,” as if this were simply a clinical issue rather than the killing of human beings.

        • ENDIF

          Funny, I’ve put hundreds of rounds through my firearms, including my bladder-emptyingly-terrifying AK47, and not a one has involved ‘killing human beings’. Am I doing it wrong?

          • ConcernedToo89

            As long as you don’t confuse your “targets.”

    • Kim

      The The Bushmaster XM-15 rifle used by DC snipers Muhammad and Malvo was illegal in DC anyway. What do you want to do, make it MORE illegal? Why do you think criminals set on committing mass murder are going to obey new laws when they already don’t obey the current ones?

      • ConcernedToo89

        Kim, just a glance at the history of the DC sniper will show you that 14 of the 15 attacks took place in Virginia and Maryland.

        • Guest

          The DC snipers were prohibited by law from buying guns.They obtained their weapons illegally. Kim is right, these people already broke the law and obtained their weapons illegally, put even more laws in and you think they won’t break those too?

          NEWSFLASH: Criminals generally do not obey laws.

          • ConcernedToo89

            You know what’s interesting about this? The sniper stole his Bushmaster from a licensed dealer in Tacoma, Washington, and the dealer as well as Bushmaster were sued, resulting in a $2.5 million dollar judgment (Bushmaster paid $550 million as a settlement of the lawsuit). The dealer received that judgment because its records were so poorly kept it was unaware of its inventory and didn’t miss the rifle as having been stolen. Criminals might not obey laws, but identifying ways in which weapons that licensed dealers sell can be made more secure so they aren’t stolen in the first place is an achievable goal.

  • ConcernedToo89

    My comment disappeared, so my apologies if it pops up again.

    In 2011, it’s estimated that 1,824 homicides were committed by gangs. Assuming that all of those were done with a gun (which I doubt) that still comes to 20% of the over 8,500 firearms homicides in the US during 2011. Put another way, 80% of firearm murders were not committed by gangs. http://www.nationalgangcenter.Gov/Survey-Analysis/Measuring-the-Extent-of-Gang-Problems

    • Kim

      Not all homicides are murders. Don’t conflate the two terms.

      • ConcernedToo89

        Let me know how the definition affects the statistics, since you’re the one to bring it up.

        • Mika

          There are no national figures on justifiable homicides or gun-killings for which no one is charged, but when cops shoot people or citizens shoot someone in their own defense, that is not a “murder”.

          • ConcernedToo89

            From everything I’ve heard, murder and homicides do not include justified killings. Which, by the way, from statistics I’ve seen, number in a few hundred, compared to the 8,500 murders. I’m not precisely certain, but I believe you are implying that justified killings ought to be subtracted from the total. What leads you to believe that justified killings would in any way constitute a statistically significant percentage of killings in the U.S.? Other than your own personal opinions that is (see, e.g., your view that “most murders” being “drug related.”).

          • Trey

            “murder and homicides do not include justified killings”

            Yes they do. Homicide is simply “The killing of one human being by another human being.”

            There are no data available for the United States as a whole that tells us the yearly number of either shootings by police, or of CLDHs (civilian justifiable homicides, excusable homicides and “sudden combat” excusable homicides — “civilian legal
            defensive homicides”). But they are all “homicides”.

      • MM

        The cop who just accidentally shot the young Hofstra co-ed in the head…. is that a murder or a homicide?

    • ENDIF

      The fact remains that the single largest preventable chunk of firearms related (and all other) violence is within our ability to remove, rapidly and effectively, with a simple change in policy, without abrogating the rights of anyone, in fact the opposite.

      • ConcernedToo89

        I concur that violence ought to be reduced, period. 80% not associated with gangs is still an extremely large percentage, however, out of the whole.

        • Mika

          Your own link warns: “Because of the many issues surrounding the maintenance and collection of
          gang-crime data, caution is urged when interpreting the results
          presented below. Nearly half of law enforcement agencies report they do not regularly record any criminal offenses as “gang-related”

          Rather than gang-related, I would think the majority of gun murders are drug and crime related. Not every drug dealer is a formal member of a designated “gang” (and even if they were, half the country’s LE agencies wouldn’t make note of it anyway).

          • ConcernedToo89

            Mika, I am very interested in such statistics if they exist–be sure and share them if you locate them.

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferKillin Jennifer Killin

    Violent crime and gun violence are not the same thing. Most gun deaths are suicides. Nothing to do with gang wars and drug cartels. There are also dozens of daily gun deaths across the country that are accidental, mostly involving children. Children happening across loaded guns that were not secured properly. Solving the drug problem completely would not save them. But making guns safer (less prone to accidental discharges and difficult for children to operate) and mandating safe storage would. Nothing in this world is 100% effective, of course, but with the technology that is available, there has to be a way to make guns safer, and that would save countless lives.

    • ENDIF

      Anecdotal argument by assertion vs my well sourced claims. Golly, consider me convinced.


    • Kim

      “There are also dozens of daily gun deaths across the country that are accidental, mostly involving children.”

      To quote from someone else’s comment on another gun-related post, gun deaths involving children have gone down 74% in the past 20 years.
      According to recently released National Safety Council data (google “IIR_InjuryStatistics2013.pdf” for report):

      .• Firearms are involved in less than 1.5 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under, and are among the least likely causes of unintentional fatality.

      • During the last decade, the number of unintentional firearm-related fatalities involving children 14 years of age and under has decreased by 28 percent and by 74 percent over the last 20 years

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferKillin Jennifer Killin

    First of all, the 40% of guns that are purchased without background checks is an outdated number. The more accurate number is 18-22%. Still, almost a quarter. And the argument that criminals don’t submit to background checks is completely bogus. They do, by the millions! As shown by the fact that over 2 million guns sales have been prevented due to failure of a background check. Furthermore, tens of thousands of wanted felons have been apprehended upon failure of a background check. Why would felons attempt to purchase guns legally? Because it is the least risky. If 2,000,000 gun purchase attempts were prevented by background checks, think how many are slipping through the cracks? There is NO risk to a criminal that purchases a gun legally without a background check. So why wouldn’t they go that route? Studies have shown that if you increase the difficulty of committing a crime by even a small increment, the incidences of such crimes drop significantly. In other words, building a small wall against an intruder is as effective as building a tall wall. If background checks are truly universal, it would force criminals to either steal or purchase their guns illegally, and both of those options involve risks.

    • Guest

      If the background check system we have doesn’t work or isn’t being enforced, why not fix it rather than add a new law on top of it?

      • ConcernedToo89

        Actually, in Pennsylvania and Virginia, there is quite strict enforcement of illegal attempts to purchase firearms at licensed dealers. Google fact checker graham prosecution to pull up the Washington Post article on the subject. That said, the states could still require background checks at gunshows and strongly enforce checks for online sales, further increasing their enforcement records. However, your question implies that all states have the same laws–Virginia in particular has such strong enforcement because the state legislature was embarrassed into changing its laws after the 2007 Va Tech massacre revealed the weakness in its system (so they have 100% reporting of those adjudicated mentally ill). South Carolina, for example, certainly does not meet that standard, nor do many, many other states.

    • ConcernedToo89

      I’m curious where you obtained the 18 to 22% figure, because the 40% figure is the only study that I’ve seen cited. In fact, in Michigan, where they’ve tightened their laws in certain specific ways so that it’s easier to identify which weapons are sold without background checks, there’s the suggestion that the figure is approaching 50%. Part of this is that the 40% figure comes from 1994, prior to the advent of Internet weapons purchasing (law enforcement stings have found that as many as 60% of online meetup sales bypass background checks). There are also more gunshows now, not fewer. However, regardless, the reason we even have to debate the percentage is due to gun lobby interference with funding into scientific research to settle the matter.


    The fact remains that the single largest preventable chunk of firearms related (and all other) violence is within our ability to remove, rapidly and effectively, with a simple change in policy, without abrogating the rights of anyone, in fact the opposite.

    • ConcernedToo89

      If you want to characterize 20% as large, and preventable, I can hardly argue with the idea that violence ought to be reduced.

      • ENDIF

        And yet here you are advocating false solutions that will do nothing, while a real and achievable reduction is ignored.

        • ConcernedToo89

          I think you overreacted to my comment which was essentially agreeing with you. Mathematically, no one is going to characterize 20% of anything as “large” but as I said, if violence can be prevented, then it should.

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferKillin Jennifer Killin

    As far as marketing to children, gun companies know that the number of Americans owning guns is shrinking. The great majority of people that are buying guns are already gun owners. The industry is attempting to indoctrinate children to milk the most profit as possible because they know that the market is saturated. To market to gun owners, they need to constantly be coming up with novel ideas. Fear is what turns potential gun owners into gun owners, and the gun companies know just how to play that card. It’s irrational fear, because in reality gun owners are more likely to be shot than those that don’t own guns. I think the marketing to children is despicable. I keep hearing this argument: why don’t you worry about knives and baseball bats? Well, you wouldn’t let small children play with knives and baseball bats, would you?! They might hurt themselves! Would you let a 4 year-old use a kitchen knife to cut vegetables, unassisted but with supervision? I wouldn’t, so why on earth is it acceptable to let a 4 year-old use a gun?! And when was the last time you heard of a 4 year-old accidentally stabbing or bludgeoning someone to death? Over the last couple of weeks there have been at least a dozen incidents of child-on-child gun violence, mostly accidents. When a child accidentally cuts someone with a knife or hits someone with a baseball bat, the worst the person normally suffers is a cut and a bump, respectively, before the instrument is taken away from the child. No real harm done. But a child’s finger on a trigger is just as effective as that of an adult.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you teach your child about gun safety, or not to touch a gun. How many times have you told them not to run with scissors? Not to touch a hot stove? Not to hit a sibling? Not to run into a parking lot? They are kids! They forget, they don’t listen, they repeatedly test boundaries and often disobey. Anyone that relies on “gun safety education” to keep their children safe is naive. If you remember what it is like to be a child, being told NOT to do something gives that something more allure. Children are not capable of being responsible for their own safety. That is the job of their parents and caregivers.

    • Kim

      “Children are not capable of being responsible for their own safety. That is the job of their parents and caregivers.”

      I agree 100% on this one. Marketing .22s as junior or starter guns is nothing new, that’s been going on a long time (I got one 35 years ago when I was 12). But parents can’t let their kids have unsupervised access to them. PERIOD. Children are children, that’s why we don’t let them swim unsupervised or drive cars or operate power tools on their own. They need adults to keep the safe. I have no problem with teaching a kid to shoot from a young age. But letting a young child have unsupervised access to guns is negligent if not criminal.

      • Trey

        Most parents are responsible parents, like you.

        That’s why it’s so frustrating that the anti-gun nuts’ first reaction to a tragedy caused by irresponsible parents is to demonize and punish all the responsible parents.

        That’ll show ‘em!

    • meyati

      What? The number of gun owners is shrinking? ha, ha, ha-what have you been toking? shotguns are going off the walls- Thanks Joe Biden

      • ConcernedToo89

        There’s a difference between individuals who already own firearms purchasing more firearms, vs. individuals who never owned firearms before purchasing firearms. The former would not cause gun ownership to go up as a percentage of the population, while the latter would. Without actually determining whether first-time owners are the primary purchasers of the guns “going off the walls,” one cannot determine, based on that alone, that in fact the percentage of the population that constitutes gun owners in significantly increasing–by more than a few percentage points–or not.

        • meyati

          Gun dealers ask, and usually first time gun owners say so. Also on the gun company registration-you R asked if you own other guns, or if this is your first gun-Just like the forms on vacuum cleaners-is this your first Bissell, Is this your first vacuum cleaner, etc You’re asked “Is this your first semi-automatic?” Is this your first Sig-Glock, S&W etc. This is a good guide to knowing how many are repeat buyers or first time buyers. Even doctors ask you if this is your first pregnancy.

  • Soontobeextinct

    The debates regarding statistics can go on forever. Everybody can create their own to justify their view. However, most are missing the big picture here. The right to own a firearm is given to us by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. That right should be unimpeded by undue and unreasonable governmental interference and/or control. This Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights as the ultimate protection of our citizenry against a predatory and oppressive government. Our Constitution was primarily a document to limit the powers given to central government and maximize the freedoms and rights given to the individual. Today this debate on guns pits the “individualist” against the “statist”. Statists believe in Big Government and central controls governing the behavior of everyone in a society. Therefore they love gun control. Individualists believe just the opposite: Instead of relying on government control, they rely on individual responsibility and community to control society. It is ironic that our President was recently ridiculing individualists at a university graduation, basically calling them paranoid to not trust the benevolent intentions of his Big Government policies and initiatives. Now we find Big Government is actually predatory with the AP and IRS scandals. Statists like our President, the DOJ and IRS do not respect the rights granted in the Constitution (their actions betray them) and gun control to them will ultimately mean confiscation. That is why we fear “gun control” as delivered by Big Government. As our own government continues to abrogate our rights and we are deprived of our ability to defend ourselves against it, we’ll become just another third world tyranny.

    • Mika

      “The right to own a firearm is given to us by the Second Amendment to the Constitution”

      No, it’s given to us by God. It is a natural right. The Bill of Rights does not grant us our rights, rather it enumerates those God-given natural rights which the Government may not infringe.

      • mmer

        The right to own guns is a natural right given to us by God? This is a fabulous and delusional world you inhabit, tell me more!

        • Mika

          You’ve never read the Constitution? Our Founding Fathers believed in natural rights theory, which holds that rights come from nature or from God (our Creator), and cannot justly be taken away without consent. The Bill of Rights enumerates specifically which rights the government cannot infringe. “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Read the Declaration of Independence, the bit where it mentions the “self-evident” truth that “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”.

          Are all of you gun-grabbers really so ill-informed? That’s disturbing.

          • mmer

            I’ve read the Constitution and am familiar with the philosophical foundations of our Founders, thank you very much. Our Founding Father’s did believe in natural rights, but there is a HUGE stretch in logic saying that our legal right (yes keep in mind the Constitution outlines legal rights) to have guns is granted by God – do you realize how ridiculous this sounds? Do you think Jesus would have promoted firearms? In the Declaration, Our Founder’s were keen to acknowledge that our legal rights were contingent upon the consent of the governed, to contrast against the political theory of “divine right of kings,” which you seem to mistakenly attribute to our Founding Father’s for advocating

            The US Constitution has several articles and amendments that establish constitutional rights, the Constitution outlines legal rights (once again, not derived from God, but by man) standing on an intellectual foundation from common law, the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the Virgina Declaration of Rights – nowhere does it say that these legal rights are granted by God. The 2nd Amendment in particular was found in The English Bill of Rights (along with the right for jury trials) which inspired our own “right to bear arms.”

            Also worth mentioning is that The Declaration is not a legal document for this nation, it has no authority over our laws, or our lawmakers. The Declaration of Independence refers to a “Creator” and not the Christian “God” – most Founders were Deists; it is also made clear in the Declaration that governments created by humanity derive their powers from the consent of the governed, not from any gods.

            Maybe you are familiar with the Treaty of Tripoli? “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” Now, this IS a legal document as it is a treaty, and the Supremacy Clause establishes US Treaties as “the supreme law of the land.”

          • Mika

            All of our natural rights were bestowed upon us by our Creator. We give governments permission to limit some of them, to some extent, but that does not change the fact that our rights are natural rights and not bestowed upon us by the State.

            They are natural rights, not “legal” rights.

          • Mika

            “Do you think Jesus would have promoted firearms?”

            Do you think Jesus would have promoted blasphemy, or taxpayer-funded artwork like “Piss Christ”? Should we repeal the right to free speech or the right to freedom of expression because Jesus mightn’t have approved? You are a ridiculous person.

          • ConcernedToo89

            Mika, why didn’t Jesus encourage his disciples to take up arms against the Roman government?

          • Guest

            I think you’re confused. America is not a Theocracy, so who cares what “Jesus” may or may not have done? “Jesus” probably wouldn’t have supported abortion either, thank goodness we aren’t bound by a myth.

          • ConcernedToo89

            I am in no way suggesting that our country is a theocracy. I was merely pointing out that Mika’s own views of what Jesus would or wouldn’t do are internally inconsistent.

        • Guest

          The Second Amendment is an individual right intimately tied to the natural right of self-defense. Whoever you think your Creator is, and thus the grantor of your natural rights is, is up to you. But it is not the Government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vorlos.vorletta Vorlos Vorletta

    Let me help you re the gun issue. There is no gun problem in the United States if we didn’t have black and third-world gangs doing what they do: violence. Please read the FBI stats re who is responsible for gun violence here. If you don’t have the courage to identify the problem, you will simply continue making cowardly decisions. The children will continue to suffer and it will get worse, way worse.
    Let me help you re homosexual issue: No, homosexual conduct is not normal. No, it is not good for anyone. No society that takes itself seriously would ever consider granting approval. If you don’t have the courage to tell the truth about the diseased and degraded condition associated with this conduct, you will simply continue making cowardly decisions. The children will continue suffering and it will get worse; way worse.
    It is said, doctor, that a country can survive the loss of men, but cannot survive the loss of strength and ability in women. You are evidence of the truth of that. You possess knowledge without wisdom. You are cowardly, frightened and cringing. It would appear you have never entertained an independent thought. You are always learning and never understanding. You are the human equivalent to the Dodo bird.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577909792 Carol Wright

    A hundred percent, 100%, of gun injuries and deaths involve a gun.The same incident, from domestic fiolence to robbery to suicide attempt does not involve a gun, the death rate goes WAY down.There may be a blunt trauma injury, a stomach pumping. Sure you can kill with a flyswatter if you whack long enough. But in the same time with less effort, you can massacre a few hundred.

    I want to have another amendment…the right live in a world free of guns. Free of that lethal possiblity. Where is THAT right? Now that the NRA has made a society engaged in an arms race, the world is insane. Those with guns want more, faster, unlimited. Damned the second amendment and those who abuse it. Want courage…it is not shown with a gun. Cowardice is what I see. When you live so you HAVE to be armed, you attract violence and threats. And if it isn’t REAL, then you make it up.

    I read the manic comments every day from the gun nuts. And unfortunately for all, now the police depts have to be ready to fight gun owners who have more weapons than a Syrian rebel. Step back and see if this is not the dynamic.

    • C.L.J. Murphy

      “I want to have another amendment…the right live in a world free of guns.”


      America does not control “the world”, but you and any of your political allies are welcome to try to repeal the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and try to create for yourself an America free of guns.

      In a Constitutional Republic such as America is, there is a process for that, as can be seen in the passing of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.

      It would probably be just as popular and successful as trying to repeal the First or the Thirteenth, but you are welcome to give it a go if you feel so strongly about it.

      • ConcernedToo89

        In our Constitutional Republic, which provides for a Supreme Court, Justice Scalia found, in Heller vs. DC: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” While the Heller decision (on the idea that the right to self-defense is embodied in the Second Amendment) was 5-4 (meaning that 4 justices did not agree with that view), there is no doubt that all 9 justices agreed with Scalia’s recitation of the law as I’ve quoted here. Was this ruling by the Supreme Court unconstitutional? Or does the Constitution provide that the average U.S. citizen is empowered to interpret the Constitution as we each individually see fit?

        • Guest

          The point still holds that if Carol and her allies wish to ban guns in America, they will have to get the Second Amendment repealed.

          • ConcernedToo89

            I concede your point, you are absolutely correct about that.

        • ENDIF

          Tinker too much with the basic OS of a nation and you’ve broken the contract that makes it a nation in the first place. I guarantee you this is one of those basic pillars that would do exactly that. Then what? I guarantee you don’t want to find out.

        • Guest

          The right to free speech is not unconditional either, but that does not mean that any federal authority would get away with only allowing pre-approved “licensed opinionators” to have their say on the Internet.

    • Mika

      “A hundred percent, 100%, of gun injuries and deaths involve a gun.”

      And a hundred percent, 100%, of drug overdose injuries and deaths involve drugs.

      And a hundred percent, 100%, of car crash injuries and deaths involve a car.

      Your point?

      And tagging anyone who supports the 2nd amendment as “manic”, a psychiatric diagnosis, is exactly why 2nd amendment supporters fear and loath you people. First step, take all the guns away from anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis, second step, diagnose anyone who wants to own a gun as crazy, third step…..?

      47% of American households have a gun. “Come and take them.”

      • Frank Bonacci

        I advocate for gun control, but not the taking away of guns or the abolition of 2nd amendment rights. The two are not mutually exclusive–as you make them out to be. And tagging anyone who believes that there should be some level of common sense applied to who is allowed to own a gun as advocating or allowing totalitarian regimes and whatever other nonsense, is why gun control advocates fear and loathe you people. You make it look like you’d rather have children massacred than a gun taken away from a mental patient. You use a classic slippery slope argument, which 1) is a logical fallacy, and 2) is not applicable anyway. We license car drivers, regulate who has access to cigarettes and alcohol, and myriad other things. They don’t work all the time, but that’s no reason not to make the effort. The argument is not about taking guns away, it’s about being responsible about who is able to get them. It’s easier to get a gun than it is to get a drivers license. I just don’t see the sense in not making an effort to keep guns away from those with a history of mental illness or of criminal activity.

        • Guest

          With the new DSM 5, the majority of Americans could be diagnosed as having “mental illness” of some sort or the other. Take all their guns away?

          • meyati

            I had to see a new doctor yesterday-hospital follow-up-they asked me if I had feelings of depression or suicide in the last 30 days. I have an aggressive incurable cancer. I told them what do you think? Do you expect me to lie? I was just cracking jokes about this year’s Kentucky Derby-if I wanted to see ladies hats-I wouldn’t have tuned in to a horse race. I missed the background of the horses, seeing clips of them being saddled, running in other races or playing in the paddocks. I had them laughing on how I turn on the winter Olympics and while athletes R skiing, NBC treats us to clips of mimes making animal balloons. some of the staff was rolling on the floor, while others looked at me with disapproval. There’ll be a time when I’m incapable of humor-but don’t judge me-don’t take my guns away. I get relief in going out and plinking with my grandsons.

        • Guest

          “The two are not mutually exclusive–as you make them out to be”

          It wasn’t Mika who was making it out to be that way, it was the reader Carol Wright s/he was replying to, who said she wanted EVERYONE’S GUN TAKEN AWAY. And that’s what a huge number of gun control advocates really want.

          • sphenoid

            “…EVERYONE’S GUN TAKEN AWAY. And that’s what a huge number of gun control advocates really want.” That seems to be a great fear here, but that’s misunderstood. Lawful, stable people who use their guns appropriately should be able to continue doing so. It’s the violent and mentally unstable ones that everyone has a problem with. Placing a few checks into the system won’t be intruding on the ones who should have the ability to own and use a gun.

          • http://twitter.com/jlebling Dusty McDustin’

            How do you define mentally unstable? There is no clear and precise definition. This leaves the door open to label anybody, dissidents in particular, as mentally unstable… Their only “disease” being dissatisfaction and indignation towards a destructive and rapacious political system…

            Even if guns are banned it doesn’t make the guns go away! Just like making drugs illegal only pushes the market underground. Don’t fall for the fallacy that government can decisively solve any problems.

          • Guest

            “How do you define mentally unstable?”

            They’ll let the fair and unbiased IRS decide. HAH! Take that, Teabaggers!!!

        • MM

          “You make it look like you’d rather have children massacred than a gun taken away from a mental patient.”

          That’s your straw man, sir, not hers.

          Someone could counter “Oh! So you’d rather a young law-abiding mother who received inpatient psych treatment for an eating disorder back when she was in high school be denied the right to self-protection, so that she and her three helpless children can be raped and murdered in their beds by home intruders!”.

          But that would be stupid. #DuelingStrawmen

    • Guest

      “And unfortunately for all, now the police depts have to be ready to fight gun owners”

      Law enforcement officers overwhelmingly support the right of law abiding citizens to own guns.

    • Soontobeextinct

      Unfortunately for you, Carol, you live in a world that is defined and governed by the political use of violence. Most nations around the world have been formed through the use of force. Check the events of the 20th century for proof. If the United States had disarmed itself as you advocate, you’d probably be speaking German or Japanese right now, assuming your ancestors were not either killed or placed in a concentration camp. My family lived that threat, left Europe because of it and came here. They readily joined the Armed Forces here and armed themselves to protect the freedom they so loved in this country. So, until you can change base human nature, disarm all of our enemies (you may think they don’t exist, but in reality there are many) your ideas can only exist in a dream land and they place our country at great risk. In the history of mankind (which you may not like), peace has been achieved ONLY through strength, not through the thinking you espouse. I actually admire your ability to live in a world unaffected by reality, but I cannot endorse it.

      • Mika

        How differently might Germany have turned out in the 40s if the Jews hadn’t been disarmed.

        • Soontobeextinct

          Mika, I grew up in a neighborhood made up of people who had been freed from German concentration camps and had been moved to the U.S. to start new lives. These people had been disarmed, their assets seized, and their freedoms lost due to predatory government. However, these people considered themselves lucky to be alive and thanked the U.S. for liberating them. The U.S. did that through the use of force. We were armed and used force to beat back the forces of evil that will constantly attempt to gain power in this world. These forces have no respect for your “rights”. Freedom of speech only exists if you agree with them. They disarm all opponents because they don’t believe in freedom of speech, religion, or thought. So, if Carol wishes to re-live the experiences of the people I grew up with, she can simply advocate disarmament and the evil forces of this earth will soon accommodate her.

    • ENDIF

      Ad hominem attacks, in a gun control thread?
      It’s more likely than you think.

    • Trey

      “A hundred percent, 100%, of gun injuries and deaths involve a gun.”

      And a hundred percent, 100%, of drug overdoses involve drugs.

      Well, yes. And?

  • C.L.J. Murphy

    Don’t confuse them with facts. They don’t want them.

  • Mika

    Your own link warns: “Because of the many issues surrounding the maintenance and collection of gang-crime data, caution is urged when interpreting the results presented below. ** Nearly half of law enforcement agencies report they do not regularly record any criminal offenses as “gang-related” **

    Rather than gang-related, I would think the majority of gun murders are drug and crime related. Not every drug dealer is a formal member of a designated “gang” (and even if they were, half the country’s LE agencies wouldn’t make note of it anyway).

    • ConcernedToo89

      As I asked before, be sure to share with us any scientific studies or collections of data from law enforcement agencies to support your assertions–I for one am curious and interested if you do locate such data.

      • Trey

        If, as your study explains, nearly half of all LEA don’t even keep stats as to what’s “gang-related” and not, then obviously no “scientific studies” exist to prove either Mika’s or your allegations. You’re both just arguing from your “gut feeling”. With half the data non-existent, you can’t draw conclusions either way.

  • Mika

    According to the Department of Justice, males, blacks, and persons aged 18-24 had the highest firearm homicide rates. So let’s just ban males, blacks, and persons aged 18-24 from owning guns.

    • Mika
      • ConcernedToo89

        Again, the rate of use of firearm as the weapon of choice for homicides has not decreased despite the fact that murders from all types of weapons have decreased. That is, murders with knives have also decreased. But the percentage of time that a firearm is used to murder hasn’t changed at all. This is a very interesting statistic more than worthy of scientific study, if the gun lobby weren’t so determined to block the funding of such studies.

        • Trey

          What about Mika’s first point? You want to ban guns, because you think it’s the guns which commit the crimes, but why not just ban those most likely to commit crimes with guns (males, blacks, under-24s) from owning guns?

  • http://twitter.com/ppalmierimd Peter Palmieri

    First off, I do not own a gun and never plan to purchase one: the thought of me with a gun is scary, to say the least. A couple of issues with your post: there is no clear definition as to what an “assault weapon” is. A handgun is an assault weapon if I assault someone with it, if you think about it.

    In fact, hand guns are the most dangerous of all weapons. They are easy to use and easy to conceal. In fact, the Newtown massacre was conducted with handguns.

    I agree with reasonable checks and limitations for handgun ownership (and driver’s licenses as well – starting with suspending the licenses of anyone who text messages while driving) but that by itself will not solve the problem. We have a bigger problem of a failed mental health system which puts everyone in danger.

    • ENDIF

      Well, actually, Newtown involved both a semi auto rifle and two handguns. A fourth weapon, a semi auto shotgun, was found in Lanzas trunk.

      But yes. Everything you said.

    • ConcernedToo89

      All 26 victims at Newtown were killed with a Bushmaster rifle; the killer took his own life with a Glock. Per the Connecticut police: http://www.ct.Gov/despp/cwp/view.asp?Q=521730&A=4226

  • Thomas J. Mason

    The problem with trying to debate many “gun control” advocates, is that honest players think the debate is about GUNS, so they start talking and educating about GUNS.

    No, no, no.

    It’s all about the second word of that phrase: CONTROL.

  • Guest

    “If I’m wrong about guns, can you please explain why?”

    Y’all got punk’d. 161 of you. She wasn’t willing to consider that she might have been wrong about guns, and she didn’t care about the “why”.

    • meyati

      definitely a closed mind.

    • Mika

      It’s 260 now. And yes, punk’d. The author has long since moved on, now to a new post justifying soda pop bans. Seriously.

      Save The World by Banning All The Things. You know it makes sense.

  • Fourth year med student

    To Dr. McCarthy, I think that you are framing the question wrong. The way that you should frame the question is, “why does the second amendment exist?” The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Why doesn’t the second amendment read, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms will be moderated by reasonable regulations imposed by the state?”

    My argument is that ultimately the second amendment establishes a social contract between the citizens and the government of the US. The government can only impede on the liberties of the American citizenry to the point that they fear forceful and violent reaction – such as that demonstrated in the American Revolution.

    The idea of American citizens assembling to form a military group and attacking the American government seems like an absurd idea to those of us living in the modern society. However as quoted from Thomas Jefferson, “the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The founders recognized a natural inclination of the ruling class to oppress its citizens. The second amendment provides the most base level of negotiation against oppression, the bargaining of human life in war.

    These are ugly concepts, oppression and war. Unfortunately, history shows us that they are an inherent part of the human condition and realities that we need to acknowledge.

    • ConcernedToo89

      Thomas Jefferson was a fascinating person who made many statements concerning government and the governed. Ultimately, he believed in our Constitution as written (at least, we can deduce this from his choice to be elected and to serve as the third president of the U.S.). His comments concerning Shay’s rebellion, which you quote, are interesting: he says not once, but twice, that the rebellion was founded on “ignorance,” and that its remedy was “education” and pacification. The letter is primarily a defense against British claims that the US was anarchic, as evidenced by Shay’s rebellion. These claims would likely be intended to discourage international commerce with the US. Thus, Jefferson’s letter wasn’t promoting rebellion, because that would have fed into the British attempt to smear the American government’s reputation; rather, he was defending the US has having had only one rebellion in 11 years, and that was not the expectation for its future as the population became more educated and (his words, not mine), “pacified.”

      Here is another view that Jefferson had of our country, a view which supports the idea that he did not see rebellion as essential to our Constitution (which is supported by the power given in the Constitution to the Congress to call forth the militia in order to suppress “insurrections” as treasonous): “Happily for us, that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers, and set them to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms to amend or restore their constitutions.” (Letter to C.W.F. Dumas.)

      • Fourth year med student

        I just wrote what I thought to be an elegant response to your post and it disappeared! I don’t like this site anymore, although it does seem to carry a much higher proportion of intellectual conversations than most other opinion sites.

        • http://www.kevinmd.com kevinmd

          Your comment didn’t disappear. All comments that include links get held for moderation. It’s approved now.


          • Fourth year med student

            Sorry I had no idea. Thanks Dr. Kevin!

  • http://twitter.com/jlebling Dusty McDustin’

    The Boston bombers used bombs to cause havoc, terror and chaos… All bombs should be BANNED IMMEDIATELY!!!

    ……. wait a minute (spot the fallacy!)

    • Guest

      If we were smart, we’d just get straight to the point and outlaw murder by any means.

      Since killers are such upstanding law-abiding folks that they’ll meekly submit to new gun control laws, surely they’ll submit to laws against unlawful killing!

  • James

    Miss McCarthy I do agree on most of you points, but your argument needs a bit more support. The issue at hand is the second admendment itself and its interpretation in the wording. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
    State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
    infringed.” The words “Militia” and “right of the people” are written as such that it is ambiguous to translation. So, this will never be overturned or laws changed to meet this. Though background and mental health checks would seem a moot point and should be done. If you want equal treatment of the people criminals should have to submit to these checks, which as we know is impossible. So, the only thing that could be done that does not infringe on any citizens constitutional right is utilizing the commerce clause to tax gun and ammunition. The solution would be for gun/ammunition manufacturers and retailers would be required to pay taxes on those guns and ammunitions annually until it is sold to a consumer. It is then the consumers responsibility to pay on those taxes on the weapon itself annually and one time tax on the ammunition. This enforces the manufacturer and retailer to show proof that the weapon and ammunition has been sold, otherwise they are on the hook financially. The taxes brought in can be utilized via federal and state dollars to fund healthcare, entitlement, education etc.

    • Guest

      “The words “Militia” and “right of the people” are written as such that it is ambiguous to translation.”

      The US Supreme Court clarified the scope of the Second Amendment in DC v. Heller. It is not at all “ambiguous to translation”.

      The Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The core holding in D.C. v. Heller is that the Second Amendment is an individual right intimately tied to the natural right of self-defense. Any attempt to do an end-tun around this natural right by taxing arms and ammunition out of reach of ordinary citizens would be met with an immediate Constitutional challenge, and would fail.

      And as far as your Commerce Clause idea goes, Marbut’s Law and variations on same are ready and waiting to challenge such a thing should it ever happen.

      • James

        Hence, the reason why the law will never be overturned, which it should not. Now, the commerce clause is a different animal in itself, because from a Constitutional standpoint would not infringe on anyones rights. Could you provide a reason as to why it would fail? My reasoning as too why it would not fail is because you could use the second amendment as a supporting argument to be able to tax weapons and ammunition. If you read the 16th amendment provisions – “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts
        and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and
        general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and
        Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

        Universal background checks and mental health checks are not going pass, which I felt was a fair condition, but then again what criminal is going to get one. So, to ensure that manufacturers and retailers are selling these products to hopefully responsible persons the taxing forces at least a paper trail as to ownership. We all know this will probably not pass in our lifetime, but it is a compromising solution.

        • Trey

          So you want every private civilian purchase of guns and ammunition to be stored on a federal government registry, but you know that’s not going to pass Constitutional muster, so you’ll try to compile one via the Commerce Act? Nope. Will not fly.

          And especially not after this IRS fiasco. Citizens have now seen that the federal government is not averse to using the information entrusted to them to punish those citizens they see as political threats. Whether it’s federally-collected and stored electronic health records or ammunition records, people have been given a big wake-up call as to just how things can go wrong when the government decides to misuse that data. The last thing they’re going to do is lobby for the federal government to have even MORE information they can use to punish those it sees as “dissidents”.

          • Fourth year med student

            President Obama has to be so upset at the IRS right now.

          • Guest

            What, that they got caught following his orders?

  • ConcernedToo89

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    • Trey

      America has already tried an “assault weapons” ban. It had no effect. Trying the same thing that failed last time and expecting a different result is delusional.

    • Fourth year med student

      You are correct in stating that proponents of gun control have not stated outright that they want to seize weapons from current gun owners. Their stated goal is to limit the availability of guns and inhibit possession of firearms moving forward.

      I would be in favor of federal legislation similar to that passed by California obliging citizens to own gun insurance to cover the cost of potential damage caused by weapons. In accordance with the policies of the ACA, owning said insurance would be mandatory for all adult citizens of the US. (Of course, I say this in jest).

  • http://www.facebook.com/karleeladyk Karlee LaFavor

    We wouldn’t want our government banning or limiting civilians the right to have effective (yes, military-style) weapons. The point of the second amendment is not merely to allow for hunting rifles and shotguns; it is to ensure that civilians are not disarmed to the point that they become defenseless against a corrupt government. If you don’t believe our government could become corrupt to the point of trying to harm civilans, read up a bit on the Guatemalan civil war.

  • Dylan Reyes-Cairo

    Point one, use valid statistics if you’re not trying the straw-man approach:


    • One of them too

      And the “valid statistics” would be? The factcheck article merely points out 40% was pulled from a very small, 20-year old survey. It doesn’t speculate whether the number is higher or lower.

      • Disqus_37216b4O

        The number is lower. Other people here have linked to complete debunkings of that stat. Scroll down and check them yourself.

        • One of them too

          Your comment led to some interesting reading of the comments below. Maybe my brain is just tired, but I just don’t understand the argument against some kind of licensing of gun sales. So the 40% might be half that. For fun let’s say it’s 10%. Are anti gun control folks saying they’re ok with 10% of gun purchases having no level of permitting or review at all? The slippery slope argument is just silly, as is 2nd Amendment being a natural right. Is it really that much of an inconvenience for gun owners to go through some type of permitting process?

  • Disqus_37216b4O

    You want to know what happens when you make law-abiding citizens jump through ridiculous bureaucratic hoops to buy guns? This chart of
    Massachusetts’ gun-related homicides says it all:
    http: //minx .cc/?post=340357

    Since 1998, gun-related homicides in Massachusetts have doubled. This occurred during a period when gun-related homicide rates were in a significant downtrend nationally.

    Why did Massachusetts buck this trend? Because right when other states were making concealed carry easier, Massachusetts went in the opposite direction and enacted one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country.

    This happens every single time. A gun control law (that, by definition, only affects those who aren’t disposed to commit crimes) is passed ->increased probability of running into an unarmed victim makes crime go up -> politicians argue for tighter gun control -> repeat.

  • Jim K

    1)Universal background checks are reasonable to my mind. I can see why stonewalling is an effective technique legislatively, though. Remember that lobbyists tend not to care about single issues as much as the big picture.

    2) I need help understanding why reasonable people want to focus on rifles, which have killed a small number of people in affluent suburbs, but not handguns, which kill many thousands in the city and country. Both massacres could very easily have been carried out with handguns (consider the Virginia Tech shooting, or the simple fact that a 7-inch handgun is lighter, more concealable, and more maneuverable than a 3-foot rifle.) I don’t want a semi-auto rifle, but if I did, an AR-15 would objectively be the most practical choice for its modularity and wide availability of parts. (Remember when most software only worked on Windows? Same issue.) I find it a bit worrisome that your argument against certain rifles is “The overwhelming data suggest they’re fine, but two data points and my gut say they’re not.”

    3) What exactly is the question here? You grant that many parents encourage responsible firearm use in childhood, then ask why companies would want kids to request their product, which they are legally allowed to use if not purchase.

    I have no particular fondness for the 2nd Amendment either way, but from a medical perspective, I cannot respect arguments founded on gut feelings over data.

  • Terry Montgomery

    Claire, let me help you get a different view although one you will probably not be comforting. First as Americans we have a Bill of Rights not a bill of needs. It’s my constitutional right to bear arms. That includes no restriction on what type of arms I choose. Do I need an AR-15? That’s only for me to decide. That’s really where the discussion should end. It’s my constitutional right. End of story. Now at the personal level let’s talk about violence. If you believe that we as a nation will have less violence by increasing the number of defenseless people then you probably fall into the group that is the growing number of secular pacifist people. Those poor kids in Newtown were defenseless with people managing them that were defenseless themselves. The Colorado incident was pretty much the same thing. Think of this. I just got back from France. At the Paris airport and the Eiffel Tower I saw solders in groups of three patrolling both places with automatic machine guns. That made me feel good. Maybe the French get it better than us. You protect and defend what is valuable to you. Rather than leaving children defenseless why are we not protecting them in the same way the French protect the Eiffel Tower? I’m sure they would agree that children are more valuable than a monument. I will bet cash money that in the next few weeks you will see legislation come out of Oklahoma that requires all schools to have a tornado shelter to protect children. Passive is not a good strategy for anything in my opinion. You cannot avoid every risk in this life. It’s your responsibility to be prepared to handle what life throws at you. It’s effort yes, but it’s your effort that works for you. The constitution enables you to defend your life, your kids and your property. Here is the uncomfortable part. That defense may at some point be from a government. That’s why people want AR-15′s. Read the headlines. The IRS blocking people political rights, the Dept of Justice wire taping Jewish reporters, the government taking over your healthcare, officials lying to Congress. Is this Orwell’s Animal Farm for real? Like it or not we have seen the enemy and he is us!

  • Thomas Luedeke

    This article well-meaning article has certainly ignited the passions on many of the gun control issues expressed by the gun rights side.

    I am definitely a gun rights type of guy. I’ve been shooting and hunting since I was a child, and have had gun responsibility drilled into me my whole life. In contrast to Obama, Biden, Bloomberg, and the other assorted gun grabbers, who paint me as the “enemy”, somebody who tracks uncaring through puddles of blood from dead children murdered in cold blood, and other assorted ad hominem attacks (why listen to me, since I’m obviously so evil).

    Many of the points I usually made have been made in this article very eloquently. The nature of assault weapons relative to other rifles of similar caliber, the obsessive focus on law abiding gun owners, the inefficacy of the proposed measures, and most importantly, the shocking ignorance of the gun control activists with respect to firearms and firearms safety. Most of it strikes me as similar to me (an engineer) wanting to ban brain surgery, even though I have no clue about it. A few points:

    > Most of the recent mass shooting (Cho, Loughner, Holmes, Lanza) have been conducted by mentally unstable or ill individuals. Yet, I hear little in terms of proposals for addressing the issue? Although mass shooting are extremely rare, one could argue there is correlations with the institutionalization of the mentally ill. I think doctors definitely have a role to play in identifying suspect individuals. Should we be discussing an intervention process for public safety?

    > I would suggest that most gun owners support more comprehensive background checks, with one extremely feature – gun owner anonymity. I would support gun background checks as long as those records are destroyed immediately. However, gun owner anonymity is anathema to the gun control folks, and none of their proposals support it. In my opinion that alone shot down the Congressional legislation (along with disgusting overreaching by the Democrats). Most gun owners believe and realize that the government having access to a list of all guns owned by all gun owners is a recipe for disaster.

    > The gun control activists (and to a lesser degree, gun rights activists) are perfectly happy to abuse gun statistics to support their side. For example, take Obama’s recent trip to Mexico, where he blamed the U.S. for the presence of fully automatic rifles in the Drug War down there (um, yeah right). Or Obama’s 90% thing. Or the hypocrisy and criminality of Fast and Furious. If one side is blatantly lying trying to sway public opinion, and not willing to have a scientific, reasoned discussion on what can be done, then we have no starting point. Plus I won’t cooperate.

    > If you really want to decrease gun violence, probably the biggest single step is to stop the Drug War. This is simply Black Market 101 – prohibiting substances with high demand means there will be a black market with violence. I find the left particularly hypocritical in this regard, as they view it as “racism” to even bring up what is a serious public health issue, and have taken the Drug War to new heights under President Choom. African Americans make up 13% of the population, but suffer 54% of the gun murders. Horrifying.

    > Finally, gun violence has decreased significantly over the last few decades, despite what the media likes to portray. If you just watched the MSM news, you’d think there was an epidemic. Rather, we have an environment of declining gun violence (-40% in the last 15 years or so), with high profile mass murders committed with firearms. The latter gets covered, while the former does not. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, but it should be something to keep in mind when hyperbolic policies are proposed.

    • Thomas Luedeke

      *De*institutionalization, not institutionalization

  • Johanne Von Kay Raus

    as with evidence-based medicine, we should look for solutions that have evidence they will help– not just sound good and might help. to my knowledge, there is no evidence background checks would stop any of violence–to the contrary, there is evidence they don’t work. and what’s worse than a policy that does’t work? an expensive policy that doesn’t work executed with all the efficiency, arbitrariness and corruption of a government bureaucracy.

  • Donald

    In regards to the assault rifles and Aurora, it is well established that the killer left the “assault weapon” in his car or wherever and used a handgun to do the killing. The administration propagated the lie that he used an assault rifle to push their gun control agenda.

  • Vikas Desai

    There is almost no purpose to guns for private people other than hunting for sport. Who the hell hunts for sport?? I suppose some do…who cares about their rights when people are getting shot for no goddamn reason. If tennis rackets where a deadly weapon of mass murder like an assault rifle is, would we care if we never saw roger federer play?? would anyone lose sleep if we couldn’t watch tennis? This country spends billions and kills thousands of people for keeping the Elmer Fudds of the USA happy.

  • Douglas Tynan

    The comments are all over the place here.
    One was about the Boston bombers who did damage with pressure cooker bombs. Fortunately for the rest of us, they lived in Massachusetts and because of the criminal record of the older brother they did not get their hands on any AR15 weapon. They were unable to get the gun out of the locked holster on the MIT officer whom they killed. The shootout with police may have ended very differently with far more causalities if they had the same type of weapons that Adam Lanza used. Fortunately they only had one handgun.
    The second trend is about second amendment rights. The DC handgun case Supreme Court decision had two results. Yes you have the right to own a gun, and. Yes the government has the right to restrict the types of weapons – Justice Scalia was very clear on that.
    The third is about our first amendment rights, which the gun lobby threatens on a daily basis. The right to free speech which they want to limit any health professional from asking about guns. The right to assemble peacefully which can be disrupted by any gun owner who wants to disrupt us when we go to school, a movie, a courthouse. The right to worship, All are threatened by the prolieration of firearms. the NRA is the largest opponent of constitutional rights in this country. Their policies threaten our most important right of free speech.
    I have to license or register my car, my dog, my canoe, and I need a license to hunt or fish. If I sell or give an old car or truck to my neighbor next door, I have to do paperwork for the state. A gun should be no different.

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