Today on Civil Discourse Now (4 pm): Guns! (To save space I’ll refer to “guns” instead “gun or guns.”) In the USA private ownership makes gunshot wound (“GSW”) a frequent mechanism of death. In 2018 that number was 39,740 people. (UC Davis, “What You Can Do.”)
Reasons people own guns: self-defense, oppose tyranny, sport/hobby (target shooting, hunting, collecting), inherited, and belief gun ownership is required. However, if a specific reason to own a gun is invalid, that’s a good reason to divest oneself of lethal weapons in the home.
For now I’ll address Reason #1: self-defense. Example: burglar storms your home in the middle of the night and you want to be the good guy with a gun. In 2018, in 24,482, or 61%, of GSW fatalities, suicide was the cause of death. Guns are easy to use for the ultimate “out.”
It’s silly to think any crime was prevented in these instances. In fact if to secure the safety of people in the household is the goal, guns are counter-productive, when so many die. (If you need guns as self-defense against another household member, you probably should move.)
Burglars usually do not want to encounter people. That is why daytime home break-ins are so prevalent. That means guns don’t help you. In fact, guns, especially handguns, are nearly as popular as cold hard cash as targets for burglars. Again, guns are counter-productive.
A CDC-sponsored, peer reviewed study of whether guns, overall, deter crime would be helpful. The “peer review” part means that professionals review the methodology and other aspects of the study to deem whether it is reliable or statistically significant.
However, the 1996 Dickey Amendment prohibits the CDC from advocating or promoting gun control. Most research of gun deaths has been conducted by economists, sociologists, or criminologists. See “Firearms Research,” 496 Nature 412-415 (2013).
The Tiahrt Amendments go further: “trace data” collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATFE) cannot be released for use by cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public. Nobody, in other words, can use those stats.
To be able to trace availability of guns, from burglaries and thefts of those guns, to subsequent gun deaths, would help to prevent gun deaths. Besides, if something kills almost 40,000, people per year, we should expect health-related studies.
And here is an important point: if the net effect of private ownership of guns deters crime, one would think the NRA would jump up and down, even in bankruptcy, to have such studies. This is where we might learn from history.
In the 1950s & 1960s, tobacco corporations’ own studies showed main stream smoke (“MSM”), especially from cigarettes, causes cancer, but those studies were not made public because, as one memo said: “Ignorance is bliss”. W.H.O. “Tobacco Explained,” pp. 1-2.
I prefer Lincoln: “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe.” Gun control does not mean confiscation of everyone’s guns. Mandatory background checks have been supported by “Republican presidents from Richard Nixon ... to George W. Bush.” Rolling Stone, 10/15/15.
So today we talk “guns.” I even have a “call-in” feature so people who oppose any restrictions on private ownership of guns can call in and explain themselves. So everyone is clear: I do not own a gun. I never have owned a gun. People who make that choice help stop gun deaths.