By The Daily Bell Staff
When tragedy strikes it is understandable that people get emotional. But they often forget that the media knows how to pull the heartstrings for nefarious reasons. If a media campaign looks coordinated, it probably is. We should never let the emotions they trigger override our logic, and threaten our safety.
And we shouldn’t let whole groups be punished for the crimes of individuals. Nothing that one person does can justify assaulting or stealing from an entirely different individual. That type of thinking is what leads to violence and prejudice against whole races, religions, and nationalities.
Here are four common knee-jerk reactions gun owners get, and the data to respond.
1. “Nobody Needs a Gun.”
Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report…
Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns… found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.
The best part is that would-be victims usually don’t even have to fire their gun for it to be effective in thwarting a crime. This also means self-defense incidents sometimes go unreported.
So these people are really saying no one needs to protect themselves. This is silly. Crime occurs every day. Owning a gun for self-defense makes you no more likely to suddenly go on a killing spree. But it makes you much more likely to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of a crime.
Otherwise, natural disadvantages prevent some people from being able to defend themselves as effectively. For instance, a 5-foot tall male with no muscle mass weighing 120 pounds cannot effectively defend himself against a 6-foot muscled attacker weighing 230 pounds. Saying the small man doesn’t need a gun is assigning him the role of victim. That is a cave man mindset.
There are a lot of things people don’t “need.” But in a free society, others don’t get to decide what an individual needs.
China once decided people didn’t need more than one child. The Soviet Union used to decide how much food people needed. Both of those countries also murdered tens of millions of their citizens.
2. “We Should just take people’s guns away.”
Who would take those guns away? As with most laws, the police would enforce them. How do the police enforce laws? With their guns.
So they aren’t really saying no one should have guns. You still need police to have guns, otherwise, how do you take away the citizens’ guns?
Somewhere between 70 and 99 million Americans own guns. 13,000 people died in 2015 from gun homicides. That means there was one gun homicide for every 5,385 to 7,600 gun owners.
Police are seven to ten times as likely to kill someone compared to a gun owner. And yet they would be tasked with taking guns away.
If people truly cared about reducing violence, they would never advocate taking guns away. The process would be a bloodbath for innocent Americans and police. And the data suggests the aftermath would be no less violent.
3. “Everyone who owns a gun/ that many guns is crazy!”
There is some debate about what constitutes a “mass shooting.” But if we are talking about the big headline shootings with the gun-obsessed social loner perpetrator, we are talking about a handful a year, if that.
But even if 50 of these “gun nuts” went crazy every year and went on a shooting spree, that accounts for .00065% of all “super owners” who own an average of 17 guns.
You would have to come across 154,000 gun nuts before you met one who was even remotely likely to carry out a mass shooting. You probably won’t even meet half that many people–let alone gun owners—in your lifetime.
But many “mass shootings”–including gang wars–are carried out by people who are not licensed to buy a firearm. This means the current restrictive laws were not sufficient to keep guns out of their hands.
So how law-abiding are police? With about 685,464 full-time police officers in the U.S. from 2005 to 2007, we find that there were about 103 crimes per hundred thousand officers. For the U.S. population as a whole, the crime rate was 37 times higher — 3,813 per hundred thousand people.
…we find that permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at less than a sixth the rate for police officers.
Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 officers. Among permit holders in Florida and Texas, the rate is only 2.4 per 100,000. That is just 1/7th of the rate for police officers. But there’s no need to focus on Texas and Florida — the data are similar in other states.
So the general population is 37 times more likely to commit a crime compared to a cop, and a cop is 7 times more likely to commit a crime compared to someone with a firearm permit.
People should be thrilled to learn their friends, neighbors, and coworkers are gun permit holders. It means they are in the presence of some of the least likely people in society to commit a crime.
And as more of these “crazies” run out and get their gun licenses, somehow the murder and violent crime rates are dropping.
Between 2007 and 2015, murder rates fell from 5.6 to 4.7 (preliminary estimate) per 100,000. This represents a 16% drop. Overall violent crime fell by 18 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults with permits has soared by 190%.
4. “America has a gun violence problem.”
America is a big place with over 320 million inhabitants. The spread of gun violence is far from even.
More than 25% of America’s gun homicides in 2015 happened across census blocks that contain just 1.5% of the country’s total population.
While gun control advocates often say it is unacceptable that Americans overall are “25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries”, people who live in these neighborhood areas face an average gun homicide rate about 400 times higher than the rate across those high-income countries.
More than half of America’s gun homicides were clustered in just 127 cities and towns, which together have less than a quarter of the nation’s population.
Small social networks also account for the majority of gun crime.
In Oakland, California, analysts found that networks of just 1,000 to 1,200 high-risk people, about 0.3% of Oakland’s population, were involved in about 60% of the city’s murders.
In New Orleans, just 600 to 700 people, less than 1% of the city’s population, were involved in more than 50% of fatal incidents.
In Chicago, analysts working with police department data found that, over a six-year period, 70% of non-fatal shootings and 46% of gun homicides happened within a sprawling social network that included just 6% of Chicago’s total population.
The point is not that gun murder doesn’t matter because they are confined to a few places and people. The point is that this is not an “America” problem as much as it is an “American city” problem.
And yet rural and suburban Americans and are often the target of new gun laws.
Why don’t these cities clean up their acts? They are giving America a bad name.
And if they are smart, they won’t follow the lead of Chicago and DC, which despite having the strictest gun laws in the country, also have some of the highest rates of gun violence.
Where does this culture of violence come from?
The United States government. It is an extremely violent government. The police are more violent than other developed countries. And the military is involved in constant war. Killing is justified if it is for a good reason.
Many mass shooters are obsessed with the military or express interest in law enforcement. Many shootings happen in especially coercive environments like schools and on military bases. Most shooters have some kind of mental illness and are on prescription drugs. These mental conditions can be attributed to social isolation caused by coercive authorities such as parents, employers, and especially government officials/ policies.
It is the violent coercive political structure which underwrites the fabric of our society that is to blame for mass shootings. Until we base our society on consent, there will be so significant relief.