Rare indeed is the article that will somehow manage to surprise both the pro and anti-gun crowds at the same time, but this one at Slate probably does just that. Of course, it surprises the different groups for slightly different reasons. You see, Obama directed his minions at the CDC to conduct a study to research gun violence, supposedly to lead to recommendations regarding legislation. Well the results are now out, and they are truly shocking. Shocking to the pro-gun crowd because a government entity that was obviously supposed to declare guns evil and recommend a ban actually re-affirmed what most of the pro-gun crowd has been saying all along. Shocking to the gun-grabbers on the left (such as everyone employed by Slate) because… well, it re-affirmed most of what the pro-gun crowd has been saying all along.
That said, this particular article still occasionally attempts to frame the issue in an inaccurate and incomplete way. Here are some brief highlights, followed by my response:
“the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.”
Irrelevant. What matters is the overall homicide rate. There are plenty of other industrialized countries with higher homicide rates than the U.S., their murderers just use weapons other than guns. Also, the “19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries” is incomplete and misleading. Which other countries? Surely they don’t mean 19.5 times higher than every other industrialized country. I’d also be interested to know how they determining which countries count as “industrialized.” None of those questions are clarified in the report itself, this statistic comes from another report they cite. For the record, according to Wikipedia, the overall homicide rate in Russia is over twice that of the U.S., despite handguns being illegal. Brazil’s homicide rate is four times that of the U.S. (in Brazil, all guns must be licensed).
“Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,”
Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.” Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”
All things the pro-gun lobby has been emphasizing, which the media have largely ignored. While the gun-grabbers try their best to paint the picture that crime, gun crime, children dying from guns, and accidental shootings are becoming increasingly more prevalent every year, the actual reality is that they are all in decline. Right now is the safest time to be alive in America (at least in terms of your likelihood to get shot) in at least 50 years, despite the fact that over the last few decades, access to guns and the ability to carry guns has been greatly enhanced in most jurisdictions. The left offers no reasonable explanation for this trend.
“handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents.”
“The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,”
More evidence that the government/media obsession with “assault rifles” is a complete and total smokescreen. Banning so-called assault rifles would have absolutely zero effect on over 70% of gun deaths.
From 2000 to 2010, “firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States,” says the report.
Lumping suicides in with victims of “firearm-related violence” is a pretty cheap and sleazy way to over-inflate the numbers. Nobody claims that someone who slashes their wrist is a victim of knife-related violence.
“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.
This one right here really should end the debate once and for all. This is basically the entire premise of the pro-gun argument, as made by John Lott in his amazing book “More Guns Less Crime.” Guns save more lives than they end. Period. Even the CDC now admits it. Statistically, Americans are more likely to use a gun to protect themselves than they are to be killed by one.
“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”
Absolutely destroys the leftist myth that having the gun in the house or introducing one into a violent situation “escalates” the situation and makes it more likely that you will be seriously injured or killed. Statistically, attempting to use a gun in self-defense is a winning proposition. I’m not sure exactly what counts as “other self-protective strategies.” This is also not explained in the study, as it comes from a different report the study cites. Assuming it covers absolutely every other strategy (attempting to defend yourself with a different kind of weapon, attempting to flee, attempting to obtain help from a third party such as the police, etc.) then we would have a situation where the absolute safest thing you could do if you are the victim of a crime is pull out a gun.
The prevalence of firearm violence near “drug markets … could be a consequence of drug dealers carrying guns for self-defense against thieves or other adversaries who are likely to be armed,” says the report.
They don’t provide a lot of statistics on this particular point, but generally speaking, gun violence is much higher when drugs or gangs are involved. So, if you happen to own a gun and are not involved in any drug or gang activity, and avoid locations where drug or gang activity are present, you are even less likely to be a victim of gun violence than the “average” statistics might indicate. Also of note: the overwhelming majority of drug-related violence is caused by the prohibition of drugs and could be instantly reduced if the government would admit that we own our own bodies.
“In locations where individuals under restraining orders to stay away from current or ex-partners are prohibited from access to firearms, female partner homicide is reduced by 7 percent.”
This paragraph falls under the heading “Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives.” The obvious inverse, given the defensive gun use statistics explained above, would be that denying guns to those who file restraining orders costs lives, but this is not mentioned. Often, when restraining orders are involved in domestic situations, time is a critical factor. A potential victim might need a gun to protect themselves right away, and might not have the time to get a license, get a background check, sit around for the waiting period, get required training, purchase trigger locks, etc.
Slate’s author concludes the article by stating:
These conclusions don’t line up perfectly with either side’s agenda
He may be right if you demand “perfection,” but I would say that these conclusions are about 90% in support of what responsible gun owners have been saying all along. This article basically reads like a summary of John Lott’s work, and this study (let me remind you again, it was conducted by Obama’s cronies at the CDC) should be considered a complete confirmation and validation of Lott, the NRA, and everyone who has ever argued that guns save lives and reduce crime.