Thursday, July 20, 2006

Gun Control

No beating around the bush. This post is about gun control.

(edited: This post is really more about me doing some research to uncover the numbers for which an editor didn't bother to look.)

Disclaimer: I'm not a brilliant girl. I was never in debate club or anything, so I'm not up for a high-brow discourse on this. I'd probably be buried by the smarty-pants within about two sentences. These are just my opinions and thoughts on the matter.

We subscribe to a Seventh-Day Adventist magazine called Signs of the Times. I really look forward to the articles every month. This month was no different. But there was one article that, though overall a good piece, a wee little portion of it raised my hackles. It's written by a Mr. Loren Siebold and titled, "How to Deal with the Fear of Terrorism."

(I was going to post the link to the article so you could read it in its entirety, but evidently they are a month behind on posting it online. Maybe when it's up I'll edit this to include it.)

"One troubling response to the attacks on American in 2001 was a surge in gun purchases..."

Troubling? (hackles) Oh's more. Let's see why he thinks this is a "troubling response."

"...there was nothing in the entire 9/11 episode that could have been addressed by the average person having a gun in his house.... They bought them to feel more secure. Having a means of defense...gave people a false sense of security."

Oh, but it gets better. Here. Read this part:

"Some experts opined that gun buyers may actually have become less secure: given the prevalence of gun-related accidents, it's likely that the arming of the American public against terrorism, though it nabbed not a single terrorist, led to more ordinary people being shot."

I'm thrilled to see anti-gun sentiment in the Signs. That's awesome. You know, this little blurb had nothing to do with the rest of the article (which was actually good, don't get me wrong), and it's misleading.

This is how I feel about it, right or wrong.

No one had any idea what would happen after 9/11. No one truly knew at first what was happening, or what else was slated to happen. It could have crippled America.

Looting, mob violence, roving gangs....the truth is, we didn't know that those things couldn't or wouldn't happen.

My guess would be that people bought guns not to protect themselves from terrorists, but to protect themselves from their fellow man had our country fallen apart. Also, they may have been thinking that we don't know that there isn't going to be another attack. More likely than not, there will be at some point in the not too distant future. Should things get chaotic, and communities find themselves isolated, things very well could get a little (or a lot) out of control.

To say that people bought guns thinking to protect themselves from terrorists, in my opinion is just silly.

On to the next point he made, which was to imply that gun accidents went up because of people buying guns after 9/11. That they subsequently had accidents in their homes and shot themselves.

I'd like citation for that, please. Can he give me a credible source? Somehow I doubt it. If he's got numbers for that, I'm willing to bet vast sums of money they are negligible. Probably a percentage of a percent.

Know what? The boys are in bed, the dishes, laundry and vacuuming are done, and I've got a little time. Let's dig a little, shall we?

*elevator music*

OK, I've got some numbers. Ready?

These are from the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control website.

Except for the intent and the year, I left all fields wide open because I wanted a true overall picture of the change from '01 to '02.

Unintentional Firearm Gunshot Non-Fatal Injuries and Rates Per 100,000

2001: 17,696
2002: 17,579

Silly gun-owners who buy guns for stupid reasons and then have accidents. Should have known better than to try to feel falsely secure.... Oh, wait... *adjusts glasses* What's this? The numbers went down you say? Well, what do you know?

Now let's try this. Let's plug in nothing but the year. Let's give Mr. Siebold the benefit of the doubt and say ALL non-fatal injuries, regardless of intent. Maybe overall the numbers went up, because people were intentionally shooting themselves and each other more often after 2001.

Overall Firearm Gunshot Nonfatal Injuries and Rates per 100,000

2001: 63,012
2002: 58,841

Wow. The numbers went down overall. The rise in accidental firearm injuries about which Mr. Siebold simply didn't happen.

Well, let's look at unintentional fatalities. Accidental firearm deaths.

Unintentional Firearm Deaths and Rates per 100,000

2001: 802
2002: 762

No? Hm. How about firearm fatalities overall - intentional and unintentional?

Firearm Deaths and Rates per 100,000

2001: 29,573
2002: 30,242

There we go. A rise of about 2%. That must be what he means. However, that's not what he said or even implied. He said "accidents," implying that people who didn't know how to properly use their weapons were injuring and/or killing themselves or others.

I'm not going to blame the author. He's an author, not an editor. And it's perfectly normal to let your opinions come through in your writing. But the editor. The editor should have asked for sources/citations/numbers to back up the author's theory, and if he didn't have them, it should have been cut.

That was just silly, and sloppy.

And that's all I have to say about that.


Dave said...

Your husband here... I thought I would opine further that I am a bit more skeptical than you. I believe that many in the church have a pacifist agenda and thus are inclined to believe that anything connected to guns is a bad thing. After all, guns kill, right? Just thinking about that mean ol' firearm in our dresser just gives me the creeps.

The author of that article epitomizes the anti-2nd amendment crowd, full of non-sequiturs, false correlations, and fallacious logic. Heck, I might post something about this myself... but alas, while Mr. Siebold frets about guns killing people, I have myriad tech support issues to handle, so my treatise will have to wait.


Chas Chesterfield Esq. said...

Hey, I'm all for guns but the +/- aspect of the numbers you site may not be the issue. it may be the fact 10s of thousands are affected in the first place. If you're going to engage on assessing the issue you might want to consider taking on other sources who are actually interested actively in gun control.

mommy said...

I agree that the issue in general is far larger than what I got into here.

However, the thousands affected by gun violence was not the issue for the author of the article. His point in that paragraph was that people were NOT more secure for having bought guns after 9/11, and that in fact they may have done themselves a disservice and inflated the numbers of accidental injuries and death.

I was simply looking for numbers to substantiate his claim. The editor didn't provide them. The author didn't provide them. I was only trying to point out shoddy editting (sp?), nothing more. It irks me when authors are allowed to spout unsubstantiated "facts" such as those, and no one calls them on it.

I've looked at lots of statistics today from several sites, including the Brady site. The issue in general is a very deep one, and I'll leave that debate to others, who can do a far better job writing about the matter as a whole than I ever could.

NimrodSonOfCush said...

A very, very nice post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.