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Guns do not make us safer. Why is this not obvious?

14 January 2013

Summary:  Public policy in America has become a debate about myths, as our broken OODA loops degrade our ability to see and reason — and we become more easily influenced by propaganda. That’s a natural response by our elites; a sensible person doesn’t attempt to reason with sheep.  We see all these factors at work in the debate about gun control. Here we briefly look at two myths, the 5th chapter in this series.

Their mad vision for American society.

Their mad vision for American society: one where each family must worry about defending themselves. Photo by Oleg Volk.

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Contents

  1. Myth: An armed society is a safe society
  2. Myth: protecting yourself with guns
  3. Other posts about guns and gun control
  4. For more information

The two powerful photos on the right are by Oleg Volk, from his website Volk Studio.

Myth: An armed society is a safe society

This is widely believed.

It’s daft, and has little factual support.

In fact widespread gun ownership is associated with dangerous, lawless societies — both today and the in past, in the US and around the world. Reductions in the number of people carrying of guns leads to less violence.

One of the amazing things about America is the large numbers who believe astonishing things.  This and disbelief in evolution are high on the lists of things future historians find marvelous about us.  Here are a few snippets from the large body of evidence on this subject. Of course, no matter how large it will change no minds.

(a)  Do more guns reduce crime?

(b)  More guns = more unintentional firearm deaths, studies by the Harvard School of Public Health:

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(c)  Less guns = less crime:

(d)  Harvard School of Public Health Research

  • Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense
  • Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal
  • Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense
Getting ready to shoot your child sneaking in at night

Paranoia; getting ready to shoot his child sneaking back in the house. Photo by Greg Volk.

Myth two: protecting yourself with guns

Sometimes guns are successfully used in self-defense. Such as this story. These get massive play on the right, creating an exaggerated impression of guns’ utility.

But sometimes defending one’s possessions (ie, the insurance company) yourself killed (as in this story).

Most often guns don’t help because murder victims know their killers (80% per the Dept of Justice’s Murder in Large Urban Counties study (1988; summary here, pdf here).  Guns seldom prevent murder from relatives (18%), friends, or associates (but often get used to kill relatives, friends, and associates).

For the latest chapter in this endless story, from the January 10th New York Times:

CARNESVILLE, Ga. — Keith Ratliff loved guns. He built his own rifles. He kept bullets in his car’s cup holder. And on the rear window he slapped a sticker of the Starbucks Coffee mermaid firing two pistols. “I ♥ Guns and Coffee,” it read.

Mr. Ratliff’s passion for firearms made him something of a celebrity on the Internet, where he helped make scores of videos about high-powered and exotic guns and explosives. His YouTube channel, called FPSRussia, became the site’s ninth largest, with nearly 3.5 million subscribers and more than 500 million views. But last week, the authorities said, Mr. Ratliff, 32, ended up on the wrong end of a gun. The police in northeast Georgia found him dead at his office on Jan. 3, shot once in the head. He was surrounded by several guns, but not the one that killed him. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is treating it as a homicide.

“We are interviewing people of interest, but we have not named a suspect,” said the Franklin County sheriff, Stevie Thomas. “We are not ruling out any options.”

The news, coming amid a national debate about gun control, rippled across the blogs and social networking sites where his videos were popular. Tributes on Facebook and Twitter came from fans stunned that such a well-armed expert had not been able to defend himself.  “For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody,” his wife, Amanda, told a television channel in Lexington, Ky., where he used to live. “Either that or he was ambushed.”

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Other posts about guns and gun control

  1. The Founders talk to us about guns for a well-regulated militia,24 July 2012
  2. Yet another mass killing in America. Watch the reactions on the Right, and learn., 17 December 2012
  3. “The right to shoot tyrants, not deer”, 11 January 2013
  4. But Hitler confiscated guns, leaving Germans helpless!, 11 January 2013
  5. Guns do not make us safer. Why is this not obvious?, 14 January 2013
  6. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, cutting through the myths and spin, 15 January 2015
  7. Myth-busting about gun use in the Wild West, 16 January 2013
  8. Second amendment scholarship (using money to reshape America), 19 January 2013
  9. Do guns make us more safe, or less? Let’s look at the research., 23 January 2013
  10. Guns in the wild west: regulated, with no fears about ripping the Constitution, 25 January 2013

For More Information

(a)  ImportantMass Shootings in the United States Since 2005, Brady Campaign website — It’s 62 pages long.

(b)  Important information about America by Kieran Healy (Assoc Prof Sociology at Duke) about the death rate in the US due to assaults (all causes).

(c)  Like so many things in America today, the gun culture is a fading love of old white guys:

(d) The Price of Gun Control“, Dan Baum (author of author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip), Harper’s, 20 July 2012 — The price of gun control is very high, and we might not get much in return.

(e)  The CDC is not known for its advocacy for the 2nd amendment, so this result deserves attention: “Firearms laws and the reduction of violence: A systematic review“, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2005 — By the Centers for Disease Control’s Task Force on Community Preventive Services.

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