The number of children killed by guns in America makes us exceptional, not better.

Summary:  We take pride in our exceptionalism, the ways we’re unique among the developed nations. We tend to assume that these represent advantages, as if different means superior. Our far higher rate of gun deaths, many of whom are children, show the falsity of that belief — and point to ways we can learn from our peers.  This is post #1 of 2 today.

Kelbie Ray Nelson
Kelbie Ray Nelson

Kelbie Ray Nelson, 13, died the day after Christmas in Blackfoot, Idaho, playing with a gun at his grandmother’s house.

Introductions

For your viewing pleasure on Pinterest: 33 Accidentally shot at WalMart, photos of 109 Children under 14 killed in 2013, 90 photos of Children under 15 killed in 2014, and the growing roster of photos of Children under 15 killed in 2015. You also might enjoy the generic category of GunFails in 2014 and GunFails in 2015.

For something different peruse a list of 69 mass killing events during the past 3 decades (mostly home-grown Americans, not jihadists — so it’s OK).

 Two articles from the endless stream

America gets hysterical from SARS in 2003 (774 deaths) and a few cases of Ebola in 2014. A few terrorist attacks prompt massive pants wetting, and a surrender of our rights. But we accept the annual carnage from deliberate and accidental gun use as a sign of our exceptionalism. And so it is; we’re exceptionally mad about guns — as these articles remind us.

(1) Are Gun Accidents ‘Very Rare’?“, David Frum, Daily Beast, 20 February 2013

In 2007, the United States suffered some 15,000-19,000 accidental shootings. More than 600 of these shootings proved fatal. … The total number of Americans killed and wounded by gun accidents exceeds the total number killed or injured in fires. The number killed in gun accidents is 20% higher than the total number killed in all U.S. civil aviation accidents.

In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to ban drop-side baby cribs because these cribs have been blamed for “dozens” of infant deaths over the entire previous decade. The 600+ accidental gun deaths in any single year amount to 50 dozen.

… The Centers for Disease Control reserve the term “very rare” for accidental deaths from vaccines, the number of which is zero, or close to it. If more than 600 people a year were dying from vaccines, we’d have a national uproar, if not a revolution.

(2)  As usual, the little ones get to pay for our folly: “Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll“, New York Times, 28 September 2013 — The Times gives heart-rending tales of children’s deaths, amidst horrific data about the totals and terrifying news about the NRA’s work to obstruct efforts to keep us ignorant about the cost of guns in America. Excerpt:

Cases like these are among the most gut-wrenching of gun deaths. Children shot accidentally — usually by other children — are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable.

They die in the households of police officers and drug dealers, in broken homes and close-knit families, on rural farms and in city apartments. Some adults whose guns were used had tried to store them safely; others were grossly negligent. Still others pulled the trigger themselves, accidentally fracturing their own families while cleaning a pistol or hunting.

And there are far more of these innocent victims than official records show.

A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities. The killings of Lucas, Cassie and Alex, for instance, were not recorded as accidents. Nor were more than half of the 259 accidental firearm deaths of children under age 15 identified by The Times in eight states where records were available.

As a result, scores of accidental killings are not reflected in the official statistics that have framed the debate over how to protect children from guns.

… In all, fewer than 20 states have enacted laws to hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store guns safely, enabling children to access them.

… Because of maneuvering in Congress by the gun lobby and its allies, firearms have also been exempted from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since its inception.

…. To get more accurate information about firearm deaths, researchers have pushed for the expansion of the National Violent Death Reporting System.

… Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, in fact, gun accidents were the ninth-leading cause of unintentional deaths among children ages 1 to 14 in 2010. (The agency reported 62 such killings that year.) If the actual numbers are, in fact, roughly double, however, gun accidents would rise into the top five or six.

Jesus with shades and gun
This is how we see ourselves.

Research on guns in America.

Why do we do so little research on this public health problem, with its large annual toll of bodies? For decades the NRA pressured the Federal government to defund studies on the result of gun violence, eventually banning the CDC from research on this (details here). The ban was lifted in 2013, but so far with little effect.

Other reports.

(1) Rates of Homicide, Suicide, and Firearm-Related Death Among Children — 26 Industrialized Countries“, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC, 7 February 1997 — We’re exceptional!

The rate for firearm-related deaths among children in the United States (1.66) was 2.7-fold greater than that in the country with the next highest rate (Finland, 0.62) … 5 countries, including 3 of the 4 countries in Asia, reported no firearm-related deaths among children.

(2) Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home“, David Hemenway (Prof Health Policy, Harvard; bio here), American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, November-December 2011 — Abstract:

This article summarizes the scientific literature on the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home for the gun owner and his/her family. For most contemporary Americans, scientific studies indicate that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit. The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns. There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes.

On the benefit side, there are fewer studies, and there is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in. Thus, groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents not to have guns in the home.

(3) Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths”, Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety, June 2014 — A census of unintentional child gun deaths,  pattern of their deaths, and recommendations to reduce the toll.

Gun deaths in US vs its peers

For More Information

For more real time news flow about the blood flowing on our streets from #GunFAILs, follow David Waldman’s Twitter feed @kalgroX.

Other posts about guns in America:

  1. The Founders talk to us about guns for a well-regulated militia, 24 July 2012.
  2. Another mass killing in America. Watch the reactions on the Right., 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 2013.
  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.
  11. Our love for gun play grows as our trust in ourself wanes. Logical, mad, sad., 11 December 2014.
  12. Why do we believe an armed society is a polite society?, 5 January 2015

An accounting of daily gun deaths

New York Times, 21 April 2007 — click to expand.

NYT: gun deaths in America
NYT: gun deaths in America, 21 April 2007

66 thoughts on “The number of children killed by guns in America makes us exceptional, not better.

    1. dashui,

      Can you provide a citation showing that? Both parts of that look questionable to me (but then, I know little about this field).

      (1) Europe has similarly unequal distributions of income (think Greece = Mississippi and Germany = New York).

      (2) Do regional gun deaths correlate with regional income?

      (3) Do area rates of gun death correlate with other demographic factors, such as religion and ethnicity?

      I’m sure there is research on these things.

  1. If you want to live without your liberty there are places for you to emigrate to. You refuse to be concerned about all of the children that are killed by drowning, accidental drug overdose, car accidents, preventable medical errors, etc. Are those children somehow less dead?

    Firearms are useful for defense. They are not made for the sole purpose of killing.

    1. Editor,

      The only way to eliminate gun accidents is to eliminate guns. You know that. Good luck on your campaign to repeal the Second Amendment. It will only take 13 states to block your efforts.

    2. Abraham,

      “The only way to eliminate gun accidents is to eliminate guns”

      Let’s try that logic out: If we cannot eliminate traffic accidents we should abandon cars? No, that seems illogical.

      Let’s try a more logical version: We cannot eliminate accidents, but we can regulate cars’ features (e.g., airbags) and license drivers. Yes, that makes more sense.

      Suggestions:

      (1) When you reduce complex social problems to binary outcomes — especially ridiculous outcomes — reconsider your logic.

      (2) Reconsider your reasoning when you say that others who do better than us are all wrong. In this case: the US has the highest rate of deaths and injuries from gun accidents and crime, yet you believe we are right and that the entire rest of the developed world is wrong.

    3. I’m amused that you don’t go into specifics on how guns should be regulated. Mandate smart gun tech? It wouldn’t be constitutional and it is very easy to remove. Again, good luck on your campaign.

    4. Abraham,

      (1) “I’m amused that you don’t go into specifics on how guns should be regulated.”

      What an odd objection! One article of a thousand words can only cover so much. No matter how long, one can always object that the article doesn’t cover some additional question or implication. The Bible is ~774 thousand words, yet leaves countless questions unanswered.

      As for kinds of regulation, a few seconds of thought gives obvious answers. Tighter requirements for purchase and licensing, including training prior to licensing (as we do for drivers). Stiffer penalties for misuse, including accidents from carelessness (e.g., shooting others while cleaning or showing guns, allowing children access to loaded guns). Requiring liability insurance, as we do for automobiles. Limitations on open carry (rightly considered a barbaric and intimidating practice in every other developed nation).

      There’s a large body of research on this, despite the Federal government’s almost de-funding of it. Comparisons of regulatory regimes and outcomes (e.g., crime, suicides, accidents) across States and nations would help show what measures work best.

      (2) “Good luck on your campaign”

      What an odd thing to say. You imply that tighter regulation of guns is almost impossible in the US, which is obviously false. Every other developed nation has tight gun regulations, as did the US for most of its history.

    5. Abraham, We could make smart guns mandatory or we could just allow them for people who value their children and live in dangerous neighborhoods. Or are frightened by the thought of the unwashed hordes overrunning them. I think these people should have their choice of purchasing a gun that is safer when their children around. I assume you don’t believe we should allow this choice?

      More importantly, gun regulation does work very effectively here in the United States. And it is constitutional. And it has not been removed.

    6. gilsr,

      “gun regulation does work very effectively here in the United States.”

      Let me expand upon that. Tight gun regulation — which the Surpreme Court has effectively prevented — did work in the US quite well for most of its history. Don’t let them manipulate us by erasing our history. For details see:

      1. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, cutting through the myths and spin, 15 January 2013
      2. Myth-busting about gun use in the Wild West, 16 January 2013
      3. Second amendment scholarship (using money to reshape America), 19 January 2013
      4. Guns in the wild west: regulated, with no fears about ripping the Constitution, 25 January 2013
    7. gilsr,

      Great point! I added a link to Wikipedia for those not familiar with it.

      It’s vital to remember this was one part of a regulatory regime deeply rooted in American law at all levels (local to Federal) during both the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s been swept away by a lavishly funded campaign, consisting largely of lies and myths.

      Perhaps the most significant aspect of the anti-gun control movement is how easy it was despite any logical or factual basis. Despite the results. I am certain that the Republic’s foes, foreign and domestic, have taken note of our weakness of spirit and mind.

    8. You cannot predicate requirements upon the exercise of any right. The people have the right to keep and bear arms.

      You can’t have a literacy test, poll tax, mandatory political science class, insurance, etc. before you exercise your right to vote. That would reduce it from a right to a privilege.

      Good luck getting the Second Amendment repealed. Gun control is not constitutional. The courts are continually serving the most egregious infringements with injunctions and striking the laws down.

    9. Abraham,

      You comments are just weird. We had tight regulation of guns during the 19th and 20th centuries across much of America, and moderate Federal regulation after 1934.

      Those many generations of Americans understood the Second Amendment quite well.

      That conservatives have adopted the concept of a flexible reading of the Constitution — it means what they want it to mean — is sad, but fixable.

    10. We also had a literacy test, poll tax, slavery, Japanese internment camps, etc. The fact that we had them doesn’t make them justified.

    11. Abraham, so we agree that we have laws that regulate guns and they work very well. And if they were unconstitutional, I would assume they would have been overturned in the 70 years that they have been laws. If you believe they are unconstitutional, we should test them now. Right now. I’ll help in any way I can.

    12. Getting them overturned costs a great deal of money in court costs. If you want to file suit against each and every one of them then I encourage it. Even then there isn’t any guarantee that the US Supreme Court will opt to take the cases up. The only accept 2% of cases presented to them and a decline is not a determination that the laws are constitutional.

    13. Abraham,

      Again illogic. Your logic didn’t stop the people who used the courts to overthrow two centuries of laws and precedents about gun control.

      Please re-read your comments. Does it concern you that not one of your arguments makes sense? Now you are reduced to saying that court challenges are too much work, despite their massive role in shaping American history.

    14. Abraham, I don’t think your employers.. er I mean peer group, will be happy with you agreeing with me about the constitutionality of gun control. I think they will say you are not very good at your job.

    15. Of course, please accept my apologies. And to Abraham, I apologise for insinuating that you represent some group that is more interested in selling hardware than saving your or my child’s life. Please accept my apologies.

  2. I figured this post would start a long list of comments. I have to comment because my head spins thinking that we some prefer the loss of life until the Protectors of Liberty are needed to run out and shoot the invading paratroopers. I’m sure we are not expecting Canada or Mexico to invade soon. It could be centuries before Canada invades.

    And Obama is the devil himself yet doesn’t meet the requirements of a tyrant. At least to most. So the tyrannical government could take years or decades to gain power that could not be overturned with votes.

    Until then every day, every month, every year, the count of accident deaths caused by our toddler shooting himself or his mother grows.

    If we could fix the one facet of the gun culture, which is the accidental shootings, especially of young children.

    I have to go lay down. The spinning is getting worse.

    1. gilsr,

      “It could be centuries before Canada invades.”

      But would that be a good thing or bad thing? I’ve spend quite a bit of time there. It’s nice place. Their health care system makes us look like Nigeria by comparison.

      Re: defending America from the army

      I often ask gun nuts for some examples of this in the western world (i.e., since we restarted civilization in Europe circa 800ad. The only example they give is the Revolution. Oddly, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand turned out fine without either a revolution or a bloody Civil War. Something to wonder about…

  3. As usual from your website this is an excellent and well researched article. How to balance the tragedy of child deaths with Abrahams legitimate point that there is a 2nd Ammendment which clearly says keeping and bearing arms shall not be infringed.

    I am a gun owner with children in my house. All guns are locked in combination safes and only I know the numbers. I agree that adults who are irresponsible with guns should be held accountable and prosecuted. I don’t have problems with mandatory laws on gun storage when children are in the home.

    The idea of a 1st time gun owner having to take a gun safety test sounds reasonable. Maybe there are some other reasonable things that could be done. Would FM editor be suggesting basically this? Reasonable people would accept reasonable measures. But Abraham’s point is that if you go too far then you are hitting up against the 2nd Ammendment. Now if FM editor is of the opinion that the original intent of the Ammendment was not applicable to citizens this would be a totally different argument of course

    1. Greg,

      (1) “Maybe there are some other reasonable things that could be done.”

      Most of the measures debated today are less stringent than those accepted as reasonable by many generations of Americans. It’s sad that conservatives have erased our past from the memories of folks like Abraham.

      There are some measures that have little precedence in our past, but are consistent with both the modern regulatory regime (e.g., mandatory training before licensing, gun locks) AND the obvious reading of the Second Amendment (“well-regulated”). That folks like Abraham consider these as likely to produce tyranny is quite mad — but an demonstration of the state-of-the-art propaganda’s effectiveness on modern Americans.

      (2) “that the original intent of the Ammendment was not applicable to citizens”

      Who believes such a thing? Abraham’s arguments are a mix of fiction and strawmen.

  4. So now I am wondering where you and I might disagree.

    I am an NRA member who believes in reasonable firearm safety laws. How far do we legislate to ensure child safety before the 2nd Ammendment, which ensures gun rights, stops the legislation?

    As to your point about how, historically, the country accepted reasonable restrictions, I am not certain how relevant that is to today’s discussion but I am curious to look into that. My initial reaction is that what people thought in the past (think slavery and segregation) doesn’t really count for much as far as the ultimate correctness of the opinion.

    I think we need to go back to the Founders for the ultimate truth but I realize that even there we will have disagreement.

    By the way, your point about “well regulated” being a justification for gun laws is interesting. I had never considered that.

    1. Greg,

      “how, historically, the country accepted reasonable restrictions, I am not certain how relevant that is to today’s discussion … what people thought in the past (think slavery and segregation) doesn’t really count for much as far as the ultimate correctness of the opinion.”

      The point is not what people thought in the past, but what are logical interpretations of the 2nd amendment. People like Abraham say that strict regulations obviously violate it. History shows that is false.

      Our legal system is built on precedent, so the past is quite relevant. Slavery was legal, then explicitly made illegal by the 13th amendment, so there was no violation of precedent.

      Ditto segregation, which was legal but made illegal by the great mid-1960’s civil rights laws.

    2. I hope you will allow me to chirp in again.

      I really don’t like to provide intellectual ammunition to the opposing side.But here goes, Greg, if you look around on the web you will see that some on the pro-gun side will have a definition of regulate that is different from what we take it to mean now. They take it to mean, “to be well supplied”. And that could be from my point of view.

      You say the second amendment “clearly says keeping and bearing arms shall not be infringed.” The problem is that it is not so clear when you quote it all. Ironically, I think it says you can keep a military grade weapon. And how can you argue it says you can keep a weapon for sport? Or collect weapons just to have them? Or have hunting weapons? It doesn’t say anything about self defense ever if Scalia says it does. The above is my opinion about the second amendment and you can disagree. And so can the Supreme Court justices. And they do. So it is not clear.

      What is clear, is that if you were a land owner and the state or federal government showed up at your door, you were expected to leave your family and property, bring your weapon and supplies and go put down a tax rebellion. There was no standing army and no National Guard.

      So imagine, someone showing up at your door, giving 24 hours to appear at the muster point. You would get some training and then march 600 miles to put down a rebellion. Nowadays you would depart for Texas to collect taxes from some freeloader named Bundy.

    3. Fab,
      “It’s an open forum! I moderate only for extreme behavior: language, attacks on other commenters, racism, etc …”

      Ok, thats fair. So I would like to correct what I said in the previous post about the meaning of “well regulated”. I meant to say that there is a archaic meaning of “well disciplined” rather than “well supplied”.

  5. FM Editor,

    “The point is not what people thought in the past, but what are logical interpretations of the 2nd amendment.”

    I agree with your statement.

    What I was trying to say in my last post was that I was I wasn’t so sure that all of the historical restrictions of gun rights you refer to were legitimate based on the original intent of the 2nd Amendment.

    I am not a constitutional scholar but my understanding is that this Amendment was meant to protect individual rights. I do acknowledge that there are other points of view on this topic however (as evidenced by gilsr’s) comment above.

    I was really hoping to hear from you how far would you go in restricting gun “rights” given the legitimate concern about safety of children and other innocents who are negatively affected by gun ownership.

    1. Greg,

      “were legitimate based on the original intent of the 2nd Amendment.”

      Perhaps so, but that they were legitimate was the overwhelming consensus of both legal scholars and judges for over a century. My point was that this tells us that its possible to reverse the legal rulings — largely based on myths and lies — that brought us to this state of daily carnage unique in both US history and among the developed nations.

  6. gilsr,

    “The above is my opinion about the second amendment and you can disagree. And so can the Supreme Court justices. And they do. So it is not clear.”

    Your points are well taken and it appears you have probably thought about/studied this issue in more depth than I have. Again, the idea of “well regulated” is interesting. How you interpret the choice of why these words were put in the Amendment is something I will have to consider more.

    And as you indicate, I do disagree with your points but I freely admit that I am no Constitutional Scholar. Based on the reading I have done over the years, I conclude that the 2nd Amendment (despite its unfortunate opaque wording) does apply to individuals as the surrounding Amendments in the Bill of Rights also do. In addition, I conclude that the right to keep and bear arms was to be more than a ticket to membership in a local/state militia which could be called upon at the will of the politicians.

    1. Greg, I applaud your locking up your guns to keep your children safe.

      You said: “I am an NRA member who believes in reasonable firearm safety laws. How far do we legislate to ensure child safety before the 2nd Amendment, which ensures gun rights, stops the legislation?”

      You also said: “I don’t have problems with mandatory laws on gun storage when children are in the home.
      The idea of a 1st time gun owner having to take a gun safety test sounds reasonable. Maybe there are some other reasonable things that could be done”

      Greg, you are reasonable but do not expect anyone to listen to you from the gun rights side. If you go to any of the gun forums and make such statements, you will be attacked. See, Abraham’s first post for a mild example.

      You see, any of these suggestions would infringe or possibly infringe in the future. In the mean time children die.

  7. FM Editor,

    “Our legal system is built on precedent, so the past is quite relevant. Slavery was legal, then explicitly made illegal by the 13th amendment, so there was no violation of precedent.

    Ditto segregation, which was legal but made illegal by the great mid-1960’s civil rights laws.”

    Using your logic in the above quote, couldn’t a hard-core gun owner say that those 19th century restrictions of gun rights were legal back in the day but then they were made illegal in the late 20th century by Congress & the Supreme Court. So no violation of precedent.

    Your theory simplified:
    Slavery & segregation were illegal in the 19th century but now are legal – good precedent.
    Gun rights were illegal in the 19th century but now legal – bad precedent.

    It appears that as long as the eventual result is to your liking, precedent is OK. But if precedent ends up on the side of gun rights, it isn’t.

    I don’t meant to be rude in my presentation of your opinion but I am wondering if I am missing part of your argument here?

    1. FM Editor,

      Maybe I wasn’t clear in this post so I am going to break it down as simply as I can.

      You say that gun rights were correctly restricted in the 19th century but then recent laws and Supreme Court decisions changed this. You want this to be reversed because the 19th century precedents were wrongfully overturned by recent decisions.

      “All I see is a change of Court rulings, overturning precedents — and so can be again reversed.”

      I know that you must realize that gun rights people see things differently. They feel that a “precedent” that violates the Constitution, is an illegal precedent.

      Maybe they see it this way:

      A) 2nd Amendment protects gun rights
      B) 19th century laws violated the 2nd Amendment guarantees
      C) 20th/21st century laws and Supreme Court fixed this problem.

      When I read through some of the “precedents” made by the Supreme Court or laws passed by Congressmen, I find that these are decisions made by individuals who are simply human beings. They are not objective in any sense of the term. They live in a particular time at a particular place and they have their biases. They might even have accepted money as compensation for their decisions….

      Do I go with “precedent” or with the Constitution?

      To get away from guns for a second, how about what Article One of the Constitution says about money being gold & silver only? Am I to believe that everything that has been changed in the financial system (Federal Reserve, Fiat Money, QE to Infinity, etc.) is good precedent?

      Or should all of this “precedent” be reversed because the Constitution is supposed to be the law of the land?

    2. Greg,

      I reply to quotes. You should too.

      “You say that gun rights were correctly restricted in the 19th century but then recent laws and Supreme Court decisions changed this. You want this to be reversed because the 19th century precedents were wrongfully overturned by recent decisions.”

      I say nothing even remotely like that. I stopped reading at that point.

  8. gilsr,

    The only way progress is going to be made on the issue of gun rights vs. gun safety is if reasonable people agree to meet in the middle. My “side” can’t go over the top and your “side” can’t either. When we do this, we turn each other off and nothing gets accomplished. That’s basically where we are now from what I can see.

    Gun people see Obama and Bloomberg as trying as hard as they can to restrict gun ownership and will not take no for an answer.

    My guess is that the other side sees the NRA as blocking reasonable restrictions to gun rights no matter how reasonable.

    I might not be expressing it as objectively as possible because, after all, I am a gun owner and member of the NRA but this is how I picture the current situation.

    This is why I asked in a previous post to the FM Editor:

    “I was really hoping to hear from you how far would you go in restricting gun “rights” given the legitimate concern about safety of children and other innocents who are negatively affected by gun ownership.”

    I really want to know how far we can go to meet in the middle.

    What do you think? I have listed some reasonable things that should be done (mandatory gun storage laws with children in the home, training of 1st time gun owners, etc.). But what more would be acceptable to you?

    1. Greg,

      What are these actions by Obama that show he is “trying as hard as he can” to get rid of guns?

      You see people saying that the NRA resists “reasonable” gun regulation, as if that is in doubt. What are these reasonable regulations that the NRA did not oppose before enactment, or proposed ones that they don’t oppose today?

      You say you are reasonable, but your comments are quite vague, and contain quite a few counterfacturals.

  9. FM Editor and gilsr,

    I apologize in advance for what follows but I feel it had to be said…….

    Both of your latest responses are the reason why gun owners react as they do to your side of the issue. As a result I feel impelled to give you a “typical” gun owner response. I apply this criticism more to FM Editor than to you gilsr but I will address it to both of you. I am trying to meet in the middle but I don’t get the same feeling from either of you.

    I have written several comments over the past several days with the main intention of just trying to find out what exactly you would see as reasonable restrictions on gun ownership in order to protect the unnecessary deaths of children at the hands of irresponsible gun owners. This is why I originally mentioned finding a balance between the 2nd Amendment and the current state of affairs as illuminated in the original article.

    Both of you have sidetracked me into other avenues of approach regarding legal issues, the Constitution, history of gun restrictions, etc.

    I am partly responsible for this because I also mentioned the 2nd Amendment, etc.

    But can we get back to the original article?

    i agree with the ultimate point of the original article that children are dying and that irresponsible gun owners are doing this. I can give you two examples from my own community where this happened. I don’t deny this and I am on the side of wanting to stop this as are both of you.

    I have listed several example of reasonable steps that should be taken to alleviate this situation.

    If those are not enough, what is it that you want? I can think of other reasonable restrictions but what do you think?

    Are you going to go as far as total gun registration? Only allowing the police to have guns? Forcing citizens to store their guns in a central location and only allowing access for government approved reasons? What is it that you want exactly?

    I live in a rural area of Pennsylvania. We don’t have a local police force. We rely on the PA State Police and the nearest barracks are about 30 minutes away.

    1) If someone breaks into my house, am I supposed to call 911 in the name of child safety and just wait or can I use my guns to defend my wife and two children?

    2) If I am out in my garden growing organic food for my family so they don’t have to eat the garbage from the local WalMart and then a black bear comes along and I can’t get it to go away should I allow it to maul me in the name of child safety or can I have my rifle nearby and save myself?

    3) When I am running to keep in shape on the rural back roads and I come upon a black bear should I allow that bear to kill me in the name of child safety or can I carry my gun to defend myself?

    4) When I am out walking my dog at 10:00 PM and I hear the coyotes howling, am I allowed to carry my pistol for protection or can the coyotes eat the dog and me for dinner in the name of child safety?

    5) If I want to hunt organic deer with my rifle to feed my children and family should I be allowed to do this or should I not be allowed to have a gun in the name of child safety and just buy adulterated meat from the local WalMart?

    All of these 5 events have happened to me over the course of the past 2 years by the way.

  10. I forgot one other recent item:

    6) Our school district was closed for an entire week in the fall of 2014 because a crazy nut with a gun was on the loose after killing a PA State Police officer and wounding another (at the closest PA State Police barracks near my home – 30 minutes away). He was on the FBI Top Ten Most Wanted – Eric Frein was his name. The State Police told us to stay inside and lock the doors and keep the lights on at night. He was on the run for months literally in my backyard. If I came upon him on the road while running, walking the dog, going out to my car in the morning, knocking at my door looking for food, etc. should I have let him have his will upon me and my family in the name of child safety or would it be OK that I had a firearm to defend myself?

    So I ask again, is there a way to meet in the middle or are both sides just going to demand that each is right and damn the rest?

    1. In my last comment, I was trying to say that your gun control suggestions were reasonable and acceptable to me. If we could just save some children, it would make me happy. But simple things like mandatory gun safes or locks would be looked on as “gun control” and would be fought tooth and nail. If you don’t know that, go to a local bar and suggest it. Or go to one of the militia meetings in your area.

      The funny thing, I watch a couple of reality shows about people in Alaska. And am reminded that people in bear country definitely should be armed. In brown and grizzly areas they should have large caliber weapons. I had forgotten about the bears in rural Pennsylvania. They demand some respect. Although I hiked unarmed in your area.

      I can’t speak for everyone on “my side” but I can tell you what I would do if I was emperor. The first thing is to realize that guns( or people with guns) cause problems in different ways.

      1) The first problem is young people finding guns and shooting themselves or someone close. I read about a youngster shooting an 9 month old today. The gun was in the headboard of grandfathers bed.
      Smart guns or at least child resistant guns would help here.

      2) Plain accidental shooting by adults. This is made worse by semi-automatics with no indication of a round in the chamber. Check YouTube for officer shoots his fingers off or .. Certain guns do go off when dropped.
      Loaded chamber indicator possibly? Allowing victim to sue if gun does fail. i.e. when dropped?

      3) Probably the largest group are intentional shootings in the inner city or rural areas where the drug industry is the main employer. The guns used are illegal. Where do they come from?
      Not at gun solution, decriminalize drugs. Institute a 1 gun per month law to slow down straw sales. Setup a *system to allow tracking of guns bought in other jurisdictions and transported for illegal use. This system would also keep legal guns from being sold and becoming illegal.

      4) Suicides are very successful when there is a gun in the house.
      So many that lost the family farm in 80s were found behind the barn with a shotgun. If you ever have had a bout with clinical depression, or if you are having problems in your marriage, or your small business is failing, you should get all guns out of the house. Things will get better.

      5) Then the case where the person takes out a classroom or two or youngsters or his workmates and then commits suicide.
      We have to improve our mental health system. A difficult problem, anticipating what someone that has mental problems and taking the correct actions allowed by law. I would suggest the *system would help.

      These are different problems in my opinion. That is solutions to each would be different.

      *The system:

      Recognize that all guns are not the same. The biggest difference is efficiency in killing multiple people. I say people because if they didn’t kill people there would be no arguments.

      Muzzle loaders, talk about original intent. This is what the writers of the 2nd Amendment were writing about. Any way no restrictions.

      Antique weapons up to and including any fixed cylinder weapons. No restrictions

      Shotguns without magazines and bolt action rifles. No restrictions.

      New revolvers with swing out cylinder and semi-automatic pistols with magazine. System registration required.

      Semi-automatic long guns. System registration required.

      Registered guns would also require some check in interval for training and to make sure you were not about to go over the edge take out a kindergarten. Sales/gifts between individuals would be recorded. Do you know what your guns will do after you die? Will your spouse give them away or hold a garage sale? I know registration is the big fear on the pro-gun side, but it seems inevitable. Sorry.

      Hopefully, this answers questions about your scenarios. I would say don’t get eaten by a bear but keep your children safe. You phrase it as an either or question. And if Frein was being hunted in my neighborhood and I had a self defense weapon it would be in the nightstand and not locked up in the safe. And would pray that I didn’t forget and leave it there to do its dirty work on my child the next day.

      Is there is a middle ground here. for you? For the NRA? For your neighbors?

    2. In my attempt to layout all my thoughts on guns, I didn’t get specific about children. Possibly an education program about trigger locks, lock boxes, and safes. Short term, I think we have to get serious about holding the adults responsible for the deaths of children using guns. It seems cruel to arrest and charge someone who has lost a child, but it seems it must be done. And then make sure everyone knows about the consequences. And we need to calm the fears in some. In my experience, there are people that live in communities that haven’t had a crime in decades but still sleep with a pistol under the pillow. Then smartguns.

      Please see

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phA9rqH3-kA

      You see, I don’t think it is with me or the FM editor you need to find middle ground with, as you will see when you go further down the rabbit hole.

  11. gilsr,

    I see a lot of reasonable things in your last two posts and I appreciate you taking the time to get them all out in the open.

    I don’t have time tonight to go through them all in detail right now because I have some work to do for my day job. Until I get a chance to respond in full, I will leave you with the following.

    Not only am I an Life NRA member but I was also a licensed FFL in the late 1990’s & early 2000’s.

    What I am trying to say is that if a “hard-core” gun person like me can understand reasonable gun restrictions, so can many others. It is all about the approach.

  12. gilsr,

    Using your terminology, if you and I were “Co-Emperors” I think we could agree on some reasonable laws. I am not sure that they would completely solve the problem, but they would move the country in the right direction.

    I will take your comments in order that you mentioned them.

    “1) The first problem is young people finding guns and shooting themselves or someone close. I read about a youngster shooting an 9 month old today. The gun was in the headboard of grandfathers bed.Smart guns or at least child resistant guns would help here.”

    I don’t like the idea of Smart Guns because the expense of adding this to all of my firearms would cost many tens of thousands of dollars. There is a cheaper way. Require by law that all guns must be locked in a safe if children are going to have access to them. That grandfather was irresponsible. This gun should have been in a safe. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. You cannot leave guns around when children are present.

    “2) Plain accidental shooting by adults. This is made worse by semi-automatics with no indication of a round in the chamber. Check YouTube for officer shoots his fingers off or .. Certain guns do go off when dropped. Loaded chamber indicator possibly? Allowing victim to sue if gun does fail. i.e. when dropped?”

    I am not sure how to respond to this one since only an irresponsible gun owner would allow this to happen. Modern guns should have a loaded chamber indicator definitely. But what do you do with older guns? Would you sue the manufacturer?

    “3) Probably the largest group are intentional shootings in the inner city or rural areas where the drug industry is the main employer. The guns used are illegal. Where do they come from?”

    I am a Libertarian so yes decriminalize drugs – I agree. One gun a month, I don’t have a problem with this. Some hard-core gun owners don’t like this but it is reasonable. This certainly doesn’t violate the 2nd Amendment. This is the kind of idea that should be on the table if gun owners are honest about the entire debate.

    “4) Suicides are very successful when there is a gun in the house……”

    This one is tricky in my opinion so I need to think about it. I can’t respond yet. There are so many possible circumstances to consider here…..

    As to your added-on comment, I agree 100%. Adults are responsible for the deaths of children who accidentally use guns when it is the adult’s fault. They MUST be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for their irresponsibility when it comes to firearms.

    THE SYSTEM

    I almost agree with all of your comments about the system – except for one thing……

    First of all, any reasonable person should agree that ALL gun sales must go through a background check. I would add that this background check must be both criminal AND Mental. And yes this should apply to all transactions including private sales. The so-called gun show loophole should be closed.

    What I don’t agree with (and I am not sure why it is needed) is that guns sales should be registered with the Federal Government. If the sale was made and the person passed both criminal and mental background checks, why does the Federal Government need to know who has the gun?

    The purchaser bought it legally and they passed all of the background checks so why does the Government have to know anything else?

    I do have a problem with a registered Federal database of who owns what gun. Maybe I am paranoid on this one point but I am afraid that once the government has this information, they can then confiscated all firearms at some point.

    I realize the chance of this happening is .009 percent but still I hold this fear in the back of my mind.

    I will add that when I was an FFL dealer I had to keep track of all purchases. I was called several times by the BATF about specific gun sales. I assumed that the guns had been used in a crime and they needed to know who bought the gun. This is reasonable. I provided the information and I hope they caught the criminal.

    My concern is that if the government had easy access to all gun owners, they would arbitrarily want to look up a person’s name to see what guns he/she owns. This I have a problem with. This is a violation the Fourth Amendment right to unnecessary search. If the Federal Government has a database of all gun owners, I wonder how they are going to abuse this?

    1. Well, It does seem we found middle ground. Not where I would like to be but… if we could get there it would would save lives. Rather than try to convince you on some points, I’ll leave it there.

      So If you could bring these ideas up at the NRA stakeholders meeting, I would be grateful. Just kidding.

      I have read that most Americans and even most NRA members believe we should have Universal Background checks. So do you have opinion as to why legislation has not been passed? And what can we do to get it passed? Do you think it would be better to do something now legislatively, or wait for something to change the publics mind toward guns and possibly get legislation that goes further than you would like?

    2. It won’t happen because it is not what American VOTERS want. Your average non-voting dimwit might want it, but voters do not. It is not politically expedient to go against the will of your voting constituents.

    3. Polls are worthless. There is no guarantee that those who have been polled will actually show up at the ballot box.

      Republicans have taken the Senate because of gun control. We are single issue voters and we are vehement.

    4. Abraham, you are in the neighborhood, in my opinion. But to prove what you just said you would have to provide a poll of actual voters. Asking them what they think of Universal Background Checks. (UBC).

      I did a quick google search and found a poll, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/211321-poll-most-gun-owners-support-universal-background-checks , that says 92 percent of GUN OWNERS support UBC. So your comment says that gun owners are non-voting dimwits. I don’t think you meant to say that. I have seen that idea on gun blogs before, you are not just repeating something you saw there, are you? Because when like minded people get together sometimes there is a tendency to not check their comments for logic and consistency.

      Don’t get me wrong, politics and how people vote is the reason we don’t have UBC, in my opinion. But I’ll wait to here from Greg before I give my thoughts.

  13. What the statistics don’t show is that gun homicides are unrelated to number of guns in a country. UK and France have near the same populations, but France has fewer gun homicides despite having millions more guns than the UK, 19 million vs 3.4 million. Canada has many more gun homicides than France despite having half as many guns and half the population. Then a strange fact happens during 1972 when Liam Neeson’s Northern Ireland’s gun homicides rate was 273% higher than the USA despite having very few guns.

    1. Cognitive,

      I suspect counting guns is not the most useful factor for comparison between nations.

      What kind of guns (esp pistols vs long guns)? Are people allowed open carry? Concealed carry? Are gun locks required? Licensing?

      The Swiss have lots of military rifles, but they’re not used much.

      It is a complex subject, like most things involving people. I’ll bet you could find some high quality studies on the factors affecting gun use, comparing nations. All this has been extensively stipudied. Most Americans are not interested in the answers. Like ideologues, we just know.

      But then, so many of us believe in creationism and astrology.

  14. gilsr,

    I think it depends on what you mean by Universal Background Checks (UBC).

    If you mean that anyone selling a gun (including private citizens – the “gun show loophole”) has to call the FBI database to make sure that the buyer is not a criminal then I think that this is perfectly reasonable and this is probably what the polls of most Americans also believe.

    Let’s state it plainly:

    All sales must have a background check. A Mental Background Check should also apply, although I don’t know the details of how this mental check would be set up. The Criminal Check is easy.

    BUT…… and this may be what Abraham is talking about…..

    Does this UBC mean that the US Government should keep a database on all gun purchases?

    Is this the same US Government that is spying on us, abusing our 4th Amendment rights, etc. as per Edward Snowden?

    I don’t mind a Universal Background Check as long as they are not keeping a database which they can search at will and possibly abuse.

    As I indicated in a previous post, I was an FFL Dealer. If a gun is used in a crime, the BATF already has a way to trace it by serial number, They call the manufacturer. The manufacturer tells them what wholesaler they shipped it to. The wholesaler then tells them what FFL dealer they sold it to. The FFL dealer is obligated to tell the BATF what individual purchased the gun.

    Why does the US Government need a database on all law-abiding gun owners? The criminals can be caught through the present system.

    1. Greg,

      A universal background check without a universal database would be better than what we have. And if it provides better outcomes for innocent americans it is ok with me. Ironically, it seems like we have a de facto database for buyers from FFLs. It is the secondary market that is a free for all.

      So, there we again have found common ground. We have agreed that mandatory gun storage would be a good law. Now we agree on universal background checks.

      So, I ask, does the smart side, the ones that know guns, the ones that know the second amendment, do they have any specific ideas on how to reduce the deaths of American children?

  15. FM Editor,

    My apology for not being aware of the quote “rule.” I will provide your quote followed by my interpretation of what it meant.

    You said (I added the part in parentheses – I don’t have brackets on my iPhone from what I can tell):

    “Perhaps so, but that they (the restrictions of gun rights) were legitimate was the overwhelming consensus of both legal scholars and judges for over a century. My point was that this tells us that its possible to reverse the legal rulings — largely based on myths and lies…”

    I interpreted this to mean the following (and I quote from my last post to you):

    “You say that gun rights were correctly restricted in the 19th century but then recent laws and Supreme Court decisions changed this. You want this to be reversed because the 19th century precedents were wrongfully overturned by recent decisions.”

    Was my interpretation of your quote, as you expressed it, REALLY

    “…nothing even remotely like that?”

    I think it was spot on, as they say…but I will await your opinion on the matter and then rephrase the rest of my post that you weren’t able to consider because you …

    “…stopped reading at that point.”

    1. Greg,

      (1) I didn’t say it was a “rule”, I gave it as a suggestion.

      (2) That I said there was an “overwhelming consensus” tells you nothing about my opinion about whether it is “right” or “wrong”, or even if I believe the concept of right/wrong is a logical way to interpret such things. BTW, I don’t.

      (3) I said that it was possible to reverse the legal rulings through propaganda. That should be quite obvious and non-controversial. It does not mean that doing so is “wrongful”. It’s politics.

      (4) Your comment represents, in my opinion, a fairly major musunderstanding of the political process in America. Political outcomes are legitimate under the Constitution by virtue of the process by which they occur. That is, elections and actions by Executive Officials, Congress, and Judges (unless reversed by higher ranks or other Branches). There is no basis for you or I to deem a politically action “wrongful”.

      It is like marriage (in the traditional sense; it has weakened over time). With a few exceptions (e.g., force), it does not matter how a couple got married. Lies, booze, hormonal decision-making — once consummated then they are married. There is a process for divorce (to change the status), but they cannot be unmarried during that past period.

      (5) Your overlay of morality on politics obscurs my simple point — one which I repeatedly stated. Abraham stated that the present state of gun regulation could not be changed, giving various spurious reasons. I stated that for a century+ we had a different set of regulations, which was overturned by judicial action — driven largely by political forces. Hence there is no reason the previous regulatory regime could not be restored. What was done by judges can be undone by judges. Or by laws — such as invoking Article I, Section 8: “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia”; or Article III, Section II: “Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”

  16. 100 or so accidental gun deaths in a country of 318 million is extremely tiny in an absolute sense.

    600 or so accidental gun deaths do not even hold a candle to most other types of accidental deaths. About 3000 people drown every year. Should there be mandatory swimming lessons?

    Sorry, I won’t cede my gun liberties. Come and take them.

    1. Flint,

      I believe you are trying to say “one journalists found over on hundred children under 14 accidentally killed in one year in America.” Since he was working from news stories (probably using Google), the list only picks up a fraction of the total. Probably only a small fraction of the total.

      Since your consider 600+ accidential gun deaths of little concern, do you also dismiss the smaller number of infant crib deaths, deaths from vaccine reactions, deaths & injuries in fires, deaths from plane crashes — all of which are subjects of serious public concern — and government action? Plus, of course, deaths at Benghazi. Thank you for identifying yourself as a right-wing wacko.

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