When debating guns, it seems impossible to not hear the saying, "Guns don't kill people." If you toss out a statistic about gun deaths, you will hear this retort.

I'm a gun owner. I own them simply because I come from a law enforcement family. I don't have any interest in them at all. Grew up around them. You point, they go bang. But that's not all that guns do, now is it? 

Guns give people a sense of power. A command over many. They make men make rash decisions. They embolden people to do things out of arrogance and self-righteousness. If you were walking by a group of three young men whom were clearly out looking for a fight in a downtown area, you might decide to cross the street if you were unarmed. If you were armed, you might say,"Fuck it, I have a right to be here." and take on that path of resistance. A notable example of this being caught on video is the DC detective taking on a crowd for throwing snowballs. He drew his service weapon rather than walking or driving away. Link

There are other things that give people a sense of power and cause them to act as if human life doesn't matter. Cars. How many cases of road rage could we find? Cars are another thing that emboldens people to do stupid things. I had a guy attempt to run me down once while on a motorcycle. I waved him into a parking lot, got off the bike and he disappeared. As soon as I went to get back onto the road, he came at me. Being on a sport bike he had no chance and I was gone. But without a weapon, he wanted nothing to do with me. (Sremmed from him wanting me to pull out into the intersection that was blocked. Bad idea in the US, especially on a bike.) but you know what is rare... Murder in the first and second degree in cars. Killing someone in another car with the first car is difficult. We don't have enough interaction with pedestrians to get that provoked. Guns, however, allow that personal interaction along with the quick and easy solution that will give you that sense of power we have grown to love.

You can say that guns don't kill people because they are inanimate objects and be factually correct. What you ignore is that in a culture like ours where violence is regarded as being manly. Where winning a fight will get you patted on the back for years. Where people crave power over others from sports as a kid to watching movies and fantasizing yourself in the shoes of the successful violent character (Batman, Rambo, Kick Ass). Guns provide that sense of ability to easily win the fight and deliver justice when we feel wronged rather than letting the emotion settle. Gun ownership is the leading cause of homocide, 2 to 1. Nothing else compares.

We have a right to guns in the US. I don't deny that. But denying the reality that without guns we would not have nearly the same number of murders is denying reality. Without guns, people would take that extra second to think rather than simply react. There are anecdotal cases where the right gun owner wins and yeah, let's write that down. But don't forget that each year, there are 10,000 other cases where the outcome didn't have to be what it is. Guns cause people to act in ways that they wouldn't normally act. This is why I reject the claim that "Guns Don't Kill People".  

Tags: Guns, murder, politics, violence

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Baloney.  Sensible gun control measures in this country work to ensure that those people who own guns are sane and responsible, that they know how to store and maintain their guns, and that they are able, when necessary, to teach others about responsible gun handling.  More effective firearms regulation is clearly required to diminish the high incidence of gun violence, but there is zero likelihood that any further controls put in place here that will "only keep guns out of the hands of [responsible] people who need them."  

I have posted to and have read most of the posts on this thread, here is some prospective on this subject. There are 270,000,000 guns in the US, of those guns .000037 are used in killings in the US.

Each year in the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia alone 2,300,000 hunters go into the woods hunting, last years there were no deaths to the hunters. This number of hunters in just those four states would comprise the 4th largest army in the world.

In general the American people do handle their guns very well, is 10,000 deaths too many yes but bad people doing bad things will not stop if the guns are gone.

We going to make fertilizer illegal because it can be used to make bombs, matches because you could burn down buildings?

There is no practical use for an assault rifle or a pistol, unlike fertilizers or matches. Though I have once lit a cigarette on the barrel of an MG-3...

Understand your point but based on the numbers 3 to 4+ times more deaths caused by autos each year.

Again 10,000 deaths is too many but 99.999963% of guns are not used to kill people.

So, 10000 deaths is an acceptable number because most guns are not used in killings? I personally find one death to be one too much. If there is any realistic and reasonable way of avoiding just 1 death - such as substantially stricter regulation - then that way is acceptable.

And reducing auto accidents is easy. Reduce highway speed to 60mph and give a fine of $100 per mp/h over the limit. Roundabouts also substantially reduce auto fatalities, as does random seat belt and BAC test dragnets.

Absolutely.  But roundabouts are costly to build, and require more real estate than do four-corner intersections.

we should ban vending machines too.  Or escalators or elevators or staircases..............

But that isn't a fair comparison.  Tens of millions of people drive automobiles everyday.  I am a strong advocate for driver education because of the high number of automobile related fatalities each year, which incidentally is at the lowest level in decades due in large part to built in safety mechanisms like airbags and stability control.  However, the question isn't do guns kill more than X.  It is do guns kill, and more specifically, how dangerous are they in society when all things are equal?

Jim, I think you're probably right about how Americans in general handle their firearms, but is anyone here advocating that gun ownership be illegal?  There are further, viable, reasonable restrictions, in certain jurisdictions, that could reduce accidental and intentional gun fatalities.  It's absurd to imagine that guns will be outlawed in the dimly foreseeable future.  There is very little support in the legislature even for modest controls on firearms.   

There is this false dichotomy that hinders gun rights/gun law debates.  Any discussion or effort to restrict or regulate firearm ownership and use is painted by interest groups as an absolute position meant to strip away all rights and ownership.





I'm not saying anyone is advocating gun ownership should be illegal but just based on numbers guns will be in the US for a very long time to get them out of the system. When you factor in social problems and drug laws, the amount of violence associated just in those two areas accounts for a large number of the deaths.

As larger numbers of people hit the poverty levels in the US it could get worse before it gets better.

"I'm not saying anyone is advocating gun ownership should be illegal..."  But Jim, that's what you were implying when you asked, above, "[Are] We going to make fertilizer illegal because it can be used to make bombs, matches because you could burn down buildings?" 

The social problems are the root cause of a lot of gun violence, I agree, and I agree that the ready availability of guns and relatively unrestricted gun owners' rights are not going away any time soon.  As I've said elsewhere, because this deeply serious problem cannot be effectively addressed through strict regulation of gun sales (even in my home state of Vermont, our two very liberal senators, Leahy and Sanders, fully support 2nd A rights), for now the viable solutions lie in alleviating the social conditions that too often lead to violent crime. Most gun violence stems more from enduring cultural troubles (poverty, drug addiction, lack of access to health care, and so on) than purely from the easy availability of firearms. If drugs were legalized and treatment provided, and if the sums of money we have thrown away in Iraq (for example) were invested instead in public education and in our social infrastructure, in time the incidence of violent crime in America would plummet.

In the meantime, my recommendation is that we push for the licensing of gun owners just as we license drivers. The NRA and other groups will fight such a measure ferociously, but, for now, it's the only remotely viable control that's left for us to try to institute. Jared Loughner could never have gotten a gun owner's license. And if Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter (who lied on his ATF form 4473) had been required to present a license, he could not have purchased the semi-autos he used to kill 32 students.


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