Rather than re-hash all the general arguments for and against gun control, I am interested in people's personal experiences/views about whether gun control laws would make them feel more or less safe.
Here are a couple of studies on the topic that I found interesting:
Two example findings:
Murder rates in Russia (where firearms are banned) are higher than the US.
Murder rates in Norway (32% home gun ownership) are much lower than the US.
These findings lead to the hypothesis that other factors (e.g. culture) have an important part to play alongside gun control (seems to make sense).
Indicates that the strictness of firearm legislation in US states is negatively correlated with firearm fatalities, both for homicides and suicides.
This study is interesting because it is more of a like-for-like comparison. I understand that the states in America have their own "sub-culture" but it seems likely that they are more similar to each other
than America is to, say, Norway or Russia.
The issue is of course not straightforward but, as I say, I am interested in people's personal views of their own safety.
I live in the UK and I am personally in favour of gun control laws. I understand the argument that people who don't obey laws won't obey gun control laws either. Obviously whatever you do there will still be
people who get hold of guns. However I would not feel safer having more guns around generally. I have heard people say that once someone has trespassed on your land they are "fair game" but I wholeheartedly do not agree with this. They have certainly broken the law but I do not automatically consider them to then be a valid target for gunfire. If someone breaks into my house to steal my TV I will try my best to stop them but I absolutely do not want to shoot them for this. Without training I am highly likely to maim or kill them by hot-headedly firing off a gun. The thief may be just some 19 year old kid who's gone off the rails a bit rather than a hardened criminal.
I concede that I have always lived in an environment where crime is low and this may bias my view which is why I am interested in other's experiences. Maybe someone's story will affect my views on it.
The best statistic I found was 3,800 accidental deaths per fire-arms in a five year period in the US. This statistic does not include non-fatal accidents which is much higher. This statistic does not include non-accidental deaths where children get access to guns which are not properly stored and are criminally used.
Another website quoted a lower statistic (claiming that many deaths was nothing) and that there are more deaths due to house fires and poisoning (between three and four times more likely).
First...note...that people die from house fires and poisoning all over the world. Gun accidents however are disproportionately high in the US. In any case...there would be a lot more deaths due to house fires and poisoning if there weren't tough regulation that you find in all western countries.
In Alaska all houses must be fitted with smoke detectors (and in some municipalities carbon monoxide detectors). Most objects that are sold are built to be flame retardant and all new renovations must involve fire resistant insulation and other features to avoid fires. As per guns...zero. No gun safe is mandatory. No training is mandatory. Safety training. Target practice. Proper firearm storage. Psychological assessment. The only safeguard there is...is the actual safety on the gun...which is easily switched off.
As per poisoning, chemicals must be clearly marked as toxic and are contained in hard plastic or metal containers. Labels warn you to (and it is common practice) to store them in ventilated rooms out of the reach of children). Children are taught in school to avoid touching containers with certain symbols. In high-school there are classes on how to deal with raw meat. In some rural areas children are taught about how to properly identify wild mushrooms. There are strict laws in selling expired food and all food must clearly be labelled with expiry dates. As for guns (at least in Alaska, Kentucky and a few other states). Zero. You can go out, buy a gun whenever you like, store it in a flimsy box in your night stand next to your bed. No regulation.
There are those who claim that even obliging gun owners to take even the smallest of training (an hour long safety course) or to use a proper gun safe...is tyrannical government control. And yet no one objects to smoke detectors, labeling toxic chemicals, insulation regulations, expiry dates on food and flame retardant fabrics in clothes and furniture. I can make the same comparison with regulations to avoid drowning in swimming pools, regulations for car safety (imagine how many more deaths there would be without them) or owning dangerous animals. I could go on. Next to everything that is dangerous where people die in notable numbers is regulated to avoid further death. Why not guns (in some states)?
I'm not sure what the point is in talking about gun control in the context of the United States. It would take a Constitutional Convention to ATTEMPT to even soften the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms.
Note that the right includes the right to keep arms as well as bear them: "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." I mention this because the idea I sometimes hear that people [the law abiding ones] might be required to keep their guns in a locker at the local police station. That, too, would be unconstitutional.
Reminds me of that old saying, "Let's talk about something we can talk about."
chemicals must be clearly marked as toxic
Wonderful! At least someone who wants to poison someone now knows what to look for.
Davis look down the first link I gave above for info and graphs on the things you talked about in the first 3 paragraphs.
You're reasoning about government safety regulations for cars, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, chemicals, .... plastic laundry bags, empty five gallon buckets, etc etc etc etc all sound good and are meant to stop accidents.
Please refer to the chart on that 1st link to see where "accidents" with guns rank in the big scale of accidents. Do you know that that #1 hand accident in ERs is people slicing bagels while holding them? Hey! Let's ban bagels! No... let's call it what it is. Slicing your hand open while halving a bagel isn't an accident. It's the type of stupidity that can only be cured through a learning process. Ban bagels and the same Fumb Duckers will cut their hands doing something else.
But... here's where transferring your reasoning about safety rules for smoke detectors, air bags for cars and warnings on toxic chemicals falls apart when applied to guns. Guns don't catch on fire or sit smoldering in an ashtray to shoot bullets after you doze off. Guns don't run stop signs and T bone cars. Bullets are not like side effects of otherwise useful insecticides or solvents.
To be honest, more than half the "accidents" with handguns aren't really accidents but fit into the same category as slicing bagels. Stamping out stupidity is playing whack a mole with experts at reinventing dumb faster than you can predict their next moves.
If you'll feel better about the few cases per year when a kid finds a parents gun and shots someone plying with it... drop my name in the hat for the drawing to be the guy who travels around to beat the crap out of dumb parents. I'll do it for minimum wage and a McDonalds gift card.
Your bagel comparison is funny but not a good one. My statistic quoted deaths not non-lethal accidents. And I referred to measures to reduce accidents, not outright ban guns.
Of course guns don't catch fire. Of course guns don't burn people. They shoot out bullets that pierce peoples organs and veins and arteries. The logic of accident comparison doesn't fall apart when you change from one potentially dangerous scenario to another. What are you talking about?
My point is that there is no such thing as an "accident" with a handgun that isn't the result of the actions of a human hand. A gun doesn't make a conscious choice on its own to shoot out bullets that pierce people's organs, veins and arteries.
Refer back to the 3rd paragraph of your comment in which you relate home fires and poisonings to guns
If there are no accidents with guns (by your definition) then there are no such thing as an accident with a bottle of caustic soda. A bottle of caustic soda doesn't consciously decide to open up and spill all over a child's eyeballs or down its throat. That kind of nonsense would happen far too often if the cap wasn't deigned to be very difficult for a child to open. And yet by law that cap must be childproof (along with many many other regulations, warnings, hardness of plastic, strengthened smell and taste) to avoid chemical burns and poisoning are put in place to keep that from happening. Imagine if there weren't any?
A fire doesn't consciously decide to suddenly ignite in a badly designed television with faulty wiring. There has to be an amount of human error in its construction (which fortunately is very limited due to regulation and safety standards and inspections) as well as it's handing at home. Thankfully someone can do something careless like drop a glass of water on top of the television but because of safety regulations the television is unlikely to short out and set on fire. And even if it did set on fire there are dozen and dozens of further regulations to ensure safety (such as using plastics that aren't extra toxic when burning, smoke detectors to catch the fire in time, flame retardant carpeting and curtains to stop the spread of fire). None of these objects behave consciously.
The comparisons are valid.
I wonder how many lives are lost each year due to the lack of a gun safety course? I don't know what the cost would be to require every gun owner to have to take one (though forcing people to take them might violate the 2nd Amendment as well), but whatever the expense, investing the money in driver training would be sure to save more.
Yes. I know it will never happen. But in any case I don't understand why any gun owner wouldn't want to have decent training (even if it was just a two hour course on safety, storage, maintenance and use and then a couple hours of supervised target practice). If one has a gun for self defense...it would certainly be very wise to get at least the most basic of training and target practice. And if it's for recreation...then some formal training with a professional might help you improve your shot (in case your family or friends weren't as amazing instructors as they firmly believe they are).
Keep in mind that In some states you do need to have training to use certain classes of weapons (assault weapons etc).
But you are right about driver training,,.there isn't enough in Canada, the US and some EU countries. It's mandatory in some EU countries to go to a driving school before you get your licence. This makes me feel at easy in Belgium and Spain. No...they don't trust your parents to teach you better than a well regulated driving instructor.
I wonder what sort of forehead-slapping knowledge could be imparted in a gun safety course that isn't also just plain common sense?
Most gun users have either been using guns most of their life (for hunting, mostly, I would assume) or have a friend who they will count on for basic training. That is why they'd likely want to opt out of gun safety training.
BTW, in contradiction to what I said above (consistency being the bugaboo of small minds), there really is little or no evidence that teen driver training reduces accidents or deaths.(source)
It turns out that the biggest problem with young drivers is that they are young.
Most gun users have either been using guns most of their life (for hunting, mostly, I would assume) or have a friend who they will count on for basic training.
Source? I personally have two friends in the US who bought a gun and store it in a flimsy box in their closet. They have never fired a gun before. This scares the absolute shit out of me.
As for driving lessons report you listed...I'm not surprised. The report only quotes driving lessons for young drivers who take lessons in high school driving programs and not in nationally coordinated certified driving schools (common in the EU). Nor does it account for the safety record of those who took lessons when they were young later on and their record in their adulthood. Nor does it cover adults going to certified driving schools.
Insurance companies (who have been doing their own research and statistics on the likelihood of accidents) give insurance premiums of up to 50% less for those who have attended driving schools for those who attained their original licence in some provinces in Canada and in EU countries which already have training programs they offer much cheaper insurance for those who transfer their license to the host country and had taken a recognised training course when they got their licence in the other country.
From a report by the EU
It is not easy to isolate the impact of training on a country’s road safety performance. Indeed, as new measures are often implemented together, their effects are combined and it is difficult to analyse their impact independently. In addition, training has a long-term impact, which makes assessment difficult, unlike other types of action such as enforcement action.
Nevertheless, statistics on the number of deaths per million inhabitants in the various Member States shows that the countries with the best results in the EU are those that also have a wide-spread road safety culture and a long experience in training. This is especially true for UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Finland, France, Spain, Denmark and Luxembourg. Most of these countries have set up structured detailed training programmes (Fig. 1: Fatalities by population in 2008). There is also evidence that some of these countries accomplished this 15 years ago, and still maintain the best results within the EU. Conversely the countries whose systems are the least effective are those in which the number of deaths per million inhabitants is higher than the European average.
Back to driver training one more time: "Nearly 5 percent of the 51,000 teens who took driver’s education had one or more reported accidents, compared with 1 percent of the 71,932 drivers without formal driver training."
This article (source of the above quote) makes for very interesting reading.