Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Giving It Our Best Shot

There has been an explosion of states approving “open carry” laws for loaded handguns which are visible to the general public. Some are completely permissive, others have varying degrees of stringency on licensed “open carry,” and some restrict where guns may be carried. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_carry_in_the_United_States for a list if you are interested. But the trends show that NRA lobbying has increased the number of states not only with more liberal rights to carry guns but has also increased the number of states that have liberalized when you can use them. Statutes that do not require people to retreat from hostile situations, from “stand your ground” laws (seehttp://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/states-that-have-stand-your-ground-laws.html for a list) to so-called “castle” laws (where you can shoot pretty much anyone in your home who doesn’t belong there; seehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine for another list), have also exploded in the past decade.
Here are some facts that have arisen in the recent spate of such “stand your ground” legislation (the law in 24 states), according to ThinkProgress.org. In Florida alone, 26 children and teens were killed under “stand your ground” laws.White-on-black homicides are 354 percent more likely to be ruled justified than white-on-white. And with expanding legitimized use of guns comes the underlying statistics that tell you the horrific results. Needless to say, the states with the most permissive gun laws have the highest homicide rates from guns as well.
“More than two-thirds of all homicides in the United States are gun-related. Of the 16,121 homicides reported in 2013, 11,208 were caused by gun violence. Including suicides, nearly 34,000 people died in gun-related incidents in 2013, up 13.8% from 10 years earlier.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps track of the number of gun-related deaths in each state. Fatalities include homicides, suicides, and accidents. The frequency of firearm-related deaths varies considerably across the country. In Hawaii, the state with the fewest gun-related fatalities, there were just 2.6 firearm-associated deaths per 100,000 people. In Alaska [a state with a strong gun culture], on the other hand, there were nearly 20 gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents, the most of any state. 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 states with the highest gun-related deaths…
“While federal gun laws are uniform across the country, state regulations vary, offering more lax or more strict approaches to firearm use. Seven of the 10 states with the most firearm deaths in 2013 have enacted stand your ground laws. In keeping with a state’s culture, [CDC’s figures with John] Roman explained, many states with these laws likely also have laws that make it easier to possess firearms and buy ammunition.
“In fact, none of the states with the most gun violence require permits to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns. Gun owners are also not required to register their weapons in any of these states. Meanwhile, many of the states with the least gun violence require a permit or other form of identification to buy a gun.
“Gun-related homicides were also relatively frequent in the states with the most gun violence. Nationally, there were 3.61 homicides per 100,000 people. Seven of the 10 states with the most gun violence reported homicide rates higher than the national rate. Louisiana is one of only four states in the country where homicides accounted for a larger share of firearm deaths than suicides. In 2013, Louisiana reported nearly 10 homicides per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.” Huffington Post, June 12th.
How about some more, specific statistics? “Johns Hopkins researchers published a study to estimate the effect of Missouri’s repeal of its PTP [permit required to purchase] law on murder rates. Firearm-related homicide rates increased abruptly following the law’s repeal and were 25% higher in the first three years and four months post repeal than was the case during the prior nine years. This sharp increase in firearm homicide rates in Missouri was unusual because none of the states bordering Missouri nor the nation as a whole experienced significant increases in firearm homicide rates during that time period. Substantial increases in firearm homicides were observed in urban and suburban counties throughout the state. Statistical analyses controlled for a variety of factors that might account for the sharp increases in homicide rates (policing levels, incarceration rates, poverty, unemployment, and other changes in public policies). The law’s repeal was associated with a 14% increase in Missouri’s murder rates through 2012 (about 50 lives per year) and a 25% increase in firearm homicides through 2010.” Published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, March 15th.
Or this abstract summary contained in a recently-released study, Association Between Connecticut’s Permit-to-Purchase Handgun Law and Homicides, prepared by Kara E. Rudolph, Elizabeth A. Stuart, Jon S. Vernick, and Daniel W. Webster published in the American Journal of Public Heath on June 11th: “Objectives. We sought to estimate the effect of Connecticut’s implementation of a handgun permit-to-purchase law in October 1995 on subsequent homicides…Methods. Using the synthetic control method, we compared Connecticut’s homicide rates after the law’s implementation to rates we would have expected had the law not been implemented. To estimate the counterfactual, we used longitudinal data from a weighted combination of comparison states identified based on the ability of their prelaw homicide trends and covariates to predict prelaw homicide trends in Connecticut… Results. We estimated that the law was associated with a 40% reduction [estimated 296 lives saves] in Connecticut’s firearm homicide rates during the first 10 years that the law was in place. By contrast, there was no evidence for a reduction in nonfirearm homicides.”
But instead of facts like these, we get these cute slogans from the gun manufacturer’s lobby, the National Rifle Association, which no politician dare oppose: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It’s just that with guns they kill more people. "When guns are outlawed...only outlaws will have guns!" “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And other wildly inaccurate gibberish with zero basis in fact.
The problem is that when the good guy turns into a bad guy, from rage or malice, there’s no one there to take the gun away. And if we are having so much controversy with police shootings, professionals who are theoretically trained in the use of deadly force, why is it we have so much faith in untrained amateurs?
I’m Peter Dekom, and not only doesn’t the Second Amendment require such liberal gun laws, we are out of our minds lying to ourselves about how righteous gun ownership is for society.

No comments: