Monday, June 20, 2016

A calm look at guns in America


I saw Donald Trump on the news today talking about the tragedy in Orlando, saying it would have ended much differently if there had been some armed good guys in the crowd able to shoot back. I've never heard a more naive statement in my life!

First of all, it is extremely difficult to hit a target, even a man-sized target, at more than 15-20 yards with a handgun.  I've seen people at the gun range shooting at a stationary paper target who miss as often as not from that distance.  Go try it for yourself and see what I mean.  

Now throw in a real live crazed person, armed, shooting back, and hundreds of people screaming and running in every direction.  Mix in a healthy shot of adrenaline, and perhaps more than a little alcohol (remember, it was a nightclub/bar), and your odds drop to near zero.  

What does go up are your chances of hitting innocent bystanders, and if that happens you are responsible for where your rounds abruptly stop.  Dumb idea Donald!  He obviously has never been shot at, and probably has never even fired a gun.

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There are competing bills before Congress right now seeking to prohibit those on the "no fly" list from being able to buy firearms.  Neither side is being honest with us.  Despite what they say they are NOT sincerely wanting such reforms.  Both the Democrats and Republicans have attached some of their pet partisan causes to their respective bills that they know the opposition will shoot down.  (Oooo....sorry.  Bad pun.)  

If they would both put aside their politics and put forth a stand-alone "no fly-no buy" bill,  they might possibly make a deal.  The fact that they won't, in the wake of the Orlando massacre, says all you need to know about Washington politicians.  They're more interested in vying for political advantage than working for us.


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Despite what we hear on the 24/7 news, our country is NOT becoming more dangerous as more guns get into the hands of more Americans.  (FYI...according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, gun production is up 140% during the Obama presidency.)


Comparing 1993 to 2009 (I couldn't find a more current chart) you'll see that the homicide rate by firearm, the suicide rate by firearm, and the accidental death rate by firearm are down 44%, 19%, and 69%, respectively, all while the population increased by 18%.  While even one death is one too many, my point is the trend is down, not up.  We are NOT sinking into anarchy!

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For some reason many people still think of my Texas as a land of tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, and gunslingers.  They're only slightly wrong.  *wink*  Here is a fact you might find interesting about us Texans and our guns:

Through the end of 2015, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (who issues "right-to-carry" handgun licenses) there were 937,419 citizens actively permitted to carry a gun.  I'm one of them.  That sounds like a lot of people running around with guns on their persons, doesn't it?  But despite this, with 43,924 total violent felonies of all types committed in Texas that year, only 108 were committed by right-to-carry license holders.  This is a minuscule .2459% committed by gun toters.  The vetting process works!


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Those who are strong proponents of gun control often point to Australia and the UK as examples of how the state can outlaw (virtually all) guns and all will soon be well.  Those are not good apples-to-apples comparisons with the US.

In 1996 Australia prohibited almost all citizens from owning guns.  Through a buy-back program, approximately 700,000 guns were sold back or voluntarily turned in to the government, and another 260,000 were suspected still clandestinely held.  At the time Australia's population was 18.3 million people.  Statistically that means 960,000 guns were in the hands of private citizens, or .0524 guns per person.

In 1988 the UK (not including Northern Ireland) prohibited their citizens from owning most types of guns.  Through a buy-back program, approximately 162,000 guns were sold back or voluntarily turned in to the government.  At that time the population of the entire UK was 56.7 million people, which translates to .00028 guns per person.

In the US today, with a population of 323.8 million people, there are estimated to be between 310 and 350 MILLION guns in private hands, or (statistically) one gun per person.  Honestly now, what do you think the odds are of getting American gun ownership numbers down to levels even remotely close to the levels of Australia and the UK pre-ban, much less post-ban?  

Of course we can try to clean up our act, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking we can pass some new gun control laws and then launch into a rousing chorus of Kum Baya.  This is why I realistically say we need to focus first of all on getting guns out of the hands of those (relative) few who are causing most of our problems.  Such a plan would cause minimal inconvenience to the majority of people who are causing no problems in the first place, likely gaining their support for more targeted measures later on.  Think this through, friends.  We're chasing windmills.

Knee jerk reactions seldom work out well.  Just sayin'.

S  

   

9 comments:

  1. It disturbs me that so many of my fellow citizens are ignorant of our history. Arming everyone won't make us safer. After the Civil War nearly every adult male had a weapon, courtesy of the Union Army or the Confederacy. Crime jumped significantly after the war. Arming everyone is a stupid idea.

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  2. Well, we've had this discussion numerous times, my view remains in a post I did some months ago.
    http://memoirsofacardiopulmonaryguy.blogspot.com/2016/03/revisiting-dead-horse-finding-signs-of.html#comment-form

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    1. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  3. I just read a statistic that of those people who own guns, less people carry them than they did a few years ago. That surprised me.

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  4. Once again, I have been on the ' NO FLY LIST ' twice. It was a simple mistake both times and took a letter to Senator both times to get removed. Big deal you might say, but when you are packed and reservations are paid and dreams of a grand vacation are in your mind. It is a big deal at the Airport check in. " Sorry honey, you want to go without me? ". The no fly list is not a vetted system and for sure should not be used to take away a RIGHT we have as USA citizens. These both happened when I was a Part 121 pilot and held a CCW permit. I been assured this will not happen again ( still get nervous at check in). I now have a KTN and NCIS EXEMP card. That is what you get after being screwed twice and submitting to an investigation and giving your DNA.

    The press does not let people know how bad the NFL is. Anyone can say anything about you and boom, you can not get on a plane. The system is broken and should be shut down or overhauled. It for sure should not limit the sale of a gun. By the way..what happened to the seven day wait?

    Just yesterday I went for a cheap pizza date with a friend ( a Class III Dealer ). He always wears a leather jacket lined with Kevlar and carries a 454 Casull in a shoulder holster. I am poor and carry a 40 Keltec in my back waist band. Open carry is allowed in Alaska and a twenty something kid came in with parents and had a Glock on his belt. All was cool and OK. I did wonder as I ate, how many around me had something packing. Would any of us been able to stop a hyped up psycho with an AR,FN,etc. Probably only my friend, when the guy was aiming somewhere else or changing mags.

    We talked about this as we drove to the shooting range. He and I agree on: 20 round mag limit. Worked in Nam and Korea. Also time to stop AR, AK, short gun sales. Just geezers ideas.

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    1. Great points you make. As you say, anyone can start a rumor about you and BOOM, you're on the no fly list. Can you envision a way to quickly vet a person, say within 24 hours? Does it require some full fledged FBI investigation? Any bill that would link taking away your second amendment rights with the NFL would have to include a quick, expedited appeal process with it. It is a slippery slope, and bound to be constitutionally challenged in court.

      Regarding trying to stop a crazed gunman in a crowded environment by armed civilians....can you imagine the cross-fire? That would do the terrorists work for him!

      It's always nice to talk to a sane, mature, reasonable gun owner. Too often we're portrayed as some sort of knuckle-dragging toothless bubbas. :)

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  5. The horse is already out of the barn. There are an estimated 8 to 9 million AR-15’s alone out there now, much less all the other assault weapons. The AR-15 was designed for the military and even the family of the inventor said he never intended it for civilian use.

    Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47," the Stoner family told NBC News. "He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events."

    One statistic in all the mass shootings that stands out is 20 - 6. Twenty elementary children and six teachers killed with assault weapons. Six and seven year old children! You would have thought that this would have been the one defining moment that would convince this country that assault weapons are out of control. But, the mass shootings with assault weapons continues.

    All the rhetoric from the NRA about “good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns” and “the government is coming to take away your guns” is bull crap. We regulate virtually everything else in this country, but military style assault weapons get a pass. Until our worthless Congress gets the balls enough to stand up to the NRA the killings with assault weapons will go on.

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    1. As I said above, if either party would propose a stand-alone bill that addressed JUST the gun show loophole, or JUST the assault weapons issue, they might surprise themselves with the popular support from the people they would receive. But they don't. Instead they load up otherwise reasonable bills with add-on partisan issues, making it an all-or-none, take-it-or-leave-it bill that is DOA. Don't like what Congress does? I say vote 'em all out!

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