Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ready, aim, fire...

One of my commenters sent me this link to prove a point on his side of the issue. You can check this out yourself to see if you think this proves that people who have guns for self defense can defend themselves with accuracy. I kind of like this quote from the article the commenter sent to me: " Originally, Troyer said the intruder was hit by a bullet fired by the homeowner, but Wednesday evening, Troyer said their investigation revealed that the the man was actually struck by a bullet from his accomplice's gun. It appears his accomplice tried to shoot the homeowner but missed and hit his partner instead." 


So here is my take. Two intruders broke in and pistol whipped a woman in the home. One went outside to bring the stolen items to his car ( pretty bad move on his part actually). When he headed back to the house, the boyfriend of the woman who was attacked started shooting at the intruders. One of the intruders was killed but now it seems that he was not killed by the home owner, shooting in self defense. So the bullet that struck the intruder was shot by his own accomplice. Hmmm. As I mentioned when I commented on this link on my blog post, this article actually supports what I have been writing. You can't always defend yourself accurately with a gun as you might think. Had the accomplice not been there to shoot his partner (presumably by mistake), would the guy with the shot gun have been able to kill the intruder before he, himself, was shot? Once he made that decision to shoot, the level of violence intensified and bullets started flying. One also wonders, but we can't know this, if the intruders would have left with their "booty" without doing any more damage to the couple. This story is further complicated by the statement at the end that this did not appear to be a random crime. That would lead us to believe that these people knew each other. So one intruder was killed by taking a bullet meant for the homeowner and the other escaped. I am not sure if this is a satisfactory ending or not. We may hear more about this yet.


My point has never been that people do not have a right to defend themselves in their homes with guns. That is a choice that many people make though at this time, it is still a minority of homes that have guns. So if someone wants to say I would take away this right, they are wrong. What I am saying and have said many many times on my blog and elsewhere is that guns in the home for self defense can lead to shooting someone you know or love in an act of jealousy, rage, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, depression, domestic dispute, upset over loss of a job, etc. I have also provided many examples of shootings gone wrong for police or anyone holding a loaded gun. Adrenaline can take over or in the rush of the moment, a gun does not always aim where the shooter wants it to. People I know who have gone through simulated police situations requiring them to decide when to shoot, who to shoot and when not to shoot have told me that in most instances, either they themselves were "killed" or they totally missed the "bad guy". Unexpected things happen when people have to act in a split second in a scary situation. People shoot themselves sometimes or someone else by mistake. These things do happen. Guns can be dangerous. I am talking and writing about common sense and I hope that all gun owners will have it and use it.

38 comments:

  1. My point has never been that people do not have a right to defend themselves in their homes with guns.

    Do people have a right to defend themselves with firearms outside of their homes?

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  2. According to the US DoJ, there are over 1.5 Million defensive uses of guns per year. Yet, there are only 30,000 gun deaths, the majority of which are criminal on criminal crime, or suicides.

    The number of actual innocent victims of gun crime compared to the 1.5 Million defensive uses, makes the correct policy choice rather easy.

    Those is the public place who choose to be armed, should have the unfettered right to carry. Those who do not wish to carry, should opt out. Those criminals who choose to carry, should be thrown in jail for long terms when they are caught.

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  3. Ok, I understand your statement "My point has never been that people do not have a right to defend themselves in their homes with guns" and I will not argue with it.

    "Once he made that decision to shoot, the level of violence intensified and bullets started flying. "

    This is wrong. Once someone has offered you deadly violence by showing you a gun, knife, or other weapon, it cannot get any worse. I think that this is your major difference with me. For all the other things that we have argued about, this is the biggest. You cannot defend the belief that shooting at an armed, violent intruder is worse (or more violent) than his displaying a firearm and beating people with it. Once a person has shown he has the ability, opportunity, and places you or a loved one in jeopardy, it has gotten as violent as it can get. You are arguing that the victim in this case has some sort of responsibility to minimize the carnage due to the home invasion. This cannot be correct.

    Again, I understand that you are not arguing that we may not or should not use deadly force in our homes to protect our lives.

    "One also wonders, but we can't know this, if the intruders would have left with their 'booty' without doing any more damage to the couple.”

    You are right, we can't know, nor should we care what the intentions were. You cannot argue that the criminal telling the couple, "Your money or your life!" constitutes a binding social contract.

    "Unexpected things happen when people have to act in a split second in a scary situation."

    Now you are preaching to the choir. We understand that not everything will go according to plan. We all hope that, should things go south, we will end up on top, TV drama style. We recognize and accept that we might die instead. We accept that risk because without deadly force available to us our options are limited to whatever the criminal decides, and frequently they decide that we will die anyway.

    Whoever shot the criminal, the homeowner won the encounter. He's alive and the criminal is dead. It should not be too difficult to understand who won that one.

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  4. I think it depends on if the state has a "Shoot First" or "Stand Your Ground Law" As to the 1.5 million instances of self defense- that is really undocumented and very much in question. If we had that many people defending themselves every day with a gun, we would be reading about it in the paper like the instance I wrote about. I know that the pro-gun people say this but it's pretty hard to prove.

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  5. " You cannot defend the belief that shooting at an armed, violent intruder is worse (or more violent) than his displaying a firearm and beating people with it. Once a person has shown he has the ability, opportunity, and places you or a loved one in jeopardy, it has gotten as violent as it can get."

    I am not saying that, Sean. I admit that this man had a right to get out his gun to shoot the person who he felt was endangering his life. I am just saying that it doesn't always go as planned. I find it pretty interesting that you understand that you could die defending your home. I guess that would be true whether you had a gun or not. I am saying that having a gun sometimes increases the chance that more violence will ensue. There is a chance, and we agreed, that the criminals would have left without doing more damage and they would have gotten away which would not be a good thing. But there is also a chance that the home owner would have been shot and the criminals would still have gotten away. I don't disagree with everything you said, above.

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  6. "I am saying that having a gun sometimes increases the chance that more violence will ensue"

    I think you are still thinking of the homeowner shooting as an increase in violence. There violence level was maxed out at the time the intruders displayed the ability to kill their victims. I know that you aren't saying that he was wrong. I just think that you see his actions as an escalation. They were not, either morally or legally, an escalation.

    You have repeatedly said that "arguments get out of hand and lead to murders if there is a gun present." This is a different argument entirely than the one we are currently having. I think that it is still wrong because it posits the existance of a person who would not commit murder in the absence of a weapon, but would commit murder if he had one. This is wrong. It is easily disproved as a simple walk through your own house will show you a pile of usable weapons. You are right that they are not as easy to use as a gun, but for the simple act of murdering an intimate partner, a frying pan across the head while he is sleeping would do the trick. You should remember that the decision to murder is rarely a spur of the moment decision. The gun doesn't magically appear in your hand. You have to retrieve it. Very few people have anger management problems to the point that they will resort to murder. Almost none of them have that kind of anger management problem without having previous run ins with the law. Ask your local cops about how often the murders they deal with have a previous record.

    "I find it pretty interesting that you understand that you could die defending your home. I guess that would be true whether you had a gun or not."

    Well, of course I could die. I'm not deluded. I just think that my life is forfeit anyway and I might as well go down shooting. Also, I have a wife, and I am unwilling to live through her being harmed. My life is not so valuable to me that I will preserve it at the cost of her life or safety. I have an absolute duty to stand between her and danger. I do not wish to spend the rest of my life remembering that I did nothing when she was in danger. You have kids, I'm sure that you understand.

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  7. I believe, Sean, that many people who have shot someone have anger management problems. They are not criminals either. They are often domestic abusers and if they are not reported, they often kill their spouses or partners. Sometimes even if they are reported they shoot someone. It is not just criminals shooting people out there. Most homicides are among people who know each other. And the comment you quoted was not meant necessarily for that situation but a more general comment about having a gun in your home.

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  8. "Most homicides are among people who know each other."

    This might be true, but not the way you mean it. The implication is that murders are killing family members in large numbers. This simply isn't true. The numbers are Family 13.6%, Other Known 30.2%, Unknown 43.9%, and Stranger 12.3%. Why this adds up to 101% you will have to ask the FBI. The Other Known category includes both friends and non-friends. The largest category in raw numbers is “Acquaintance” - 2,941 out of a total of 13,636. All data is from the latest (2009) FBI Uniform Crime Report.
    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/expanded_information/homicide.html

    If you add the Family and Other Known, you get 5,974. The Unknown category alone is 5,986. The Stranger is 1,676. Let’s add it up a different way. Let’s take all the Family, 1,855, and add in Boyfriend 138, and Girlfriend 472, because they are intimate partners, and sort of family. That makes 2,040. That is still 901 FEWER that just the subcategory, Acquaintance.

    Please stop using this myth to imply that “people who know each other” is somehow equivalent to “family members.”

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  9. Are we talking about firearm homicides here? That is what I meant. The total there comes to over 12,000 a year. Here is from the National Violent Death Reporting System: " Sixty-six percent of all murders are committed with guns. The location of homicides (all methods) varies by gender: 73 percent of female murder victims are killed in the home, while 45 percent of men are killed in the home. Twenty-six percent of men are killed on the street.

    For homicides for which data were available (65 percent), almost 40 percent of homicides were related to an argument or conflict not related to money or property, one third were precipitated by another crime, and 20 percent were domestic violence related (note: more than one reason can apply to the same incident). Of the homicides precipitated by another crime, in most cases the crime was in progress at the time of the incident. Thirty-seven percent were precipitated by a robbery; 23 percent by an assault." " Relationship problems, interpersonal conflicts, mental-health problems, and recent crises are among the primary precipitating factors of violent deaths." And from your favorite place- the Violence Policy Center- " For firearm homicides in 2000, where the victim-offender relationship could be identified, more than half of the victims were either related to (eight percent), intimately acquainted with (16 percent), or knew (45 percent) their killers. Only 31 percent of homicide victims were killed by strangers. For female victims, where the victim-offender relationship was known, the majority (58 percent) were killed by their intimate acquaintances. " And this about unintentional shootings:" In almost half of unintentional shooting deaths (49 percent), the victim is shot by another person. In virtually all of these cases, the shooter and victim knew each other (Hemenway, p. 1184)." I will try to find more info. later. Gotta leave now.

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  10. japete --

    I don't think that any intelligent person is going to disagree with you that guns are dangerous, and that dangerous items in the hands of irresponsible or emotionally-unstable people can lead to tragedies.

    Where I sense we'll disagree is over the risk-benefit analysis. You believe that having a gun is a significant risk which has very little potential upside, whereas I believe having a gun is a very manageable risk with a very large potential upside.

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  11. It may be biased media, but I hear a lot more stories of the legally armed shooting armed criminals, or of them scaring the criminals away than of criminals shooting the legally armed.

    The reality (based on statistics rather than personal experience) is that 90-95% of the time if a legally armed person pulls a gun, the other guy will either comply or run away. As a legally armed person myself, those are the best outcomes to a bad situation--I don't get hurt, and I don't have to shoot anyone.

    Police training scenarios are designed to be challenging for trained police, and not representative of what an armed civilian is likely to face.

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  12. Seriously Joan? Are you seriously plannin on arguing with the raw 2009 FBI Uniform Crime Data by referencing 10 year old info that has been generalized? And you are planning on doing it on the basis that the FBI UCR hasn't broken this part of the data down by weapon? Are you seriously planning on arguing that the relationship data is significantly different for guns than for other weapons? Please go back and read the link and see the raw data for yourself. I'm not making the info up. It's the latest info, from the FBI. They can't be said to have an agenda in this, they just gather and report the data.

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  13. Sean, I am clarifying that what I am talking about specifically is gun death and injury and gun homicides. From the report you cited: " Of the homicides for which the FBI received weapons data, most (71.8 percent) involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 70.5 percent of all firearms used in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in 2009. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 8.)
    In 2009, 24.2 percent of victims were slain by family members; 53.8 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.)." and this: " Of the female murder victims for whom their relationships to the offenders were known, 34.6 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Tables 2 and 10.)
    Of the murders for which the circumstance surrounding the murder was known, 41.2 percent of victims were murdered during arguments (including romantic triangles) in 2009. Felony circumstances (rape, robbery, burglary, etc.) accounted for 22.9 percent of murders. Circumstances were unknown for 35.4 percent of reported homicides. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 12.)" If I have my numbers right, this verifies what I said before. 24% plus 53% ( above)= 77% of people murdered were murdered by either a family member or someone they knew? Are you looking at the same data or did you just come to a different conclusion from the data in the article? I can't see what your problem is here? I don't know if you can add up these figures since the 43% of unknown murderers would add up to more than 100%. But it sure is clear to me that the majority of homicide victims for whom they did not state were specifically gun murders, are murdered by someone they know. In addition, the article clearly states: " Of the homicides for which the FBI received weapons data, most (71.8 percent) involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 70.5 percent of all firearms used in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in 2009. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 8.)"

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  14. Joan,

    I know my neighbor. We've talked a grand total of 3 times in the 6 years I've lived in my house.

    Drug Dealers know their buyers also -- heck some of them have probably talked to them about more things then I've talked to my neighbors

    The point of the argument is the definition of 'acquaintance' is very loose and nearly meaningless.

    Yet you use it to indicate that best friends are killing each other in droves and gun owners are unstable.

    Considering that there are more than 50,000,000 gun owners and less than 13,000 murders a year -- isn't it a stretch to say many/most/a significant number of gun owners have a problem?

    Let's do the math there -- 13,000 divided by 50,000,000 multiple the result by 100 to express as a percentage = 0.026%.

    And that is if every murder was committed by a different gun owner!!

    So, instead of focusing on the tool that 0.026% of gun owners misuse -- why not focus on the criminals, eh?

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  15. The elephant in the room is the statement "for which a relationship is known." The Unknown category alone was 43.9%!

    I'll spend some quality time with the FBI UCR this weekend and send you a link to the blog post I write about the data.

    Let me clarify my argument. You keep claiming that "most victims knew their killer." You seem to think that this means that there was a relationship of some sort, whether intimate or family. The data shows that the single largest subcategory in 2009 was "aquaintence," which excludes all family, neighbors,co workers, and intimate partners. This is why we argue about "ordinary people suddenly snap." It really isn't true. I'll work on the data and send you something. Droids are not good for this type of data analysis.

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  16. Your math illudes me here. As to:" The point of the argument is the definition of 'acquaintance' is very loose and nearly meaningless. Yet you use it to indicate that best friends are killing each other in droves and gun owners are unstable."- that's you saying what I'm saying and it is not what I'm saying. This is to say that most homicides are not random in nature but intended to kill someone the shooter or murderer knows. That means that they have a gripe or revenge, etc. Many of the murders, like my sister's and other domestic abuse murders, are committed by people who were not criminals before they pulled the trigger.

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  17. O.K. Sean. You will have your evidence and I will have mine, most likely.

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  18. Brett said, "You believe that having a gun is a significant risk which has very little potential upside, whereas I believe having a gun is a very manageable risk with a very large potential upside."

    Well, your idea of manageable might be very different than mine. For you, it might seem manageable that you keep a loaded gun under the bed or in the closet. You might have young kids and still consider that manageable. You may think it's manageable to own a gun anonymously and whenever you want sell it or give it to someone else who may turn out to be even less responsible than you. I'm not OK with any of that.

    Then we've got the large potential upside. Would that count even if the chances of your actually needing the gun to save lives is about the same as being hit by a meteorite. You might say yes, using the old gun logic that even though it's unlikely, the consequenses are so grave you need to be prepared. I say the "large potential upside" is nothing more than pro-gun jibber jabber. Most gun owners have no more need of a gun than I do. Since the upside is extremely unlikely compared to the downside, owning a gun is a lose-lose situation.

    That's generally speaking. There are exceptions.

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  19. I almost forgot I wanted to say a word about jeremy's 1,5 million DGUs.

    BULL

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  20. The beauty of you disagreement with our differing risk management strategies is that it doesn't affect you. If you are not "OK" with these things, don't do them. Your life, your choice.

    "Bull"
    Nice riposte. I see the depth of your evidence in each syllable. I guess you have told the DOJ exactly what you think of them and their data.

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  21. "I admit that this man had a right to get out his gun to shoot the person who he felt was endangering his life. I am just saying that it doesn't always go as planned."

    Considering what happens when things do go as planned (e.g., Virginia Tech), we could do with a little less having things go as planned.

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  22. " Unexpected things happen when people have to act in a split second in a scary situation."

    And yet the Brady Campiagn claims all will be calm while you take out your cell phone, dial 911, talk to the dispatcher and wait 20 minutes for someone with a gun to arrive.

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  23. Does the Brady Campaign say that?

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  24. Japete - don't know if they say that in the exact words, but if they don't want you to use a gun to defend yourself, what other options do you have?

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  25. As you read in my post, the Brady Campaign and people like me are saying that guns in the home can be dangerous and often get used in ways that are not for self defense, but for killing someone you know or love or in an accidental shooting. We are not saying you should not have a gun for self defense if that is what you choose. Sometimes it may work out that you do defend yourself. Sometimes not. It's a risk/benefit analysis and more often comes out on the side of the risk than the benefit. If you live in a rural area where L.E. can't respond as fast as in an urban area, you may feel more like you need that gun for self protection. There are other things to do such as security systems, locking first floor windows and doors, etc. I know those don't always work either. I stated what I feel in my post so I won't repeat what I said.

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  26. Japete why do you keep referring to your self separately when talking about the Brady Campaign? It is my understanding that you are very active in the Duluth chapter or what ever you call the subgroup. If you were the President of the Northland Chapter and the Million Mom March Chapters’ national representative to the Board of Directors of the Brady Campaign. I would think that you would use that and not act like you are not a part of that group.

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  27. Sean: "The beauty of you disagreement with our differing risk management strategies is that it doesn't affect you. If you are not "OK" with these things, don't do them. Your life, your choice."

    Sorry Sean it's not that simple. The fact that you and many others like you choose to have guns for self defense does not only affect you, it affects me and everyone else too. You guys keep letting those guns slip through your hands and end up with the criminals. Some of you yourselves become criminals. That's why we need proper laws, better controls and more screening and training.

    But, you don't like that because it would inconvenience you too much. So you exaggerate all kinds of reasons why these initiatives are unconstitutional and violate people's rights and you fight to prevent and block them.

    That's bad Sean.

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  28. mikeb --

    As Sean said, the nice thing about living in a free society is that it can accommodate people with wildly different assessments of and tolerances for risk. If you're not "OK" with things you think are unwise, don't do them.

    japete --

    In other words, you're trying to drive home the point that having a gun in the home is a greater risk than many of us seem to think?

    Well, I appreciate that, but with no disrespect intended, I don't really need you to tell me that having a lethal weapon in the house can end badly. I had a close childhood friend commit suicide with his dad's handgun. I'm thus pretty intimately familiar with the potential for tragedy in a way that goes beyond the criminological data.

    I nevertheless keep guns in my home because I believe that, with a few sensible precautions, the likelihood of something like that happening is vanishingly small.

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  29. To Anon above- I have made it clear that this blog is my own and my own opinions. I am not speaking officially for any group. Yes, I am very active with a Brady Campaign chapter in Duluth and in Minnesota and am also active nationally.

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  30. It's a free country, Brett. I am just pointing out the risks and the incidents of shootings when loaded guns are in the home.

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  31. As to Mike B.'s comments- I found early on that the gun guys are more than happy to give me advise and admonish me for my opinions and my facts. It doesn't bother me since if it is good advise, I will take it. If it's not, I ignore it an move on. I am only pointing things out that I find to be problems and concerns regarding guns and gun violence and getting people to join me in preventing gun injuries and deaths. I am not trying to give them advise other than to stop harassing and badgering me and keeping the blog from becoming a place where they can call me names and get into the blame game. Every once in a while, I get annoyed and maybe get in their faces more than I intend. I am only human. Thanks for hanging in there with your own comments. You will notice that the my gun guy friends are more than happy to keep going with a point until it is worn and not useful any more. But you may remember that Sean, I think, advised me to change the same old message by talking about it differently to get some attention. I did find that be good advise. But telling me to keep quiet and to just go away because my positions are useless and I am just a nobody, or hateful or malicious or many of the other names I have been called but am not publishing, just won't work. Remember, "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me."

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  32. "you may remember that Sean, I think, advised me to change the same old message by talking about it differently to get some attention"

    Actually, it was Sebastian, over on the "Guns- post election" post, that said

    "This is the bloggers lament, really. My advise is to learn new and creative ways to rehash the same ground, over and over again."

    He was trying to point out that when you have a narrow focus (like gun bloggers do) you end up having to cover the same ground a lot. The same things come up over and over again. He wasn't advising you to do it to gain attention, he was pointing out to you that you will have to be creative in addressing the same issues over and over again because you will get bored and start to hate blogging if you don't.

    In case you were unaware, Sebastian runs one of the major gun blogs, Snowflakes in Hell.

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  33. Thanks, Sean. I am not aware of that. I'm sure his blog is far superior to mine, though, since he and others are more than willing to offer me advice.

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  34. here's that post analyzing the FBI UCR data I promised.

    http://ncguns.blogspot.com/2010/11/murder-by-numbers-or-why-is-everyone.html

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  35. Thanks, Sean. I do not have the time to examine this as thoroughly as I would like. It seeems that we are still comparing apples to oranges, however. I am and continue to write about gun deaths in particular. These graphs are for murder in general. And don't try saying I don't care about those murders by other means because I do as I have stated many times. But when I am blogging, I am blogging about gun deaths and the figures I am using, as I have provided, do still show that the majority of gun deaths are acqaintance or family related.

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  36. "show that the majority of gun deaths are acqaintance or family related."

    That's clearly not true. The specific wording of the statement above was "For firearm homicides in 2000, where the victim-offender relationship could be identified." That excludes between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the murder victims because they couldn't figure out if there was any relationship at all.

    Even when you only look at known relationships, aquaintance doesn't mean what you think it means. You have to look to see what constitutes "Acquaintance." It excludes all family members, all friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, employers and employees. What's left after you exclude all that? For the most part, people do not randomly murder strangers. There is usually a reason. It might be a stupid or sick reason, but they have a reason. You work with the police, surely? Go ask them for a list of all the people that were murdered in Minneapolis and St. Paul for the last 5 years. Then ask them to indicate how many were drug/gang related.

    If we accept your premise that "gun deaths" are somehow different than total deaths, (I don't, but you know that) in order to impeach this data, you have to show that the subset of firearm related murder affects a different demographic than non-firearm related murder. I don't think that you can do that.

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  37. Check out WISQARS. We have been through this before and that CDC report shows that I am right about numbers of homicides from guns. Yes,many gun deathsare gang related. Those are acqaintances on the numbers. The point is that the minority are random.

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  38. I only like stats that support my side of the argument, sort of like Sean.

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