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.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Myth busters...

As we celebrate Presidents' Day, it's instructive to learn the truth and the myths about various American Presidents. Wasn't it George Washington who said, "I cannot tell a lie"? Of course, we all know how real incidents get misconstrued over time and in the re-telling of them. So we don't know for sure whether our first President made this statement. But it's a nice tale and it's reassuring to think that our Presidents don't tell lies. In real life, we know that is not true. But it's an aspiration that all Presidents should have, in my opinion. Since I am blogging about guns, gun control and the gun lobby and the issues that surround this American controversy, I have been writing about gun lobby myths and actual real life incidents about shootings. I don't fabricate the stories. Still, though, the pro gun extremists don't believe much of what I say. I really try not to tell lies. We'd all be better off if more of the truth about shootings and gun use see the light of day.

Last week, I linked to a blog by the Propaganda Professor about the gun lobby's myth that more guns are used for self defense than the number of actual shootings and gun crimes in this country. Of course, some of my readers didn't buy it and didn't believe that the blogger was telling the truth. And then my last post highlighted the Republicans attempts to deal with women's health issues and the gun issue from only a male perspective. I wrote about women being more at risk from guns for self defense than in using them in actual self defense. One of my readers sent me proof that the blogger was wrong and that he, himself, "Patrick Henry", knows the truth about DGUs. (And why does he take the name of Patrick Henry? Anyone remember who this famous American was?)

But I digress. Here are the examples Patrick Henry sent me from various news sources involving women scaring off intruders with guns. (He really wants to start a business selling guns to women, he mentioned in a different comment, if he can only get the capital. So if he uses these stories, he can drum up fear and paranoia among women to get them to buy his guns.) But here, then, are the examples ( you will have to copy and paste):
I could, of course, up the anti by providing the daily stories of women being killed by bullets in domestic shootings. Unfortunately for Patrick Henry, the examples he sent are just more proof that the Propaganda Professor is telling the truth. From the links included in Patrick Henry's comments, there was one incident from Dec. of 2010, one from Sept. of 2010, one from March, 2011, three from Dec., 2011, and 4 from Jan. 2012. In other words, not very many.  None of the linked incidents resulted in the death of the intruder or offender. One was the result of a mistake made by a woman who loaned a man her phone to make a call and then he returned to her home later with a gun. One happened when a woman apparently left her screen door unlocked while taking a shower- never a good idea. A few resulted in an actual shot being fired. One could argue that the outcome in some of the "DGUs" would have been the same with our without the gun. And the incident involving the old woman who fended off 3 intruders with a gun is a prime example of how guns get into the illegal market. The intruders somehow knew that the house contained safes in the basement with lots of guns in them. It seemed to be common knowledge that the woman was a widow and had these guns. Guns are among the item of choice for burglars looking for things of value when they break into homes. So if the word gets out that you have a lot of guns stored in your home, it is inevitable that you will need a gun to protect yourself from those who want your guns.

So we know for a fact that each day, on average, 80 Americans die from gunshot injuries from accidents, suicides and homicides. Of these, 32 are gun homicides. That's 32 dead people a day making it about 962 a month, on average! The gun lobby simply cannot come up with a number even close to that per month for guns used in self defense though they keep trying.  For if the myth turns out to be untrue why the need for so many people to buy guns for self defense? Here is a great editorial piece from a Georgia writer (also a former gun permit holder) about how senseless it is to think that guns need to be carried in every nook and cranny of Georgia. From the article:
Can someone please explain to me the good that will be accomplished by concealed carry in the public schools? In churches? In the legislature? What is this ongoing effort to set up problem situations as some sort of necessary defense of the Second Amendment? We’ve managed for a couple of hundred years without teachers carrying concealed weapons, without parents coming to school with pistols in their pockets, without folks thinking of packing heat as part of “Sunday best” dress.
While there may be a story or two where someone carrying such a weapon might have been able to defend themselves or others, I can’t find any evidence that it is suddenly necessary for people to be able to take their guns to a PTA meeting. In fact, I’m not sure that having armed administrators, teachers or parents could have averted school attacks like Columbine, or the one at Heritage High School in nearby Conyers.
(...) I know all the arguments about how gun control doesn’t stop criminals and that there is some real or perceived conspiracy to take away our guns. If gun control doesn’t work anyway, why should we be actively working to weaken it? 
Why on earth can’t these people focus on bills that might actually improve the lives of Georgians? After reading the bill twice, the only redeeming clause is the one that says private property owners can prohibit concealed carrying on their own property. So, even if you are licensed, don’t bring your gun to my house.
The Propaganda Professor has followed up with this excellent blog with some aggregate data that gets us further in the direction of the truth about self defense use of guns. From the article:
But since we have no other number to use, let’s take it. If there are about 600 reported DGUs, and that’s about two-thirds of the total, that would give us 900 or so. Call it an even grand if you like.  We’re still short of 2.5 million, and we’re still outnumbered by gun crimes at least 400 to 1. But at least we’ve surpassed the frequency of lightning strikes.
And further, he concludes his article with this:
In a random selection of 200 DGU stories, I found that at least 69 resulted in the death of an alleged offender. (I say at least because I only read the headlines, which may or may not specify death – which often does not occur immediately in a fatal shooting.) If there are 213 such killings per year, and that represents about a third, then once again we are left with between 600 and 700 annual DGUs. In other words, it appears that there is no significant number being overlooked.
This is not a scientific study, just a suggestion or two about how one might be conducted. My figures may not be precise but they are, if not in the ballpark, at least on the right planet. If I had to wager whether the true DGU tally is closer to (a) 2.5 million, (b) 65,000 or (c) 500 to 1000, I’d bet the deed to the Ponderosa on the latter.
Here's the thing. Guns are carried by a small minority of people in this country. They are needed and/or used in self defense with rarity. Some have made the choice to get a permit to carry and also likely have guns in their homes for self defense. That is their choice. They have been convinced that since around 2 million "DGUs" per year inconceivably take place that means they themselves must need a gun for same. Common sense  tells us that this high number begs credulity. It represents minority thinking and has led to bad policy and a gun culture steeped in myth and paranoia. It needn't. With rights come responsibilities. They can co-exist. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln represented truthful thinking and the idea that all of us deserve "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Thanks to them for promoting truth, equality, peace and fairness.


  1. Howdy!

    "None of the linked incidents resulted in the death of the intruder or offender. "

    That's because I searched for "woman scares off man gun" This was in response to a quote you posted which stated no one seems to be scaring off criminals by showing them a gun.

    "In other words, not very many. "

    I found ten within the first minute of searching and stopped there. If there is "not very many" of something it takes me upwards ten or twenty minutes to find one or two examples.

    "And why does he take the name of Patrick Henry?"

    Henry was an anti-constitutionalist. I am opposed to bankers and lawyers conspiring in private to rule over everyone else.

    "So if he uses these stories, he can drum up fear and paranoia among women to get them to buy his guns."

    That's a small minded business tactic. I was thinking of using properly sized and shaped grips and other features to cater to women. Women don't want horror stories. The smart ones already know they are at risk.

    "o if the word gets out that you have a lot of guns stored in your home, it is inevitable that you will need a gun to protect yourself from those who want your guns."

    The same is true for those who own antiques, precious metals, cash, etc.

    "That's 32 dead people a day... "

    So let me get this right. Every single day about one in ten million people is murdered with a gun and this is a serious national problem? One in TEN MILLION?

    I like those odds. Wish they were even better, but I'm more worried about my staircase.

    "Common sense tells us that this high number begs credulity."

    It's impossible to study this with accuracy. Most people don't call the cops if no shots are fired and no one is hurt and the crook runs away. I've read quite a few DGU stories on the Internet. There's a tiny handful where people come forward with detailed stories about when they had to shoot someone (and they may have been shot themselves). Almost always people say something like "I've had to draw my weapon in defense three times, fortunately never had to shoot." Those stories aren't measured in statistics.

  2. Well if you don't think 32 people a day dying from gun homicides is a big deal, don't bother writing any more comments on this blog! That statement tells us everything we need to know about you Patrick Henry. You could care less that people are shot to death every day. You just don't care. All you care about is your perceived "freedom" your guns and your paranoia. Good grief. You have either purposely or ignorantly missed the point of my post. I suggest you go comment on someone else's blog until you get kicked off of that one, too.

  3. "Well if you don't think 32 people a day dying from gun homicides is a big deal, don't bother writing any more comments on this blog!"

    Most of us DO think it is a big deal. However, since over half are suicides (the voluntary conscious decision to do so) and over half of the rest are the Johnny Gangbangers of the world shooting each other up, we're just puzzled why you and your ilk focus on the law-abiding section of society instead of suicide prevention and controlling gangs and their members.

  4. Molon- you are wrong. Did you read my post? 80 a day all together from gunshot wounds. Of those, 32 are homicides by gun. The rest are suicides and accidental shootings. Suicide can be prevented by keeping loaded guns away from teens and others who are at risk. I am writing about gun deaths and injuries here. Many are involved in suicide prevention. I support all efforts to prevent suicides. What have you done to prevent suicides? Are you working on that? Gangs? Are you doing anything to control them? I know many are. That is not the subject of this blog, as you know. But nice try. Trying to deflect attention from the real issue is a tactic used by the pro gun side because there is no interest in actually working to prevent the deaths and injuries caused by bullets as long as you have your own guns.