We don’t have a firearm problem, we have a people problem

by Rick. 0 Comments

I strongly believe in not wasting other people’s time, so if you are stridently anti-firearm, you may choose to quit reading here. If, on the other hand, you’d like to hear a reasoned, but differing opinion on firearms, please read on.

I’d like to talk about a people problem we have here in the United States. It’s a people problem in that it relates to the nation’s perception that guns kill people when, in reality, like it or not, it is a person using the gun who does the killing. I’m not sure how to put this point across without it sounding a bit glib and that’s certainly not my intention. However, I find it ironic that the number of people killed in vehicle accidents every year mirrors, almost exactly, the number killed by firearms. Yet, have you ever, ever, heard someone blame the car, truck, bus or train? I doubt it. In fact, I can think of no other instance where an inanimate object is blamed for killing someone. I concede that guns are designed to be lethal, and vehicles are not but from my viewpoint, dead is dead, no matter the means.

I’m also conceding that there are indeed 10’s of thousands people every year whose lives were taken by the use of a firearm. However, as a brief internet search will show, there are just as likely as many, or more, lives saved by firearms whether in the hands of civilians or police officers but good news doesn’t get much press.

Although it’s nearly impossible to quantify, I’d like to offer an opinion on a segment of those killed who are murder victims. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2013, the number of people murdered by firearms was 8,454. I’m willing to bet that a large number of these victims were killed in large metropolitan cities such as LA, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Detroit, New York and yes, Baltimore. I’m also willing to bet they were involved in an illegal, or gang related activity at the time and, that a large number of them were “previously known to the police.” I’m not saying it justifies it, I’m saying that if you touch a hot stove, you should expect to get burned.

Most recent estimates put the number of firearms in the United States at over 300 million, and the FBI just reported that they processed over 175,000 applications for background checks on Black Friday alone. Yet, the number of people murdered by a firearm in 2013 was 8,454 or .0028% of the population. Given the numbers above, it seems extremely unlikely the vast majority of us would be killed by a firearm. However, even the most cynical among us must admit it is at least a possibility and hence, some citizens desire to legally carry a firearm to defend themselves, their families and yes, others.

Given that, there a couple of things I would like to understand better about the position of the anti-gun folks. Notice I didn’t say zealots, nut cases, whackos or the like. I think they believe in their point of view, and I happen to disagree with some of it. However, if we can’t agree to at least discuss it (since neither side is all right nor all wrong) then we will continue on our winner take all path.

As I’ve said previously, I was a gun control person for many years. What changed my mind? I looked at the facts regarding citizens who legally own, and sometimes carry, firearms and the facts don’t come anywhere close to bearing out the hysteria. Hysteria such as “assault weapons.” Did you know in 2013 there were nearly as many people killed by “hands, feet, fist, etc.” (FBI/UCR) as by all rifles and shotguns combined?

It appears to me that the gun control faction hopes to legislate crime right off the map. Sadly, Second Amendment aside, this plan won’t work. Consider the following:

A quick review of virtually every illegal shooting will show criminal intent from the start, and most likely on several fronts. For example, the criminal was carrying a firearm in a prohibited area (a school, movie theatre or government building), he was involved in criminal activity such as a drug deal, assault/robbery, and/or he was previously known to the police. In many cases, he was already prohibited from owning or carrying a firearm for prior offenses, or should have been prevented from owning a firearm due to a known (but not reported) mental condition.

Can anyone seriously believe that any rule, regulation, law or sign on the door will prevent this criminal from committing whatever crime he has in mind? If history is any indicator, they will not. The fact is there are bad people in this world and some of them are intent on killing other people and, unfortunately, many of them choose to use a firearm to do so.

The good news is that everyone is working toward the same goal of reducing the number of deaths (murders and non-murders) via firearm. Since two-thirds of all firearm deaths are suicide and another smaller, yet important percentage is accidental discharge of a firearm, they seem like two good places to start. If we truly want to make a meaningful reduction is firearm deaths, let’s work on those areas.

I’ll finish with a question and an invitation. Regarding you or your family’s personal safety, what is the plan when the unthinkable happens? If someone forces their way into your home, day or night, or accosts you in a parking garage, and they plan to do physical harm to you or your family – what is your plan? Do you even have one? Even the police will tell you that when seconds count, they are only minutes away. It could be 10-15 or 30 minutes before they arrive. A true case of where time is of the essence. Yes, I agree, it’s a long shot, and yet we all wear seat belts, have smoke alarms, CO detectors, insurance and the like. The chance of needing any of them is remote, but it’s possible none-the-less. Think it over, you may be glad you did.

My New Year’s resolution and a personal invite. One of my goals for the coming year is to take a non-shooter to the range. Not to indoctrinate them, nor brainwash them, but just to introduce them to firearms and shooting. I’m kind of paying it forward. No pressure, and they don’t have to like it, but I would like for them to try it. If this is you, leave a comment and we’ll try to get together.





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