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Deadeye Dick and the U.S. gun culture

by Chris Kulczycki Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 11:12:07 AM EST

It comes as no great surprise to me that vice president Dick "Deadeye" Cheney shot a man. It may have shocked you wimpy Europeans. But we Americans are made of tougher stuff. That's why I thought I'd explain our gun culture to you.

Why just in the past month a couple of folks were shot within a few miles of my house. One was a cabdriver. I couldn't be bothered to read the story about the other shooting. I suppose I should since it happened just across the street from our usual wine shop.  But like most Americans, I'm accustomed to shootings. Nothing to see here; move along.

Now I'm not making this up, another person was shot near here today. My wife told me as I was writing this. It makes three this month. And we live in the best neighborhood in a wealthy small city.


I remember, many years ago, giving one of my employees rides home when we worked late. He lived in crime ridden section of Washington DC called Anacostia. As I drove, he told me that, being tall and white, it was assumed I was a cop and so I wasn’t likely to be robbed. But he assured me that if I looked like I was about to interfere with drug dealers, who he pointed out, I would be, nonetheless, shot dead. He also said that it was a rare night that he didn’t hear gunshots as he tried to fall asleep. His family was very poor and he lived with and provided for them, so he didn’t have money for a car yet, much less for a house in a better neighborhood. I hope he at least had a gun. Wonder whatever happened to him?

I told this story to a Russian friend a year or two later and drove him through that neighborhood. He said nothing like it existed in (Soviet) Russia. Probably why they lost the cold war, weren’t tough enough. Of course Russia has learned much from the US in the past decade. I hear they have lots of guns now.

Some 30 percent of Americans have guns. I have close friends who keep pistols in their bedside tables and in their cars. Currently, 46 of 50 U.S. states permit adults who have applied, have no criminal record, and (in some cases) meet training requirements to carry one or more concealed handguns.

Coming home from abroad our six-year-old son saw a gun-toting immigration officer. “Why does he have a gun?” Alec asked.

“Because were back in the US.” I said.

“Yep, we loooove our guns son.” Said the officer. We sure do. This is from the University of Utah medical school site:

In the U.S. for 2001, there were 29,573 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 16,869; Homicide 11,348; Accident 802; Legal Intervention 323; Undetermined 231.(CDC, 2004) This makes firearms injuries one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S. The number of firearms-related injuries in the U.S., both fatal and non-fatal, increased through 1993, but has since declined steadily.(CDC, 2001) However, firearms injuries remain a leading cause of death in the U.S., particularly among youth (CDC, 2004).

The number of non-fatal injuries is considerable--over 200,000 per year in the U.S. Many of these injuries require hospitalization and trauma care. A 1994 study revealed the cost per injury requiring admission to a trauma center was over $14,000. The cumulative lifetime cost in 1985 for gunshot wounds was estimated to be $911 million, with $13.4 billion in lost productivity. (Mock et al, 1994) The cost of the improper use of firearms in Canada was estimated at $6.6 billion per year. (Chapdelaine and Maurice, 1996)

Firearms Death Rate (per 100,000, age adjusted) for Selected Countries in one year between 1990 and 1995 (Krug, Powell and Dahlberg, 1998)

Of course many say that having a gun prevents many more crimes. Self-protection is our rational. What you Europeans don’t understand is that every American male is born with the knowledge that he has the innate ability to shoot like John Wayne (and drive like Richard Petty). Never mind that a gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

*Firearms Deaths by Mode of Death for Children <15 Years of Age Top 10 Countries - Rate per 100,000*
Guns take a huge toll on America’s Children as well. Here are some statistics from The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.
FACT: Nationwide for 2002, gun violence killed 2,893 American children and teens ages 19 and under, a decrease of only 1% from the nationwide 2001 total of 2,937. While these numbers have been steadily decreasing over the past five years, an average of 8 young people killed each day by guns in the U.S is still too many. -Numbers obtained from CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality report online, 2005.

FACT: In 2002, a total of 828 young Americans ages 10-19 committed suicide with firearms, a decrease of 11% from the 2001 total of 928 youth gun suicides. Unlike suicide attempts using other methods, suicide attempts with guns are nearly always fatal, meaning a temporarily depressed teenager will never get a second chance at life. Nearly two-thirds of all completed teenage suicides involve a firearm. -Numbers obtained from CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality report online, 2005.

FACT: The firearms used in 72% of unintentional firearm deaths and injuries, and in firearm suicide attempts and completions, for people ages 0-19 were stored in the residence of the victim, their relative, or their friend. - Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Study, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, August 1999

FACT: In 2002, the gun death rate for African-American males ages 15 to 19 was 56 per 100,000, a large disparity compared to white males of the same age (14 per 100,000). For black males ages 20-24, the gun death rate was even higher at 120 per 100,000, an even greater disparity compared to white males of the same age group (23 per 100,000). -Numbers obtained from CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality report online, 2005.

FACT: 48% of gun-owning households with children do NOT regularly make sure that guns are equipped with child safety locks or other trigger locks. Peter Hart Research Associates Poll, July 1999

FACT: Contrary to popular belief, young children do possess the physical strength to fire a gun: 25% of 3 to 4 year olds, 70% of 5 to 6 year olds, and 90% of 7 to 8 year olds can fire most handguns. - Naureckas, SM, Christoffel, KK, et al. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 1995

FACT: More than 3,500 students were expelled in 1998-99 for bringing guns to school. Of these, 43% were in elementary or junior high school. This means that, in a 40-week school year, an average of 88 children per week nationwide are expelled for bringing a gun in school. And these figures include only the children who get caught. - U.S. Department of Education. Report on State Implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act: School Year 1998-99. October 2000, p.2

FACT: During 1999, 52% of all murder victims younger than age 18 were killed by guns, and 82% of murder victims aged 13 to 19 years old were killed by guns. In 1986, guns were used in 38% of murders in the same age groups. - FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 1999, table 2.11.

FACT: 59% of students in grades six through twelve know where to get a gun if they want one, and two thirds of these students say they can acquire a firearm within 24 hours. - Harvard School of Public Health

Despite the above statistics, the right to bear arms is strongly supported in the US, especially among Republicans. The justification comes from our second constitutional amendment (which is part of the Bill of Rights), which reads:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment protects the right of States to form armed militias, and the right of individuals to possess arms as needed to serve in those militias. But conservatives and libertarians often interpret it a being the right of every individual to bear arms. This is a long running and complicated debate.

Numerous and well-organized advocacy groups, particularly the National Rifle Association, (which has strong support from our large arms industry) wield tremendous political influence. Even liberal democrats are hesitant to challenge this formidable lobby. Thus it is unlikely that effective gun control will ever be enacted in the US.

So you can see that a 78-year-old man being shot in the face by the vice president is not a big deal here in the good ole USA. Understand? I don't.

Display:
And bear in mind that I might be packing heat.



Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz

by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 11:19:51 AM EST
Nice and snarky...

My own snark is that if you take the 2nd Amendment to the logical conclusion of the Libertarian attitude, everyone has the right to a B-52, M1 Abrhams, WMD, etc. etc.

More interestingly perhaps, Canada has similar gun ownership patterns to the US, but at about half the rate, so why are their deaths less than half the rate?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 12:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine?  He talks about that and seems to conclude that it has to do with fearmongering.  I tend to agree, although I also think it has as much to do with, if not more, our drug "war" and tough on crime laws.  OTOH, these things seem to go hand in hand.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 12:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Michael Moore set out to do a film against the NRA and ended up doing a film against the culture of fear.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 12:59:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, although I have read his books where he talked about it quite a bit.

I have to agree that "the war on drugs" is a big part of it and of course the breakdown of society in various inner-city areas. And as you say, it is all connected.

Sadly, I'm not sure how to address the culture of fear. Any thoughts, Izzy?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many.  But I don't want to hijack the thread.  In a nutshell, I think it's an abusive situation and we need to stop arguing with it directly and simply start providing an alternative.  

We need leaders who tell us there's nothing to fear and then to show us that by providing opportunity.  I think the only weapon against fear is hope.  It sounds so simple, but apparently it's not very easy.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:12:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought hijacking threads is what we did best, Izzy...
Speaking of which, what time is the skating on over there?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We do excel at that, don't we?  And isn't it, like, a sin or something to waste your talents?  You've convinced me!  I just got done watching the skating.  :-)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:18:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hehe, out of politeness I'll comment in the skeleton thread.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 02:51:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Canada has similar gun ownership patterns to the US, but at about half the rate, so why are their deaths less than half the rate?

Snarky Stereotype Answer #1:  Because they're Canadian!  They're too nice to shoot each other.

Snarky Stereotype Answer #2:  Guns can freeze up in cold weather.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So basically there are 2 immediate actions to be taken:

  1. Move the entire population of Texas to North Dakota and Minnesota.

  2. Make everyone in the US more nice...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:33:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1. Move the entire population of Texas to North Dakota and Minnesota.
OMG, that's not one I would reply to with a, Ya you betcha!!

Not a good idea, as we have no quail here, and I would be concerned that a Texan, particularly a R Texan, might be mistaken for a Hungarian Partridge, which we do have here.

I am however looking for contestants who would be willing to kill rabid skunks without firearms. The most innovative plan for dispatching the above shall win an expense paid weekend at my private B&B in the heart of rural ND. (Contestant s must supply transportation to Fargo, ND.)

I however would retain all rights to video which I would shoot during the "dispatching". And after submitting same to "World's Funniest Videos", I would take my $10,000s winnings and spend a couple of weeks in Paris, which I have not yet had the opportunity to do.  

 

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:06:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My own snark is that if you take the 2nd Amendment to the logical conclusion of the Libertarian attitude, everyone has the right to a B-52, M1 Abrhams, WMD, etc. etc.

Michael Moore covers this in Bowling for Columbine, too.  I think he interviews a friend of Timothy McVeigh.  The man was absolutely insane.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:14:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And still the insane man did not want everybody to own nuclear bombs because "there are crazies out there".

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 07:51:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly.  I was trying to remember that line.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 10:15:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their government doesn't drive them into homocidal mania?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither that, nor into homicidal mania.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:33:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cannot spell and type at the same time ...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 09:44:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The preznit has been instigating, if not _homo_cidal, at least homophobic mania.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 09:49:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see why that's a snarky comment. Most countries in the late 1700s couldn't afford full-blown navies, and handed out licenses to privately owned warships.
http://www.cindyvallar.com/privateers.html

While not currently in vogue, there's no particular reason (at least in America) why we could not have private ownership of tanks, fighter jets, guided missiles, etc. This is indeed the thinking behind the 2nd amendment.

by asdf on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 07:52:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There may not be any reason, if you take such a strict view of the Constitution.  But even Scalia and Thomas would reject tanks and warships, if such a case ever arrived at the Supreme Court.  Even (most) NRA members would reject it, though some of them really are that crazy.  Some have actually advocated allowing people to own grenade launchers, as if they're going to attack Normandy again or something.

My family owns a few guns, but they're all so old that I doubt they would work.  They're antiques that have been in the family since the early 1800s (maybe even the late 1700s).  If my parents own guns for self-defense purposes, I'm not aware of it (nor do I want to be), but my folks both hate guns, hate the hunting culture, and support gun control, so, needless to say, it's unlikely.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 11:11:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you think that private ownership of grenade launchers is prohibited? Taxed and licensed, yes; prohibited, no.

And there are plenty of privately owned tanks in the U.S. It's probably sort of hard to get ammunition for them, but if you can reload a rifle shell and own a machine shop...

And I don't know exactly what the cutoff point is for "warship," but there is at least one functional PT boat (#728) that is privately owned. Obviously the owner doesn't currently have the right to go around shooting at people...although the option to arrange such an agreement is defined in the Constitution under the heading "Letters of Marque." It doesn't take any strict reading of anything to own military weapons--it's already perfectly legal.

by asdf on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey!  Are you threatening us?!?  I am calling your bluff, Chris K. -- I say you are not packing heat.  If you were, you wouldn't have written this.  I know I wouldn't have written this.  Now put that thing away before someone gets hurt.

Nice little thread you have here -- it'd be a shame if something happened to it...  ;-)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:04:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is Izzy, with our concealed carry laws you can't be sure. See, that's what keeps us civil.

So Izzy, you feelin' lucky?   ;<)

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz

by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:30:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't need no steenkin' luck!  I've got skill, amigo, skill...

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 01:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean, Chris.  There is a gun shop, D.L.'s Gun & Pawn, not even fifty yards from my apartment.  I drive or walk by it, everyday, and seeing the people who go into that store makes me want to pack my bags and bolt.

Anacostia is one of the most violent areas in the country.  The first time I ever visited Washington and walked around the city on my own -- I think I was about sixteen at the time -- the rule laid out by my aunt and uncle was, "No farther East than the Capitol."  (I've driven through it once.)  East (especially Southeast) DC is constantly overshadowed by South-Central L.A. and the South Bronx on television, but the murder rate is the highest in the country.

DC is split in half.  The West side is incredibly expensive and fairly safe, especially in Georgetown.  Mainly wealthy politicians and lobbyists, along with the three main universities.  The East is like a war-zone.

Detroit and Memphis also have huge gun problems.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:23:43 PM EST
I think there are small signs that Anacostia, or parts of it, is starting to attract speculators who think it will eventually be gentrified. So this will push the crime into PG county?

Anyone who wants to see the inequality in the US can get a quick lesson by traveling the few miles from Georgetown to Anacostia. It is astounding.

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz

by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there are small signs that Anacostia, or parts of it, is starting to attract speculators who think it will eventually be gentrified. So this will push the crime into PG county?

DC, in general, is probably going to continue to expand and attract money, as long as there's opportunity for large companies and interest groups to feed.  The crime may be pushed elsewhere, if investment comes into Anacostia, because it will be priced out.  The same thing is happening in Riviera Beach and the older sections of West Palm Beach in South Florida.

Anyone who wants to see the inequality in the US can get a quick lesson by traveling the few miles from Georgetown to Anacostia. It is astounding.

It's been astounding for a long time.  All of the money is understandably on the West side.  Once you separate jobs dealing with politics, government and academia, what is there, really, to do jobswise in DC?  Mainly low-level jobs in the service sector.  Combine that with the expense of living in DC -- my aunt and uncle bought their one-bedroom townhouse in Rosslyn years ago, and the price has climbed at double-digit rates ever since (comparable townhouses sometimes sell, today, for seven figures) -- and I think you have a recipe for massive inequality.

That's a big reason for why I decided not to pursue grad school there.  We wouldn't even have been able to afford a decent studio apartment.

McDonald's may offer you $10/hr. to flip burgers in Arlington, but that's not going to pay the rent and keep the lights turned on in that area.  The education system is also horrible in DC, especially in the poorer sections.  (Half the schools look like they're literally falling apart.)  So it's not like young people are offered many opportunities.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:16:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't remember the source, where I read or saw this.  But there was an interview with a man who had been a coroner his whole life.  He was being interviewed and was asked, kinda flippantly, if he had any wisdom about life & death.

He said, "Yes. People shouldn't be allowed to have guns."

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 02:35:56 PM EST
I think one should distinguish between the hunting culture and the handgun culture. The former is alive and well in rural France, complete with its own wacky party for a while, the latter not so much.  I've never had a problem with hunting - no desire to do it myself, but very happy to eat the results.  Sure it has its dangers, but so do other sports e.g. mountain climbing to name one which has claimed the lives of several people I've known.

WIth respect to firearm homicides the stats blur two different types - those related to full time, violent criminals, particularly organized ones, and the rest. The mobs and the gangs will have guns no matter what, and they'll use them. On the other hand with restricted gun ownership the average person who gets really pissed off at their partner or on the road, or in a bar, or wherever, is simply going to beat them up or knife them. Not nice, but on average a lot less lethal than bullets.  It's the same phenomenon as suicide - guns are more effective than other means.  I think gun control activists do their cause a disservice when they  use the first sort of homicide in their campaigns.

PS - the first time I ever saw guns on sale was right after I moved to Europe. The local 'hypermarche' across the border had a big gun counter. I remember staring at it in fascination - up until that point the only guns I'd seen were the .22's at summer camp and in the holsters of police and other security personnel. And the local mall in Geneva had target shooting for kids once in a while.

PPS - I love the grief Cheney is getting over this - couldn't have happened to a more deserving person, but personally I couldn't care less about the shooting. There are many reasons to dislike the man. At the top of my list is this I'd be a hell of a lot happier with our political culture if they devoted half the time to that story that they do to a fricking hunting accident.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:11:52 PM EST
Great point Marek.

I had the same thought just now, especially as I passed by dKos in a moment of boredom (I know, I know...)

It's really sad how Cheney's action has totally taken attention away from the torture scandal. You might ..almost think that the clumsy PR handling by his office was a purposeful attempt to get the attention on him instead of Abu Ghraib

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand the hunting culture, at least not that of the few people I know who hunt, but who don't eat what they kill. It's like catch-and-release fishing. Or torture for that matter. It is all based on finding pleasure in inflicting death or suffering. I guess I don't see as big a difference as you do.

I agree that guns offer efficiency and decisivness in committing crimes, or suicide. How many would take their own lives, or another's, or rob a bank, if they had to do it with a knife?

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz

by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand the hunting culture, at least not that of the few people I know who hunt, but who don't eat what they kill. It's like catch-and-release fishing. Or torture for that matter. It is all based on finding pleasure in inflicting death or suffering. I guess I don't see as big a difference as you do.

As I said, I have no personal desire to hunt, but I understand hunting as a game of stalking and skill. I don't understand the kind that Cheney was apparently engaged in anymore than I would understand why somebody would wish to play golf on a flat surface with a six foot wide hole.  But nor do I care if someone feels like doing that.  Then again I am about as reactionary as it gets on animal rights.  Plus, I really do love the taste of game - something that is very difficult to find here in the US - most of what is sold as such is actually farm raised.

_ How many would take their own lives [...] if they had to do it with a knife?_

Plenty, unfortunately.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:46:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
don't understand the hunting culture, at least not that of the few people I know who hunt, but who don't eat what they kill.

I know what you mean, but I just want to inject some nuance here. Don't try to eat fox. It's horrible. Crows, magpies, same thing. But they can become a plague. Somtimes shooting and not eating is part of hunting too. It's wildlife management.

And hunting foxes (and crows to a lesser degree) is a challenge I can tell you. Full exposure: I'm no hunter myself, but I hobnob with hunters frequently and went into the field when I was a child, but at an older age I decided it was not for me. It's the killing part I can't do, but I've continued to respect hunting.

When it comes to just blast animals and leave them to rot, that's definitely not the culture that should belong to hunting and I oppose it. But it does exist, it's true, although every body of professional hunters will denounce it. Not surprisingly, it is frequently the elite who hunt like that. Cheney is just another example to the list.

by Nomad on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:26:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure it has its dangers, but so do other sports e.g. mountain climbing to name one which has claimed the lives of several people I've known.

In mountain climbing, any death is always an accident. In hunting, it is always the objective.  Furthermore, I don't hear many stories about kids accidentally dying because they got into dad's climbing gear.

WIth respect to firearm homicides the stats blur two different types - those related to full time, violent criminals, particularly organized ones, and the rest. The mobs and the gangs will have guns no matter what, and they'll use them. On the other hand with restricted gun ownership the average person who gets really pissed off at their partner or on the road, or in a bar, ... I think gun control activists do their cause a disservice when they  use the first sort of homicide in their campaigns.

You're argument implies "gangs" and "the rest of us" are mutually exclusive.

Tell me where the children who are born and raised in neighborhoods overrun with gang activity fall into this scheme.  The kids who are hit in the line of gang fire, who get guns to protect themselves from the other kids with guns, the kids who have to walk through rival gang territory to get to their schools ...

We all start out as "the rest of us" and giving up on trying to protect these kids from guns and trying to create a society where we won't have to protect them from guns because "they will always have guns and use them anyway" is just not an option for most of us, regardless if it does "hurt the cause."  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 03:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tell me where the children who are born and raised in neighborhoods overrun with gang activity fall into this scheme.  The kids who are hit in the line of gang fire, who get guns to protect themselves from the other kids with guns, the kids who have to walk through rival gang territory to get to their schools ...

Here in NYC all those guns are illegal - we have quite restrictive gun laws. Implementing such laws nationwide would raise the price of guns, but not eliminate them - same phenomenon as drugs. The criminals whose enterprises are lucrative enough to allow them to afford the more expensive weapons would still buy them.   However, gun crime would decrease because less people would have them. That's a good thing and why I'm for gun control.

Incidentally the Giuliani administration achieved some of its success in reducing murder rates by illegally decreasing the number of guns on the streets. The cops simply randomly stopped young black and hispanic men and patted them down. If they had guns, they'd be confiscated - an expensive loss. So young black and hispanic men became less likely to carry guns on a constant basis, reducing non-premeditated gun violence - and increasing the toll of police harassment and brutality simultaneously. Sort of an out of the pot and into the fire scenario for NYC's blacks and hispanics.  

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 04:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as Guiliani's "success" is concerned, I believe that is somewhat disputed, inasmuch as murder rates declined consistently nationwide from the mid-90's through (IIRC) 2003. This has been attributed to varying factors, from the changing demographic (aging population) and the (comparatively) ready availability of legal abortions starting in the 1970's.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 12:59:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think NYC's decline in crime began earlier than in most cities, and, if I remember correctly, Steve Levitt attributed this to NYC having legal abortions earlier.  I haven't read Levitt's actual academic paper, but I'm skeptical.  Roe v. Wade probably had an effect, but I don't know if I can imagine the effect being so large.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:49:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Furthermore, I don't hear many stories about kids accidentally dying because they got into dad's climbing gear.

I know your post was very serious, but I found this to be incredibly funny.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:24:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe "smart ass" is the appropriate description of that remark. ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI, about 50 children die each year in the U.S. by drowning in buckets. Personally I think we should outlaw buckets, but the NBA (National Bucket Association) disagrees...
by asdf on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 01:47:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about buckets for the NBA, but the NBA needs to outlaw the LA Lakers winning the championship.  Everytime the Lakers win, LA resident start rioting and burn hundreds cars.  Another reason for why California is just too odd for my taste.  In LA, they call it a celebration.  In the East, we call it an insurance nightmare.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 12:46:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Furthermore, I don't hear many stories about kids accidentally dying because they got into dad's climbing gear."

No, but kids do die in climbing accidents with their parents.  Also skiing, hiking, boating, flying, hang-gliding -- all sorts of ways.  Hundred or thousands of kids die every year from getting into the medicine cabinet or under the sink into the cleaning products or falling in the bathtub or scalding themselves with hot water or something from the stove.  

They die on bikes, skates, walking across the street, or in cars and buses.  This is not to take away from the tragedy of any individuals, but kids die in accidents all the time.  Many, many of these deaths are preventable.

But we already have legislation about some of these things.  We have ways to charge parents, caretakers, and others with negligence or abuse, criminal or otherwise, if the State sees fit to press charges.  I believe all of these laws also apply to gun owners.  

I'm not an NRA member, but neither am I necessarily a gun control advocate.  There has become way too much politicking going on on both sides of this issue and, as far as I'm concerned, way too much belief on the part of well-meaning people that legislation is the answer to the problems.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:39:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but kids do die in climbing accidents with their parents.  Also skiing, hiking, boating, flying, hang-gliding -- all sorts of ways.  Hundred or thousands of kids die every year from getting into the medicine cabinet or under the sink into the cleaning products or falling in the bathtub or scalding themselves with hot water or something from the stove.

Never had anything worse than scrapes and bruises, but... I remember slipping off an icy knife edge ridge - grabbed by the person behind me, lucky for him too since we were roped together.  I remember free climbing a seaside cliff on summer camp - falling would have been bad. I remember going out alone at the end of the day on a deserted closed run - an edge catches and I turn into a human pinball - again, no big deal, but if I'd hurt myself I would have been screwed. I remember so many ski runs with almost sheer drops dotted with rocky outcrops - just hope that if you fall your body doesn't slam into one at high speed. Or traversing icy ridges with sheer drops to get to a fun chute. I remember pushing myself too hard on a long bike ride early in the season and running right through a red light on a major road in rush hour, completely unaware of my surroundings in my exhaustion, only noticing something was wrong as a car skidded to a stop a foot away from me.  All of these activities encouraged by my parents. So many ways to get yourself severely injured or killed as a kid - somehow most of us make it through ok.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 07:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, interesting statement.

Lot's of potential discussion there about the effectiveness of legislation.

I'll not try to convince you too much, but let me suggest one idea:

Reducing the number of guns in circulation is the only way to reduce the number used in criminal circles (and indeed in society in general.) This is the only way you can get to the point where the police are not armed all the time, which is the lynch pin of the culture of fear...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 02:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing the number of guns in circulation is the only way to reduce the number used in criminal circles (and indeed in society in general.)

Are we sure about this?  And, if so, why not crack down on manufacturing rather than sales? (not that I necessarily believe that would work either, but I'm willing to entertain the notion)...

And I agree with you in that I'd prefer the police unarmed.  Absolutely.  But are they really the lynch pin?  I don't know.  I'd definitely say the culture of fear and an armed police force are connected -- vital to each other even -- but it seems to me the necessary component to keeping all this going is poverty.  

Isn't that what everyone's really afraid of?  When we talk about gun violence, who are we discussing?  Who are "they?"  The ones with the irresponsible access to weapons?  The criminal "element?"  The gangs and dealers?  What problems are being addressed with gun-control legislation and aren't those discussions also somewhat fear based?  

Because whenever I see this topic in the media or hear a discussion, no one seems to be worried about the upper classes and their access to weapons.  They may mention hunting accidents or accidents in suburbia, but then it very quickly moves on to gangs, drive-bys, and the inner-cities.  All that talk about "the streets" and "the schools."  Where and who is that discussion aimed at?  

It seems to me that if we really want to get rid of armed gangs, we'd stop the drug prohibition.  I recall that working last time people were getting gunned down on the streets.  If we didn't want shootouts in our streets, we wouldn't declare war on our most citizens.  If we don't want people turning to crime and violence, we'd provide them with opportunity.  

If we're really worried about violence, let's change our drug laws and restore our safety nets.  Everything else seems to me like a waste of time and, too often, fearmongering against the poor.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 05:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we sure about this?  And, if so, why not crack down on manufacturing rather than sales? (not that I necessarily believe that would work either, but I'm willing to entertain the notion)...

Well, it depends on the level of proof you seek, but we are as sure about it as we are of global climate change, for instance... And I heartily agree that there should be a crackdown in manufacturing, but that seems politically much harder to arrange.

As for the lynch pin, the war on drugs is definitely a big part of the problem and I would totally support ending it. Likewise, I think it's clear from my comments in other diaries that I believe in social safety nets.

Basically, I think that to attack the culture of fear you have to do all these things at once.

But, there is a basic psychological problem with giving the police guns, it just ramps up the fear of them and the government at every turn.

As for the "upper classes" I don't see why they wouldn't be affected by regulations I propose. (Sure, they can take advantage of corruption more easily, but that is true of every law, you can't give up on the law just because Bill Gates can buy his way out of a ticket for speeding/gun ownership.)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2006 at 03:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm with you and Chris about not understanding the hunting culture, especially today.  Hunters today have so many toys attached to their rifles that it completely defeats what I understand to be the purpose.  Are they going to add heat-seeking bullets next or something?

Hunting (say) deer is also, in my opinion, much less of a sport than hunting birds.  At least the birds are a moving target.  The deer just fucking stand there.  "Oh, lookee thair, Cletus.  That baby's right thair in yer siiiights.  Quick, git'er!  Befur she gesaway!"

I have relatives in Georgia who hunt every weekend.  I can almost literally feel my IQ dropping when I listen to them discuss it, and I get the sudden liberal-urbanite urge to head for Starbucks for a mocha and a copy of the NYT.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 05:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd respect hunting more if it was about stripping down to a loincloth and being dropped -- with a knife, a compass, and a longbow (no crossbows) in a wilderness area to practise survival for a week or two.

Did y'all know that "hunters" have been known to use helicopters (let alone snowmobiles and ATVs) in the US?  mowing down wolves from hovering choppers, for example?  that's not hunting, it's mechanised warfare.  I believe Derrick Jensen wrote a book about the connection between militarism and environmental liquidation, focussing on the timber industry and the metaphors of warfare used in its daily lingo.  Strangely Like War I think was the title.  I once knew (under protest) a guy who used to reminisce happily about his days as a door gunner in Viet Nam, mowing down "gooks" from the air.  I think the bankrupted FSU is now offering "helicopter hunting" to wealthy ghouls also.

fantasies of godhead?  the thrill of invulnerable power?  an expensive grownup version of pulling the wings off flies?  just don't call it "sport".

[although I will join gladly w/those who point out that the squeamishness of many liberal meat eaters wrt hunting, does not extend to the possibly-even-more-barbaric torture and lifelong abuse of factory-farmed meat animals.  a cleanly shot game animal certainly suffers less, and for a shorter time, than a factory-veal calf or a hogfarmed pig.]

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 07:15:57 PM EST
I guess the emphasis on the weapons is the difference between hunting in a gun culture and a hunting culture.

Sweden is definitely a hunting culture and many people own a rifle. Though hunting is largely a recreational/social activity it is also viewed as a form of environmental control where a certain level of population has been decided to be right with a certain animal and excess animals are hunted. That means that there are hunting seasons, hunting teams with a license to kill so-and-so many of a certain animal and so on.

There are hunting accidents, often including a innocent wanderer, a too old hunter and poor eyesight. Rifles are also used in suicides and murders. But since you can not really walk around with a rifle in your pocket opportunities are more scarce then with handguns.

Quite a number of swedish males (and a few females) has also government issued automatic weapons at home. They are the home-guard, the well-armed militia that will defend the infrastructure as the swedish conscript army rushes to the their post in the first days of war. Then they will turn into the guerilla that will keep on fighting until the enemy is driven away. Or so they say anyway.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 16th, 2006 at 08:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is Sweden so afraid of that the government needs to lay the groundwork for guerrilla warfare to defend the homeland from occupiers?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Norway and Finland of course!

You'd be nervous too if you were surrounded by Sirocco and Sven Triloquist.

And then there's Denmark.

They have LMD.. Legos of Mass Distraction you know...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:43:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Snark aside, according to Wikipedia the Home Guard exists sincethe 1940's (source). I interpreted the comment above as meaning it was a new development.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the arrangements were made in a different era.

Of course, the question of just what kind of military we all need is still valid. But, I think rationalisation is dependent on further European integration these days.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is just one of many remains of our second world war/cold war military buildup. The national alarm is also tested the first monday of every month at 3 pm. Sounds like fog-horns: BUUUUEEEEP. Usually gets foreigners wondering what is going on.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 10:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a copy of a posting I put up on a few conservative and general interest political blogs in the US.

Needless to say, I got no useful answers to my questions about improving gun safety. Apparently in the US changing the gun culture is just not going to happen any time soon.

I have a question for gun owners about gun control. First some background:

The US has the highest rate of gun deaths in the world. For example, the US is around 14 per 100,000 while Canada, which has a fairly liberal gun policy, is around 4.

The US has somewhere between 60 and 80 million gun owners. They own collectively in excess of 200 million guns.

About half of US gun deaths are suicides.

Gun control legislation has not altered these statistics in a substantial way even though there have been decades of attempts and debates.

My assumptions:

Everyone (liberal, conservative, pro- or anti-gun) would like to see the number of deaths reduced.

Plans to recall guns are impractical (low compliance). Plans to limit most gun sales would have little overall effect since there are already so many guns in circulation.

Increased enforcement of existing laws seems to be ineffective given the number of initiatives that have been tried.

Similarly, new laws on purchases or ownership would not alter the situation much either.

The question:

What do gun owners suggest as practical steps to be taken to reduce the number of gun deaths?

To enhance the flow of ideas perhaps it would be better to separate the types of misuse into four categories. Then comments can be directed to the appropriate area.

1. Criminal use of a gun
1a. Obtained legally
1b. Obtained illegally

2. Use in domestic violence as a result of a gun being present in the home for some other reason.

3. Suicide
3a. Use of a gun already in the home
3b. Purchase of a gun for express purpose of suicide

4. Accidental use
4a. Children
4b. Adults

I'm hoping for some creative replies not just variations on the usual policies proposed. It would seem to me that a practical proposal coming from the pro-gun segment would be more likely to be adopted than what has been voted on in the past few years. In addition, it would have the benefit of reducing the pressure for increased gun control by the anti-gun segment if it could be shown that the new policies were effective.

I tried posting this on a conservative site and the only relevant responses I got favored increase enforcement and better gun safety education. This despite the fact that I pointed out that existing efforts are having limited success. Most responses tried to read some hidden agenda on my part and thus shift the discussion from policy issues to personality ones.

If you care to offer ideas, please note my assumptions that things like taking away guns or imposing politically impossible restrictions are not practical. What's needed are practical ideas not utopian ones.



Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 04:28:57 PM EST
If you got no useful answers, you're going to have to question your assumptions. This one
Everyone (liberal, conservative, pro- or anti-gun) would like to see the number of deaths reduced.
seems the most likely to be incorrect.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 05:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can get fake adhesive bullet holes for your shiny new car:

This is considered a humorous item.

by dmun on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 11:03:29 PM EST
is that despite their love affair with guns, Americans can't seem to produce them anymore. Cheney was using an absurdly expensive Italian shotgun.

Recently I walked into a gun shop in Pennsylvania out of curiosity. They had all kinds of hand guns, but it seemed like just about all the automatic pistols were manufactured by foreign firms, like Glock or Walther. (American gun manufacturers seem to have given up manufacturing anything other than revolvers when it comes to hand guns.) The standard gun for a policeman now is a Glock, while the standard issue for US Army officers is a special all-metal Beretta.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 11:42:59 PM EST


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