Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Dear NRA: What's the magic number?

We have the "small" numbers -

- Six people killed and three wounded by a white supremacist at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

- At least 12 killed and 30 wounded at a movie theater in Colorado.

- Six killed and another dozen injured at a supermarket in Tucson.

- Four people killed by another white supremacist in AZ.

- A 16-year old boy killed in northern California.

- A 30-year old man killed in Nevada.

- And on...and on...and on...and on...

All leading to a *BIG* number - 30,000+ gun-related deaths per year (per the Centers for Disease Control).

Firearms enthusiasts/fetishists (use whichever term you prefer) will claim that more people die as a result of car accidents every year, and based on the CDC data linked above, that's true.  By approximately 3000 victims.

They can make that claim, but it's a false equivalency, for a couple of reasons.

- As these USDOJ statistics of non-fatal gun incidents show, the number of victims of gun incidents is always larger than the number of incidents.

In short, if there is an "incident" involving a firearm, it is more likely than not that someone will be injured or killed in each *incident*.

However, there are billions of motor-vehicle person-trips per year with literally *trillions* of passenger miles-driven each to reach ~35K motor vehicle deaths per year (2009 number).  Even adding in non-fatal injuries to the total, there were ~9.5 million motor vehicle accidents in the US in 2009 that resulted in slightly less than 2.3 million injuries or deaths.

In short, if there is an "accident" involving a motor vehicle, there is less than one chance in four that it will result in a death or injury (US Census Bureau statistics).

- In addition, when someone is injured or killed by a motor vehicle, it is almost always an accident or the result of the use of that motor vehicle in a manner for which it wasn't designed; when someone is killed by a firearm, it is frequently deliberate and a result of using said firearm for the exact purpose for which it was designed.

Yet the NRA and other gun enthusiasts/fetishists (again, your choice) are implacably opposed to even discussing ways to reduce gun violence in the US.

They've made a value judgement - their ability to obtain, carry, and use firearms, virtually unfettered by any constraints from civil or criminal law is more important than the lives of thousands of innocents.

As harsh as that sounds, I could have accused them of making a crasser, and far more cynical, value judgement, one where they actually welcome the litany of "firearms incidents" in the country because they lead to more revenue and profits for firearms manufacturers.

I don't know if anyone from the NRA/gun lobby will read this, or would dare to admit it if they did, but if they happen to do so, I have a couple of questions for them -

How many guns have to be sold before your benefactors in the firearms industry find that even their unbridled avarice is met?

How many innocent people have to die before your bloodlust is satiated?

What's the magic number?


Laci The Dog said...

You should toss in that firearms are weapons and designed to severely injure or kill if used properly. It's that aspect which is so enthralling to the average gun fancier.

They will tell you that firearms are the best item for self-defence, but they don't admit it's because of the lethality.

We could also add that medical technology probably keeps the death rate down significantly.

Thane Eichenauer said...

The first item that I made note of is your use (twice) of the term fetishist. If you are really engaging in a bona fide effort to encourage those who disagree with you if you use disparaging terms in your request.

As for your claim "They've made a value judgement - their ability to obtain, carry, and use firearms, virtually unfettered by any constraints from civil or criminal law is more important than the lives of thousands of innocents." Those Americans (who happen to not to work for the government) who have made the serious choice to buy and carry (keep and bear arms) a sidearm are hardly unfettered by the law. A person who carries a sidearm are very much held to comply with civil and criminal law in Arizona. What lawful sidearm owners in Arizona are not subject to is unwarranted harassment by government officials for lawful and peaceful behavior. Thank goodness for that.

In focusing on the first four massacres you refer to the problem as I see it is that none of the people in the group that was targeted took the time and effort to buy, train and carry a sidearm. That problem can be addressed far more readily than can imposing additional gun regulations across the various 50 states.

After reading your post and reading your last three questions what gun manufacturing facility owner would believe that you are making any sort of good faith effort to bring them to a discussion table for a respectful dialogue? I cannot imagine any such owner that would find your article to be made in good faith. Can you?

Manufacturing guns is a net benefit for society. The vast majority (I might guess 99%) of firearms are bought and carried lawfully to defend the innocent against those who might aggress against them. I believe that lawful keeping and bearing of arms is a good thing and should be encouraged.

If after reading my comment you still claim that you are making a sincere and respectful request to discuss the issue of improving gun regulation then I encourage you to either make another post sans the implicit derogatory terms and assumptions or contact the Sturm Ruger firearms factory in Prescott, Arizona and ask if they (or someone they know in Arizona) would be willing to engage in a spirited debate with you (either on of off the record).

I will warn you in advance however that there are few if any "gun enthusiasts" who will agree to cede you complete control over the means and forum of any such debate so as to provide you a tableau for you to engage in rhetorical flagellation of them and their positions. They are hardly masochistic fetishists in this regard.

Thane Eichenauer said...

I will revise my above second sentence to read that "If you are really engaging in a bona fide effort to encourage those who disagree with you to discuss the issue you should not use disparaging terms in your request."

Baldr Odinson said...

Sadly, death by vehicle is now LOWER than death by gun, in ten states. Many other states are almost equal, as well.

See here:

Baldr Odinson said...

I've wondered this question as well. How many lives lost would it take for the NRA, or at least their diehard members, to say enough is enough? 60K (including suicides) isn't enough. Having more lost in a year than during a year of any war since WWII isn't enough. Leading the advanced world (and most 3rd world nations at war) in civilian shootings isn't enough. Mass shootings every month isn't enough.

If we had running gun battles down the main street of every small town every week, would that be enough? If every family in America experienced a loss, would that be enough? How much of a war zone is acceptable?

Or would the NRA continue its push for "more guns in more hands" and deregulation until everyone was dead?

Baldr Odinson said...

I decided to continue with your theme in my latest blog post:

cpmaz said...

Thane - A couple of points:
1. People from all across the spectrum of opinion on various issues read this blog. My use of "enthusiasts/fetishists" was deliberate, meant to help people keep reading instead of stopping because I used only a term they didn't prefer.

2. Perhaps most do "comply with civil and criminal law in Arizona", but those laws were written by firearms enthusiasts/fetishists (there, I did it again). That's like having consumer finance laws written by the Mob (think: leg-breaking and murder as legal debt-collection techniques).

Baldr - continue away. We truly do need to have a serious discussion on ways to address gun violence in America, and if the NRA types don't participate, I can promise them that the discussion won't address their concerns.