Some facts about guns and gun control

The Senate has, for now, turned down any new federal gun control legislation. Still, Democratic politicians say they will try again later this year. Discussions on this issue are frustratingly fact-free. People who support gun control appear unable to muster any actual evidence or logic. Their arguments are based on dubious assertions of fact (read on) and illogical emotional appeals. This post will try to take on some of these assertions. Feel free to pass this on to your logic-free gun control supporting friends, but don’t expect them to actually consider your arguments dispassionately. Sadly, gun control advocates are all about passion, not reason.

1)40 percent of guns are bought without background checks. False by every possible measurement. Even the Washington Post has repeatedly given the president three Pinocchios. This assertion is based on a two-decade old survey that showed that 35.7 percent of people did not get guns from a licensed gun dealer. So, the 40 percent number is rounded up from 35.7 percent. The survey size was tiny, and the questions asked were vague. The Post comes to the conclusion that the real number is somewhere in the teens.

But even this number is high. Check out a survey of prison inmates, the presumed bad guys we want to prevent from getting guns. They say they get guns from the following sources:

Friends or family members: 39.5%

Street or black market suppliers: 37.5%

Licensed gun dealers: 11.4%

Theft: 9.9%

Gun shows or flea markets: 1.7%

Remember that the Senate legislation would exempt most of the people in the first category, family and friends. It is aimed at the supposed “gun show loophole.” So, in effect, the Senate legislation is really aimed at less than 2 percent of the cases.

And it is even worse than this. Anybody who has gone to a gun show knows that the vast majority of actual sales at gun shows involve licensed dealers, who *already must perform background checks.* So the 1.7 percent number already includes people who are buying guns with a background check. The truth is that the legislation is aimed at a tiny number of potential sales.

2)Background checks are not burdensome to buyers and catch a lot of potential bad guys. False and false. First, we must consider how the background check system actually works (an amazing amount of people seem to have no idea), only then we can understand we may need the best background check service and not the current one. You go to a licensed dealer or to a gun show. You say you want to buy a gun. You fill out a very long form and show your ID. The gun dealer then sends in your form to a national database, which checks to make sure you are not a criminal, mentally ill, drug user, an abuser, etc. This process is supposed to take less than three days, but in reality it often takes weeks (this has happened to me twice).

The first point is that this type of system is like the federal no-fly list, which is filled with errors. The late Ted Kennedy (the former senator) was prevented from flying several times. Innocent people with common names (Robert Jones, Edward Kennedy, Jose Ramirez) often get confused with bad guys and cannot fly. The exact same things happens with the national background check system, i.e. innocent people who have done nothing wrong often get prevented from buying guns because of errors. You may think this is not a big deal, but what if you are a woman being stalked by an abusive ex-husband who says he is coming to your house tomorrow to kill you? Don’t you think there are times when people should be able to buy guns quickly for protection?

Studies show that more than 94 percent of people denied guns by background checks are “false positives,” meaning they are law-abiding people who should be able to get guns. Yes, you read that correctly: more than 94 percent.

But it gets worse. We have already shown that actual bad guys don’t usually get guns legally. They get them from friends or family members, by stealing the guns or “the street,” meaning the black market. Universal background checks would do nothing to stop these types of purchases.

3)Banning scary guns will make them more scarce. I have to emphasize this point because it is so obvious that nobody should ever have to write it or say it, but apparently gun control advocates abandon all logic when it comes to the issue of guns. Let’s try the most basic logical test, ie regarding drugs. Are drugs illegal? Yes. Are drugs illegal at schools? Yes. Have we been fighting a “war on drugs?” Yes, for 40 years. Are there more drugs or fewer drugs now compared to 40 years ago? More. Is it easier or more difficult for kids to get drugs at schools compared to 40 years ago? Easier.

So, let’s apply this to logic to guns. What would happen if we made guns illegal? Let’s think about semi-automatic weapons. There are tens of millions of semi-automatic weapons in the United States today, everything from semi-automatic pistols to semi-automatic shotguns to semi-automatic rifles. What would happen if we banned or tried to restrict them? Logic says that if you try to decrease the supply of something, the price will go up. Anybody who has tried to buy an AR-15 lately knows that the cost has doubled. So, when you make something illegal (or the market perceives that something is about to become illegal), you actually make it more valuable and make it more attractive for people to sell it illegally.

We already know from above that bad guys get guns either from “the street” or from stealing the guns nearly half of the time. So, clearly, bad guys are already having no problem getting illegal guns. Imagine if the guns were even more valuable. Would this increase or decrease the availability of guns to bad guys?

So, basic logic indicates that making scary guns illegal will do nothing to decrease the supply of these guns and may actually increase the supply for bad guys. Banning such guns will achieve the exact opposite of what gun control advocates claim they want.

4)90 percent of people support universal background checks. This is an extremely misleading statistic. First of all, current law includes background checks in the vast majority of cases. So a large number of people are simply saying they support current law and don’t want bad guys, the mentally ill and drug users to be able to get guns. So, here is a more honest way of approaching the issue. What if we were to ask, “A very small number of bad guys get guns legally. They usually get them from friends or family, by stealing or on the street. Do you support making law-abiding people go through background checks to theoretically stop a small number of bad guns from getting guns?” If that were the way the question was asked, support for background checks would likely be minimal.

In reality, polls after the Senate rejected the background check legislation, only 47 percent of people said they were disappointed and 39 percent of people said they were relieved. So by any objective measurement, the 90 percent number is pure fantasy.

5)Support for gun control is increasing and politicians who oppose it will lose future elections. This is the favorite meme du jour on Huffington Post. The truth is much more complicated. The reality is that more states have loosened gun restrictions this year than have increased gun control.
In addition, support for gun control has dropped significantly since a brief spike after the Newtown tragedy. It is worth noting that pro-gun voters are much more motivated than anti-gun voters. I predict that more gun control politicians will lose their jobs in 2014 than opponents of gun control.

To sum up, I really hope that this discussion will concentrate on the facts rather than emotion. Based on many, many conversations with pro gun control people, I doubt they will ever be swayed by facts. But I hold out some optimism for logical people in the middle who, when calmly confronted with reason, will turn in the right direction.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

43 thoughts on “Some facts about guns and gun control

  1. I already got an ironic response from one reader that illustrates perfectly well the point I am trying to make in this post. His comment was: “well what do YOU want to do about the problem?”

    This logically challenged reader of course ignores all of the points in the above post. His emotional reaction is: “we must do SOMETHING.” It doesn’t matter if the something will work or not, be effective, address the problem at hand. We have to do something, no matter what it is and no matter whether it will work or not.

    I have to say, if this same logic were applied to other problems in our lives the vast majority of people would easily reject it. Problem: you have a leak in your toilet. Solution: you go take out the garbage because YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. No, if your toilet is leaking you actually try to fix it, you don’t go do random things that will not work because you want to do SOMETHING.

    I am constantly amazed how many people support gun control measures because they feel they have to do something, regardless of whether it works or not.

  2. “The late Ted Kennedy (the former senator) was prevented from flying several times.”

    Are you suggesting Ted Kennedy was not a threat to America?

  3. FWIW – both my pistol purchases within the last 2 years took about one minute for the background check. I don’t know if that’s a result of better technology or if I just have a squeeky clean record.

  4. IDIAT, that is a decent and fair point. I have bought four guns. In two cases, the background check took about two hours. In two cases, the background check took 2-3 weeks. I have spoken with other buyers who have reported waits of 1-3 days and waits of a few hours. I have never heard of “one minute” before, but it is theoretically possible under the current system I suppose. I think a fair takeaway is: the current background check system works for many people sometimes but is riddled with problems (see above) and unnecessary waiting periods for many people.

  5. Forgive me if I assign meaning to another’s words, but “What do YOU want to do about the problem” or “we must do SOMETHING” were the first things that popped into my head when reading your post. They are not followed by the phrase “we must do SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!” Meaning that I haven’t heard solutions from pro-gun people, just propaganda about how stupid and emotional gun control enthusiasts are. Of course we must do something, but you are right about one thing, we mustn’t do just anything. So with that said, what are the pro-gun people planning on doing that isn’t equally stupid? All I have heard is that we should arm more people. Really? Simply put, more guns = more people shot.

  6. Rich, not all problems have solutions that will work. There are many problems in society that are significant, yet no solution has been found. More people die from car accidents than from gun violence, yet a reasonable solution is not “ban cars.” More people fall from high ladders than are killed accidentally by guns, but we don’t say “ban ladders.” In reality, we must accept some risk in society from a lot of things around us. Guns are a tool and there are risks from all tools, including hammers, screwdrivers, chain saws, etc. But this particular tool is specifically protected by the Constitution, so like it or not we must accept its legality.

    As for solutions, I really only have a few that I think would truly work, and I guarantee that gun control people will not like them. One, spread the Gospel. The light of Christ will help people in darkness and prevent violence. Two, allow more people to voluntarily arm. The evidence shows that more guns equals less crime so if you truly want fewer innocent deaths than sorry you must have more guns. Three, get rid of gun free zones, which are magnets for bad guys. Almost all of the recent mass shootings have taken place in gun free zones, and mass shootings are often prevented by other armed people, so if you want truly want to save lives than you must get rid of the gun free zones so that the good guys can protect us from the bad guys. Four, create more awareness about the evils of many anti-depressant drugs, which appear to cause people with problems to go off the deep end either when they take the drugs or stop taking them.

    I am not in favor of forcing schools to have armed teachers, but I am in favor of allowing teachers and or school administrators with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons to school. I am also in favor of schools that can afford it hiring armed guards/off duty cops, etc.

  7. I think a lot of your arguments are based on the fact that we live in a violent society. We have tools in that society that can be used for good or bad. Some of your solutions ie spreading the gospel and informing people about the use of anti-depressants are geared toward the larger goal of reducing violence, therefore reducing fatal gun incidents. I agree that we need to enact systematic measures to reduce violence, and that at its heart, that will do the most good. In the short term, we can reduce accidents by making things safer (as is done with both cars and ladders) and make violence less deadly (how many fatal mass knifings do we hear about?) Maybe one solution is to have more guns, but the conversation on that has gone to extremes. One could say that law-abiding citizens with a concealed carry permit are okay, but a large group that falls within that scope are ex-military who have lots of training with guns, but also a high risk of PTSD. Your average legal carrying citizen can not be counted on to stop crime. Rather it is the image of a law enforcement officer who is known to have a gun that will keep bad guys away, not the actual use of the weapon in most circumstances.

    Also, if more people are carrying, there will be more guns at home and more accidents. Not just kids shooting their siblings, or parents shooting their kids, but well-meaning, well-trained adults shooting kids who they think are intruders (this happened to a bishop in Oregon.) These fall under the umbrella of accidents, but I believe more of these can be prevented by enacting stricter gun laws. And the reason I think most gun enthusiasts have for not going down that road of thought is that they just really, really like shooting guns and don’t want their toys taken away.

  8. Rich, I am going to link a few things to try to show you what the facts are. I am hoping you are open to this new information and will study it and think about it. The purpose of this post is to try to get people exposed to the facts. As I say, there are many people who simply put their hands over their ears and shout “I can’t hear you” when presented with facts that contradict their perceptions. I will spend some time with you on this (and my time is valuable to me) to present some facts that I hope you will consider carefully.

    First point: guns save more lives than they take. Here are some facts:

    *Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year — or about 6,850 times a day. 1 This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. 2
    * Of the 2.5 million times citizens use their guns to defend themselves every year, the overwhelming majority merely brandish their gun or fire a warning shot to scare off their attackers. Less than 8% of the time, a citizen will kill or wound his/her attacker.3
    * As many as 200,000 women use a gun every year to defend themselves against sexual abuse.4
    * Even anti-gun Clinton researchers concede that guns are used 1.5 million times annually for self-defense. According to the Clinton Justice Department, there are as many as 1.5 million cases of self-defense every year. The National Institute of Justice published this figure in 1997 as part of “Guns in America” — a study which was authored by noted anti-gun criminologists Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig.5
    * Armed citizens kill more crooks than do the police. Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606).6 And readers of Newsweek learned that “only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The ‘error rate’ for the police, however, was 11 percent, more than five times as high.”7

    Here is the source for above. Go to the footnotes and look up the original source.

    Note: even if we use the lower number accepted by the Clinton administration, guns are used 1.5 million times a year for self-defense. The evidence is clear and incontrovertible: guns save lives.

  9. Fourth point: you are generally very, very safe around concealed carry permit holders. They have undergone a thorough background check and have had to show they know how to use their weapon. If you gave me the choice of being around 100 concealed carry permit holders with guns and 100 random people, I would easily choose the 100 CC permit holders.

  10. Rich, I am moderating all comments on this issue. Unfortunately, we at M* have a long, long history of dealing with abusive left-wing commenters who cannot stand people to disagree with them. I will be away for the next 4-5 hours and will not see your comment until later tonight.

  11. Rich, your assertion “more guns means = more people shot” has been proven FALSE. Economist John Lott has now issued the third edition of his book “More Guns, Less Crime” which proves that more guns really DOES mean less crime.

    Ann Coulter has an editorial on it today:
    Here’s the book at Amazon:

    (Previous editions can be purchased used at a much lower price.)

    Get the book. Read it. Several anti-gun economists and statisticians have been “converted” to pro-gun by Lott’s studies and analyses.

    According to Ann, 29 studies have been made of Lott’s work. 18 support Lott’s conclusion, 10 said “more guns had no effect on crime”, and the only study that went against Lott’s conclusion has itself been shown to be wrong.


    Another book debunking the common myths of gun control here:
    The Seven Myths of Gun Control, by Richard Poe.

  12. Book, I actually have Lott’s book and have read it. His data is really incontrovertible, and the interesting thing is that liberal gun control advocates have basically given up trying to discredit it with facts. So they have resorted to name-calling and the usual emotional appeals, sarcasm, etc. Lott should win a Nobel prize in economics for his work because it is so incredibly ground-breaking but of course in this upside-down world he is almost certain not to.

  13. In a previous life, I was a certified NRA basic handgun instructor. One of my students, a 20-something guy, went on to get his concealed carry permit. Doing so actually increased his maturity. One time we went out to dinner, and while walking on the sidewalk some young toughs made some disparaging remarks towards us. They weren’t threats or anything, just something that punks say in their pathetic attempt to establish psychological dominance, or to provoke a response. But we didn’t respond in any way. After they were out of hearing distance, my friend remarked that he would have responded to that kind of situation before he started carrying.

    I don’t remember exactly what he said next, but he indicated that he realized he didn’t have to respond to trash talk now. He could just let it go. His firearm made him _more_ careful, cautious and responsible, not less. Carrying a firearm gave him a confidence such that he did NOT have to “prove anything” by verbally or physically responding to a taunt.

    If there’s any particle of truth to the “psycho-sexual” nature of carrying a firearm like nate (?) was talking about in a previous thread, then carrying a firearm for this guy was actually beneficial in that it helped him realize that he did NOT need to respond tit-for-tat to the punks in order to maintain his manhood, or save face, or establish some sort of male dominance in response to a verbal challenge.

    (And for those who still don’t get it, I’ll elaborate just a bit more.) Two things: First, he knew that if he had responded while armed, even just tit-for-tat, verbal-for-verbal, and if the punks responded physically, then he would carry some degree of blame for the escalation. Second, having a firearm on him and knowing how to use it, gave him confidence that if the punks had initiated a physical assault he (or we) could have protected ourselves. That latter point is very important, in that it gives the person an inner confidence and sense of security, whereby the “natural man” macho tendency to verbally respond to a verbal taunt is diminished or eliminated right from the beginning, before anything happens at all.

    In other words, carrying a firearm has an “anti-bully” or pacifying effect on the _carrier_.

    Now repeat the scenario across hundreds or thousands of law-abiding citizens carrying firearms in a city. And you have an overall effect of more people (like us good guys) consciously avoiding giving out any provocations, and NOT responding to others’ provocations, NOT giving any potential evil-doers (or just plain people who can’t control their tempers) a reason to initiate or escalate anything physical.

    And THAT is a real life example of how the saying “an armed society is a polite society” really works. (A similar maxim is “one sword keeps another in its sheath.”)

    Now, what if the punks we encountered had been armed? Well, if they were law-abiding citizens, but just immature and boorish in behavior with no actual criminal intent, perhaps if they had a basic firearms course and a basic lesson in the legal ramifications of CCW, they too would have “grown up” like my friend once they realized that you can’t go around creating contention while carrying a loaded pistol tucked in your belt.

    So the bottom line is, with people who have no criminal intent, carrying a gun makes *everyone* safer. And for those *with* criminal intent, they don’t care what the laws say anyway, gun control just isn’t going to affect their decisions.

  14. Book, this is an excellent point. I have observed the same thing with people who have concealed carry permits. Instead of making them more aggressive, it makes them less aggressive because they learn to respect the power they have. They begin to understand that self defense is a positive thing but that the moment that it becomes offensive it can cause irreparable harm.

    I would extend this to martial arts, which I have been practicing for nearly two years now. The best martial arts are completely compatible with the Gospel because they teach that spiritual preparation means awareness that every person has value and is loved by God. You learn to respect the power you have and to control it and to focus it in a way that helps yourself and the people around you — rather than to go around beating people up. And you begin to truly understand the principles of nonaggression.

    There are obviously individuals who don’t understand this message and take the power they have and turn it negatively, just as there are people who cannot handle the power of a gun. But overall weapons and martial arts bring a positive discipline to society that should not be underestimated. As long as we continue to live in a Fallen world, the weapons of self-defense will be necessary and will bring more good than harm.

  15. Forgot one last point. And had those punks realized, or kept in mind, that thousands of people do legally carry concealed firearms in Indianapolis, they wouldn’t have engaged in provocative trash-talk, i.e., been politer.

  16. Thanks for the links, I will read them eventually. I don’t have time to go into anything real long right now, but wanted to get this out real quick before the arguments against me go off track, and because I may not have been clear in my initial presentation. First, when I say more guns = more people shot I mean that and it is true. Why? Well, first, I concede that violent crime will go down when there are more guns used by responsible citezens. But what I am talking about is accidental deaths at home and mass shootings, which usually cannot be stopped by another carrier. The mentality of the more guns solution leads to the case I read about yesterday of the 5 yr old who was given a .22 as a gift and shot his little sister. So for every story about maturity you give me I will give you one about irresponsible parents. Another example (that hasn’t resulted in a death yet thankfully). My wife found out her dad owned a gun by one day finding one in a drawer with no safety. Did that make her feel safe? Was my father in law being responsible? So if we are to argue that we need more guns, let’s at least be reasonable about this and accept the fact that in order to reduce the number of unacceptable accidents, we need to enact some safety measures that don’t include gunning up our population. So just to make sure, again that I am being clear, when I talk about more deaths, I am talking about accidental deaths caused by guns, not crime control or self defense. And I apologize for not stating “facts” as I am not a gun owner and haven’t had to do a lot of research to protect my 2nd ammendment rights, but I am making an appeal based on common sense that I hope you will consider.

  17. One quick thing, when I said I will read the links eventually I didn’t mean to sound rude or short, I just mean I will read them thoughtfully as time permits. I am not against facts as long as they are true facts and unbiased.

  18. Rich, you say: “So if we are to argue that we need more guns, let’s at least be reasonable about this and accept the fact that in order to reduce the number of unacceptable accidents, we need to enact some safety measures that don’t include gunning up our population. So just to make sure, again that I am being clear, when I talk about more deaths, I am talking about accidental deaths caused by guns, not crime control or self defense.”

    You also say you are not a gun owner. Here is what happens with real-life gun owners: they respect the tools they have because they know their power. Just to give you an example: all of my guns are locked up in a combination safe. There is zero chance that my kids can get to the gun, but my wife can get to it in 15 seconds if there is an intruder in the house. I am not saying that every gun owner is as careful as I am, but I can tell you that the vast majority are indeed careful.

    Here is the issue you get into when you start talking about “safety measures.” Who decides what they are, and what exactly are they? So, let’s think this through. When you buy a chain saw, do you have to take a safety course before using it? How about a snowblower? How about a hammer or a knife? I can tell you that literally thousands of people are injured or killed every month in the U.S. by various tools in the home that *are potentially unsafe if used incorrectly*. The exact same principle applies to guns. Now you may say that guns are more lethal, and in some cases you are correct, but people are killed all the time by accident by chain saws and other instruments, and people are not necessarily always killed by guns. The principle remains the same: if we are discussing accidental deaths, we cannot single out guns. Guns are specifically protected by the Constitution.

    One last point: if you read my link on accidental deaths you will see that pools, stairs and cars are potentially more deadly than guns when it comes to accidents. We live in a dangerous world with all kinds of potential pitfalls. We cannot expect this danger to disappear anytime soon.

  19. It is truly remarkable that 2.5 million crimes are prevented each year by someone using a gun defensively. Or it would be if that number were accurate. If each of those crimes was attempted against a unique individual, that means about 1 in 125 Americans has used a gun in the past 12 months to stop a crime.

    And if that happens every year, then the numbers of people who have used guns defensively to stop crime must surely be higher than that. What, after all, are the odds that the same individuals are threatened by crime every year, and draw their weapons to prevent it, while the rest of live in a perfect paradise where crime never threatens us? So, after 40 years of adult life, why haven’t I met any of those defenders? I don’t know any of them–despite having a large flock of friends and in-laws who are armed to the teeth.

    That number (2.5 million crimes) is from a study done 20 years ago. Crime rates have fallen substantially in those 20 years in most of the country, including in places where it’s almost impossible for a person other than a policeman to obtain a gun (New York City, for example). If crime rates overall have fallen, is there any reason to believe that the number of defensive uses of guns has not also fallen?

    The fact is that nobody knows how many crimes guns are used to prevent, but it’s almost certainly a lot fewer than 2.5 million.

    One crime that gun owners contribute to (and which non-gun owners never will) is the theft of guns. At the same time that the 2.5 million crimes prevented study was done, another study estimated that over 300,000 guns were stolen every year. Some might in fact think it deliciously ironical that the chief pro-gun lobbyist was recently the victim of such a crime. But, thankfully, responsible gun owners would not allow that to happen.

  20. Not sure about the “no-fly” list, but I know of one person that would have benefited from Ted Kennedy being on a “no-drive” list. RIP Mary Jo.

  21. “The fact is that nobody knows how many crimes guns are used to prevent, but it’s almost certainly a lot fewer than 2.5 million”

    Mark B., I I think you make a decent point here, but I do believe there is a certain element of deterrence that can’t necessarily be quantified. How many intended crimes are never initiated because of the probability that a fair number in a given crowd are armed? Not really quantifiable, but not dismissible either.

  22. Mark B, I would agree with you that crime rates have fallen and that the number of defensive use of guns is probably lower than 2.5 million. You will note that I focused on the number 1.5 million myself. Let’s say it’s even lower than that, 1 million. It is still not an insignificant number and much larger than the number of accidental shootings, which all agree is at about 600 per year.

    I think you need to consider the fact that you are a relatively wealthy lawyer who is not living in a high-crime area. The fact that you don’t know people who have used guns to defend themselves is a anecdotal evidence that is really not that relevant. A poor Korean immigrant shop owner in LA probably uses a gun several times a year to defend himself: he lives in a different environment than you do and is quite grateful that he has a right to defend his property.

    Personally, I pray regularly that I will be able to go through my life without ever having to use a gun. But I also am thankful that when I travel my wife can get to a gun in 15 seconds to protect herself if necessary. In many countries, including some where I have lived like Brazil, laws would prevent that and my wife would be defenseless against an armed intruder. We have a lot to be thankful for — still — in the United States, and I plan on continuing to speak out about the right to self defense as long as I am able.

  23. I’ve had clients who ran businesses in Crown Heights, a rather notoriously high crime area in Brooklyn, New York, during the 80s and 90s. One actually got a gun after he was held up the third time. And within a week he was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon (which is what brought him to my office). But he hasn’t had any trouble with hold-ups since then. Which makes me suspect that there probably aren’t Korean grocers getting knocked over several times a year in Los Angeles.

  24. Mark B, anecdotal evidence is not evidence, as much as you would like it to be so. If you visit all of the links on this post and in the comments there are literally dozens of studies that support the idea that guns 1)save lives 2)reduce crime 3)are useful tools when used correctly (just like any other tool). When you throw in the Constitutional protections on guns, you really do protest too much on this issue and don’t really have very many facts to back up your assertions.

    You have made one worthwhile contribution, which is to point some valid criticism at the 2.5 million number. But you have not linked an alternative study to show the true number is a different number than I stated (remember, I think the real number is probably somewhere between 1 million and 1.5 million). So, in terms of evidence, dude, you got squat.

    You have a visceral dislike of guns. That’s fine. Nobody is forcing you to go get one. In fact, New York has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, so you are living in the right place if you don’t want to get a gun. Good for you. Please learn some tolerance for other people who have different opinions than you do and see guns as necessary for their self-protection and do not have the same emotional reaction that you do.

  25. I have no idea what makes you think that I have a visceral dislike of guns. I have never owned a gun, and don’t expect that I ever will, but I have fired guns at scout camp–nothing impressed a bunch of rowdy scouts more than seeing the old man put five shots inside a nickel on a target–and I ‘ve been pheasant hunting with my wife’s father and brothers. If people enjoy hunting, I have no objection to their owning guns and engaging in it.

    I also agree with the general futility of most gun “control” laws as proposed in the Congress. But I also do not believe that the 2nd Amendment is absolute, just as I don’t believe that the 1st or the 4th or the 5th Amendment is absolute.

    Perhaps most important, I don’t believe that a highly armed citizenry is our best defense against tyranny or crime. I’ve read summaries of Mr. Lott’s arguments, and his numbers look good, but New York City is a serious thorn in the side of his argument–crime rates have fallen precipitously in the past 20 years despite the fact that the laws limiting private ownership of guns remain, as you say, among the strictest in the country. This suggests that there are many causes other than gun ownership that affect crime rates, and that perhaps it’s not widespread gun ownership that causes crime rates to fall.

    And the best protection against tyranny is a well-informed electorate, not a well-armed electorate.

    You refused to post my quotation from Elder Dallin Oaks–but his argument, and the Lord’s teachings, are the real reasons that Latter-day Saints should find troubling the entire discourse about armed self-defense, about threatening and, if necessary, shooting another human being. As Will Munny said, “it’s a helluva thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got, all he’s ever gonna have.” As Elder Oaks said, you may realize that you do not want the blood of that man on your conscience for the rest of your life–even if the law would fully justify you in taking his life.

    There’s a better way than the way of the gun. And we don’t have to wait until the Millennium.

  26. Yes, people want to have guns so they can kill people and never worry about the consequences. C’mon Mark B, you are sounding like an immigration nativist now, ascribing motives to people that you know are not true. People have guns precisely because they want to protect themselves in the most extreme circumstances. People who own guns have seen their power and generally are the ones who are most respectful and careful about their use. Having a gun does not take away your emotional ability to see another person as a person loved by God, which is what you are implying. I cannot take you seriously anymore on this subject — you have proven yourself to be so emotional and irrational about peoples’ motives that you are beyond reasonable discourse.

    I am glad to see you recognize that new laws won’t work. I’ll concentrate on that point of agreement and try to forget the rest, which does not reflect very well on your character.

  27. Glenn Beck has just published a new book “Control” which lays out reasons to support the Second Amendment. It costs only about $8, and is written by about ten experts on the subject of gun control.

  28. Really, Mark B, Elder Oaks has said as a spokesman for the church that we’re not to defend ourselves? No wonder Geoff won’t let it through. If Elder Oaks said something THAT embarrassing to himself, we’d be doing him a favor by blocking it.

  29. Here is the key paragraph from Elder Oaks’ talk:

    “Just as I was about to make my move, I had a unique experience. I did not see anything or hear anything, but I knew something. I knew what would happen if I grabbed that gun. We would struggle, and I would turn the gun into that young man’s chest. It would fire, and he would die. I also understood that I must not have the blood of that young man on my conscience for the rest of my life.”

    I think Elder Oaks’ talk is admirable and correct. And if Mark B will open his mind a bit, I will explain to him why his comments are so incredibly insulting to the people he is trying to lecture.

    No sane latter-day Saint reading this who owns a gun *wants* to kill anybody. Every person I know who is a gun owner is conscious of the power of a gun. Until you actually shoot a large pistol or a 12-gauge or a hunting rifle you really don’t comprehend the power of these guns. (By the way, they are much more powerful than your average “assault rifle.”) As I have explained now multiple times, a gun is a tool that is only intended to be used in the most dire circumstances. I have been in several confrontations where I knew I could overwhelm somebody because I was bigger/stronger/faster/more skilled. As a latter-day Saint and a responsible person, my response has been proportionate to the situation, and in none of the situations was it necessary to hurt anybody. The same thing would apply if I were armed (I don’t concealed carry, so this is unlikely).

    My guns are locked in a safe in my house. My wife can get to one and have it ready to fire in 15 seconds. She would only use it if somebody *broke into the house*. And knowing my wife she would give the person who broke in the opportunity to leave without hurting him. But she would, in the end, protect herself and the kids if necessary.

    Mark B, your comments show you understand none of this. You see gun owners as violent and lacking a conscience, when the exact opposite is the case, i.e. gun owners know exactly what would happen if they acted and are likely to show restraint. The actual evidence shows this. If you study the times when peaceful law-abiding gun owners actually use a gun, in the vast majority of cases it is in pure self defense and as a last resort.

    I will let you explain yourself if you wish, but further insults will not be seen by anybody, so perform some self-editing before you click on the “Post comment” button.

  30. It’s funny, Mark B, if you read through the story, one doesn’t find any direct support for your supposition: “but his argument, and the Lord’s teachings, are the real reasons that Latter-day Saints should find troubling the entire discourse about armed self-defense, about threatening and, if necessary, shooting another human being.” unless you come to the text with a preconceived notion, that you’re looking for prooftexts for. I’m sure you wouldn’t look for prooftexts in a document…

  31. Did I ever say that Latter-day Saints who own a gun “want” to kill others? Never. And your argument against some person who accuses LDS gun owners of “wanting” to shoot others must be addressed at someone else. Because I never said it. If you can find anywhere that I said it, copy and paste it here so everyone can see. If I remember correctly (and, frankly, the record of what I said is on the blog, and can be read), I said “that Latter-day Saints should find troubling the entire discourse about armed self-defense, about threatening and, if necessary, shooting another human being.”

    Did I say that nobody should ever engage in armed self-defense? Did I suggest that LDS gun owners are trigger-happy psychopaths? The only person who “said” those things is someone who exists only in the projections in your own mind. I only said, and I repeat, that the whole discourse should be “troubling.” And your statements about “responsibility” suggests that we really aren’t very far apart on that subject.

    And that’s what Elder Oaks said, and he made a decision when a gun was pressed against his ribs which he is grateful for.

    Did I ever say that Geoff or anybody else would simply be trigger-happy and shoot the hypothetical mugger/intruder? No, I suggested that all the talk about armed self-defense should be viewed in light of the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and that Elder Oaks’s commentary was instructive and should be considered in the discussion.


    I have no idea what Zee DM means, since one major point of Elder Oaks’s telling that story was that he was troubled by the idea that fighting back against the mugger would result in the mugger’s death, and that he didn’t want that young man’s blood on his conscience.

    I have a dog. She’s a pretty good deterrent to potential intruders. She does cost more to maintain than a firearm, but she’s also a lot nicer to cuddle up with.

  32. Mark B, you’ve had your say. Better expressed than before, so I’ll let readers decide.

    I had another thought, however. Going up to Tossman’s comment, it is possible that the number of times a gun is used in self-defense to prevent innocent loss of life in a year is much, much higher than 2.5 million. I am not claiming I have an exact number, just asking for people to use basic common sense.

    Let’s say you are an immigrant, you come to the U.S. and open up a shop, a bodega, etc in a poor, high-crime neighborhood. Happens literally hundreds of times a year. You buy a gun for self-defense. It may be a shotgun, a handgun or even an “assault rifle.” Word gets around that you are armed. People avoid robbing your store because of the deterrence effect. Just by being armed you have prevented potentially dozens of deaths. The store employees are safer, the people who shop in the store are safer and the potential criminals are safer because they might die trying to rob your store. This deterrence effect simply would not exist without guns.

    Multiply this times tens of thousands of stores and millions of armed citizens in their homes and you can see why many, many lives (certainly in the millions) are safer because they are armed. Yes, about 600 people a year are killed accidentally by guns. But how many lives are saved?

    What we are talking about here is not “the way of the gun.” We are talking about the law of NOT using a gun simply because the firearm exists as a deterrent.

  33. Mark B: “I have no idea what Zee DM means, since one major point of Elder Oaks’s telling that story was that he was troubled by the idea that fighting back against the mugger would result in the mugger’s death, and that he didn’t want that young man’s blood on his conscience. ”

    Not quite how I understand the story. The major point of Elder Oaks’ story was that in one specific instance he was happy he chose not to take a certain course because God told him there was another way he could be protected. To extrapolate from that, that Elder Oaks was implying that Latter-day saints must simply die in order to not kill someone is about as dishonest as it comes. You have extrapolated from 1 data point to an absurd conclusion. I am fine with Elder Oaks sharing the story, but I’m pretty sure he’d find it frightening how you are twisting it to fit your own political persuasions. (Edited).

  34. (Edited) Nowhere in my comments have I made a single political suggestion. Neither did I extrapolate from Elder Oaks’ story that “Latter-day saints must simply die” rather than kill someone. In fact, if Zee DM were to re-read Elder Oaks’ talk (or if he checked his life story since 1970–it shouldn’t be hard, even for one not attuned to seeing subtlety, since most of his life since that time has been public) he’d realize that Elder Oaks did not in fact die in that incident he described. (Edited).

  35. I will be closing comments on this post. We appear to have reached the point where people just want to insult each other, and nothing productive can come of that. I may add comments that are not ad hominems in the future.

Comments are closed.