So the story of a Florida man shot for texting in a movie theater by a retired police officer has gained quite a lot of American media attention. It’s a strange, unprompted tragedy that deserves the scrutiny- though more on a policy level than the dark humor of an individual taking the law about not texting in a theater far too seriously.
An editorial by Ana Marie Cox in The Guardian points out that this sort of unprovoked gun violence is not rare in the United States. Rather, it’s commonplace to the point that many incidents don’t gain publicity outside of local coverage. And in the case of the movie shooting, it was almost immediately overshadowed by an incident in a New Mexico middle school. Often tragic, preventable gun murders stack up and overload the system. It ends:
You keep a gun out of the argument, you will save lives. This is not hypothetical. A person may be intent on killing someone else, but it is simply harder to do with anything else. That’s why forms of homicide other than guns account for only about a third of all homicides. Someone gets angry at someone else, they may reach for a weapon. If we make guns harder to get, by requiring a test for the license, or by banning handguns more broadly, the one at hand might be far less deadly.
The gun debate in America is one of the worst-argued issues of concern, with a lot of crappy logic and willful dishonesty. It may be even worse and circular than the abortion debate. However, the fact that even basic self-evident truths are not agreed upon- American has a lot of guns, a lot of gun homicides, a lot of gun suicides, very lax training and licensing standards, a large number of gun owners use or store guns in a dangerous way (etc. etc. oh god etc.) means one thing: people will continue to be shot in contexts that would have ended differently if the shooter hadn’t owned a gun or carried it with them.
7 thoughts on “Gunned down for nothing in America”
“The gun debate in America is one of the worst-argued issues of concern, with a lot of crappy logic and willful dishonesty. It may be even worse and circular than the abortion debate. However, the fact that even basic self-evident truths are not agreed upon- American has a lot of guns, a lot of gun homicides, a lot of gun suicides,…”
Could engage in no doubt what you would consider “crappy logic” by pointing out that the vast majority of homicides in the U.S. involve drugs, and drug dealers and customers, and happen in areas, mostly inner cities run by Demoncrats with lots of gun laws. Also could point out that according to FBI stats for 2011 for homicide that where the race of the offender was known it was black 52.4% of the time although blacks were less than 13% of the population then (or just refer you back to drug dealing, etc.).
But let’s focus on just one thing you said – gun suicides. Now I guess you believe that if there were less guns in the U.S. there would be less suicides, right? That is an article of faith for you no doubt. Suicides with a gun are the majority of all gun deaths in the U.S. (roughly 1/3 every year).
It is difficult to compare different countries. Different cultures can make that difficult. For example in Japan they have a lot of suicides but hardly any guns. But you’ll cry “foul” in comparing such a different culture.
But how about the U.K.? That’s pretty close to us. A lot of our culture and common law came from people who came here from the U.K. And because in the U.K. they largely banned most civilian gun ownership not long ago we have a perfect comparison.
So compared to the U.K. we have a lot of guns. Right? So we should have more suicides right? The easy availability of guns leads to more suicides, right?
Wrong. According to last stats I have seen on Wikipedia the suicide rate in the U.S. is 12.0 per 100,000 and 11.8 in the U.K. – a statistically insignificant difference comparing a country with easy availability of guns vs. one with much less access.
We do have more gun suicides in the U.S. than the U.K. That is a fact. But we don’t have a significant number more of total suicides. Obviously people will find a way to kill themselves if they are determined to do so.
So, is that just more “crappy logic”?
“mostly inner cities run by Demoncrats with lots of gun laws”
Also, regardless of rate gun ownership in and of itself increases suicide rate, plus it is not comparable to other methods due to how incredibly high its success rate is.
The benchmark is not a random developed country (the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy etc all have significantly lower rates) but rather what the rate would be in the same country with a lower gun ownership rate.
Also I’m not sure why you came here to be cranky and highly defensive. Why you took a general comment of a vast debate as a personal insult is beyond me.
“…gun ownership in and of itself increases suicide rate…”
Harvard School of Public Health may not actually be a credible source. One question – can you get their data – have they published raw data and their methods independent review? This has been systematic of several researchers there, not releasing relevant data for independent review. On the other hand Kleck and Gertz who found that firearms are used for self defense 2.5 million times a year in the U.S. in a study back in the 1990s (was actually much more violent back then – has been decreasing steadily since) released everything. I read a real “crappy logic” analysis of that by another of your Harvard guys (Kleck did a really good job of showing just how crappy it was, by the way).
“[gun suicides are] not comparable to other methods due to how incredibly high its success rate is.”
Of course they are comparable. Means that the U.K. folks had to work harder to kill themselves and perhaps use more painful methods to do so (after all, a bullet to the brain with near instantaneous unconsciousness is a lot more humane that strangling with a rope around your neck for minutes until you lose consciousness).
Speaking of Harvard, there is this one by Don Kates which was published by the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:
WOULD BANNING FIREARMS REDUCE MURDER AND SUICIDE?
A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL AND SOME DOMESTIC EVIDENCE
DON B. KATES* AND GARY MAUSER**
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
Click to access Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf
Nevertheless you don’t have to have a PHD to compare the suicide rates of the U.S. vs. the U.K. with vastly different gun ownership rates. That raw data indicates there is no particular correlation.
“Why you took a general comment of a vast debate as a personal insult is beyond me.”
Are you referring to my reference to your “crappy logic” remark. I didn’t intend that to be a deeply personal insult. Just a remark to hang my reply on, a rhetorical device, so to speak. :)
Whatever, don’t take my remarks as being intended to be a huge insult.
P.S. I said this:
“Suicides with a gun are the majority of all gun deaths in the U.S. (roughly 1/3 every year).”
Meant to say 2/3. Typo.
I find it incredibly disturbing how so many Americans are pro guns. We are not here in the UK and long may it remain that way. I am thankful not to have met a single person here who’d wish to follow in America’s footsteps. I was not born in England and I have spent time in both Europe & America. My friends and I would much rather embrace a European influence than an American one. America has this horribly wrong. Thank you for a very interesting read.
“My friends and I would much rather embrace a European influence than an American one.”
And that is one of the really great things about the principles that America was founded on. We fully support your right to “embrace a European influence.” Just do it in Europe, please.
How’s that working out for you in the U.K.? I have heard gun crimes there have doubled and the U.K. government apparently has been working hard to manipulate statistics so as not to show the true extent of the increase of violent crime there.