tl;dr to follow:
It’s rare that I actually change my mind about something. I’m a stubborn old hag, and in my peculiar way, I can be very set in my worldview. Last night, I changed my mind about gun control. I’ve been on the fence for some time, and my friends that are anti-gun control proponents have made some very good points in the past that have made me wibble on my stance in this issue. Prompted by yesterday’s unspeakable tragedy, I started reading and rereading a metric shit ton of articles related to gun violence. I’ve changed my mind: I have scooted firmly into the pro-gun control camp. I don’t think that America needs to be disarmed, nor do I think that’s even possible. This country’s love of guns is too deeply entrenched in its culture. I think that common sense laws need to be enacted, and assault rifles need to be banned.
Here’s the crux of what changed my mind:
Yesterday morning, a man walked into an American elementary school with a Glock and a Sig Sauer. 28 people are dead, 20 of whom were children.
Yesterday morning, a man walked into a Chinese elementary school and stabbed 22 children and one adult. None of the victims died.
It’s the contrast that solidified my feelings once and for all. Yes, knives, mallets, rose shears, brass knuckles, broken beer bottles, and sharpened sticks can all be utilized by violent people to commit violent crimes, but you just can’t beat guns – especially automatic weapons – when it comes to the efficient slaughter of human beings.
So, here’s some links. I’m not sharing these because I’m trying to sway anyone’s opinion – honestly, I am soulsick, tired, and (hoping no one takes offense) I honestly don’t give two shits whether anyone agrees with me. I simply want to share a few of the links I pulled up in the last few days just in case some of you want to give them a look over. It’s just food for thought. Discuss, or don't, as you please.
Extremely interesting list of studies of gun use compiled by the Harvard School of Public Healthhttp://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/index.html
(This is a tremendously valuable resource.)
Global Murder Rateshttp://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/oct/10/world-murder-rate-unodc
Gun Homicides and Gun Ownership Listed by Countryhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list
Children and Gun Deathshttp://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/protect-children-not-guns-2012.pdf
It’s Easier For Americans To Access Guns Than Mental Health Serviceshttp://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/14/1338021/its-easier-for-americans-to-access-guns-than-mental-health-services/
A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deathshttp://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/
(Thank you, Spencer.)
Twelve Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the UShttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/
Why School Shootings Don’t Lead to Tighter Gun Control in the UShttp://qz.com/36996/why-school-shootings-dont-lead-to-tighter-gun-control-in-the-us/
More Guns, More Mass Shootings -- Coincidence?http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation
A Guide to Mass Shootings in Americahttp://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map
Twelve Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the United Stateshttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/
The Geography of Gun Deathshttp://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/
The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in Americahttp://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/publications/WhitePaper102512_CGPR.pdf
Mythbusting: Israel and Switzerland Are Not Gun-Toting Utopiashttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias/
Look, the idea that armed bystanders would have been able to stop any of these mass shootings is absurd cowboy nonsense. Here’s the thing: if someone goes into a classroom (or a movie theatre, or a church, or a mall, WHEREVER) with a semi or fully automatic gun with a high-capacity magazine and he or she starts shooting, /a lot of people will die/, period. Even if there are armed good-guy cowboys present, people will die, and these well-intentioned cowboys, having likely never received formal training, will only add to the body count. Arming MORE people isn’t the answer; the only rational way to minimize the frequency of mass shootings is to increase access to mental health services, work towards removing the stigmas attached to asking for emotional and psychological help, and implement policies that would make automatic and semi-automatic weapons as well as high-capacity magazines illegal (at best) or (at the very least) much harder to acquire. Two-thirds of the guns used in mass shootings in recent years were purchased legally. There is something grievously wrong with our gun policy.
Here are some measures that even the NRA supports:
1. Requiring criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees. 87 percent of non-NRA gun-owners and 74 percent of NRA gun owners support the former, and 80 percent and 79 percent, respectively, endorse the latter.
2. Prohibiting terrorist watch list members from acquiring guns. Support ranges from 80 percent among non-NRA gun-owners to 71 percent among NRA members.
3. Mandating that gun-owners tell the police when their gun is stolen. 71 percent non-NRA gun-owners support this measure, as do 64 percent of NRA members.
4. Concealed carry permits should only be restricted to individuals who have completed a safety training course and are 21 and older. 84 percent of non-NRA and 74 percent of NRA member gun-owners support the safety training restriction, and the numbers are 74 percent and 63 percent for the age restriction.
5. Concealed carry permits shouldn’t be given to perpetrators of violent misdemeanors or individuals arrested for domestic violence. The NRA/non-NRA gun-owner split on these issues is 81 percent and 75 percent in favor of the violent misdemeanors provision and 78 percent/68 percent in favor of the domestic violence restriction.
I’m not saying that we should hack apart the 2nd amendment; what I’m saying is that we need to take a long, hard look at what our priorities are as a nation, and make some efforts to keep congressmen from getting shot in the face and keep children from being massacred in their classrooms.
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Harvard Firearms Research: Homicidehttp://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html
1. Where there are more guns there is more homicide (literature review).
Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.
Hepburn, Lisa; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and homicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 2004; 9:417-40.
2. Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.
We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries from the early 1990s. We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.
Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries. Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88.
3. Across states, more guns = more homicide
Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states over a ten year period (1988-1997).
After controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.
Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997. American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993.
4. Across states, more guns = more homicide (2)
Using survey data on rates of household gun ownership, we examined the association between gun availability and homicide across states, 2001-2003. We found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide. This relationship held for both genders and all age groups, after accounting for rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and resource deprivation (e.g., poverty). There was no association between gun prevalence and non-firearm homicide.
Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64.
Harvard Firearms Research: Gun-Threats and Self-Defense Gun Usehttp://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use/index.html
1-3 Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense
We use epidemiological theory to explain why the "false positive" problem for rare events can lead to large overestimates of the incidence of rare diseases or rare phenomena such as self-defense gun use. We then try to validate the claims of many millions of annual self-defense uses against available evidence. We find that the claim of many millions of annual self-defense gun uses by American citizens is invalid.
Hemenway, David. Survey research and self-defense gun use: An explanation of extreme overestimates. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 1997; 87:1430-1445.
Hemenway, David. The myth of millions of annual self-defense gun uses: A case study of survey overestimates of rare events. Chance (American Statistical Association). 1997; 10:6-10.
Cook, Philip J; Ludwig, Jens; Hemenway, David. The gun debate's new mythical number: How many defensive uses per year? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 1997; 16:463-469.
4. Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal
We analyzed data from two national random-digit-dial surveys conducted under the auspices of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Criminal court judges who read the self-reported accounts of the purported self-defense gun use rated a majority as being illegal, even assuming that the respondent had a permit to own and to carry a gun, and that the respondent had described the event honestly from his own perspective.
Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah. Gun use in the United States: Results from two national surveys. Injury Prevention. 2000; 6:263-267.
5. Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.
Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Center, we examined the extent and nature of offensive gun use. We found that firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense. All reported cases of criminal gun use, as well as many of the so-called self-defense gun uses, appear to be socially undesirable.
Hemenway, David; Azrael, Deborah. The relative frequency of offensive and defensive gun use: Results of a national survey. Violence and Victims. 2000; 15:257-272.
6. Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime.
Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, we investigated how and when guns are used in the home. We found that guns in the home are used more often to frighten intimates than to thwart crime; other weapons are far more commonly used against intruders than are guns.
Publication: Azrael, Deborah R; Hemenway, David. In the safety of your own home: Results from a national survey of gun use at home. Social Science and Medicine. 2000; 50:285-91.
7. Adolescents are far more likely to be threatened with a gun than to use one in self-defense.
We analyzed data from a telephone survey of 5,800 California adolescents aged 12-17, which asked questions about gun threats against, and self-defense gun use by these young people. We found that these young people were far more likely to be threatened with a gun than to use a gun in self-defense, and most of the reported self-defense gun uses were hostile interactions between armed adolescents. Males, smokers, binge drinkers, those who threatened others and whose parents were less likely to know their whereabouts were more likely both to be threatened with a gun and to use a gun in self-defense.
Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Gun threats against and self-defense gun use by California adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2004; 158:395-400.
8. Criminals who are shot are typically the victims of crime
Using data from a survey of detainees in a Washington D.C. jail, we worked with a prison physician to investigate the circumstances of gunshot wounds to these criminals.
We found that one in four of these detainees had been wounded, in events that appear unrelated to their incarceration. Most were shot when they were victims of robberies, assaults and crossfires. Virtually none report being wounded by a "law-abiding citizen."
May, John P; Hemenway, David. Oen, Roger; Pitts, Khalid R. When criminals are shot: A survey of Washington DC jail detainees. Medscape General Medicine. 2000; June 28. www.medscape.com
9-10. Few criminals are shot by decent law abiding citizens
Using data from surveys of detainees in six jails from around the nation, we worked with a prison physician to determine whether criminals seek hospital medical care when they are shot. Criminals almost always go to the hospital when they are shot. To believe fully the claims of millions of self-defense gun uses each year would mean believing that decent law-abiding citizens shot hundreds of thousands of criminals. But the data from emergency departments belie this claim, unless hundreds of thousands of wounded criminals are afraid to seek medical care. But virtually all criminals who have been shot went to the hospital, and can describe in detail what happened there.
May, John P; Hemenway, David. Oen, Roger; Pitts, Khalid R. Medical Care Solicitation by Criminals with Gunshot Wound Injuries: A Survey of Washington DC Jail Detainees. Journal of Trauma. 2000; 48:130-132.
May, John P; Hemenway, David. Do Criminals Go to the Hospital When They are Shot? Injury Prevention 2002: 8:236-238.