Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Let's Get Real About Guns

I've got friends and relatives who think it's very important to be armed for self defense these days.  A long time ago, I would have agreed with them.  But I've come to realize that guns do NOT protect you.

Friends offer me these scenarios:

Someone comes into your child's classroom, shooting.  Wouldn't you want your child's teacher to be armed?

No, because (a) I don't want a firefight in a small classroom which likely holds more students than recommended by the fire marshal and only one exit. (b) I don't believe the teacher would be able to pull a gun fast enough to shoot the bad guy and protect everyone.

Someone breaks into your house at night while you're sleeping and is armed with a gun. Wouldn't you want to have a gun in your home?

No, because I wouldn't want to rely on my ability to get to the gun before an armed robber gets to it, or get to a gun before I'm shot.

And people don't understand that... they figure no matter what, a gun gives you a fighting chance.

Recently ABC News did an investigation on just that topic:

Most people vastly overestimated their ability to defend themselves with a gun, even one holstered on their bodies.

Of course, the comments on the video from gun supporters overwhelmingly damn the study as "artificial" and "unrealistic".  Some people won't be convinced by evidence, so deeply ingrained is the idea that gun ownership is an American Right.

The fact of the matter is, that despite being a nation with 88.8 guns per 100 people [The Atlantic Wire], more people in the us have died by domestic gunfire than in all of America's wars combined.  [Mark Shields, December 21st, 2012 in the PBS NewsHour]

The sheer numbers alone should tell us that guns don't make us safe.

Then there's the idea that what happened in Newtown was a "fluke" and that the guns in the case were somehow "illegal" because they were purchased by the shooter's mother rather than the shooter himself.  But in CT there is no gun registration, nor is there in other states, and guns can be transferred freely and without record.  There is no federal law requiring registration of weapons.  The guns were legal.

Likewise, the guns used in the recent Greigos case in Albuquerque were legal: owned by the father of the 15 year old killer. In both cases not only did having guns in the home fail to protect the adult owners, but they were the very same guns used in the multiple murders of the teen's entire family.

Then recently, two young men exercising their constitutional right to defend themselves, got in an argument on a Houston campus and had a shoot out, not only did they shoot each other, but at least one innocent bystander, and one shot himself while fleeing. [ABC News]  The reason for the argument remains unknown, despite that, some agencies are reporting that this might have been gang related [NBC News]

None the less, people are flocking to get more guns. During the Gun Appreciation Day Gun shows last Saturday, 5 people were injured in careless accidents, in some cases shooting others while handling their own guns or shooting themselves [ CBS News]

The thing that bothers me is that the very people promoting gun ownership and talking about "responsibility" are the ones showing the most reckless behavior: transporting loaded guns to gun shows, neglecting to lock up their guns or use trigger locks (which, by the way, would seriously slow down their ability to access and fire their guns during a home intrusion).

It would seem simple common sense in light of all this to say that gun ownership is more dangerous, and that you're more likely to be harmed IF you own a gun, than you would be endangered by an armed intruder.

Jesus may have said that those who live by the sword, die by the sword, but I would guess if he'd lived today, he would have said the same about guns. [Matthew 26:52]