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Guns in the US: the myth of protection

Guns in the US: the myth of protection

A 2009 study shows correlation between carrying a gun and getting shot or killed. From New Scientist:

People who carry guns are far likelier to get shot – and killed – than those who are unarmed, a study of shooting victims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found.

… Charles Branas’s team at the University of Pennsylvania analysed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying at the time, and compared them to other Philly residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighbourhood.

Despite the US having the highest rate of firearms-related homicide in the industrialised world, the relationship between gun culture and violence is poorly understood. A recent study found that treating violence like an infectious disease led to a dramatic fall in shootings and killings.

Overall, Branas’s study found that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher.

Some bloggers comment on the recent shootings in Colorado.

Grandmère Mimi aka June Butler quotes Walter Wink on the myth of redemptive violence.

Elizabeth Kaeton on Facebook

Here’s the thing: Shooting 70 people and killing 12 in a movie theater is an evil act by a person who has clearly lost a foothold on reality. People with mental illnesses are not evil. They are not possessed by demons. This is 2012, people. That doesn’t mean that we don’t hold people who are mentally ill and commit heinous crimes accountable for their actions. Let’s watch our language, please. And, could we please start talking about gun control? I mean, if you want to talk about ‘evil’.

Donald Schell wrote in “Guns” at Daily Episcopalian before this most recent shooting:

What would it take for us together to speak against the profitable business of manufacturing ready means for criminals and madmen to kill? What if we began to tell our stories and listen to others’ stories? Could we find common voice with other people who count on the safety of churches, schools, stores and shopping malls, offices buildings, theaters, and the streets we walk on?

Ultimately the cost of Columbine, of Texas Tower, of Virginia Tech, and of stories like mine and yours, stories of places we live, of friends and neighbors, stories of guns pointed at people we know and love, ultimately the cost is fear, not just fear of strangers but fear of any face-to-face community.


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Weiwen Ng

After the Giffords shooting, I was thinking of posting a few weeks after the incident out of respect. I didn’t quite get around to it.

However, this is the second mass civilian shooting this year (the Army base shooting excluded).

Additionally, one lawmaker made public comments that an armed bystander could have prevented the massacre. One Slate columnist interviewed a firearms instructor and NRA member who insisted that he could have taken Holmes down.

We have a lot folks dying from gun violence, including suicide, accident, and individual confrontations (justified and not). Even within the law of the land, there are ways to preserve people’s access to weapons for hunting and defense, while making it more difficult to kill a number of unarmed civilians. And yet some folks on the pro-gun side are howling. I think a response is warranted.

Mine is here, by the way.

David O'Rourke

One of the headlines in today’s Denver Post is that requests for background checks in Colorado to purchase firearms jumped 41% over the weekend. One gun shop reported 15 to 20 people waiting at the door Friday morning to make purchases.


Pete, another difference that we haven’t yet touched between gun violence and auto deaths (and others, like workplace accidents, etc): in fact auto safety is quite regulated. There was a time when seat belts weren’t required equipment, and even once installed it was a long time before laws required that they be worn. There was a time before air bags were installed; and there are still states where one can operate a motorcycle without a helmet. We’ve been regulating safety on cars and trucks for a long time; and while folks complain when new requirements happen – “It will add weight, and cost fuel economy;” or “it will add to the cost and the consumer won’t like it;” or “if I want to take the risk, it’s mine to take….” – we’ve come to accept that there are risks to others that we take into account that justify healthy limits to our actions. A small group with a lot of money and a big voice and an absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment have kept us from taking reasonable actions regarding guns and ammunition that we’ve been taking with cars and trucks for a long time.

Marshall Scott

Ann Fontaine

To drive a car you need a license, you can’t drive if impaired. For gun there is not even a minimal standards. I am not against owning guns. I have them – but I am against weapons that have no other purpose than killing people and I am sad that the US is a huge exporter of weapons.

Yes there are still accidents and people drive drunk but there is an effort to stop this. There is no effort at all to stop gun violence, teach ways of conflict resolution that don’t involve getting out the guns.

Bill Dilworth

One more thing: guns are weapons, articles of violence and destruction (which may be justified, unjustified, or neither depending on the target). They already command a certain amount of concern and fear because of the violence that is part and parcel of their being. A car is usually a tool, a form of transportation. When an object of violence is used against the innocent, especially when used randomly, it stirs public anger in a special way.

Sometimes car wrecks do command the same sort of anger – witness the young woman sent to prison a couple of years ago for intentionally causing a head-on collision in a failed suicide attempt; she survived, but the woman driving the other car and her young son did not

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