They are getting desperate, aren't they? In today's Washington Post comes (anonymously) a near repeat of San Francisco Chronicle writer Kevin Fagin's recent gun confiscation paean "And That's the Trouble: The gun debate, personalized," which I fisked last week. One shot (so to speak) from the left coast, and now one from the right. Today's bit of utopic mendacity is entitled Killing Made Easy. Let us fisk:
WITH PITIFULLY little notice paid, another rash of year-end homicide statistics points up the madness of this country's fascination with handguns. The domestic arms race continues full tilt. More kids are taking handguns to school in Maryland and Virginia, according to a report by The Post's Daniel de Vise, and one big, sorry reason is that more than a few of them are responding to a perceived threat of violence in their midst. Murders by handguns continue to rock Prince George's County and the District with a vengeance.Really? Prince George's County and the District? Where gun control is far more strict than anywhere in neighboring (and much less crime-ridden) Virginia? (Or pretty much anywhere else in the country?) Say it ain't so!
But this situation is obviously a gun control problem, not a cultural problem, right? It's so much easier to decide that inanimate objects are the cause than it is to face up to the fact that children feel threatened and that children are willing to commit lethal violence - without guns, too. Nope. Blaming the guns is far easier.
Three Maryland jurisdictions -- Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George's -- accounted for more than half of all school weapons incidents (the statistics include knives) in the state.Ever looked at what it takes to legally buy a gun in Maryland? And keep it? That's the state where Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. on October 20, 1999 in a press release "outlined the first step toward making Maryland the first state in the nation to outlaw handgun ownership except in very limited circumstances" with his manifesto, A Farewell to Arms (a 65-page PDF file).
He's still Attorney General. Apparently the plan isn't going all that well, at least at disarming the criminally inclined. Color me surprised.
Prince George's tallied 533 weapon suspensions in 2004-05, up 74 percent from 306 in 1999-2000. But the prevalence of weapons in the schools is only one reflection of the regional scene and that of the nation as a whole. Police in most jurisdictions report that the majority of killings occur after two men argue and one or both pull out guns.There you go: the availability of handguns is "murderous." You read it in the Washington Post so it must be true, right? The fact that the editorial is unsigned gives it that much more validity! It couldn't be a "warped way of life" practiced by the victims and assailants, could it?
There's an obvious thread here that members of Congress choose not to see: The all-too-free flow of handguns, a warped way of life that cows presidents and members of Congress who ought to recognize that the availability of handguns is murderous.
No, of course not. It's the guns. It must be the guns!
The problem is that Americans own 65 million handguns and the only effective safety measure would be a ban on these made-for-murder weapons.(Emphasis mine, of course.) Really? You're WAY behind, whoever you are. The number was 65 million in 1994. According to the federal Office of Justice Programs 1997 Annual Report:
In 1994, 44 million Americans owned 192 million firearms, 65 million of which were handguns.The homicide rate in 1994 was 9.6/100,000 population. However, each and every year we add more handguns to the total in private hands. It's that "availability" problem, you see. According to a White House press release from February 4, 2000:
Handguns Account for Nearly Half of All New Gun Sales – About 2 Million Per Year. Fifty years ago, handguns represented only one out of every 10 new gun sales. Now they account for more than four out of 10.Being generous and estimating a mere 1.5 million per year, since 1994 we've added (carry the one...) over sixteen million new handguns into circulation. Not 65 million, but 81 million handguns or more are currently in circulation. We can trust .gov statistics, right?
The most recent homicide rate information? Still on its decline from the 1993 peak, homicide reached a new low of 5.5/100,000 in 2004 according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.
So, would you please explain how, if "the availability of handguns is murderous," the addition of at least sixteen million handguns - an increase of about twenty-five percent - resulted in a reduction in homicides nationally - of over 42%?
Unless, of course, your premise is entirely in error.
Nah, couldn't be. You're a journalist.
As writer Jenny Price noted in a Dec. 25 op-ed in The Post, only 160 of the 12,000 guns used to kill people every year are employed in legitimate self-defense; guns in the home are used seven times more often for homicide than for self-defense.If you want to define "self-defense" as strictly "putting the bad guy six feet under." Most of us in the real world, (that is, not journalism-school graduates) define "self-defense" as "stopping an attack" or "preventing a crime." The death of the perpetrator is not required. Go peruse Clayton Cramer's self-defense blog for a long list of successful (and a few not-so-successful) defensive gun uses where, amazingly, nobody died! Or, even better, read the ones where a perpetrator died, but their intended victims survived! Especially the ones where the perpetrator didn't use a gun, since (also according to the FBI) only about 18% of violent crime involves a firearm.
Unsurprisingly, there are no stories from the Washington Post listed on Clayton's site at this time. (Or probably ever, for that matter.)
While the actual number of legitimate defensive gun uses is a hotly argued topic, I'd estimate that it's somewhere around a half-million a year. The lowest estimate anywhere comes from the government (surprise!) In 1994 (before many states enacted "shall-issue" concealed-carry laws) the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in a little-publicized blurb of a report, Guns and Crime: Handgun Victimization, Firearm Self-Defense, and Firearm Theft concluded:
On average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to defend themselves or their property.Personally, I think that number is tremendously low, but still, that's 227 defensive gun uses a DAY - not exactly the 160 annually that "writer Jenny Price" (and the anonymous author of this op-ed) would like you to walk away believing. And that's - at a minimum - almost seven times more defensive gun uses than criminal homicides. Interesting numerical coincidence, no?
Still, not inclined to let mere facts get in the way, the piece continues:
Lawmakers know all this and know as well that handguns -- however exalted they seem to be in America -- should not be in general circulation. Political long shot that it may be, a national ban on the general manufacture, sale and ownership of handguns ought be enacted.Just like they did in Britain! But, the author admits:
It would not pacify kids or adults with violent tendencies, and it might not curb general criminal activity markedly. But it might well save thousands of lives.It might? Based on what evidence? The National Academy of Sciences issued a 328-page report in 2004 based on 253 journal articles, 43 government publications, 99 books, a survey of 80 different gun-control laws and some of its own independent study. The report said the panel could find no link between gun control laws and lower rates of crime, firearms violence or even accidents with guns. This duplicates a 324 page study published in 1983 titled Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America. Twenty years more data, and still no evidence that "gun control" has any effect on gun violence. (I reviewed both of these reports back in December, 2004 in Evidence of Absence. Read the last couple of paragraphs of that.)
And Britain serves as a marvelous example of the futility of a handgun ban. Save lives? Can anyone demonstrate that Britain - where all legally owned handguns were registered, so they knew who to take them from - has saved a single life by banning and confiscating all of those legally owned firearms? Hardly, since homicide by handgun has been increasing there since the ban.
In an effort to appease the "sport shooters," we get this:
Handgun exceptions could be made for federal, state and local law enforcement and military agencies; collectors of antique firearms; federally licensed handgun sporting clubs with certain safety procedures; security guard services; and licensed dealers, importers or manufacturers that are determined to be meeting those needs.What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand? Don't you think the burden of proof that such a ban would be effective is on YOU if you want to violate a fundamental enumerated right? How about trying to pass a Constitutional amendment? No, that's too hard. The populace is obviously stupid, since the NRA can dupe them into opposing gun control, but not stupid enough to be duped into giving up their guns.
Such a bill was proposed more than a decade ago by Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.), who has since died.A man who might be surprised to learn that our homicide rate has declined by nearly half in that decade, while the total number of handguns has gone up by over sixteen million, don't you think?
"I hear people say it's a radical proposal," he said then. "Well, I think to have the current situation is radical. No other country has anything like it."Britain does. Enacted in 1996. Pretty radical. Didn't help. So we should repeat their failure here? Expand on that failure?
He described slaughter by handguns as killing in record numbers, threatening education and pushing the high costs of education even higher. So what's new today?What's new? Sixteen million more handguns, 42% less homicide. Chafee introduced his "Public Health and Safety Act of 1993" in September of that year. In 1993 only sixteen states had "shall-issue" concealed carry laws on the books, and only Vermont allowed concealed-carry with no permit. In 2006 there are 35 states that have "shall-issue" concealed carry, and Alaska has adopted "Vermont carry." That's new, too.
But with all the evidence against you, you still won't stop flogging that equine corpse.