Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fact Checking, for The Children.

Today's Tucson Citizen carried a USA Today article on the scourge of unsecured firearms in private homes. Another "guns as disease vector" meme. After the flurry of personal defense stories from New Orleans (and the stories of neanderthals shooting at rescuers), I have to wonder about the timing, but let's fact-check this story:
36% of Az's adults keep firearms at home

About 1.7 million U.S. children, including about 109,000 in Arizona, live in homes with loaded, unlocked firearms, according to the largest survey ever done on home weapons storage, out today in the Pediatrics online journal

James Mercy, researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleague Catherine Okoro analyzed surveys of 224,000 adults done by health departments in 50 states and the District of Columbia during 2002.

One-third of adults in America, and 36.2 percent of Arizona's adults, have handguns, rifles or shotguns at home, says the CDC report. But states vary greatly in the percentage of adults who keep weapons, and in how many with children at home store their guns loaded and unlocked. In Arizona, 7.6 percent of households have a loaded and unlocked firearm.
Err, no. One third of adults in America, 36.2% of Arizona's adults, and 7.6% of households surveyed admit to owning firearms or admit to having a loaded and unlocked firearm. I suspect that a number of people queried either lied or answered "fuck off!" or its equivalent, so the accuracy of that particular set of data is questionable. If you're interested, the study is here.

But let's continue:
Eighteen states have laws dealing with proper storage of guns to limit access to children, says Jon Vernick, co-director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University's school of public health. But the laws vary in strictness and in the ages of kids covered, he says.
"Proper" storage. As in "state-sanctioned, state-approved, state-mandated, storage." The kind of "proper storage" that helped prevent 14 year-old Jessica Carpenter from protecting her brother and sister. The kind of "proper storage" that would have prevented an 11 year-old boy from shooting an intruder in South Bend Indiana. The man he shot was holding a box cutter to his grandmother's neck. Rare? Yes, but not unheard of.
Little is known about how well these laws are enforced, Vernick adds. "They're great, and we absolutely need more states with laws. But often they seem to get enforced after it's too late, when a child has shot himself or someone else."
That ought to chill you. How do you "enforce" a "proper storage" law? Why, by inspection, don't you know? And in order to know where to inspect, you must know who owns guns - doesn't that follow?
Two studies show accidental gun deaths and teen suicides decline in states with these laws, he says. Another study, out this year, suggests children and teens are less likely to shoot themselves or others in homes with unloaded or locked guns stored separately from ammunition.
I'm sorry, but I want links to these studies. Accidental gun deaths? We'll get to that in just a minute. Teen suicide? I don't think so. Teen suicide by gun, possibly, but overall? I find that highly doubtful. Gun access had nothing to do with Australia's massive increase in youth suicide. They took largely to hanging themselves.
The "Pediatrics" report says that of 1,400 children and teens shot to death in 2002, about 90 percent were home when it happened.
Ah! We have a number now! Let's check the CDC and see what it has to say.

The report itself states: "Firearm-related injuries remained the second leading cause of injury mortality in 2002, accounting for 30242 firearm-related deaths. Of all firearm injury deaths, 56.6% were suicides, 39.1% were homicides, 2.5% were unintentional, and an additional 1.8% were legal interventions or of undetermined intent. Furthermore, (approximately) 1400 firearm deaths were among persons (less than) 18 years old." According to the CDC's WISQARS Injury Mortality tool there were 115 accidental deaths by gunshot for children less than eighteen years of age in 2002. There were 423 suicides by gunshot. For all death by gunshot wound, including homicide, the total was 1,443. Now, that's out of a population of (according to the same source) 72,846,775 children up through the age of 17. By comparison, 1,007 children in this group died by accidental drowning, and 551 committed suicide by other means. Bicycle accidents accounted for another 164.

Let me make this as clear as I can: Each death of a child is tragic, but I think the fear of accidental death by firearm is wholly overblown.
"It's a frightening problem," says Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a lobbying group that favors limiting gun ownership.
No, they favor gun confiscation, though they won't come right out and admit it. Yes, it's a problem that frightens people like author Jean Hanff Korelitz into believing that "more than 4,000 children...die in gun-related accidents each year"!

And then she calls for a handgun ban, just like they want.
National Rifle Association of America spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, declined to comment on specific laws but says, "The sad reality is, you cannot legislate responsibility."
The poster-child (almost literally) for this reality is the "family" of the first-grader who deliberately shot six year-old Kayla Rolland. An extreme case? Yes. But true, nonetheless.
Education is the best way to reduce gun accidents, and the NRA runs many education programs, he says. "Children are by nature curious and will try to seek out objects they shouldn't have. ... It's up to the parents to see that firearms are stored safely."
This is correct, and education is, apparently, working. Accidental death by gunshot has been declining since we started keeping statistics on it in the 1930's. This is in spite of the fact that the total number of guns in circulation has been increasing by about three million a year for decades. Even the Violence Policy Center admitted "Overall, from 1988 to 1994, rates of unintentional firearms death among children under the age of 15 actually fell by 40 percent—down to an average rate of 0.4 per 100,000." And that rate has continued to decline, while "assault weapons" and "pocket rockets" have been, according to the VPC, pushed by "the gun industry's insatiable quest for a higher profit margin." (Oddly enough, homicide has been declining as well. Whodathunkit?) So obviously we need "safe storage" legislation?

108,630 children live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.
And six children here under the age of 18 died of accidental gunshot wound in 2002. Three of them were under the age of 13. Should this statistic justify police inspection of 7.6 percent of Arizona homes to ensure "these laws are well enforced"? What should the penalty be for a breach of the law? What Robert George Wilton suffered after his 10 year-old son took a cartridge to school?

I suppose that, since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" doesn't protect an individual right to arms, the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches" wouldn't apply to "gun safety inspections" either? Part and parcel, aren't they? And since we're so concerned about teen suicide, too, perhaps we should have the authorities check for unsecured poisons, narcotic medications, sharp objects, ropes and other devices with which our kids can deliberately kill themselves as well. It's for the children, you know.

I'm a grandparent. My grandkids are five and six. I have several firearms. I keep them locked up and unloaded when the kids are around unless I'm working on one and have it in hand (also unloaded.) However, I keep a loaded .357 magnum revolver in a quick-access safe. I believe I'm a responsible adult. But my father kept his guns in the master bedroom closet, and the ammo on a shelf above. I knew they were there. My brother and sister knew they were there. And we never shot anybody, including ourselves.

I will not register. I will not allow inspection of my home to ensure "safe storage" compliance.

Period. FOAD.

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