Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Guns 'n' Numbers

Well, it's been awhile since I've written about anything controversial. Better get back in the game!

Last week's Supreme Court ruling on gun ownership restrictions has a lot of folks upset (and more than a few celebrating). I am doing neither. The ruling shows that the Supreme Court is doing its job, which isn't very easy. I think handguns are stupid and should be illegal, but that doesn't automatically mean that such a law is constitutional. I tend to agree with Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter in their interpretations of the constitution. Yes, the document can be read to say that we have a right to own firearms, but I maintain that it was not the intent of the writers of that revered manuscript to allow private citizens handguns and semi-automatics and whatever else they want. They couldn't have foreseen what gun-related crime has come to in the modern age. But I digress.

The most common argument I hear in favor of private gun-ownership is that peaceful, law-abiding citizens should have the right to defend themselves against gun-toting crazy criminals. Okay, fine, sounds reasonable. But here are the numbers, speaking for themselves:

Gun related deaths, 2005
55% Suicide
40% Homicide
3% Accidents
2% Legal Killings, including police-related shootings, self-defense, or undetermined intent

Public-health investigations have found that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater. In addition, homes in which a suicide occurred were three to five times more likely to have a gun present than homes that did not experience a suicide, even after accounting for other risk factors.

Of course, some will say that if guns are removed from these homes, people will still attempt suicide by other means. While this isn't necessarily true, here are some more numbers on that front: More than 90 percent of suicide attempts using guns are successful, while the success rate for jumping from high places was 34 percent. The success rate for drug overdose was 2 percent.

Sources: here and here


The Imaginary Reviewer said...

They're interesting statistics. As a Brit, I agree with Bill Hicks, who quoted comparitive US and UK gun death figures, but then added the caveat, "but several thousand people in the UK did die due to Soccerball-related injuries."

Jillian said...

IR--Yes, soccerballs are also very dangerous and should be banned. Perhaps you caught the story today out of Berlin of a catfish that died choking on a soccerball. Statement from police: "Whether the fish was caught up in soccer ball fever in the aftermath of the European championship and hence snapped at the ball can unfortunately not be determined."

Read that story here: