Gun-Control Myths

newtown heroIf we accept the behavioral premise that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” in the gun debate, we must also recognize our role in ensuring that every person who chooses to exercise his or her Second Amendment right does so responsibly. Given that on average 100,000 people are shot or killed with a gun in a year, or that mass shootings seem to be on the rise along with gun sales and access to guns overall, we should also get real about the idea that there is much “control” in our current system of “gun control.” Instead of reinforcing a false paranoia narrative about “control” and limiting rights, it’s time to reframe the conversation about guns to focus on how we address the realities of human behavior to more effectively prevent gun violence and protect our safety.

We know that humans can be irrational, suffer from mental illness or deep depression or lash out in the heat of anger. According to the Harvard Injury Control Center, higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. Studies also show that some 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not occur if no guns were present.

A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health found that women living in homes with one or more guns were more than three times more likely to be killed in their homes; and that “women killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance or close relative were seven times more likely to live in homes with one or more guns and 14 times more likely to have a history of prior domestic violence compared to women killed by non-intimate acquaintances.”

We also know that children can be curious: According to one study, children ages 5 to 14 are 11 times more likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound in the U.S. than children in other developed countries. Human behavior also tells us that too many people will skirt the rules or exploit loopholes where they can: Roughly 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check at a federally licensed dealer. Humans will also try to do the right thing where they can; an analysis by Mother Jones magazine found that “in recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.” In other words, putting more guns into the hands of more people is not the solution to decreasing the number of people killed in a rampage.

The behavior seen too often here inside the Beltway is to cry outrage in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy but lose courage during the legislative process. This time the conversation can’t be allowed to disintegrate into partisan bickering. The majority of Americans who support ensuring responsible behavior — Democrats, Republicans, NRA members, non-gun owners, urbanites and suburbanites — must keep the pressure on every elected political leader and call for a holistic approach to America’s gun problem. Congress and the Obama administration have any number of common-sense proposals they could act on immediately.

karen finneyThose who get weak in the knees should think about the behavior of the teachers and school staff who stood up to a deranged gunman and the courage of the survivors — most notably the children — who start the long journey of standing up to their fears as they move forward with their lives.

Karen Finney
The Hill

Monday, 17 December 2012


  1. Mike R says

    Almost every gun has a safety catch. The debate should be framed as gun safety. As in, “Is your gun in a safe place, Is your gun in safe hands, Is your gun unloaded when not in use, Is it safe to sell a gun to this or that person”. If “gun safety ” is adopted and promoted as the debate then those against would be against gun safety. Not a place most people would want to be.

  2. Robert Letcher says

    Taking Kids’ Rights Seriously,

    then Trading-Off Those Rights with Gun Rights

    by Robert A. Letcher, PhD

    Yes, this
    is another article on the painful subject of the recent mass killing of five-
    and six-your olds in Connecticut.
    And yes, it is another article that argues for tighter gun control. What
    I hope distinguishes this essay from most others is how I frame and support my
    argument for tighter gun control.

    Let me
    begin by recalling one sensible sentence uttered by George W. Bush’s Secretary
    of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. “If you can’t solve a problem,” ‘Rummy’ said,
    “make it bigger.” When I heard him
    say that, I figured that he was advising people who faced problems they
    couldn’t solve ‘to try pouring gasoline on them’. But, that didn’t make sense
    to me.

    What did
    make sense to me—and I make no
    claim that Rummy had intended “make it bigger” in the sense that I now suggest
    for it—was to expand the context in which either the problem could be
    understood or actions intended to remedy the problem could be deemed allowable,
    or both.

    And that
    brings me to a crucial observation about how the public debate over guns got
    constructed. Pro-gun people have couched their arguments in terms of Constitutional rights, which they defend by characterizing gun-control efforts as challenges to THEIR rights. Against such arguments, gun-control advocates have been left spinning their wheels.

    Here’s where Rumsfeld’s comment enters. If gun control advocates could somehow “make it bigger”, they might be able to overcome the rights-based argument advanced by gun-rights people. And one potentially effective way to do that might be to expand the historical context of “rights” back to the time
    when the Framers wrote the Constitution.

    When I
    imagine myself shifting back to that time, I find it easy to imagine that none
    of the big names there thought to ask, should we be explicit about the relative
    importance of [A] the rights of five- and six-year olds to live long enough to
    become adults as they could imagine, to NOT be shot dead by assault rifles that
    they most likely cold not imagine, compared to [B] the right to keep and bear
    arms, and whether that right was granted collectively or individually.

    If the Framers would not have chosen “A” as being so obviously more important then we probably face a bigger Constitutional crisis than we already fear. But if we assume that the Framers would have cried as much as we are now, then maybe gun-control advocates could the gun-control debate beyond into a case of Rights v Rights, and trade-off solutions might become possible.

  3. Rich says

    The only problem with guns is proper education. When one talks about “gun control” it is the wrong verbiage. “gun control” relates to holding and firing the gun properly. The proper verbiage is “gun restriction”, but the “gun banners” can’t say that because people will be against that, so, with everything the left does, the words are changed to something every one will accept

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