Gun Information Archive #2 Contents: Want Gun Control? Enforce the 2nd Amendment!, by Robe

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Gun Information Archive #2 -------------------------- Contents: Want Gun Control? Enforce the 2nd Amendment!, by Robert J. Cottrol Data on civilian armed resistance to crime Specific examples of people defending themselves with guns A good example of why I own guns (my defense), by Kevin Langston Judge orders gun ban in housing projects The aim of gun control is annihilation, by Russ Meek Refutation of "Handgun Regulations, Crime, Assaults, and Homicide" study Statistics on accidental firearm deaths The Second Amendment, by those who design, constructed, and erected it ********************************************************************** ********************************************************************** Want Gun Control? Enforce the Second Amendment! by Robert J. Cottrol At the end of last month's ABC news Town Meeting on "Guns," anchorman Peter Jennings summed up the sentiments of most Americans on the subject. He said, "I'm confused." Overwhelmingly, the American people support the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for self-defense and sporting purposes. Roughly one-half the homes in the country have at least one gun in them. By an equally large majority, the American people also support measures that would help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unbalanced. Why then have we been unable to develop a sensible national policy that both protects the rights of legitimate gun owners while keeping guns out of dangerous hands? The answer in part lies in our failure to enforce the Second Amendment's guarantee of "the right to keep and bear arms." One motivation for vigorous opposition to such measures as waiting periods for background checks on the part of the NRA and others is the fear, buttressed by frank admissions on the part of many gun control advocates, that such steps are simply a back door towards prohibition. That fear is further fed by those, including many in the federal judiciary, who urge the Second Amendment provides no protection against firearms prohibition. Imagine how different the political debate on gun control might be if we simply treated the Second Amendment the way we do other provisions of the Bill of Rights. There is no viable political movement lobbying against requirements for parade permits. Why? Because the courts have made it clear that First Amendment guarantees regarding free speech and freedom of assembly will be enforced. Another strong signal of the courts' intentions to enforce the guarantees of the Second Amendment could go a long way towards furthering the cause of reasonable regulation of firearms ownership. One reason the courts have failed to enforce the Second Amendment is revealed in an article recently published in the Yale Law Journal. The author, neither an NRA supporter nor a gun enthusiast, points out that our society's elites regard the Second Amendment as an embarrassment to be ignored or dismissed. This cultural prejudice has distorted discussion on important constitutional issues concerning gun control. Opponents of the view that the Second Amendment is a bar to firearms prohibition seize on the Amendment's militia clause as evidence that the provision was designed to confer a corporate right on the states, not an individual right. In doing so, these opponents ignore historical evidence which indicates that when the framers of the Second Amendment used the term "militia," they were referring not only to the organized militia, but the armed citizenry as a whole. By the time of the enactment of the Second Amendment, the militia was an old idea in Anglo-American law. The militia was composed of free men of the community, armed with their individually owned weapons. The principle was recognized in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Both the individual's right to be armed and the concept of a militia composed of all free men were ratified by 18th century English legal commentator William Blackstone and later by 19th century U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. The armed citizenry was cited by the Second Amendment framer James Madison as one of the chief differences between the free American Republic and the despotic monarchies of Europe. These points have been explored at great length in legal and historical journals. They need to become part of the public debate on the Constitution and gun control. There is also a need for more honest reporting of Supreme Court decisions regarding the Second Amendment. Gun control advocates frequently misstate the holding in the 1939 case of U.S. v. Miller, the only case where the Supreme Court has squarely addressed the question of the Second Amendment. The unanimous opinion of the Court supported the view that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to keep and bear arms. The opinion distinguished between ordinary military small arms which were part of the right secured to citizens by the Second Amendment and arms which were not military-type arms (Miller had been charged with possession of an unlawful sawed-off shotgun). Finally, those who argue against the individual rights view often make the dangerous assumption that the current state of judicial interpretation must be accepted without examination and criticism. They note correctly that since Miller, lower federal courts have either tended to apply the militia theory or used other devices to avoid the individual rights implication of the Second Amendment. Judicial hostility toward a constitutional right should not cause us to ignore the existence of that right. In the early 20th century, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, ignored flagrant violations of the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment and the color-blind voting provision of the Fifteenth. The courts allowed states to perpetuate both legal jim crow and the disenfranchisement of blacks. This judicial acquiescence did not invalidate the egalitarian principles of the Reconstruction Amendments. Such past experience with our judicial system should serve as a potent reminder of the dangers of judicial absolutism. We have a serious crime problem in this country. Sensible gun control measures can help make a small dent in that problem. These measures cannot be achieved by ignoring the Constitution or the rights of the very population--gun owners--whose compliance is indispensable if gun laws are to work. Indeed, we may find that enforcing the Second Amendment's guarantees may be the first step towards solving a complex problem. ----- About the Author Robert J. Cottrol is an associate professor at Boston College Law School. He specializes in constitutional law and legal history and writes and speaks on gun control issues for the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy. The preceding article originally appeared in the March 1990 issue of the American Rifleman, an NRA publication. ********************************************************************** Subject: Data on resistance to assault This is in response to the discussion about whether or not it is useful to resist to an assault. I have cross posted this to soc.women solely because of the data on the Orlando rape experience, and followups are pointed back to misc.headlines. Some data re: civilian armed resistance to crime. Primary Source: G. Kleck. Crime Control Through the Private use of Armed Force. Social Prob. 35:1-25,1988. Because national data is not collected regarding the private use of arms in self protection, most national estimates are based on projections from local data. Using a number of such sources for 1980, Kleck estimates that between 1527-2819 felons were killed by civilians in what were later adjudicated to be self-defense killings, 8700-16600 felons were wounded, and there were approximately 1 million cases where a gun was fired as a warning but no one was hit, or was waved, pointed, or referred to without being fired as acts of self defense. Effectiveness: Kleck examined data for robberies and assault for the years 1979-1985. He looked at attack, crime completion, and injury rates correlated with the means of self-defense. He found: Self Defense Robbery Assault Method Injuries Injuries Gun 17.4% 12.1% Knife 40.3 29.5 Other weapon 22.0 25.1 Physical force 50.8 52.1 Tried to get help or frighten attacker 48.9 40.1 Threaten or reason with attacker 30.7 24.7 Nonviolent resistance and evasion 34.9 25.5 Other measures 26.5 20.7 No resistance 24.7 27.3 Thus, gun resistance was the most effective means for avoiding injury. Some writers have argued that resistance, in and of itself, is a cause of injury -- that the robber or assaulter would not cause injury if the victim had not resisted. The sequence of events -- whether the resistance preceded or followed the attack is not normally part of the data collected by the NCS (National Crime Survey public use data tapes), this question *was* asked as a special Victim Risk Questionnaire in 1984. The response to this questionnaire showed that for assault involving non-violent resistance, the resistance occured before the attack only 5.7% of the time. For cases of robbery and assault, forceful resistance never preceded the attack. In general, the data does not support the contention that the victim's defensive actions provoked the attack. Types of crimes in which civilian guns are used in self defense: Again, no national data is collected. Two local data sets are referred to by Kleck. The first as a California poll taken in 1976, and the second was medical examiner data from Dade County Florida from 1980 (compiled in 1984): Crime % CA Crime % Dade Co. Assault or rape at home 41% Assault 64% Assault elsewhere 21 Rape 1% Theft at home 20 Burglary 8 Theft elsewhere 11 Robbery 26 Other 7 Total 100 100 Deterrence effects: The question of whether or not gun ownership deters potential felons from attacking is hotly debated. Surveys of criminals almost uniformly suggest that this is a serious consideration, though folk who disagree with the conclusions thus offered criticize the results either because of population selection (captured criminals) in the respondent pool, or because of the behavioral considerations (the criminals are lying -- they really aren't afraid of guns, they just say they are). There are, however, some quasi-experimental data involving sharp changes in perceived gun ownership. The first involved Orlando, FL. From October 1966 to March 1967, the Orlando Police Department responded to citizen outcry over an increasing incidence of rape by training 2500 women to use guns in a highly publicized effort. As a result, the incidence of rape *decreased* by 88%, though it remained constant in Florida as a whole and in the US. Burglary was the only other crime to show a significant decrease. Thus, the targeted crime, rape, decreased by increased public awareness of private gun ownership by women, and the offense most likely to occur where victims have access to to guns, burglary, also decreased. A smaller similar program was also instituted in Kansas City, MO in 1967, only targeted towards store owners in response to robbery. The incidence of robbery in the US increased by 30% in 1967, 20% in the West North Central region of the US, and by 35% in the rest of Missouri. However, the incidence of robbery did not increase in Kansas City and decreased in the surrounding suburbs. As in Orlando, burglary was the only crime to also significantly differ from the surrounding area statistics and trends during that year. Similar results of publicised gun-training and ownership programs have occurred elsewhere, such as Detroit in 1968. After the Goetz incident, subway robberies in New York city decreased by 43% the next week, and 19% in the following two months, though the increase in transit police manpower during the same time confounds the true influence of the Goetz publicity alone. To protest the Morton Grove decision to ban handguns, Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, passed an ordinance requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in their home. In the seven months following the passage of that ordinance, there were only 5 reported burglaries, compared with 45 in the same period for the previous year, an 89% decrease. This can be compared to a 10% decrease in Georgia as a whole, 6.8% decrease in the South Atlantic States, 9.6% decrease in the US, and 7.1% decrease for cities of similar size. The fear of encountering armed citizens has been a recurrent theme in responses by burglars when asked why they prefer to burgle unoccupied homes. In a 1986 survey, 73% of felons convicted of burglary or violent crime agreed that fear of being shot was one reason burglars avoid houses where people are at home. Results of victimization surveys from three countries support this idea. In Great Britain, 59% of attempted burglaries occured when someone was at home, in a study in 1987.. In the Netherlands, 48% of burglaries occured when someone was at home in 1977. A 1978 study showed that 44 percent of burglaries in Toronto occurred when someone was home. The incidence of burglary in the US to occupied homes runs less than 10%. Thus, evidence for a deterrent effect exists. Bill Oliver ********************************************************************** From: gdelong@cvman.prime.com (Gary Delong) Newsgroups: misc.headlines,talk.politics.guns Subject: The Armed Citizen Message-ID: <173@cvman.prime.com> Date: 12 Sep 89 19:48:06 GMT (From: _The News_, Detroit, Mich. 5/15/89) A youth who had done odd jobs for 71-year-old Bennie Mae Peoples showed up at her Detroit, Mich., home and asked to use the bathroom. Once inside, however, the youth went berserk and beat Peoples with a vacuum cleaner. Her 91-year-old sister tried to halt the attack, but the assailant hit her with a vase and left her for dead. Peoples managed to reach her late husband's revolver just as the youth returned armed with a knife. She fired, killing him. ------------------- (From: _The Journal_, Albuquerque, N.Mex. 5/31/89) Lisa Ways pulled into an Albuquerque, N.Mex., grocery store when an armed couple stuck a gun in her face and attempted to abduct her. The University of New Mexico student handed over her wallet, then forced her way out of the van and struggled with the man. She then drew her handgun from a daypack and shot and wounded him. The couple fled in Way's van but was latter arrested. "It was confirmation to me that I've made the right decision about firearms for my own personal use," the student said. ------------------- (From: _Newsday_, Long Island, N.Y. 3/18/89) Emile Schrumph was sitting in his Woodbury, N.J., home when he heard a load noise coming from his basement. Armed with his licensed handgun, the 65-year-old homeowner went to investigate and confronted two men who had broken in. He fired on them, hitting one, and both men fled. A wounded suspect was arrested by police when he sought medical treatment. ------------------- [..obvious typos are probably mine..] The right to keep and bear arms is as much a civil right as the right of free speech. -- _____ / \ / Gary A. Delong, N1BIP "I am the NRA." gdelong@cvman.prime.com | \ / COMPUTERVISION Division {sun|linus}!cvbnet!gdelong \____\/ Prime Computer, Inc. (603) 622-1260 x 261 ********************************************************************** From: langston@convex.COM (Kevin Langston) Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns,alt.activism Subject: Re: A good example of why I own guns (my defense) Summary: Take a look around, don't be afraid of what you see. In article <236.26333fc7@iowasp.physics.uiowa.edu> Peter D. Wilson writes: > I am here debating with others on whether it > is too much of an infringement to require gun owners to register their > guns and to take a safety course and you interpret that as being a > "Holier than thou" attitude? You say "too much of an infringement" but the 2nd says "shall not be infringed"... The only degree of infringement specified is at the absolute level, zero, zilch. I would be willing to take a gun safety and handling course if it guaranteed me the capability of unlimited concealed or unconcealed carry, if it also covered the legal aspects of using a defensive weapon. But that course cannot be required to own, purchase or use a gun, at least if we continue to follow the constitution. If you continue to harp on the "degree of infringement" which is "acceptable" then you are showing a "holier-than-thou" attitude, since you think you know better than the people who wrote the constitution and can ignore the past two hundred years of history! A lot of people will get miffed when you claim to know more about what is acceptable than they do, when you have no real experience in the matter. So tell us Peter, do you own a gun? Have you ever fired a gun? Or do you think of gun-owners as beer-drinking, bambi-killing, rednecks who drive around in their pick-up trucks shooting up street signs? > However, I > hold my opinions on the basis that I think they can make the world a > better place. If I didn't believe this, I wouldn't hold the opinions. If you really believe this, then you owe it to yourself to check out the reality of your theories. If the overwhelming data leads to a way which is contrary to what you theorize, then you should re-examine and maybe modify your opinions. Fair enough? Then maybe you can make more informed suggestions. > I also support laws that prevent people from having guns if they are > shown to be incompetent in the handling of firearms or have violent > tendencies that pose a risk to the rest of society. So why the waiting period? The standard claim is that it would allow a "thorough" search of the applicant's background, yet the FBI or DoJ said it couldn't be done properly given any amount of time!! The NRA has proposed an instant nationwide check which should compare the applicant's information to a list of people who have been disallowed the use of firearms. Isn't this preferable? Or do you just want there to be an obstacle in the way for an honest citizen to buy any gun? Think hard about the differences between this action and what the Brady bill professes to do. Another standard argument for gun control is the "competency" test. The only reason to institute such a beast is to decrease the number of accidental deaths, yet the accidental death count has been steadily decreasing since the turn of the century in spite of a significant increase in the per capita ownership of firearms! I think that there is still some work to be done in the area of firearms safety, but making it mandatory by government decree is not the way to go. A friend of mine was killed last year in an accidental shooting. The man who shot him was cleaning his .22 target pistol when it accidentally went off. Perhaps you could explain how a waiting period/background check, special training, or anything else short of a total ban on all firearms could have changed that? > Since posting my opinions on Usenet, I have been called silly, dumb, > and a raving lunatic and told that I live in a fantasy world. At no > point have I returned the insult. Okay, how about if we lump all this together and put a "naive" label on you? Then if you examine the whole thing and start to see the error of your ways you will have an excuse for this early behavior. On the other hand, if you look at the real world, and continue to believe in the fairy tale of "reasonable gun control" you can be moved up to the raving lunatic catagory. Is this a little more palatable? > Even here, with the biggest insult > of them all, this is not an attack on you but an emotional defense > aimed at regaining my honor, if I ever had any to lose. :^) It would benefit you to adopt a more objective attitude instead of an emotional viewpoint. No legislative action, specifically gun control, should ever be based on an emotional foundation. Yet the entire soapbox of HCI, etc is build on the tired old "baby-killing" aspects of firearms. Gun control doesn't work in the real world, yet the emotional fortress built by the proponents of it won't allow them to see the facts. Why do you think they become so active immediately after an incident such as the stockton shooting? Because that's when people feel the "need" to act. Emotion obscures objectivity. ********************************************************************** Subject: Scumbag Federal Judge: 'Niggers Have No Right to Have Guns in Projects' [ Sorry if there are any typos! J.K. ] 12/5/90 Judge Upholds Housing Project Gun Ban by Jean McNair Associated Press Writer Richmond, Va. - A federal judge upheld a ban on guns in the city's public housing projects, setting a precedent for the rest of the nation, the housing authority director said Tuesday. The ruling Monday by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams marked the first time a court has decided whether public housing residents can be barred from having guns, said Richard Gentry, executive director of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Gentry said guns also are banned in public housing projects in Chicago, but that ban has not been challenged in court. "This is a unique court case," he said. "Now this can be used as a precedent throughout the country." Williams said the ban was "part of a good faith effort to improve the safety and quality of life in public housing." Richmond, which has one of the highest murder rates in the country, has been plagued by drug-related shootings and other violence at its 4,500 public housing units. A third of the city's 600 shootings a year take place in public housing complexes, evidence showed. In its lawsuit challenging the gun ban and other provisions of a new lease, the Richmond Tenants Organization said the requirements made the city's 14,000 public housing residents second-class citizens. Williams issued an injunction that kept the lease from going into effect last month, but after hearing testimony last week upheld all but a few of the lease provisions. "The widespread presence of drugs and guns have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation which now permeates the public housing developments," he wrote. "There is substantial evidence that eliminating guns will reduce crime in the developments and reduce accidental death. Despite conflicting expert testimony, this court finds that a prohibition on firearms from public housing is a reasonable lease term," Williams added. He permitted specific bans on firearms, blackjacks, explosive devices and nunchucks, a martial arts weapon. He struck a line banning "weapons of any type" because that could mean kitchen knives or anything else used to hurt someone. Williams also struck a provision that would have caused tenants to lose their lease if they committed misdemeanor drug or alcohol violations away from the public housing area. Alma Barlow, president of the tenants organization, said she was disappointed with the ruling but had not decided whether to appeal. Lawyers for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, which represented the tenants, would not comment. Gentry said tenants would be given civil court hearings before being thrown out for violating the lease. "It has never been our intent nor will it ever be to conduct raids on residents or to hassle our residents," he said. "When we become aware of a problem, we will be able to take action." ---------------------- [Stephen P. Halbrook] "Section 1 of the bill, which was taken partly from Section 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and survives today as 42 U.S.C. 1983 was meant to enforce Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment by establishing a remedy for deprivation under color of state law of federal constitutional rights of all people, not only former slaves. This portion of the bill provided: That any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any State shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to the DEPRIVATION OF ANY RIGHTS, privileges, or immunities to which ... he is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States, shall... be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other propoer proceeding for redress... Id. pt. 2. Appendix, 68, 17 Stat. 13 (1871) ********************************************************************** The aim of gun control is annihilation by Russ Meek Chicago Defender February 10, 1982 Jane Byrne's "gun-control law" is really a "people-control law," but she lacks the guts to say it. Gun control has always been a convenient out for those unable or unwilling to address themselves to the real problems of our society. But, believe you me, gun control will not protect you from crime, and its counterpart, violence. It was with controlled rage that we watch Mayor Jane Byrne walk into the City Hall Gun-Control Bill Hearing, in the City Council Chambers, accompanied by eighteen armed men, then sit down and say that "if anyone in Chicago needs a gun to survive, then something is wrong." (Can you believe that?) It was the epitome of white authoritarian chauvinism; it was the essense of contempt for the black majority population in Chicago; it was a blatant attempt to obfuscate the issues involved; it was indicative of the vast disparity in value placed on white ruling class life and that of black folks. It is historical fact that Adolf Hitler instituted gun registration, gun confiscation, and then the annihilation of six million Jews and objectors to his policies. This was accompanied by World War II and the direct loss of some sixty-million lives, and God knows how many lives were lost indirectly. We are rapidly descending into the same pit! The passage of the 'Jane Byrne-Ed Burke Gun Control Bill' must be "stopped cold!" We must brook no compromise on this "anti-black and brown, Nazi legislation!" We have not, and will not, ever let it be said that we have abandoned our homes, our families, or our communities to the criminal element. We feel a profound sense of security in the possession of a handgun, because years ago someone engraved these words on the barrel of a Colt revolver: "Be not afraid of any man, no matter what his size. When danger threatens, call on me. I will equalize." Gun control will not make our streets safe; gun control will not solve the problem of massive unemployment; gun control will not get rid of the roaches, rats, mice, or the slum landlords and their exorbitant rents; gun control will not stop and has not stopped police brutality; gun control will not stop the peddling of dope in our community; gun control has not improved our rotten education system; gun control has not lowered the ever-rising crime rate; gun control will not stop the rape of women and children; gun control will not stop the home invader, the mugger, the arsonist, the car thief, the armed robber or the crooked politician. In fact, in Washington, D.C., the "Uncle Tom Mayor" had the most rigid gun law (with the exception of Morton Grove, Illinois) in the country passed; and the violent crime rate (including murders) rose 36 percent during the first two years! Fewer than three-tenths of one percent of firearm owners are involved in any crime involving firearms (did you hear that?)! Plato favored a disarmed populace as essential to an absolute monarch and extreme hiearchy. Aristotle once asked of such a state, "Are farmers and craftsmen to have no share in government; are they or they not to possess arms?" Aristotle also criticized Hippodamus, in whose ideal state "the farmers have no arms and the workers would have neither land or arms -- making them virtual servants of those who do possess arms." Aristotle held that _having_ arms_ is_ requisite_ for_ true_ citizenship_ and_ participation_ in_ policy_ making_. Aristotle further stated "Tyranny rests on a mistrust and disarming of the people." These are quotes from Plato's _Republic_, page 275, and Aristotle's _Politics_, pages 68, 79, 136, 157-8, 218 and 273. Listen to this from Cicero's _Selected_Political_Speeches_, page 222: "Indeed, even the wisdom of the law itself permits self-defense because it does not actually forbid men to kill; what it does, instead, is forbid the bearing of a weapon with the intention to kill. When, therefore, an inquiry passes beyond the mere question of the weapon and starts to consider the motive, a man who uses arms in self-defense is not regarded as having carried them with homicidal aim." Now, let me quote from Antebellum (Pre-Civil War) Judicial Construction. Although the Supreme Court had never construed the Second Amendment, prior to the Dred Scott decision in 1857 (See Scott vs. Sanford, 60 U.S. - 19HOW. -393[1856]), judicial opinion stressed the need for an armed populace to counter the threat of tyranny, whether its source was foreign or domestic. Supreme Court Chief Justice Story stressed the significance of the Second Amendment, thusly: "The right of the citizen to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium of the liberties of the Republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and the arbritrary powers of rulers, and will generally -- even if these are successful (e.g., the rulers did manage to usurp the rights of the people) -- enable the people to resist and triumph over them." This is from the Commentaries on the Constitution by Justice Story, page 1833. Our theme song should be: "This is my life, and I will let no one take away my right to defend it or tell me how I should initiate that defense." This applies to my family, my property, my community and my sacred right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! If Jane Byrne and the rest of the jive politicos were as worried about our rights as they were about the rights of people in and from foreign countries, the gun control bill would be in the wastebasket, where it belongs. No politician who votes for any part of this bill should be re-elected; and that includes Danny K. Davis, who betrayed the trust of the people in him; Rev. George Riddick and Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH; and Leon Finney of TWO [Note: TWO is The Woodlawn Organization] (Riddick and Finney are not elected officials, but joined our enemies and testified for registration, confiscation and annihilation). Le me close with a quote from my deceased mother: "Those who are free should never give up their weapons. They may well need them to become free. When they free themselves, they will need their arms to keep their freedom." Now, run and tell that, will you? (end) ********************************************************************** In article <14570@fluke.COM> witters@tc.fluke.COM (John Witters) writes: > >If the magnitude of the yelp it's causing is any indication, a group of >physicians, primarily from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., has struck exceedingly >close to the bone with a handgun study they published last November in the >New England Journal of Medicine. > >The study was entitled "HANDGUN REGULATIONS, CRIME, ASSAULTS, AND HOMICIDE: A >Tale of Two Cities." The principal author was Dr. John Henry Sloan, a >research >fellow at the University of Washington, and the Harborview Injury Prevention >and Research Center. GUNS AND SPUTTER by James D. Wright (from July 1989 issue of REASON, Free Minds & Free Markets) Someone once wrote: "Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." The problem is demonstrated by the most recent entry in a long line of scientific research purporting to show a causal link between gun availability and homicide. Funded by the federal government and published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study compared homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver and suggested that a handgun ban "may reduce the rate of homicide in a community." The nine medical doctors who published "Handgun Regulations, Crime, Assaults, and Homicide" essentially reasoned in three steps: (1) Despite many historical, social, and demographic similarities, (2) Vancouver has a markedly lower homicide rate (3) because its stricter gun regulations make guns less available. The second step in their reasoning seems indisputable. The overall homicide rate in Seattle (for the period 1980-86) was 11.3 per 100,000 popuation, compared with 6.9 in Vancouver. Homicide is definitely more common in Seattle. The question then becomes, Why? The authors present a believable although not entirely accurate case to support the notion, as claimed in the third step of their reasoning, that Vancouver's handgun regulations are much more stringent. But their evidence on the difference in gun *availabilty* is indirect and unpersuasive; indeed, they acknowledge that direct evidence on the point does not exist. They offer two fragments of inferential data in support of the claim that guns are more available in Seattle; but for all anybody knows as a matter of empirical fact, the opposite could be true. We are therefore being asked, at the conclusion of the study, to believe that a difference in gun availability explains the difference in homicide rates when a difference in gun availability has not itself been established. Indeed, the situation is even more troublesome. The first of the two indirect bits of evidence is a difference between the number of concealed- weapons permits issued in Seattle and the number of restricted-weapons permits issued in Vancouver. Differences between the two cities in the permit regulations render these two numbers strictly noncomparable. * The second bit of evidence is "Cook's gun prevalence index," which stands * at 41 percent for Seattle but only 12 percent for Vancouver. Cook's index * however, does not measure the relative prevalence of gun ownership in * various cities. It measures gun misuse--it is an average of the percentage * of homicides and suicides involving firearms. * In the present case, the index shows only that in homicides and suicides, * firearms are more likely to be used in Seatte than in Vancouver. To take * Cook's index as a measure of general firearms availability, it must be * assumed that the proportional involvement of guns in homicides and suicides * is directly related to their relative availability in the general * population. But this is exactly what the authors are seeking to prove. To * assume what one is seeking to prove, then to "prove" it on the basis of * that assumption does not constitute scientific evidence for anything. Even if we were to grant, on the basis of no compelling evidence, that guns are less common in Vancouver, we might still question what causes what. The authors attribute Seattle's higher crime rate to a higher rate of gun ownership. But it might well be argued that low crime or homicide rates reduce the motivation for average citizens to obtain guns--in other words, that crime rates explain the variation in gun ownership, not vice versa. In fact, it was once commonly argued that Great Britain's low rate of violent crime was a function of that nation's strict gun laws and the consequent low rate of gun ownership--until British researcher Colin Greenwood found that Great Britain had enjoyed low rates of violent crime for many decades before strict firearms controls were enacted. To invoke an ancient methodological saw, correlation is not cause. Nor do the problems with this study end with its lack of direct data on gun ownership. The authors say Seattle and Vancouver are "similar in many ways," implying that they differ mainly in gun availability, gun-law stringency, and crime rates. This is an evident attempt to establish the ceteris paribus condition of a sound scientific analysis--that "all else is equal" among things being compared. * Clearly the two cities are similar in some ways, but a closer look * reveals differences in ways that are relevant to their respective crime * or homicide rates. The cities are closely matched in what percentage * of their population is white (79 percent and 76 percent). But Seattle * is about 10 percent black, while Vancouver is less than 0.5 percent. * Vancouver's minority population is overwhelmingly Asian. So although the * authors show that th two cities are approximately comparable on a half- * dozen readily available demographic indicators, they have not shown * that all potentially relevant sources of variation have been ruled out. * In fact, the differences in racial compositions of the two cities is * particularly relevant in light of the study's breakdown of homicide rates * according to the race of the victim. For the white majority, the homicide * rates are nearly identical--6.2 per 100,000 in Seattle, 6.4 in Vancouver. * The differing overall homicide rates in the two cities are therefore due * entirely to vastly different rates among racial minorities. For blacks, * the observed difference in homicide rate is 36.6 to 9.5 and for Hispanics * 26.9 to 7.9. (Methodoligical complexities render the Asian comparison * problematic, but it too is higher in Seattle than in Vancouver.) Racial * minorities are much more likely to be the victims of homicide in Seattle * than in Vancouver; the white majority is equally likely to be slain * in either city. Since the nearly 2:1 initial difference in homicide reates between the cities is due exclusively to 3:1 or 4:1 differences between minority groups, it is fair to ask why postulated difference in "gun availability" (or gun-law strigency) would matter so dramatically to minorities but not matter at all to whites. Can differential gun availability explain why blacks and Hispanics--but not whites--are so much more likely to be killed in Seattle than in Vancouver? (Studies in the United States, incidentally, do not show large or consistent racial differences in gun ownership.) Or are other explanations more plausible? Could the disparity between Canadian and American rates of poverty among racial minorities have anything to do with it? What are the relative rates of drug or alcohol abuse? Of homelessness among each cty's minority population? (The city of Seattle runs the largest shelter for homeless men west of the Mississippi.) Unemployment among young, central-city, nonwhite men in the United States usually exceeds 40 percent. What is the comparable Canadian percentage? The crucial point is that Canada and the United States differ in many ways, as do cities and population subgroups with the two countries. Absent more detailed analysis, nearly any of these "many ways" might explain part or all of the difference in homicide rates. In gross comparisons such as those between Seattle and Vancouver, all else is *not* equal. * The authors of this study acknowledge that racial patterns in homicide * result in a "complex picture." They do not acknowledge that the ensuing * complexities seriously undercut the main thrust of their argument. They * also acknowledge that "socio-economic status is probably an important * confounding factor in our comparison," remarking further that "blacks * in Vancouver had a slightly higher mean income in 1981 than the rest of * Vancouver's population." Given the evidence presented in the article, * it is possible that all of the difference in homicide rates between Seattle * and Vancouver results from greater proverty among Seattle's racial * minorities. But the authors pay no further attention to this possibility, * since "detailed information about household incomes according to race * is not available for Vancouver." The largely insurmountable methodological difficulties confronted in gross comparative studies of this sort can be illustrated with as simple example. If one were to take all U.S. couties and compare them in terms of (1) pervalence of gun ownership and (2) crime or homicide rates, one would find an astonishing pattern: Counties with more guns have less crime. Would one conclude from this evidence alone that guns actually reduce crime? Or would one insist that other variables also be taken into account? In this example, the "hidden variable" is city size: Guns are more common in small towns and rural areas, whereas crime is a big-city problem. If researchers failed to anticipate this variable, or lacked the appropriate data to examine its possible consequences, they coud be very seriously misled. In the study at hand, the authors matched two cities for size but not for minority poverty rates or other hidden variables, and their results are impossible to interpret. In the editorial "Firearm Injuries: A Call for Science" accompanying the study, two officials from the Centers for Disease Control lauded the authors for applying "scientific methods" to a problem of grave public heath significance. But in attempting to draw causal conclusions from nonexperimental research, the essence of scientific method is to anticipate plausible alternative explanations for the results and try to rule them out. Absent such effort, the results may well seem scientific but are little more than polemics masquerading as serious research. That this study is but one of a number of recent efforts--all employing practically identical research designs and published in leading scientific journals-- is cause for further concern. [James D. Wright is professor of sociology at Tulane University. He has researched extensively on the relationship of firearms and crime.] Reason published monthly except combined August-September issue by the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Subscription rate: $24.00 per year. Reason Foundation 2716 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 1062 Santa Monica, CA 90405 ********************************************************************** > What percentage of firearms are actually ever used for self >defense (everyone was certain that criminals were about to kill >them in their beds)? I don't have percentages, but there an estimated 645,000 handgun defenses a year in the United States. Add long guns and you get over 1,000,000 defenses (by civilians, I might add). >What percentage of firearms end up being a factor in accidents? Again, I don't have percentages but I do have the following chart prepared by Phil Ronzone (hope I spelled that right!). #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### #### ### #### ### #### ### # #### ### ### ### ### #### ### ### ### ### ### #### ### ### ### ### ### ### vvv ------------------------------------------------------------------ 48,700 11,300 5,300 4,800 4,400 3,200 1,400 1,000 motor falls drowning fires poison choking guns poison vehicles lq/sld gas Accidental deaths by firearms are pretty far down the list, as you can see. When compared to the 100,000,000 or so civilian firearms the numers are insignificant. >I remember hearing something on NPR about gun accidents being a >major cause of deaths of teenagers. Where does this cause rank >compared to accidental drownings, drug deaths, etc.? What I >remember hearing is that it's #1, but admittedly I don't remember > exactly. Don't expect accurate figures from Nation Socialist Radio! They consistently mislead the public on matters related to gun control. In reality, gun accidents are nowhere near the top of accidental death causes of teenagers (and most accidental deaths are from long guns, not pistols). Here's another of Phil's charts with the numbers. Subject: RKBA.004 - Children and firearms From: pkr@ronco.sgi.com (pkr @ Silicon Graphics, Inc., Mountain View, CA) Version 1.1 (last changed on 90/04/25 at 21:44:23). DESCRIPTION ============ One of the most emotional issues that people confront is death. Death of children can be even more emotional, playing on our concern for the young and helpless. . Shortly after the February 6, 1989 issue of TIME magazine, a fairly long lived debate began in talk.politics.guns on the issue of children killed by firearms. Letters to TIME magazine in the weeks that followed that issue claimed figures such as "over 3,400 children" are killed each year by firearms. One poster to talk.politics.guns claimed that the figure was "ten thousand children" killed each year. In actuality, the total number of children (ages up to and including 14) killed by firearms, deliberately or accidently, is typically 500 to 600 a year. SUMMARY ======= Total firearm deaths for children (<1 through 14) at 587 (1988) is one of the SMALLEST causes of deaths in children. Cars, falls, burns, drowning, food ingestion are all much larger cause of deaths (7,988). Deaths of all types, including firearms, rise dramatically starting at age 15, peaking at 17 through 22 (the really dangerous years). CONCLUSION ========== The use of the phrase "thousands of children killed" is an emotional propagandistic phrase designed to play on our worst fears. Be aware that TIME magazine has printed a letter from a "doctor" who claimed that 3,312 children are killed "by guns" each year. The only way to achieve that figure is to count as children all people from age 0 through and including 24! (Ages 0 through 24 is a common statistical grouping in many sources). Watch out for inclusion of ages 16, 17, and 18 into the "children" group. IMHO, children can not drive, drink beer, or join the military, all things possible in those three years. MURDERS AND NON-NEGLIGENT HOMICIDES (1988) AGE By firearms Other (cutting, stabbing, blunt objects, poison...) < 1 10 230 1 to 4 44 289 5 to 9 56 96 10 to 14 136 91 -------- --- --- 246 706 Total deaths (accidental and non-murder) ages up to and including 24 were 54,207 (1985). In 1985, total firearm accidental and non-murder deaths was 755 for the same age group. AGE Accidental deaths by firearms <1 2 1 5 2 12 3 10 4 14 5 9 6 9 7 10 8 12 9 18 10 27 11 23 12 37 13 38 14 52 --- 278 15 57 16 52 17 42 --- --- 429 FUTURE ====== As I do the research, I will break these statistics down into 1 year increments, using 1989 statistics, from ages 0 through 24. Sources: NSC88, TIME06FEB89, UCR89. Phil Ronzone pkr@sgi.COM {decwrl,sun}!sgi!pkr ********************************************************************** The following article appeared in the Winter Issue of The Illinois Shooter, The official publication of the Illinois State Rifle Association Post Office Box 7464, Round Lake, Illinois, 60073 THE SECOND AMENDMENT By Those Who Designed, Constructed, and Erected It. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Problems with the interpretation? Well, let's ask some of the people who should know; the men who wrote the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, AND the Second Amendment. ALEXANDER HAMILTON: "The Constitution shall never be construed....to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." "Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others." RICHARD HENRY LEE: "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." "No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and sol- dier in those destined for the defense of the state...Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen." TENCH COXE: "The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when com- pared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresisti- ble. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state govern- ments, but, where I trust in God it ever will remain, in the hands of the people." JOHN DEWITT: "It is asserted by the most resepectable writers upon govern- ment, that a well regulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country, have ever been considered as the bulwark of a free people. Tyrants have never placed any confidence on a militia composed of freemen." JAMES MADISON: "Americans have the right and advantage of being armed ...the Americans possess over the people of all other nations...Notwith- standing the military establishments in the several Kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." "Congress shall never disarm any citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion." PATRICK HENRY: "The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun." "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined." "Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defense, the militia, is put in the hands of Congress? Of what service would militia be to you when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? For, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not provide them." "Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands? ZACHRIAH JOHNSON: "...[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them." SAMUEL ADAMS: "That the said Constitution shall never be construed to au- thorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceful citizens from keeping their own arms...." GEORGE WASHINGTON: "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence...From the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable...The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere re- strains evil interference--they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." "A free people ought...to be armed." "There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy." "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." THOMAS JEFFERSON: "And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the right of resistance? Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." GEORGE MASON: "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." "To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." **********************************************************************

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