I have to wonder about the motives of people that blame inanimate objects for a problem. We hear it all the time. Take Shannon Watts for example. Every time some sociopath uses a gun to shoot some people, she’s all over the news telling us that there are too may guns. “America is awash in guns—and it’s a huge problem!” is the battle cry of Michael “I’m so rich I do believe I can tell you what to do” Bloomberg and his Everytown for Gun Safety merry band of anti-Second Amendment activists.
To some extent, they’re right. Estimates put the number of guns in this country somewhere north of 300 million. Recently, we’re learning this number is likely low, something I’ll write about shortly. The vast majority—as in 99.99%—are owned by law-abiding citizens and pose no danger to anyone except criminals and dictators. But the gun control crowd would have you believe that the merely being in the presence of a firearm is one of the most dangerous things anyone can ever do. Usually they say this while surrounded by gun toting security guards.
The above meme is funny, but it’s also true. I’ve been to dozens of gun shows, the NRA Annual Meeting and have owned guns almost my whole life. Never once have I seen one go rogue and start shooting people on its own. I’ve been at IDPA matches with 50+ people, all with guns on their hips and no one was shot. At the Atlanta NRA Annual Meeting, some 50,000 armed people were in one convention all. I felt totally safe. So we have to ask, are guns really the problem?
Old White Guys
A study came out a while back that suggested that most of the 300+ million (likely a big +) guns in this country were owned by a relative handful of “hardcore super gun owners.” That’s the actual term the Harvard studiers came up with. A hardcore super gun owner has more than 17 firearms. They suggested that in the run-up to the last election, it wasn’t really a bunch of new people coming into the gun community, but a small group of old white guys stockpiling more guns in their already stuffed safes.
OK, so let’s run with that. I don’t believe it’s accurate at all, but what the hell. Let’s make some assumptions to illustrate the point. If we assume that 2/3 of the guns are owned by hardcore super gun owners, and they all own 20 guns (to keep the math easy so I don’t have to launch my calculator app), that means about 10 million old white guys own 200 million guns. Again, I don’t believe this, but I enjoy a good mental exercise.
For the most part, old white guys—myself included—live in the suburbs. We’ve reached the stage in life where we want lawns (to yell at people to get off of) and the amenities of a suburban lifestyle. At this point, we’ve established that there are 200 million guns stashed all over suburbia. Why, you would think that suburbia would be a veritable killing field!
Old white guys should be gunning down their neighbors for leaving the garbage can in the driveway a day after garbage pickup. Old white guys on their John Deer riders must be committing ride-by shootings agains other old white guys with better looking grass. Old white guys in ghillie suits are surely proned out on their decks sniping those damn kids who just would not get off their lawn!.
Funny thing is, none of that is happening. Weird. Because the problem is guns, right? Too many guns. We’re awash in guns and guns are bad. Right?
Or maybe not. Maybe the problem is not related to inanimate objects but instead deeper than that?
The Real Problem(s)
There are roughly 33,000 deaths attributed to firearms each year. First of all, I’d like to point out that in a country of 330 million, that is .0001%. Let that sink in for a quick second; one thousandth of one percent of the population is killed with a gun each year. I will quickly acknowledge that each death is a tragedy to those affected, but we are not talking epidemic levels here. Not even close. The flu kills 55,000 people annually for crying out loud.
Now, of those 33,000, 60% are suicides. I in no way wish to minimize suicide. Each one is a genuine tragedy. I know people who have committed suicide, attempted suicide and been directly affected by suicide. But each one is more of a condemnation of the mental health situation in our country than of firearms. And while the emotional blast radius of a suicide can be huge, no one else is in physical danger (at least in the overwhelming majority of cases).
So, once we take suicides out of the equation, we’re down to about 13,000 deaths attributable to firearms. Several thousand of those are justifiable shootings by police and armed citizens of criminals in the commission of a crime. When we take those out, we’re down to roughly 8,000 per year that die of gunshots. Now I have to launch my calculator app and we find that…0.000024% of the population is actually “killed” each year by guns.
It should also be noted that the vast majority of that 8,000 is heavily concentrated to a small number of high-population urban centers and consists of criminal-on-criminal with occasional innocent bystander crime. Now again, I don’t want to minimize those deaths. Each one of those persons killed mattered to somebody.
At the same time, 270,000 people are killed each year by medical malpractice. My dad was one of them. Yet I don’t hear cries for doctor control.
No, the real problem if you want to actually attack it, is 60 years of failed economic and social polices in large cities, almost exclusively by Democrat politicians. Read Walter E. Williams’ great book, American Contempt for Liberty for an in-depth discussion as it’s much deeper than I want to go into here.
We don’t need more gun control. What we actually need is criminal control. Shockingly enough, in Illinois, they’ve just passed a law that encourages judges to impose stricter sentences on…what for it!…repeat gun crime offenders. See, the shocking thing is, much of the illegal shooting being done in this country is committed by criminals who have already been arrested for committing crimes, then put back on the streets. Put those guys in jail for a long, long time and “gun violence” will drop rapidly. That this is a new revelation is baffling to me.
The other issue, and I’ve written about this before, is that criminals just don’t give a damn about laws. That’s why we refer to them as criminals. And know this; good young boys who were “never in any trouble at all in their lives before” don’t suddenly become stone-cold killers when someone hands them an illegal gun. A lot of poor decisions, many by their parents, went into that situation. The quotes there are completely intentional.
The anti-gun crowd somehow wants us all to believe that if they make it harder for me—a law abiding citizen who hasn’t even had a traffic ticket in 20 years—to buy a gun, then criminals who almost exclusively get their guns illegally will not be able to get them either. Right.
No, guns are not the problem, folks. Recent estimates put the number of guns at 450-600 million in the US. And still, fewer than 10,000 people are killed with them each year. I’m pretty sure a quick search of the Google would turn up 20-30 thing that kill more than 10,000 people annually. Whatever the anti-gun crowd is, they are not stupid. They must know these facts. Given that, what is the real agenda?