Gun Violence, Gun Legislation, and Why I am Jesus

I’m not even sure how to begin there’s so much idiocy around this issue. Let me start by saying something often heard from the gun rights team. Mass shootings represent only a very small fraction of gun-related homicides (about 1% depending on the study you read). Even if we increase this number by a factor of 10 we’re still only looking at 10% of gun-related homicides. From the point of view of policy then it makes sense to argue that preventing mass shootings shouldn’t be the primary focus or starting point of gun policy. (Not to say it shouldn’t at all be the focus of policy, only that there are perhaps better starting points, and lower hanging fruit).

Consider: Suppose policy aims to reduce mass shootings but not other forms of gun violence (primarily from hand guns). Even if that policy reduces mass shootings by 50%, of total gun homicides it’s a hollow victory. If however policy reduces other homicides by just 10%, as an absolute number of lives saved, that policy is much more successful. (Assumption: gun violence policy ought to reduce total homicides and injury from guns).

Where do we begin then? How about reducing unintentional shootings, domestic abuse (with guns), and suicide (by guns)?


God damn it. I never said anyone’s gonna take yur gunz. Sit down.

Here’s the thing. The US is held hostage by radical gun culture. If you think for one second that any kind of restrictions on gun access (let alone a buy-back program) are going to pass both houses, you are as delusional as the guy in his homemade bunker waiting for Obama to put him in a FEMA camp to make him get gay-married under Shakira law.

My Solution
Gun violence is a public health problem. Let’s treat it like we treat cigarettes. Have a public information campaign about the statistics of having a gun in your house. Lunatic gun culture fueled by gun producers and the NRA have succeeded in embedding the delusion that you and your loved ones are safer with a gun in the house than not. In fact, statistically you and they are not:

 For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.

Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force
Linda E. Saltzman, et al., Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults, 267 JAMA, 3043-3047 (1992)

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm

More than half of youth who committed suicide with a gun obtained the gun from their home, usually a parent’s gun.
U.S. children and teens made up 43 percent of all children and teens in top 26 high income countries but were 93 percent of all children and teens killed by guns. 
• In 2010, children and teen gun death rates in the U.S. were over four times higher than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, nearly seven times higher than in Israel, and nearly 65 times higher than in the United Kingdom. 
• U.S. children and teens were 32 times more likely to die from a gun homicide and 10 times more likely to die from a gun suicide or a gun accident than all their peers in the other high-income countries combined. A child or teen dies or is injured from guns every 30 minutes. 
• 18,270 children and teens died or were injured from guns in 2010 
  o 1 child or teen died or was injured every 30 minutes. 
  o 50 children and teens died or were injured every day. 
  o 351 children and teens died or were injured every week. More children and teens die from guns every three days than died in the Newtown massacre. 
• 2,694 children and teens died from guns in 2010. 
  o 1 child or teen died every 3 hours and 15 minutes. 
  o 7 children and teens died every day, more than 20 every three days. 
  o 51 children and teens died every week. 
• The children and teens who died from guns in 2010 would fill 134 classrooms of 20 children. Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens ages 1-19 and the number one cause among Black children and teens. 
• Only motor vehicle accidents kill more children and teens every year. • White and Asian/Pacific Islander children and teens were nearly three times more likely, American Indian/Alaska Native children and teens more than two times as likely, and Hispanic children and teens one-and-a-half times more likely to be killed in a car accident than by a gun. 
• In contrast, Black children and teens were twice as likely to be killed by a gun than to be killed in a car accident.

Whachugonna do? Cuz I’m gonna give Obama my gunz…
So, just like with smoking, let people kill themselves and those closest to them if they insist on being irresponsible. That said, we can enact a public information campaign (just as we did with smoking) that owning a gun is, statistically, not a good choice if your goal is to protect you and your loved ones. Policy can, like with cigarettes, insist on warning labels. For example,

True Fact:”If you buy this gun you and the people you live with are much more likely to be shot than saved by your gun”.

There can also be public information campaigns on various media platforms presenting the risks relative to the benefits.

The gun industry (like the tobacco industry) has worked hard to create the illusion that their product is good for you. People genuinely believe that by owning a gun they will be better off because they will be able to protect themselves and their family. Within the context of the information they’ve been given, their choice isn’t unreasonable. They are in part correct. However, what the narrative misses is that everything comes with benefits AND risks.

So far the narrative presented to people contemplating owning a gun has been, like any marketing campaign, LOOK AT THE BENEFITS!!!111!!! However, a public information campaign can situate that benefit in its proper context; i.e., relative to the additional risks one takes on.

Notice that my solution doesn’t require getting Obama to go door to door to take people’s guns. We’re just giving people better information.

Yes, of course, the hard core gun lovers won’t change their behavior. Their choices were never the product of deliberation to begin with. But for the reasonable person who buys the gun because of the distorted narrative, the one who thinks buying the gun genuinely will make their family safer, they will now have better information from which to make a decision.

I am Jesus because my proposed policy
(a) while modest, primarily addresses one of the largest source of gun death and injury rather than the smallest and so stands to have the greatest impact.
(b) doesn’t propose the politically implausible policy of restricting access all guns no matter how deadly (cuz what if I need to protect myself from Obama).
(c) avoids coercion by placing trust in those well-meaning reasonable members of the public who have been mislead by gun propaganda.

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