Comments on: In It For The Money: Guns And Control it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: David Erik Nelson David Erik Nelson Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:46:47 +0000 re: #11

My kids are six (almost seven) and just one day shy of one year. Right now one-on-one is best for my son, with the added benefit that he’s *very* impressed with my brother-in-law–who is one of the most levelheaded and responsible gun owners I’ve ever known, and an excellent shot. I will be very pleased if he comes to emulate his uncle.

I likewise strongly disagree with hiding guns. Mine are stored either broken down or inoperable in double-locked hard-sided cases. Ammunition (of which I keep little on hand) is stored under separate lock and key. It probably bears mentioning that I don’t believe in keeping firearms for home protection–which is a personal decision I have no intention of seeing mandated nation wide. Some families have very, very good reasons for wanting a loaded, operable firearm at hand. Mine is blessed to not be among them.

I had no intention of implying that I *don’t* remind my son not to point guns at humans or pets–or, more precisely, I do warn him to always be aware of where the barrel (any barrel, NERF or otherwise) is pointing, if there is a human or animal in that direction, and whether or not the gun is cocked or loaded. I’m actually incapable of keeping these words from coming out of my mouth when I see him with a gun. It’s a reflex, like buckling my seat belt. What I meant to say was that the reminder has become redundant. Here’s an anecdote:

When my boy was three-ish he started to get interested in his cousins toy guns–which all either NERF, ping-pong, or the sorts of play guns that only make sounds. I don’t like to see children playing war games. It drives me nuts to see people point guns at each other–even in play, even those that shoot nothing–and I can’t stand having a barrel pointed at me. So, I wouldn’t permit him to play with these guns. Nonetheless, as boys do, he started making gun-like thinks (from blocks, sticks–you know how kids are) and pointing them at whatever, regardless of how patiently or angrily I explained that this was not done. My wife and I discussed the “no guns” policy, and decided that maybe it would make *more* sense for him to have a rubber-band gun, so that the actual cause-and-effect would be evident. I built him a rubber band gun, he continued to be terrible at attending to where the barrel pointed, and we ended up putting it on a high shelf. There were no further guns (apart from squirt guns–on the topic of which, I vastly prefer the sort that look like giant syringes, and not like guns at all) until after we went shooting, and he decided to buy his own NERF gun. And, miraculously, he’s done very well at attending to where it was pointed, whether it was operable, and how it is stored. Part of me thought “well, he’s just older now, and older kids are better at paying attention.” But as I’ve talked with other parents, I’ve found many who’ve struggled with the same “barrel awareness” problem even as their kids have gotten much older (11, 12, etc.) Anecdotally, it seems like those kids who have only had Airsoft (sp?) and NERF guns that struggle with this most, where-as those who have handled firearms with attentive, responsible adults have an easier time connecting the dotted line from muzzle to damage.

re: #12

I’m glad you asked! Those numbers are purposefully vague (and actually rounded down), but come from CDC reports for 2010 (the latest year for which complete figures were available when I began my research in December 2012). These numbers are available here [link] and here [link] , but you’ll find the interface to be a total PITA. In next month’s columns I’ll be exploring *painfully* precise numbers, and there might even be bar graphs!

To review, this is the claim:

“About 100,000 Americans can expect to have high-velocity lead enter their bodies this year. Almost all of those will be fired in a conscious attempt to cause harm. About a third of these lead recipients will die from their lead. Almost all of those will be in acts of intentional violence, mostly acts of self-harm.”

The 100,000 (which is rounded down) includes both fatal and non-fatal injuries within the US, so nothing involving service people apart from the significant number of suicides that occur on US soil, or accidents that occur while they are stateside.

Of the 100,000, about 75,000 were non fatal injuries. ~60,000 were “violence related,” a category that includes assaults, suicides, and “legal intervention” (i.e., law enforcement injury suspects or bystanders in the course of rightfully enforcing the law–because someone will ask, there were about 1,000 legal intervention firearm injuries in 2010). So, of 75k non-fatal gun injuries, 60k resulted from intentionally violent action of one human against another or him/herself. I think we can agree that this constitutes “most,” even if you think “almost all” is hyperbole–although I note that “almost all” refers not to injuries, but to deaths.

Of the ~33k gun-related deaths in 2010 (Yes, as I said above, I rounded *down* from the actual 2010 numbers. I’ll give you full, verified numbers for 2010 in the next column), ~19k were suicides, ~13k were homicides, and 600 were accidents. I’ve don’t have the legal intervention gun-deaths number for 2010 handy–I’ll need to look it up again–but I recall it being around 300. Again, I imagine that we can all agree that 32k of ~33k constitutes “almost all.”

I don’t want my tone to sound “scoldy” here, because I think it is *totally* reasonable to doubt my numbers. I was *shocked* when I looked them up, and ended up double checking them several times and touching base with lawyers and academics I knew to make sure I was understanding the classifications properly. I had *no idea* that such a huge portion of gun deaths in the US were suicides, that such a *tiny* portion were accidents, or that so few were law-enforcement related. Reading the news had left me with the strong impression that *most* gun deaths were either accidents involving small children or murders, and that many of these murders were law-enforcement related. This is clearly not the case.

All apologies for both the wordiness and typos above; I’m expected elsewhere and need to get rolling.

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:40:21 +0000 Latest figures from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control are for 2011. 73,883 non-fatal firearm injuries of which 59,208 (80%) were violence-related (as opposed to unintentional), and another 16,451 BB/pellet gun injuries. It doesn’t say but I’m pretty sure this does not include armed forces.

By: JamesJefferson JamesJefferson Thu, 28 Feb 2013 01:52:14 +0000 I liked the article until I got to the part about 100,000 gun injuries this year. Could you please let us know where you arrived at that figure? Does that include the men and women of our armed forces? People killed by law enforcement? While this amount might be close to CDC reporting, it surely includes accidents; therefore I suggest that your statement …”almost all will be fired in a conscious attempt to cause harm” to be inaccurate, at best, and rhetorical nonsense at worst. What is considered ‘almost all’? One quarter? Half? Three quarters?

To the commentator who decries target practice as pointless, I would remind all that target shooting is an olympic sport, in fact, women’s air rifle is the first medal awarded in the summer olympics. The university has a rifle team, ‘target shooting’ is a recognized and long-standing sport with worldwide participation, even countries with total gun bans make exception for their olympic shooting teams. As for your father keeping the pistol unsecured in the house, that is not only dangerous, but illegal. The ownership and safe use of a firearm comes with heavy legal and moral burdens, ones not to be taken lightly. One needn’t fear the well trained and law-abiding gun owner, hunter or competitive shooter next door, it is the casual gun owner, hyped up by fantasies of home defense, HALO and violent media, we need to look out for.

By: Ricebrnr Ricebrnr Mon, 25 Feb 2013 14:27:06 +0000 Are your kids old enough and if so, have you considered putting them in an Eddie Eagle class? Both my kids (12 and 7) have been through the class.

At home I also taught them what makes them go bang, so as to avoid doing that. They also know that anytime that they wish to see and touch or have any questions, all they need to do is ask.

My son (the older) also shoots with me occasionally. I have found that hiding things from curious children only serves to amplify the curiosity and leaves them no knowledge if a situation should arise (i.e. not under my control / at a playdate).

By: David Erik Nelson David Erik Nelson Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:47:03 +0000 If folks are curious, they’re welcome to just ask me about my gun storage and safety practices, as a father of two small, curious children. I’m afraid my answer may be lengthy (which is why I didn’t go into detail in the column), but might also be illuminating (based on conversations I’ve had with readers and family members since drafting the column).

By: Suswhit Suswhit Sun, 24 Feb 2013 05:59:17 +0000 Re: #4 I disagree. I thought that line was a kind of trite way to say that the experience of shooting the real gun was so impressive that the son needed no further instruction on the matter. Real gun or nerf. And on the contrary I think the words need to be said over and over again.

By: Suswhit Suswhit Sat, 23 Feb 2013 17:48:14 +0000 I am not familar with nuclear bombs, I don’t own a nuclear bomb and yet I have the audacity to look askance at lunatics who want to have one for their own “protection.” Welcome to my crazy, mixed up world. For the record, I also make uninformed judgements about “diet” soda, running shoes worn as street shoes and people who drive unnecessarily large vehicles.

I think the problem here is the word “ignorant.” While I don’t sleep with a gun in my bedside table, I do live in the same world you do. You learned to shoot as a kid with your dad. [1] When I was a kid my grandmother sent me to the cellar to ask my dad and grandfather what vegetable they wanted with dinner. Unbeknownst to me, they were in the process of skinning a recently shot deer. Up to their elbows in blood, they were monsters.[2] Truth is I am not ignorant. And while the rifles were kept locked up, I also knew that my dad’s pistol was “hidden” in the basement above the pool table. He thought that was a secret.

I don’t believe in killing an animal so that you can thump your chest and say “mmmmmm, good.” Target practice, while harmless, is pointless if you don’t need to hone that skill so that you can take down another living thing.[3] Get a better hobby.[4] I lock my doors. I don’t knowingly put myself in dangerous situations. I think the world would be a better place if there were no guns. None. I am not living in a fantasy world were there are no monsters. I am also not living in a fantasy world where a person who is “imminently trying to harm me or my family” is lurking around any corner.[1]

My experiences are just as valid as your experiences. “Get that.” Because you are passing judgement by claiming that your rights are more important than mine. Second hand cigarette smoke comes to mind.

[1] Emotional leading.
[2] I forgot to ask about the vegetable.
[3] I don’t eat animals.
[4] Gardening is nice.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Sat, 23 Feb 2013 00:57:54 +0000 Are any shooters not avid? :-)

By: VA12 VA12 Fri, 22 Feb 2013 16:48:36 +0000 Kudos! That is a refreshing piece and most welcome.

I am an avid shooter and have been since childhood, when I was taught by my father to shoot and handle everything from beginner or kids guns to combat pistols and rifles.

It is disturbing to me and many other avid shooters around the country that the conversation is numbingly focused on the mechanical aspects of some guns, rather than on the whole of guns and the behavior of individuals and the ongoing evolution of our society and culture.

I appreciate it very much that people who are not familiar with guns and have no desire to become familiar with guns would look askance at gun enthusiasts and say “why do you people feel the need to run around with such dangerous objects? Are you lunatics?”

I can understand that position, but it comes from ignorance, and you should understand that if you feel that way. Get that: you are passing judgement on something about which you are ignorant. Would you do the same on any other subject?

I am very comfortable being in possession of objects which have the potential to cause serious harm. That potential – the ability to fire a projectile at high speed upon the pulling of a trigger – is the whole point of the thing. Whether it is to be fired at a clay target for fun, an animal to be killed and eaten, or a person who is imminently intending to harm me or my family, that is the whole point of the thing.

And that last point is the one which should be first. We all have a fundamental human right to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Some of us choose not to pretend this is a world without monsters and we avail ourselves of the ability to defend ourselves as effectively as possible. If you choose not to do so, that is your right, but you cannot choose for me or anyone else.

We’ll be happy to have a conversation, but we’d prefer it not be conducted with ignorance or emotion leading.

By: Observatory Observatory Fri, 22 Feb 2013 16:08:49 +0000 Good job ! Thanks for expanding the breadth and freedom of discourse in America.