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Gun Rights: The Honorable Gabrielle Giffords and Gun Control - The Kill Clock: 345,460 since 1-1-11

Updated on April 16, 2021
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MY ESOTERIC likes to think of himself as a bit of a polymath with degrees in Statistics, Accounting, Computer Science, & Operations Research


8/1/2018: AT LEAST ONE STATISTIC HAS IT THAT 80 AMERICAS DIE A DAY DUE TO BEING SHOT BY A FIREARM. That is taking the roughly 30,000 deaths a year, regardless of the reason, and dividing by the number of days in a year. My start point was 1/1/2011, the month I wrote this hub. The end point is the date at the beginning of this paragraph. (Last updated 1/19/2020)

I have updated these numbers to reflect an increase in daily firearm deaths to 92 per day since 1/1/2013

Another thing to think about. Since Australia passed sensible gun laws in 1996 after a mass killing in Australia there have been ZERO mass killings. In America, there have been over 100 times when four or more people were killed. Australians love their guns as much as Americans do yet after passing reasonable gun laws, both suicide by guns and homicides plummeted.

THINK HARD ABOUT THIS DEAR READERS - Since I started this hub, there are more than 275,000 AMERICANS NOT ALIVE TODAY because a gun was used in a Suicide, Homicide, or simply mishandled. It is all the worse since HAD ALL STATES WITH WORSE GUN LAWS THAN SOUTH CAROLINA IMPROVED THOSE LAWS TO AT LEAST THAT LEVEL, THAT NUMBER WOULD BE NOTICEABLY SMALLER.

2/27/2019 - The Democratic House just passed a comprehensive background check bill. It is expected to die (along with many more people) in the Republican controlled Senate.

4/16/2021 - There have been 45 cases of mass shootings in the last 30 days where 4 or more people were killed or wounded in this latest spasm of gun violence in America.

Gabrielle Giffords' Official Photo (D-AZ)
Gabrielle Giffords' Official Photo (D-AZ) | Source
Tuscon Shooting Scene Of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)
Tuscon Shooting Scene Of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) | Source

A Brief Comment on the Shooting

Politicians of all stripes have been the target of threats by people unhappy with their brand of politics or decisions that they have made. The vast majority of the threats are ultimately harmless, but you never know which ones aren't. The problem is, you can't run scared and stay holed up in your office but you can't afford the kind of security presidents have. So you take your chances.

I believe that the break-ins to the offices of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other Arizona Democratic supporters of health care reform are the result of politically motivated violence from high scale Right-wing Authoritarian followers. That kind of action is well within the scope of RWA behavior. I do not believe that to be true in Jared Lee Loughner's attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords however. He was a registered Independent, a loner, railed against government in general, and didn't appear to support a particular cause. He seems to have mentally deteriorated rapidly over the last few years. It just seems unlikely that he had what would be a normal political motivation for assassination.

He did buy the 9mm Glock he used legally from an Arizona gun shop. He also abought a high capacity ammunition magazine legally as well. This enabled him to shoot 20 people of whom, amazingly, only six died. In 2003, this size of massacre would not have happened because high capacity magazines were illegal. The NRA and the gun lobby won its battle to stop the prohibition against the sale of high capacity magazines from being renewed in 2004. The killer also brought the gun to the Congress on the Corner event legally as well ... concealed even though he didn't have a permit.  For Arizona, you see,  specifically passed a law ensuring a permit is not required to carry a concealed weapon.  In fact, there is legisation moving forward in Arizona to let students bring concealed weapons onto school grounds!  How wonderful is that???

Ironically, one of the bystanders who was carrying a concealed weapon was interviewed on CNN and he related that he thought about using his weapon to bring down Laughner but thought better of it.  His reasoning?  He knew that most people around him and in cars nearby probably had guns as well and if he pulled his out, they would take him as a second shooter and take his life.  So he did nothing.

In comments to another hub, I believe it was CMerritt who asked me to offer my thoughts on gun control, so, with the above preamble I will attempt to do so.


Let's Start With Some Statistics (Sorry)

ALL else being equal, objects and substances are controlled or prohibited by society when they have the capacity, when misused, to do harm to society. This is simple common sense that all societies practice, except in America. In America, an exception is made for certain forms of pistols and rifles (guns, for short). When used for the purpose for which they were designed, guns are deadly; they definitely harm society. The fact that they can be used for other purposes is not material. Guns are designed to be lethal, plain and simple. Simple logic, therefore, demands that guns be controlled or prohibited entirely to protect society from misuse by humans.

In America, there has been a two hundred year long battle over how guns will be controlled. In normal circumstances, this should be a simple debate but our founding fathers decided to make things interesting for the generations to follow by including the following somewhat ambiguous words in the Bill of Rights or, more specifically, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. To wit:

"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"

And the debate was on.

The statistics clearly show that easy access to guns means more homicides. The Center for Gun Violence produced these 2007 statistics:

GUN DEATHS/100,000 

This stark distribution is no mistake!


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[Authors Note - (Once a long, long time ago, 1971 I think, one of my concentrations was statistics, so if you were wondering why ...) The numbers presented come from data produce from two primary sources. The homicide statistics were produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Control and Prevention. Their data comes from various National Vital Statistics Reports. One report, Volume 58, Number 1, August 19, 2009, that I looked at verified the number of homicides, 17,520, in 2007 of which 12,129 were by guns that were cited in the data that I used. The % Guns in Home figures came from a Pediatrics article presenting the results from a study titled "Prevalence of Household Firearms and Firearm-Storage Practices in the 50 States and the District of Columbia: Findings From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002". The method used to derive its statistics was: "We analyzed data from the 2002 cross-sectional Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey of 240735 adults from randomly selected households with telephones in the 50 states and the District of Columbia."

With State population figures, the % Guns in Home by State data, the total number of homicides by states data, and the total homicides by gun by State data, the rest is simple arithmetic. The table above is one of the more simple, straight forward statistical tables you come across. The distinction between the top of the chart and the bottom of the chart is dramatic.]

The link between easy access to guns and high rates of homicide by gun doesn't get any clearer than this, at least to a statistician. You have the five states with the highest percentage of guns in the home AND the least strict gun laws having the five highest rates of homicide by gun in the nation in 2007. As a counterpoint, you have the five states with the lowest percentage of guns in the home AND with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation having five lowest homicide by gun rates in the nation in 2007.

Reasonable people should be swayed by this, and this alone, that the case to control, even prohibit gun ownership, is compelling. Right-wing Authoritarians, on the other hand, who make up a significant portion of the gun lobby will believe the data is false, that it can't be true or they will simply ignore it because it doesn't conform to their version of reality. This, however, isn't the end of the story.

Before going on, I want to pile on a bit and toss in a few more statistics.

  • The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • American kids are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control)
  • American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States. (Centers for Disease Control)

OK, done with the statistics.

"Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People"

The case, as I say, IS compelling for outright prohibition of gun ownership, but it isn't overwhelming, at least for me. even though many think it is. You also have this small problem of the Second Amendment. What is overwhelmingly called for though is Regulation! But first an editorial on one of the stupidest, knee-jerk arguments so commonly used in defense of gun rights - "guns don't kill people, people kill people".

Besides the Second Amendment, the most widely used catch-phrase "argument" is that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" as if that really carries logical weight. Well it doesn't. It just leaves its utterer open to such slanderous charges that the gun lobby supports pedophiles. WHAT??? Well yes, at least based on the logic the gun lobby wants everybody to buy into!

The pedophile can argue with just as much authority as the gun lobby spokesperson that "pornographic drawings of children don't hurt children, people hurt children". Bull pucky! Pornographic drawings of children do hurt children in just the same way that guns hurt people ... and children. There is no logical difference between the two arguments. All that was done was to substitute the phrase "pornographic drawings of children" (a noun) for the word "guns" (also a noun) and "Hurt Children" for (Kill People). The meaning of sentence didn't change, just the objects it was referring to.

Such horrible drawings do hurt children, in and of themselves, that is why such drawings are illegal to possess. Who of the gun lobby says that people should be allowed to possess such drawings? None, I bet, unless the happen to be pedophiles as well. In the same manner, guns do hurt people, in and of themselves, that is why this argument is so specious.

I am not claiming that people shouldn't be able to own guns. All I am saying is there is no logical reason, beyond the Second Amendment, why the State or the Federal government can't regulate the ownership, including prohibition, of firearms. Said another way, the Second Amendment and subsequent Supreme Court rulings are the ONLY things stopping government at any level from prohibiting ownership of certain types of firearms.


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3/15/2013: I thought it would be useful to offer a few more statistics relating to gun violence and death by gun.

CHART 1 displays where Federal inmates say they obtained their weapons and it surprised me with one of the results of this 1997 survey; that only 4% of them bought their weapons from unregulated gun shows or flea markets. I thought the rate was much higher than that but instead the 4% figure tends to support the NRA's position.

What is very disturbing is the primary source of weapons used in violent crime are from other peoples homes, whether they be borrowed or stolen. A full 47% are obtained in this manner!! The NRA contends the primary source of weapons used in crime come from other criminal activity; but only 24% of their weapons come from these sources.

Finally, 19% of weapons are obtained through regulated sources such as retail stores. That means a whopping 60% are obtained through legal means of which 42% is unregulated!! If a weapon is borrowed in some fashion or stolen from an unsecured location, responsibility today rests with the criminal. That is one thing I would change; I would make responsibility flow to the people to lent the weapon or kept it unsecured.

CHART 2 portrays homicides by weapon type. Clearly handguns are the preferred method of killing somebody on purpose; there are almost more deaths in this manner than the rest of the choices combined. When you add "other weapons", then weapons clearly exceed the sum of the rest.

Currently, the data only goes through 2004, but I have data that will update it to 2009. Just to let you know, there are no drastic changes.

OK, I am not sure what the general perception is of NRA members as to the ratio of criminal deaths from weapons to non-criminal (suicides, accidental, self-defense (about 2 out of each 1ooo crimes), and the like) but it is clear, the main reason for death by gun is not criminal activity. In looking at Chart 2 you can see there are about 11,000 homicides per year using some sort of weapon. The total deaths by gun is around 30,000 per year.

You can do the math, but to make it easier, let me say that there are roughly 8,000 more deaths by gun for non-criminal reasons as there were for criminal behavior. That means fully 63% of all deaths by gun weren't criminally-based! Yes, let's leave guns unregulated.

Another myth put out by the NRA is that if gun ownership was vastly curtailed, then homicides by other weapons would rise to meet the demand of criminals wanting to kill people. Clearly, in looking at Chart 2 and considering that all of the other means require up close and personal contact, the NRA's assertion is laughable.

NOW CONSIDER CHARTS 3, 4, AND 5: The first chart, Chart 3, presents a picture of a representative group nations and the rate of gun ownership. The next two charts provide rates of homicide for the same set of nations; there are two charts because Honduras and Columbia swamp all other nations in homicide rates.

A quick comparison of these charts bust another NRA myth, to wit, that the rest of the industrialized world. which have much more strict regulations regarding personal gun ownership, have just a bad homicide rates as the U.S.; they just use different methods of killing. It is clear this myth is not true; homicide rates in ALL industrialized countries is at least 1/2 that of America, even violent Israel.

It should be noted that of the non-industrialized nations, the only one with a low homicide rate is Saudi Arabia.


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Regulate But Don't Prohibit

PREAMBLE: Since writing this in Jan 2011, I have become painfully aware that those opposing gun control have a very poor grasp of the English language, a very poor grasp indeed. From my review of the comments I have received here and have read elsewhere, they are apparently unable to draw the distinction between words "regulation" and "prohibition". In their lexicon, "regulation" and "prohibition" are synonyms rather than two entirely different words with two entirely different meaning for the rest of us. When I say I am FOR "regulation", I am AGAINST "prohibition" of firearms, that translate to them as "I am FOR the "prohibition" of firearms, period."; which, to any thinking person is obviouly not the case. So, until the those who belong to the gun lobby take their collective blinders off and rejoin the rest of us who use the thinking part of our brains, intelligent conversation and debate is going to be problematic at best.

TO BE BLUNT ABOUT IT, those states with loose gun laws are aiding and abetting in the murder of their own citizens. I don't see how any reasonable, intelligent person can come to any other conclusion after a review the above table. The fact of the matter is, the easier it is to get guns, the more guns there are in circulation per capita, then it clearly follows that there WILL be more deaths by gun per capita, period! Why is that true, because the statistics confirm the reverse. The more strict the gun laws, the less guns there are per capita and it follows that there IS less deaths by gun per capita, period. Unless you are a RWA, it is undeniable. If you are a RWA then 1+1 = 3, if that is what you believe to be true. It is not that, with stricter gun laws that honest citizens can't get guns, if they want them, it is because those who shouldn't have guns find it much harder if not impossible to obtain them, at least in that state; they need to go to states who almost give guns away at birth.

How can the legislature of Louisiana live with themselves knowing that if they only enacted the same gun regulations of say, New York they might achieve a 70% reduction in their rate of death by gun?? The fact that they don't and they know that they could is criminal in my mind. Is it yours?

As you have probably figured out by now, I am not against reasonable gun ownership for sports shooting or even self-protection. My personal feeling is that the latter reason puts more innocent people in harms way than it protects, but what do I know. I don't own any weapons of any sort once I gave up my M-16 the Army lent me.

What I do propose is a heavy dose of regulation and owner responsibility along with some tough love . It breaks down like this:

  1. A person may own virtually any type of weapon that is not prohibited by military necessity
  2. The place of storage, place of use, method of transportation, and amount of security depends on the type of weapon.
  3. Except for personal non-automatic handguns and non-automatic rifles, all weapons must be stored at a state authorized/supervised storage facility located at the site where they will be fired for sport.
  4. Personal non-automatic handguns and non-automatic rifles will be stored, unloaded, in state approved storage containers.
  5. All weapons will be registered with the State and proof of possession be provided annually
  6. Owners of any weapon will be STRICTLY liable for any damage, injury, or death of person or animal caused by any weapon registered to him or her. The only waiver from this liability is through theft if it can be proved the weapon was properly secured in an approved container or storage facility or through recorded resale where title has been properly transferred.
  7. Purchasing a weapon will require proof of citizenship similar to qualifying for a drivers license and a five business day waiting period for a thorough background check from a state registered gun dealer. The purchaser will have to go to a local city, county, state, or federal office to pick up a notice of clean background to authorize the gun dealer to release the weapon.
  8. Only clips or magazines of the smallest available sizes may be purchased
  9. No specialized ammunition that is incendiary, is designed to defeat armour, or is designed to do extraordinary damage upon penetration may be sold.
  10. There would be no limit on the number of weapons that could be purchased at any one time.
  11. The use of a gun in a crime becomes a federal crime, in addition to being a state crime, if the gun can be proven to have been manufactured outside of the state it was used to commit the crime.

None of these provisions inhibit the ownership of a weapons; in fact it expands on them. The Supreme Court is clear in it's interpretation of the Second Amendment; no Federal, State, or local law or ordanence may prohibit or effectively prohibit US citizens from possessing and using certain firearms. The Court is equally clear on two other points:

  1. Their ruling does not cover all weapons but is primarily limited to personal firearms.
  2. Their ruling does not prohibit the Federal, State, or local governemtns from reasonably regulating the ownership of personal firearms

I don't believe any of my proposals violate either of those two points. It does restrict where the most dangerous of the weapons can be stored and used but aren't they being bought just for target shooting? It does make the owners VERY responsible for the safekeeping of their weapons; much more so than it is today and I think that is key. I am not too worried about not limiting the quantity because there is enough oversight where that ought to raise some red flags if an army is being outfitted.

I know I am going to get a lot, and I mean a lot, of howls and screams from the gun lobbiests on these ideas. But all I can say to them is I hope you don't live in those top five states because you have a reasonable chance of getting shot by one of your buddies. Wasn't Dick Cheney shooting in Louisiana?

FEBRUARY 13, 2013

COLUMBINE, NEWTOWN, AURORA MASSACRES all burned in our minds, But it took the slaughter of 20 five-year old to finally get the politicians off of their collective asses and do something. Even though it will be next to nothing, at least it will be something. Most likely, the gaping loop-hole in background checks at gun shows will be closed. The other thing that has half a chance is banning large capacity magazines and clips for assault rifles and machine pistols. Apparently another thing that might make it through is taking the handcuffs off federal and other agencies in tracking weapons captured in the commission of crimes. That will probably be it and even with these, the NRA will have a conniption fit and gun-rights advocates will claim no one will ever be able to defend themselves in America again.

They will also say the background checks are pointless because only non-criminals buy guns at gun shows; real criminals find other sources. My question is why should criminals bother to go the hard route, given gun shows are such easy pickin's? One law that makes sense that probably won't make it either is limiting the number of weapons one can buy in a single purchase. I lived in Virginia where there was no limit. As a consequence, D.C. had an unlimited supply of large quantities of weapons of all types that they otherwise could not have acquired, most going to gangs.

© 2011 Scott Belford


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