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    Here begins your journey into the mind of everybody's favorite asian, and I don't mean Jet Li.
What follows is the somewhat inane, mostly irrelevant, and self-important ramblings of a man on the brink of madness.
Welcome... to the Chu.

Thursday, July 27, 2006
 Firearm Myths, pt. 2    [L]

Firearm Myths
part 1

I must admit a bit of laziness on my part: I compiled most of these back in 2002, therefore it may be a bit dated. However, if anything, the lapsed time has only reinforced my points.

The Myth of Your Gun Being More Likely to Kill Your Friend than Save Your Life

The exact myth is that "a gun kept in a home is 43 times more likely to kill someone you know then to kill a stranger in self-defense."

No words of my own, so I'll quote from James S. Rustad's Gun Control FAQ (original link lost, alternate source here)

"In a 1986 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Drs.
Kellerman and Reay described the proper way to calculate how many
people are saved by guns compared to how many are hurt by guns. The
benefits should include, in the authors' own words 'cases in which
burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or
display of a firearm [and] cases in which would-be intruders may have
purposely avoided a house known to be armed...'"

"However, when Kellerman and Reay calculated their comparison, they
didn't include those cases, they only counted the times a homeowner
killed the criminal. Because well under 1% of defensive gun usage
involves the death of a criminal, Kellerman and Reay under stated the
protective benefits of firearms by a factor of at least 100! They
turned the truth on its head!"

"GUNS: Facts & Fallacies" -- "Doctors for Integrity in
Research & Public Policy",
Edgar A. Suter, MD, Chairman.
Phone # (510) 277 0333

The original study was published as:

"Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home"
Arthur L. Kellermann and Donald T. Reay
The New England Journal of Medicine 314, no. 24
(June 12, 1986):1557-1560.

It was then reprinted in:

"The Gun Control Debate, You Decide"
ed. Lee Nisbet, Prometheus Books
1990, 239-244.

43:1 ratio breaks down as follows:
37 suicides
4.6 criminal homicides
1.3 accidents

Note that the definition of defensive uses includes only cases where no
charges were ever filed. If charges were filed the case was considered
to be a "criminal homicide" even if the case was dismissed or the jury
found "not guilty".

Also note that the definition of defensive use requires killing the
attacker -- apparently the researchers don't count wounding or driving
off the attacker as defensive. Less than 0.5% of successful self-defense
uses result in the death of the attacker (0.5% is based on ~400
justifiable homicides by civilians each year, FBI Uniform Crime Report,
and the National Crime Survey's 80,000 self-defense uses which is a
reasonable minimum estimate of the number of civilian-with-gun self-

Additionally it is useful to know that in ~85% of the cases where
someone is killed by a friend or a family member, there was a police
record of violence (criminal records, police calls over "domestic
disturbances, etc...) In other words, if you have no history of
violence, you are about five times less likely to kill a friend or
family member.

UPDATE 08/07/06
Ninth Stage Extends the Debunk:
Reading the latest Carnival of Cordite I saw the link to ChuBlogga’s post. It reminded me of what I had read years ago about the definition of the “someone you know” that you gun owners are “more likely to kill”. I had read that among the “someone[s] you know” are the fare that shoots you, the cabbie; the psycho neighbor who everyone is afraid of; the stalker abusive ex who ignores all the restraining orders you’ve taken out; your rival drug dealer/gang member (as if dead drug dealers and gang members should count in murder statistics) that you shoot dead.

The Myth that "More American Children Die from Guns Each Year than All Other Natural Causes Combined."

According to the National Safety Council's "Accident Facts: 1997 Edition," (link dead) there were 6,700 accidental deaths for children age 0 to 14. These accidental deaths break down to:

3,300 or 49.3% due to Motor-Vehicle accidents
1,000 or 14.9% due to drowning
660 or 9.9% due to fires, burns and deaths associated with fire
250 or 3.7% due to suffocation by ingested object
240 or 3.6% due to firearms
190 or 2.8% due to falls
100 or 1.5% due to poisoning by solids or liquids
60 or 0.9% due to poisoning by gases or vapor
900 or 13.4% due to all other types

6,700 or 100% due to all causes

A legal definition of children would include those up to age 18 (depending on the state). However, the statistics compiled by the National Safety Council aggregate persons into 5-year increments. As can be seen, firearms are either the *FIFTH* leading cause of death, or the *SIXTH*, if "all other types" is included as a categorical cause, excluding deaths due to perinatal conditions, congenital anomolies, and infectious disease. Regardless of its rank, it can be seen just from the data above that only 3.6% of all accidental deaths under the age of 15 are caused by firearms. That is far less than those killed in motor-vehicle accidents, drowning, or in fires.

The Myth that "The Number of Kids Killed by Firearms [in the US] Has Quadrupled in the Last 10 Years."

According to the NSC, from 1985 to 1995, fatal firearm accidents for all ages has decreased 15%

Since 1930, the annual number of fatal firearm accidents has been cut by half, even though the U.S. population has doubled and the number of privately owned firearms has quadrupled.

The Myth that Strict Gun Control Reduces Death Rates

Many gun-control advocates cite that Japan's murder rate is much lower than America's, thanks to their strict gun control laws. However....

Japan's murder rate averages 0.9 per 100,000, but its suicide rate is 20.3, for a combined rate of 21.1 per 100,000.
The U.S. murder rate averages 7.4 per 100,000, and the suicide rate is 12.0, for a combined total of 19.4 per 100,000.
Thus, the combined murder and suicide rates in Japan and the U.S. are nearly equal even though firearms are virtually non-existent in Japan.
(Source: National Safety Council's 1997 Accident Facts and the United Nations Demographic Yearbook)

Other misleading statistics used by gun control advocates include statistics on lower murder rates in selected countries with strong gun control laws, as compared to murder rates in the United States. What these advocates studiously avoid mentioning are higher murder rates than ours in other countries that also have strong gun control laws (Brazil, Russia) -- or lower murder rates in some countries, such as Israel, where guns are more widely available than in the United States.

The U.S. does not have the highest rate of gun-related deaths among industrialized nations. The United Nations' Demographics Handbook, has the U.S. ranked 12th.

Hmmmmm.... makes you wonder what kind of yardstick they're measuring Japan by.... A different one!

The Myth that Strict Gun Control Reduces Crime

The most common comparison is against Britain - however, comparing simple crime rates between America and Britain is inaccurate. In America, a gun crime is recorded as a gun crime. In Britain, a crime is only recorded when there is a final disposition (a conviction). All unsolved gun crimes in Britain are not reported as gun crimes, grossly undercounting the amount of gun crime there. To make matters worse, British law enforcement has been exposed for falsifying criminal reports to create falsely lower crime figures, in part to preserve tourism. (Gallant , Hills, Kopel, "Fear in Britain", Independence Institute, July 18, 2000) (Daily Telegraph, 1996).

Many of the countries with the strictest gun control have the highest rates of violent crime.
Australia and England, which have virtually banned gun ownership, have the highest rates of
robbery, sexual assault, and assault with force of the top 17 industrialized countries. (Dutch Ministry of Justice, Criminal Victimization in Seventeen Industrialized Countries, 2001)
Contact Crime Victimization Rates (%)
1. Australia - 4.1
2. England & Wales - 3.6
3. Scotland - 3.4
4. Canada - 3.4
5. Finland - 3.2
6. Poland - 2.8
7. N. Ireland - 2.4
8. Denmark - 2.3
9. France - 2.2
10. Sweden - 2.2
11. Switzerland - 2.1
12. Netherlands - 2.0
13. USA - 1.9
14. ...

That's right! USA ranks 13th in victimization rates despite having looser gun control laws, and high and mighty England ranks 2nd despite having extremely strict gun control laws.

Using John Lott's International Crime Victimization Survey data from 2000,
Victimisation in the year preceding the survey: number of offences per 100 inhabitants (incidence rates), Assaults & Threats
England & Wales2.45.59.712.4
As you can see, at least in the time period here, English and Australian assualt crime rates rose, while US rates fell. England enacted their ban in 1997 (already having stringent controls on firearm ownership since 1968), Australia's in 1996. Meanwhile, US gun ownership rose while it's assault rate decreased. While gun ownership is hardly the only factor influencing the rate of assault, it can certainly be seen to have a substantial effect.

My conclusion: The more able a people are to defend themselves, the less able they are to be victimized.

Got more myths for me to refute? Send'em my way, i'll cover them in the next installment!