A New Book On Gun Violence.

From My Cold Dead Hands 978-1-53614-574-8

This new book will be released shortly and will be available both in print and e-book editions.  The 60,000-word text is an attempt to provide both sides of the gun debate with what I believe is lacking in the argument over gun violence, namely, an understanding of the industry which produces the instruments of gun violence – the guns themselves.

Although I have no issue with regulating any industry whose products may cause threats to health, be it physical, financial or psychological health, in the case of the gun industry I find that most of what both sides claim to be the path to proper regulation is based on nothing more than what they hope to achieve, rather than what their regulatory strategies, if enacted, will bring about.

On the pro-gun side, there is simply no connection between letting everyone walk around with a gun and protecting society from crime. Of course one can always produce examples of how some likely crime was thwarted because a guy or a gal pulled out a gun in the nick of time. So what?  All this proves is that, at one moment, the existence of a gun might have made the difference in the outcome of a particular criminal event.

On the gun-control side, the evidence that keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands’ will make a difference is equally scant. You can run all the regression analyses you want to using this data and that. What you’ll get is a very tidy way to describe the behavior of two trends over time, and anyone who then claims that description should be accepted as causality at least should hedge their academic bets.

I hate to sound like Sarah Palin who still believes that her experience managing the family budget gave her everything she needed to figure out what to do about the federal debt, but I started writing about gun violence because many, if not most of what I experienced in more than  50 years in the gun business, simply did not square with what I kept hearing and reading from advocates on both sides of the debate.

The truth is, or at least the truth as I see it, is that the lack of knowledge about the industry that one side attacks while the other side defends, is borne out first and foremost by a basic failure on both sides to divulge what they really believe and think about guns. If I had a nickel for every time that a gun-control advocate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton said they ‘supported’ the 2nd Amendment, when in fact, the last thing they ever wanted to support was the ‘right’ to ‘keep and bear arms,’ I wouldn’t still be working for a living. For that matter, the idea that we should allow every ‘law-abiding’ citizen to walk around with a gun because an armed citizen is simply exercising his ‘civil rights,’ is equally absurd.

Know how many Americans bought hunting licenses in 1958?  Try around 14 million. Know how many bought licenses last year? About the same. Meanwhile, over these sixty years, the population of the United States has grown by slightly more than 50 percent. Is it any wonder that the gun industry keeps itself in business, and also keeps the gun-control movement alive and well, by promoting guns as a real-live version of a video game?

For all the terror, grief and trauma engendered by mass shootings (and I am in no way understating the tragedies of such events,) for most of us, the United States remains a remarkably safe and secure place to live, grow up and grow old. Which is all the more reason why gun violence needs to be understood and controlled. Hopefully, my new book will serve as a small contribution in that respect.

 

Advertisements

More Guns Equals More Gun Violence: A Response From David Hemenway

murder  Yesterday I wrote a column in which I argued that using the gun-ownership rate in the U.S. as the ‘driver’ for gun violence is flawed if we count all guns, rather than only counting handguns which are involved in nearly all gun violence.  The esteemed gun-violence researcher, whose book, Private Guns – Public Health, sets a standard for research in the field, sent a response and has given me permission to post it here:

Dear Mike.

    I beg to differ.  Three of the key factors which makes the US such an outlier compared to the other high income countries with regard to firearms are that (a) we have the weakest gun laws, (b) we have the most guns per capita, and (c) our guns are disproportionately handguns.  By (c) I don’t mean to imply that most of the guns in our gun stock are handguns, though the US handgun/long gun ratio has been growing.  Instead I mean that we have a far higher percentage of handguns in our gun stock compared to the other high-income countries.  For example, Canada has a sizeable number of long guns, but fairly few handguns.  So if we calculate per capita handgun ownership for developed countries, the U.S. becomes even more of an outlier.  And we know that most violent crime involves handguns rather than long guns; handguns are much more likely than long guns to be used in violent crime.  

    We could disaggregate handguns still further into those more (vs less) likely to be used in violent crime in the US, and if we did, I suspect that the US would become even more of an outlier compared to the other high income countries (in terms of the number of the “type of handguns likely to be used in violent crime” divided by the country’s population) –but I don’t have data on how many of the type of “handguns likely to be used in violent crime” are in the gun stocks of the other high-income countries, so I can’t prove my suspicion.    

     Cheers,

         David