A Christmas Story.

This picture appeared last night on a social media site visited and maintained by gun owners. I am a member of maybe a dozen such sites because I like to know what gun owners really think, not what some freelance writer who is paid to write 1,000 words on guns for some liberal news blog wants me to know what he or she thinks gun owners are thinking about.

The happy lady’s caption was: “Look at my new baby!” The first two comments were: “Love it, its for conceal carry or for home defense?” and “We use the Garand for home defense :).”

Incidentally, her new baby happens to be a Walther PPK. It is similar in design and function to the guns whose use causes nearly all the 125,000 intentional gun injuries (fatal and non-fatal) each year. This number happens to represent probably 90% of all gun injuries, by the way.

On the other hand, what would you expect this lady to say? Should she have captioned her pic by thanking someone who gave her a present that she could use to kill or injure 6 or 7 people happily sitting around their Christmas tree? On Christmas eve, 6 people were shot at one time in High Point, NC. The lady’s new ‘baby’ could have easily been used to do the trick.

I’m willing to bet you that this happy lady is the legal owner of that gun. And I suspect that if she picked up her telephone and someone said they were running a national survey about guns and then asked her if she would support a ‘reasonable’ gun law like comprehensive background checks, she’d probably say, “Sure. Why not?”

This woman happens to be clueless. She wouldn‘t understand what Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara said about the risk of handguns in the home if her life depended on it. Unfortunately, her life or the life of someone else does depend on it. Which is exactly what my friends in the public health gun-research community don’t understand. They don’t understand the issue for which the CDC has just added $25 million to its research budget because these happy academic folks never (read: never) talk to gun owners at all.

Why bother to talk to the people whose little hobby ultimately accounts for every, single gun injury that occurs every day? After all, you can always hire some hot-shot survey outfit who will do the talking on your behalf. Or you can wander around a bunch of gun shows looking for illegal sales, an activity which launched the career of one of our most celebrated gun researchers a number of years ago. If Garen Wintemute had spent some time just talking to gun owners rather than trying to get everyone hot and bothered over some illegal sales, he might have actually made a serious contribution to figuring out what to do about guns.

Am I asking too much of my gun-researcher friends in public health to devote a small fraction of that new CDC stash to try and figure out what’s in the heads of people like the woman pictured above? Because until and unless this issue is addressed and understood, too many people will submit to all those ‘reasonable’ gun laws while they stand in a gun shop buying a gun.

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