Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An interesting comment, and a response, from the gun facts post...

We received a thoughtful response from our Gun Facts post a few days ago.  I thought the comment was really worthwhile and warranted a post with a full response.  David is responding to the first three points, which I will reproduce here.  You could click the link and read the whole enchilada if you want.

1.  A woman who carries a gun is 4 times less likely to be murdered than one who does not. (25% of the risk)

2.  A woman who carries a gun is 10 times less likely to be raped than one who does not. (10% of the risk)

3.  20 years ago, 12 million women owned/used/carried guns for self protection.  Today, the number is 17 million.  This is not an isolated or rare event.  In fact, it might be a useful intellectual exercise to describe why you (if you're female) do not carry a gun, given the risk reduction.  Or why, if you are male, do not encourage, support and facilitate the woman in your life to get a gun and learn how to use it.  The book that makes an excellent case for the use of firearms by women for self protection is  "Armed and Female, taking control" by Paxton Quigley:


Then follows David's comment:

Troy - these "facts" are misleading (I'm referring especially to points 1-3). People who choose to carry guns make lots of other choices and do other things that may change their chances of being the victim of a crime. I'm not saying people should or should not have the freedom to choose to carry a gun (though I'll show my hand and say that in general I don't think it's a good idea), but that is one of many choices that might influence crime rates. I'd be interested to hear how carrying pepper spray or a baseball bat affects those odds.

Also in reference to points 1-3, are you suggesting that females ought to carry firearms but not males, or just that they have more to gain?

I appreciate your perspective, as always.

And my (hopefully just as thoughtful) response:

While it is true that nothing happens in a vacuum, and it is helpful if not essential to know how statistical "evidence" is gathered and massaged, I feel confident that these facts withstand closer scrutiny.  I also wanted to present them as counterpoint to the gross amounts of misinformation that one encounters in the mainstream media concerning firearms.  Here is a negative example from the Arthur Kellerman study, which is now recognized as very poor science,

"but research has shown that a gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a member of the household, or a friend, than an intruder."

That particular example has been proven to be junk science, and produced in the worst sort of way, statistically.

But let us consider the main thrust of your comment, that it's not just the guns, it's all the other actions and choices that reduce the rape rate. 

 In Florida, prior to the "shall issue" legislation, which made it easy for ordinary citizens to carry a gun for self protection, it was very difficult to legally carry a firearm for self protection, and the vast majority of the population, men and women, did not.

Let's say there were 100,000 women in Florida who really wanted to carry a gun for self protection, but could not legally do so.  Don't you think this group of women would have taken every other risk reduction strategy possible, short of carrying the gun?  What exactly would the physical possession of a firearm cause them to do differently? 

Here is a better example.  In Orlando Florida in 1966-67, the media highly publicized a safety course which taught Orlando women how to use guns.  The result: Orlando's rape rate dropped 88% in 1967, whereas the rape rate remained constant in the rest of Florida and the nation.

In the above example, a tiny percentage of the women in Orlando took that safety course.  Do you think the behavior of most or all women in Orlando changed that significantly, to cause an 88% reduction in rapes?  Or (as I think) the mere presence of some armed and trained women in that community caused the potential rapists to count the risk and the cost as too high.  One of the many advantages of allowing concealed carry for all law abiding citizens is, the bad guys don't know who has a gun, and who does not.  Even those who chose not to carry a gun are safer because of those who do.  Polls of prison inmates suggest that, "57% of felons polled agreed that criminal are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police."

Contrast that with the propaganda and misinformation presented by the anti-gun folks who tried to stop the "shall issue" legislation in Florida.   They predicted that violent crime would skyrocket if any ordinary citizen could carry a gun.  Here is an example of the propaganda in the form of signs and billboards when the Brady Campaign tried to defeat the new gun law in Florid.


Obviously, the big spike in violent crime, or gun crime, never materialized. 

 Consider Kennesaw, Georgia:

"In 1982, this suburb of Atlanta passed a law requiring heads ofhouseholds to keep at least one firearm in the house.  The residential burglary rate subsequently dropped 89% in Kennesaw, compared to the modest 10.4% drop in Georgia as a whole.

The people living in town, were suddenly required to have a gun in their house.  This would include some people who had no interest in guns.  Did the physical presence of a gun in house change the choices and behavior of the homeowners?  And if so, how would the burglars even know of this changed behavior?  I think it is the mere presence of the guns, and the risk that represents to the burlars.  They don't want to get shot and they go elsewhere.

And finally, I think this is the most telling example is from data gathered by the Carter Justice Dept.

"Nationwide, In 1979, the Carter Justice Department found that of more than 32,000 attempted rapes,, 32% were actually commited.  But when a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually successful."

Since these statistics deal only with actual attempted rapes, it seems obvious that none of these women had changed any of their other behavior or choices in such a way as to prevent the attack in the first place.  This, to me, directly suggests that it was the presence of the weapon (gun or knife) that made the difference.

And no, I am not suggesting that only women carry guns for self protection, but only that they have the most to gain.  Nor am I against less lethal means of self defense like pepper spray.  Baseball bats are not so practical or effective against a physically stronger attacker.

Why do you think that carrying a gun is not a good idea?

Finest regards,


1 comment:

David said...

I've always respected batman for not carrying a gun, though he has been known to carry some concealed gadgetry.

(My real response ended up being too long for blogger to tolerate, but I'll email it to you Troy.)

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