Young hunter with semi-automatic shotgun and game birds.
A disarmist, writing in New Hampshire, stated the obvious in a letter to the editor about the difference between deaths that are associated with motor vehicles and those that are associated with guns. It is an important point, one that is usually obscured and minimized by those who want to remove guns from peoples hands. Anthony McManus writes in fosters.com:
And the difference is greater than just numbers. Millions of people, on a daily basis, drive thousands of miles in cars, trucks, buses, vans, motorcycles. Except in a very small number of cases deaths are caused by "accidents"— drivers falling asleep, poor road conditions, driver inattention, weather conditions, vehicle malfunction and, unfortunately, drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs. When a death occurs it is almost always unintended.
Gun deaths, on the other hand, are almost always a deliberate act — homicide against targeted (and usually known) individuals, or suicide.That is mostly correct. Because killings committed with guns are intentional, they are subject to all of the limitations that exist when trying to alter intentional human behavior.
The vast majority, about two thirds, of killings committed with guns are suicides. Legislating whether a magazine holds 15 or 30 rounds will make absolutely no difference to suicides. Whether a gun is a single shot or semi-automatic will make no difference.
The evidence indicates that completely removing guns will not make a difference, because suicides who use guns are not trying to seek help. They are trying to die, and numerous substitution methods are available, as the Japanese, Belgians, Hungarians, and Koreans, who have virtually no guns, and suicide rates about twice that of the United States, demonstrate all too sadly.
I do not believe that Americans will be any less capable of finding substitute methods than the populations in those other countries. Everyone has a simple means to find easy, painless, alternate methods of suicide on the Internet.
With that bit of honesty committed, Anthony McManus then puts forward this whopper of a false talking point. Like many good lies, it has a smidgen of truth in it, and a number of false assumptions.
Although the number of fatalities are sizeable and regrettable, motor vehicles are not designed to kill people. Guns are. There may be a legitimate use for rifles and shotguns in hunting but there is no other purpose for handguns, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and assault rifles except to threaten and/or shoot other human beings.First, the bit of truth. Handguns, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and "assault rifles", are very useful for threatening and/or shooting human beings. It is a major use.
The false assumption is that threatening and shooting human beings is always evil. Threatening and shooting human beings is often required and necessary.
A father who uses an AK 47 clone to threaten and shoot home invaders is using the rifle in an appropriate and useful fashion. The store owner who uses a handgun to prevent armed robbery, uses the handgun in an appropriate and useful way. The Doctor who uses a handgun to stop a mass killing by shooting the assailant, is using the handgun in a way approved of in moral and legal codes.
The assumption that these are the only design uses for handguns, semi-automatic and automatic firearms is simply false.
Firearms are designed to send projectiles down range at substantial velocities, propelled by the action of burning gunpowder. It is why they are called "firearms" instead of squirt guns. But a great many handguns, semi-automatic, and automatic firearms are designed and used for purposes other than threatening or shooting people. "Assault rifles" fit into the previous categories, and in the U.S. are very seldom used to murder people.
The smallest category of the above, in the United States, are automatic firearms. Because of error ridden government records, we can only approximate the numbers of legal automatic firearms in the United States. It is about 183,000. Those firearms increased in numbers from a little before 1900 up until 1986, when the number was frozen by law. In the entire 80 year history since federal records have been kept, there may have been three murders committed with a legal automatic firearm (other than those in government hands). One of those was by a police officer. The vast majority of these firearms are used for target shooting, to be displayed to admiring and curious visitors, as investments for collectors, and a objects of art.
Enormous numbers of semi-automatic firearms, whether pistols or long guns, are primarily designed for hunting, target shooting, and training.
Literally millions of semi-automatic rifles are made and sold every year. Yet, as a category, they are the next least used in murder (after automatic weapons). The total number of murders committed with rifles in the United States was 285 in 2013. The number of those that are semi-automatic is some fraction of the 285. The FBI does not break down the rifles by action type, but semi-automatic has been the favorite action type for at least two decades. I would not be surprised to learn that semi-automatic rifles are between one and two thirds of the American stock of rifles.
There are about 120 million rifles in the United States, so one person is murdered for about every 400,000 rifles, in a given year.
The vast majority of them are never used to threaten or shoot a human being, though large numbers are used for target shooting, hunting and pest eradication.
There are many millions of semi-automatic shotguns as well, almost all designed and used for hunting and target shooting. 308 people were murdered with shotguns in 2013. The number murdered with them is about half as many as are murdered with personal weapons (hands and feet), which was 687 in 2013. There are about 120 million shotguns in the United States.
Most threatening and killing done with firearms is done with handguns. But even in the case of handguns, many are designed for target shooting and hunting, and far more of them are used for those purposes than for threatening and shooting people. Many of them are used for defensive purposes against animals, a use not mentioned by Anthony McManus. 5,782 people were murdered with handguns in 2013. There are about 120 million handguns in the United States.
The idea that "there is no other purpose for handguns, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and assault rifles except to threaten and/or shoot other human beings." is simply false.
Definition of disarmist
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch