Books

Guns and Control

San Francisco writer Guy Smith finds little evidence that the availability of firearms explains differences in suicide and homicide rates.

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"We are neither pro-gun nor anti-gun," proclaims the Gun Facts Project, an organization launched by San Francisco writer Guy Smith two decades ago. "We are pro-math and anti-BS."

Smith, a marketing consultant with a background in quantitative management, stays true to that ethos in Guns and Control, which summarizes reams of relevant data while evenhandedly faulting advocates on both sides of the debate for manipulating numbers to fit their agendas. The book nevertheless is apt to leave open-minded readers more skeptical of conventional responses to gun-related deaths.

That problem, Smith emphasizes, is multifaceted. In the United States, suicides account for nearly two-thirds of the deaths that gun control advocates misleadingly describe as the toll from "gun violence." The gun homicide rate has fallen dramatically since the early 1990s, although polling indicates that most Americans think otherwise. That misperception may have something to do with the publicity received by mass shootings, which represent a tiny percentage of gun homicides but have been rising since 1999. Fatal gun accidents, meanwhile, are rare and getting rarer.

Based on international comparisons, Smith finds little evidence that the availability of firearms explains differences in suicide and homicide rates. That suggests policies aimed at reducing access to guns won't do much good, especially since criminals generally obtain firearms from sources the law cannot reach.

Smith's discussion of nondiscretionary carry permit laws is emblematic of his data-driven approach. While cautioning against assuming that the "massive expansion of public carry in the United States since 1988" drove down crime, he notes that the bloodbath predicted by opponents of those laws never materialized. That "criminological experiment," he suggests, "is important to understanding people, guns, and violence."

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  1. ‘Shoot them in the legs, shoot a shot gun over their heads from your porch, problem solved. I’m Joe Biden and I support this message.’

    1. It is easier to shoot them in the legs when using a shotgun.

      1. Not really. Contrary to “popular belief” shotguns still have to be aimed, especially within the distance perpetrators are usually shot, being 7-10 yards.

        1. So it isn’t easier to hit a target at 7-10 yards using a shotgun? I could understand if it was limited to slugs. A cylinder choke would produce a spread of at least 1 foot at that range.

          1. “A cylinder choke would produce a spread of at least 1 foot at that range”

            Of course it depends on what you are shooting. I often shoot buckshot [12 GA] with a cylinder choke; maybe 6″ at 7-10 in my experience; 20′ range for a foot of expansion. This can vary according to barrel length too [in my case 20″].

            “Birdshot” of course expands more [there is a lot more of it to do so] but not very effective at two legged targets unless they are very close; but perhaps a preferred option if you live in town and other homes are close by.

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          2. That’s my experience too, but that still requires accuracy. Too many people act like you can just shut your eyes and pull the trigger, and everything in front of you has huge gaping holes if not literally cut in half.

            Ever taught a newbie to shoot a .22LR rifle? It’s startling how inaccurate they are. Now give them a shotgun with just a front bead, no rear sight.

          3. I think you and Quo are talking at cross-purposes. Yes, it’d be easier to hit the legs with a shotgun. As a practical matter, it is close to impossible to ensure that you’ll only hit the legs.

          4. These arguments also generally fail to take into account movement, weather, stress (the vast majority of people cannot hit for shit under stress), failure to use sights, failure to disengage safety. Yes, easier to hit the legs with a shotgun, all things being equal. Also easier to fuck up and hit a vital spot with a shotgun. The long and short of it is, Biden doesn’t know what he’s talking about, which is fairly typical for career politicians.

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      – Joe Biden

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  3. So, should I stop at Cabela’s and pick up a gun this afternoon or not? What say you?

    1. Sure. But where you gonna find ammo for it?

      1. http://www.gunbroker.com

        Don’t expect it to be cheap, but, hey, this is free market principles at work.

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    2. It all depends.

      If Trump wins, or Republicans at least keep the Senate, gun prices [up about 30% from early 2020] and ammo [up around 80%, if you can find it] will come back down; worst case scenario [D’s take Senate and POTUS] you may not be able to find either at any price, and that is before Harris and Beto push through their draconian policies and pass AWB and shut down all internet commerce of guns and parts. The SCOTUS, as it now stands, will grant cert and rule such things are not Constitutional, but that is the only bulwark we may have [and prices and availability will still remain high and scarce]. And only until absolute worst case scenario when SCOTUS is sufficiently packed to give progs what they want.

      I am going to buy a .300 BO pistol; it’s in my cart, but I’m waiting till just after the results are in. If Trump wins I’ll just wait till it comes back down a couple hundred dollars to buy it; if he loses I’m hitting purchase because it may be my last build.

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  4. Well then San Francisco writer Guy Smith needs to talk to longtime libertarian activist Michael Hihn. According to Mr. Hihn, libertarians should demand far more comprehensive gun safety laws — including, but not limited to, a ban on deadly military-style assault weapons.

    #LibertariansForGunSense

    1. “deadly military-style assault weapons”

      What about deadly knives?

      Deadly hands and feet?

      Deadly rocks and sticks?

      Yes, we should ban deadly.

      Fucking moron.

      1. OBL is a parody; some of his work is better, and some so so. This one would come through as sincere if you were not familiar with him.

        1. I am not familiar with his work. I’ll go through the site and brush up on his robust commentaries.

  5. The last time I crunched the state numbers, I found absolutely no correlation between gun ownership rates and gun murders. I did find correlations between murder rates and racial demographics, with a weak negative correlation for percent white and a strong positive correlation for percent black.

    Black lives might matter, but black guns really matter.

    1. If gun ownership correlated at all with gun murders the rural South would be awash in gun murders. Somehow entire counties where there’s a gun in nearly every home manage to go years without any murders at all.

      If there’s any correlation between gun ownership and the rate of murders occurring, it is not a correlation gun grabbers would want to publicize.

  6. But you have to blame guns for murder, because otherwise you’d have to blame the people who commit murders, and, at least around the greater Washington D.C. area, they’re mostly Democrats.

  7. Pfft. We need more common-sense gun laws. Who could be against something that is common sense?

    Plus the police should shoot people in the leg, but not in the femoral artery, or they’ll bleed to death. Aim for the Gastrocnemius muscle (the calf), or the Plantaris. It’s just common sense.

    1. Mr. Smith is approaching some very delicate ground here.

    2. Gluteus maximus. But they’ll have to be running away.

  8. If Biden is elected and the dems take the Senate your gun rights will be gone.

    1. Count on it. Get what you need now [if you can find and afford it] of face the possibility of not finding it at any cost even before it is banned.

      SCOTUS, as it now stands, will rule much of their legislation as not constitutional. At least until they can pack it with their political operatives.

  9. Another add to my reading list.

    So where are our usual troll provocateurs on this one? Can’t understand why Tony isn’t here pleading to relinquish more [of our] rights in exchange for [his] dubious safety. And Rev calling us slack jawed clingers who need to bend over for our betters and then going on about choosing reason.

    1. They’re at home with Covid from Antifa protests

    2. Today’s talking points haven’t been published yet, give them time.

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  11. Has anyone seen the “murder map “of the United States?
    Over half of all counties the United States had no murders at all.
    If you look on the murder map it, completely correlates with democratic (blue) cities and states.
    I find that fact interesting.

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