gun control laws

I’m back! :D

Between having the flu (D:) and Spring Break and just plain being busy, I haven’t really had a lot of time to write.

Which sucked.

But anyway, I’m here now =D!!

Okay. Well, a week or 2 (or 3) ago for my English project, we were asked to pick topics and debate on them. My topic was gun control laws should be tightened and I was on the yes side. Here’s my paper:

Every year 3600 children go to the hospital for unintentional gunshot wounds. 200 of them will die.

It’s no mistake that buying a gun is easy- here in Virginia anyone over the age of 17 can purchase a rifle or shotgun and anyone over 18 can purchase a handgun, all without a permit or sate waiting period. The question at hand today is how easy is too easy?

One of the reasons these laws should be tightened is because it is fairly easy – too easy – for children to get a hold of firearms. Currently there are an estimated 223 million guns in American homes- 70 million of those are handguns. Of those handguns, 30% are stored loaded, 51% are stored unlocked, and 13% are stored both unlocked and loaded. One study found that as many as 80% of young children knew where the guns in their homes were kept. 75-80% of first- and second-graders knew where their parents’ guns were kept (these are 6, 7, and 8 year olds). 50% of all childhood unintentional shootings occur in their home from their parents’ guns and 40% occur in that of a friend.

The second reason is that gun control isn’t something recently thought up. Other countries, particularly countries such as Japan and New Zealand, have stricter gun control laws than the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of people in the United States killed by firearms is five times higher than that of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan. All of these countries have stricter gun control laws than the US. In Canada, gun-related violent crimes went down 8% in one year.


Another reason is that when they are in the home, guns are rarely used for self-defense. A firearm in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in the killing of a family member of friend than it is to defend oneself. Why? The sole purpose of a gun is TO KILL, which means the purpose is to shoot it, not whack someone over the head with it. In addition, if the gun is stored unloaded and in a locked container, like it should be, then why take the time to unlock the container and load the gun when you could be running away or calling the police? There are other options besides firearms.

Our final reason is that the very few of both state and federal gun laws we have are loose ones- they have loopholes or they just aren’t enforced. Only 20 of the 22 federal gun laws are actively enforced, and only 2% of gun crimes ever make it to trial.

223 million firearms and we have 200 child deaths a year. Our government spends 3.7 billion dollars a year on locking away the criminals who commit gun law crimes, money that could be spent on the educational system or alternative energy research. Letters should be written to the different people in our government explaining to them our viewpoint and why laws should be enacted that make it harder for someone to buy a firearm.

Stepping away from that, let me add some more thoughts (if I can). One thing I did not put in the paper was the fact that one study found that every single shooting in which a child 5 or under shot and killed themselves or others could have been prevented by a trigger lock. Also, most children 3 and older have the strength to pull the trigger on most handguns. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT. No, not saying our children should be weak…but why does someone have a gun where their 3 year old can get it? Seriously. Just think, people.

~ by skdunning on 2 April, 2008.

41 Responses to “gun control laws”

  1. […] Sarah will lose: Well, a week or 2 (or 3) ago for my English project, we were asked to pick topics and debate on them. My topic was gun control laws should be tightened and I was on the yes side. […]

  2. But of course… Let’s all become professional victims, after all, “It’s for the chiiiilllldddren…”

    What a crock of poop.

  3. “Every year 3600 children go to the hospital for unintentional gunshot wounds. 200 of them will die.”

    What age group are you using to define “children?”

    Might some of the included youths be included in gunshot wounds due to their criminal activity (gang activity) rather than their age? Would that make a difference to your conclusions?

    “223 million firearms and we have 200 child deaths a year.” Can you compare that with other causes of children’s deaths, like the existence of 5 gallon plastic buckets (which many children die in each year through drowning), or swimming pools (which many children die in each year through drowning), or household cleansers, or dog bites, or bee stings? Is it worth while comparing both the utility of firearms versus their actual damage caused, and the comparable rate of firearm damage versus rates of damage from other causes?

    Incomplete statistical analysis, and cherry-picked data, can lead to incorrect conclusions.

  4. “Another reason is that when they are in the home, guns are rarely used for self-defense.”
    Estimates of annual defensive uses of firearms (primarily handguns but including rifles and shotguns) range from about 80.000 to 2,000,000. If it saves one child’s life, it is worth doing, right?

    “A firearm in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in the killing of a family member of friend than it is to defend oneself.”

    This statistic has been widely debunked. In the same study, renting your place to live was ranked higher than owning a handgun in correlating with being a gunshot victim. Correlation is not causation, but hey – you are statistically safer from being shot if you have a mortgage than if you rent an apartment – go figure….

  5. It’s no mistake that buying a gun is easy- here in Virginia anyone over the age of 17 can purchase a rifle or shotgun and anyone over 18 can purchase a handgun, all without a permit or sate waiting period. The question at hand today is how easy is too easy?

    You have to be 21 to purchase a pistol everywhere. That’s federal law. There isn’t a waiting period in Virginia, but you do have background checks of purchasers, in addition to having to fill out what basically amounts to an affidavit swearing that you’re not prohibited from owning a firearm under the law, and that you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. Lying is a felony.

    Another reason is that when they are in the home, guns are rarely used for self-defense. A firearm in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in the killing of a family member of friend than it is to defend oneself.

    That statistic includes suicide. If you remove suicides, the ratio drops considerably. It also doesn’t include incidents where the gun was used for self-defense but never fired. It might surprise you to know that many criminals, when confronted with a gun wielding home owner, beat a short path for the exit. Studies done on how often defensive gun uses happen range anywhere from 800,000 incidents per year to 2,000,000 incidents per year, which happens much much more often than violent crime.

  6. Can you cite your sources and surveys?

  7. Question: If gun control works so well, then why does Washington D.C. (where handguns are banned and rifles and shotguns must be rendered inoperable) consistently have the highest per capita violent crime rate in the Country?

    I also noticed that you didn’t address the real problem with regards to violent crime….our lenient judicial system exacerbating recidivism rates.

    Don’t tell me that the Church of Liberalism has taken another soul?!

  8. Sorry, but you’ll probably lose. Places that have shall-issue permit laws consistently have lower violent-crime rates than gun-banning socialist dens (SF, DC, Chicago, NY, et al).

  9. Hello Sarah.

    I hope your instructor doesn’t read this. Otherwise, I think they might want to reconsider giving you a passing grade. I’m going to be polite but at the same time, this will be harsh. You have made a number of factual errors and your attempts at justification are disjointed and the figures you used have been thoroughly discredited.

    Shall we begin?

    It’s no mistake that buying a gun is easy- here in Virginia anyone over the age of 17 can purchase a rifle or shotgun and anyone over 18 can purchase a handgun, all without a permit or sate waiting period. The question at hand today is how easy is too easy?

    I’ve lived and bought guns in Virginia. Before writing about the laws in Virginia, it might have done you well to have actually researched them. A call to any local gun shop could have saved you some embarrassment.

    You are correct, anyone over 17 years of age can buy a rifle or shotgun. Nice use of 17 rather than say “18 and over”. It implies that teenage minors in Virginia can buy guns. Very clever.

    You’re dead wrong on the handgun laws though. You must be 21 years of age or older to purchase a handgun in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is no State waiting period. There is, however, a “one handgun a month” law in Virginia that effectively acts as a waiting period on purchases of more than one handgun at a time.

    Yes, no permit or license is required to purchase or possess a gun in Virginia. What I’ll bet you didn’t know is that if you have a State issue CHP (Concealed Handgun Permit), the “one handgun a month” rule is waived. That means with a valid Virginia carry permit, you can buy as many handguns as you want at a time.

    I know. I’ve done it.

    Continuing on…

    One of the reasons these laws should be tightened is because it is fairly easy – too easy – for children to get a hold of firearms. Currently there are an estimated 223 million guns in American homes- 70 million of those are handguns. Of those handguns, 30% are stored loaded, 51% are stored unlocked, and 13% are stored both unlocked and loaded. One study found that as many as 80% of young children knew where the guns in their homes were kept. 75-80% of first- and second-graders knew where their parents’ guns were kept (these are 6, 7, and 8 year olds). 50% of all childhood unintentional shootings occur in their home from their parents’ guns and 40% occur in that of a friend.

    Your estimates are low. The figure is closer to the 270-300 million range.

    This is a nice use of figures that bear no connection to each other. A locked up but loaded gun cannot harm a child. A unlocked but unloaded gun can likewise do no serious harm (other than being used as a club). Only the 13% figure has any bearing.

    I might note that in the State of Virginia (and many others), it is a crime to knowingly store a unsecured, loaded firearm where an unsupervised child may gain access to it.

    The second half of your paragraph is unrelated to the first. So what if 80% of children know where their parents guns are kept? If they do, perhaps it shows that the parents are taking proper responsibility and educating their children on the proper use, safety and storage of firearms. Age is irrelevant here.

    As to unintentional shootings, I reiterate that it is a crime is virtually all states to leave a firearm unsecured where an unsupervised child can gain access to it. Virginia is one of these states. Charge the parents for man slaughter and negligence.

    The second reason is that gun control isn’t something recently thought up. Other countries, particularly countries such as Japan and New Zealand, have stricter gun control laws than the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of people in the United States killed by firearms is five times higher than that of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan. All of these countries have stricter gun control laws than the US. In Canada, gun-related violent crimes went down 8% in one year.

    Gun control laws in other countries do not concern us. And if you are going to use them as an argument to engage in greater gun control here, you would be advised that there is more to fewer gun related crimes than simply gun control. There are cultural and causative factors that need to be taken into account.

    I find it fascinating that you raised Israel and Switzerland as models of gun control. Are you aware that in Israel that it is common for people to walk around carrying fully automatic weapons? Did you know that teachers in Israel routinely carry concealed weapons into the classroom and have stopped terrorists from killing their students by using them?

    Are you aware that in Switzerland, every home has a fully automatic assault rifle in it?

    I would not hold either country out as “strict gun control” nations. They might have tighter rules and regulations in some areas but the prevalence of arms in those societies among the common population is much, much higher.

    Another reason is that when they are in the home, guns are rarely used for self-defense. A firearm in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in the killing of a family member of friend than it is to defend oneself. Why? The sole purpose of a gun is TO KILL, which means the purpose is to shoot it, not whack someone over the head with it. In addition, if the gun is stored unloaded and in a locked container, like it should be, then why take the time to unlock the container and load the gun when you could be running away or calling the police? There are other options besides firearms.

    You cite the discredited Kellerman study. You really should do more research about the sources and methods used to gather the statistics you cite.

    No, miss, the purpose of a gun is not to kill. A gun is an inanimate object. It has no will. It can only be used for the purposes its wielder intends, nothing more. To make that assertion that the sole purpose of a gun is to kill is emotional hand waving and should not be the purview of a supposed objective scholarly research paper.

    Your last sentence regarding retrieving a locked gun rather than doing the “proper” thing of running away or calling the police betrays simplistic thinking. What if you can’t run away? For example, a rapist having entered your bedroom and is blocking the door? Sure you could dial the phone and call the police but how long will it take for them to arrive and apprehend the vile criminal before he can do you harm? It sure won’t be the 10 or 20 seconds the rapist will need to approach you and get his hands upon you.

    Google “national average police response time”. You’ll find that minimum times for police arrival on the scene across numerous cities is in the 6-8 minutes for priority calls. In less protected or areas with fewer police resources, the response times can fall to 20 minutes to never showing up at all.

    Given that, what other options besides firearms do you propose that would be effective at protecting yourself when you are backed into a corner and the police sirens cannot yet be heard? Hurry up and reply because the criminal won’t wait!

    Our final reason is that the very few of both state and federal gun laws we have are loose ones- they have loopholes or they just aren’t enforced. Only 20 of the 22 federal gun laws are actively enforced, and only 2% of gun crimes ever make it to trial.

    You are contradicting yourself. You are stating that few of our State and Federal law are loose. So how can they have loopholes since logically they would have to be tight or strict, the opposite of loose? And if someone is following the letter of the law, how is it a loophole? Laws that do not proscribe a specific activity are not lax or in possession of a loophole just because you disagree with that activity. Laws that are vague or unclear, subject to widely varying interpretation, are the problem. I know in the cases of laws involving firearms where folks claim there is a “loophole”, the opposite is the case. The law has or is being followed precisely.

    Laws are not required to list things that both allowed and not allowed at the same time.

    Where did you acquire the “only 20 of the 22 Federal gun laws are actively enforced” value from? There are a lot more than 22 Federal gun laws out there. They number in the thousands and cover a myriad of topics. Can you provide a summary of these 22 laws? I’d like to see them because I do recall more than 22 the last time I read 18 USC 922 (the main body of Federal law that deals with firearms).

    Lack of enforcement is something we can agree upon. Many folks such as myself agree the solution to many of our gun crimes is the enforcement of existing laws rather than make the demand that you do of passing more laws. Coupled with the notion of actually locking up violent gun-using (or any other instrument) criminals rather than let them back onto the street through a system of revolving door justice.

    Most violent crimes are committed by the those who have committed previous violent crimes. And by law, these criminal are prohibited from owning guns under Federal and State law. It is a crime for them to possess a gun. Yet they seem to acquire and use them anyway. So maybe the problem isn’t the laws; it’s the criminal. On enforcement, we can agree.

    Please provide citations for the level of gun prosecutions. I suspect you got that figure with regard to gun purchases and gun trafficking statistics. If so, then yes, less than 2% of all prohibited gun purchasers or felon-in-possession crimes are prosecuted. But that is not all gun crime. To read your paper, it would imply that gun toting murderers, muggers and rapists are not prosecuted. This is not the case. Nice cherry picking of statistics there.

    223 million firearms and we have 200 child deaths a year. Our government spends 3.7 billion dollars a year on locking away the criminals who commit gun law crimes, money that could be spent on the educational system or alternative energy research. Letters should be written to the different people in our government explaining to them our viewpoint and why laws should be enacted that make it harder for someone to buy a firearm.

    200 deaths out of 223 million firearms. Do you not see the statistical insignificance of that resulting value? Every death is certainly tragic but as a percentage of overall firearms ownership, this isn’t even a blip. Swimming pools kill more children than firearms do in this country.

    Are you actually arguing to spend LESS money on enforcement of gun laws than we currently do? Because that is what it sounds like here. But I see you then argue that we should lobby for tighter gun laws so we don’t have to spend the money we otherwise would enforcing existing laws. I guess the idea is with more gun laws there would be less gun crime.

    This is known as “magical thinking”. If you pass more laws, they will need to be enforced. Name a single law that has prevented a crime from occurring. Note I say prevented.

    By their nature, laws dictate activities that should not be engaged in and the punishment that will be levied should they be engaged in anyway. At no time does the mere stating of “thou shalt not kill” does that the result is no murder taking place. We have lots of laws against murder yet not one of them seems to prevent it from happening. All laws do is provide the framework of punishment for acts in society that we consider to be “uncivilized”, nothing more.

    So why should gun laws be tightened? Do you even know what the current gun laws are? Apparently not because you didn’t even know the age limits on gun purchases in the State of Virginia. If you can get that simple fact wrong, it doesn’t surprise me that you can compound your error. The age limits merely scratch the surface. I seriously doubt you have any idea what current laws are. You’ve probably simply read somewhere or been told anecdotally that it is “easy” to buy a gun and believed it.

    Without corresponding proof. Without facts. Without any desire for yourself to learn the truth.

    And you make the demand that gun laws need to be tightened? What hubris! At least I’m arguing from a position of knowledge. I know what the laws are. I’ve experienced them first-hand and researched them. You haven’t. I don’t accept you making demands for changes in the law from a position of ignorance. This is not how we should pass laws.

    Stepping away from that, let me add some more thoughts (if I can). One thing I did not put in the paper was the fact that one study found that every single shooting in which a child 5 or under shot and killed themselves or others could have been prevented by a trigger lock. Also, most children 3 and older have the strength to pull the trigger on most handguns. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT. No, not saying our children should be weak…but why does someone have a gun where their 3 year old can get it? Seriously. Just think, people.

    Did you think?

    No, shootings cannot be prevented with a trigger lock. Trigger locks can still allow a gun to fire. Care for a real-world demonstration? I’ll be happy to show you how a gun can be made to shoot with the trigger lock firmly affixed. In a safe environment with an unloaded gun, of course.

    You may not think, you may not hear but you will see.

    The solution isn’t trigger locks; it’s education. By teaching a child properly with regard to gun safety, the trigger lock is not a requirement.

    As to toddler strength, big deal? An average handgun trigger requires around 5-8 pounds of pressure to activate. Well within the realm of a self-mobile child. No, there is nothing wrong with that. It is simple engineering.

    Yes, there is something wrong with a 3 year old gaining access to a firearm. But I’ve already covered this.

    My final thoughts: Nice emotional screed that uses selective statistics taken out of context, illogical, disjointed progression of thought between topics and backed by discredited studies. I sure hope you didn’t submit this for a grade because if I was your instructor, you would fail utterly.

    F.

    (A full copy of this response has been provided on my blog).

  10. I can’t speak for your teacher, but that sort of logic isn’t something mine would give a strong grade. It’s only for an English course; however, providing false information and providing information without necessary logic to reach your conclusion is seldom a good practice.

    While nearly everyone is physically capable of purchasing goods of any type, not everyone over the age of 17 can legally purchase a shotgun or rifle, and not everyone over the age of 18 can legally purchase a handgun in Virgina. Individuals with a felon criminal record, drug users, illegal aliens, subjects of a restraining order, those who’ve been convicted or accused of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those adjudicated as a mental defective, or part of several other classes of prohibited persons, would commit a felony if they possess or purchase a modern firearm. Any individual who sells firearms as a business can not legally sell a rifle or shotgun to those under the age of 18 or a handgun to those under 21, and must conduct a NICS-based background check — doing otherwise would involve committing a felony. Private transactions between two individuals that both reside in the same state are the ones that follow the 17/18 age requirements you cited. Those sales, on the other hand, can not be done as a business, making them rather unreliable. Regardless of whether a sale is private or through a business, it’s still illegal for the above listed classes of prohibited persons to purchase a firearm, and those who sell to a prohibited person without performing a level of due diligence can be prosecuted under federal law.

    A firearm in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in the killing of a family member of friend than it is to defend oneself.

    I assume, from the numbers, that you’re citing Arthur Kellermann and Don Reay’s 1986 study. If so, you’re misrepresenting it. The study was not limited to the ‘killing of a family member or friend’, but also included gun suicides and criminal actions. Suicide by gun made up 36 of the cited 43 unlawful deaths, and as Japan and China demonstrate, gun control has not shown a very good correlation with reducing the risk of suicide, only changing the methods. None of the summarizing information was based on who owned the firearm, only whether or not a firearm was owned in the household where a shooting death occurred. It also only counted homicides that were classified as justifiable, which rather doesn’t include every use of a firearm in self-defense.

    The sole purpose of a gun is TO KILL, which means the purpose is to shoot it, not whack someone over the head with it.

    That’s not strictly true. Target shooting is an Olympic event, and the success of commercial raceguns (firearms specialized for shooting sports, and typically too weak and bulky to be of use in actually killing things larger than a mouse) and non-hunting shooting sports demonstrate that many firearms are being used for purposes other than killing.
    Depending on the formality of your English class, a phrase in all capital letters that is not an acronym or similar structure may not be the best idea.

    In addition, if the gun is stored unloaded and in a locked container, like it should be, then why take the time to unlock the container and load the gun when you could be running away or calling the police?

    Average police response time can meet six minutes in rural areas when the police department is not flooded with other calls. In more crowded areas, it can reach fifteen minutes. By comparison, most firearms can be taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled in four minutes in reasonably experienced hands. Unlocking a container and then placing a magazine with a firearm can be done in less than a half minute in most cases. Even that is probably superfluous for individuals without small children, in which case response time can be measured in seconds.
    While avoiding confrontation is typically recommended by self-defense experts, they also suggest that there may be situations in which running isn’t ideal. The cases of Warren v. District of Columbia and Riss v. New York are good demonstrations of cases where neither police officers nor running worked particularly well.

    You’ve also got a typo at “sate waiting period”, which I assume is supposed to mean “state waiting period”. Likewise, it should probably be “more likely to be used in the killing of a family member or friend”, rather than “family member of friend”. I’d also suggest a works cited page and MLA or similar citation rather than “one study”.

  11. Wow.

  12. Lots of nice stats. I recognize several of them that have been debunked. Care to quote your sources, to start?

  13. I see that you learned debate and reasoned Discourse frome Paul Helmke and academic honesty from Michael A Bellesiles.

  14. Can you please change the color? Large, red, sanserif text–particularly the color–is difficult to read.

    I would love to debate you on the topic, and will take the contrary opinion: further restriction on the availability of personal weapons are not justified. Are you willing?

    Before I get to my argument, I would like you to clarify a few points:

    1) The term “gun control” is very broad; it covers everything from disarming convicted murders to the Nazi party’s disarmament of the German Jewish minority. I assume you, like me, support the first and oppose the second. Specifically, then, what sort of gun control would you like to see more of?

    2) You mentioned trigger locks in the article. Do you support a requirement that firearms be sold with locking devices? If so, should only trigger locks be allowed, or can other locking devices be substituted?

    3) What age range do you define as childhood? (I hate having to ask this, but there are some studies calling 25-year-old gang bosses “children.”)

    4) Consider this scenario: a burglar breaks into a house and the homeowner grabs her 12-gauge shotgun and cycles a shell into the chamber. This makes a rather distinct noise (one that Hollywood actually gets right, surprisingly enough) and the burglar flees. In this case the burglar is not killed, nor injured, nor is a single shot even fired. Has the homeowner used a firearm to defend her home?

    5) How do you suggest that all the elderly or physically disabled people who keep firearms for the purpose of defending their homes protect themselves?

  15. So many ways to dismember your argument, where to start? Ok, tell me where you found the “43 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to defend yourself” quote. Answer, the utterly debunked Kellerman study (http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdgaga.html). Kriminy, it is as if you were writing a paper on light physics and quoted a paper noting that light travels through the “Luminous Aether”. You get an F minus.

  16. I’m overwhelmed. I’m going to try to find a list of my sources; no promises. Wow. I’m rather intimidated. Interesting that this is where I get flooded with comments instead of on something like gay rights or the violence in Kenya or how violence in the media effects crime rates.

    But that’s something else.

    Alright, I’m going to try to respond to everyone :)

    Retro: What, the protection of a child is not a valid reason not to own a gun? Or am I biased because I am a child?

    Mikee: The definition for children there was 18 and under. I didn’t do the studies, so I don’t think I can be blamed for anything wrong. Even if I did pick the harshest (but still believable) numbers and percentages and facts to support my opinion, it’s no different than what the lawmakers of this country do every day. Also, about the mortgage versus apartment thing; I’m sure you could find some sort of proof saying if your name starts with “a” you’re less likely to die of a heart attack. Go figure ;)

    Sebastian: If someone wants a gun badly enough, they would probably be willing to lie to get it. Lots of things are felonies and they still happen. As for the suicide, maybe those people would be alive if they didn’t have access to a gun.

    Madrocketscientist: I’m trying to find a list of everything I used. When I do I’ll post it in another comment :D

    Matt: I think that’s dedication. This paper was the first time I have ever written something to persuade my point of view. Apologies if I am not the Oxford Dictionary, am not a grammar guru, and take the statistics of the CDC. If I were actually trying to pass a law instead of trying to convince 11- and 12-year-olds to tighten gun laws, then of course there would have been more research and though and time and editing put into it. But this was for my 6th grade English class. Next time I’ll remember what you’ve said and try to to better.

    I’ve got to go now, but I’ll finish up later :D

  17. The protection of a child is the MAIN reason to own a gun. If you are unable to protect your children and loved ones who are you going to call when the rapist/mugger/murderer/freak-o weirdo is climbing in through your window? 911? HA!

    “To my mind it is wholly irresponsible to go into the world incapable of preventing violence, injury, crime, and death. How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness. How unnatural. How cheap. How cowardly. How pathetic.” –Ted Nugent

  18. I’m sorry to break to you guys, but an 18 year old can buy a handgun in Virginia. They just can’t buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. Federal age limits only apply to licensed dealers. Virginia law only states that I, a private citizen, can not sell my any of my firearms to a person prohibited from owning them by state law (18.2-308.2:1), and the only age limit set by state law is under 18 for handguns.

  19. I understand that you’re young, but to be honest what you’ve written is unacceptable, even for a middle school student. I’m only 22, but have writing standards really gotten so bad in schools that what you’ve written here would be considered acceptable?

    Make a habit of citing actual factual data (from places like the CDC website, FBI UCR Crime report etc.) rather than citing facts from a random “study” like the Kellerman study, which is completely inaccurate.

    Remember, you are writing a RESEARCH paper, thus it might be a good idea to do some actual research prior to writing your paper.

  20. Comment by skdunning:

    “If someone wants a gun badly enough, they would probably be willing to lie to get it. Lots of things are felonies and they still happen.”

    Which is why gun control will only disarm the good guys. Accidental deaths are dropping like a rock, and would drop faster if we taught gun safety in schools but, gun control advocates won’t allow it.
    Funny, if you don’t teach your child about poison your a bad parent,but not teaching them about guns is a good thing?

  21. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of people in the United States killed by firearms is five times higher than that of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan. All of these countries have stricter gun control laws than the US.

    Wrong. Most of those countries have stricter gun laws than the U.S., but Switzerland and Israel certainly don’t. International comparisons are useless, anyway, as there are too many variables. A more useful comparison is to the same country, before and after its gun laws changed significantly. In the U.S., we see violent crime dropping sharply in state after state when they loosened their concealed carry laws. In Great Britain, we see violent crime rising sharply after they tested the NRA’s theory that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Their murder rate is still a bit lower than ours, but not by nearly the margin that existed back in the day when gun laws were virtually unknown in both countries. And they’ve passed us up in most other categories of violent crime.

    Another reason is that when they are in the home, guns are rarely used for self-defense.

    By most estimates, guns are used for self-defense over 1 million times a year in this country alone. That’s not “rare” by any stretch of the imagination, certainly not by comparison to the number of crimes, accidents and even suicides involving guns.

    As for the suicide, maybe those people would be alive if they didn’t have access to a gun.

    Or maybe not. Given how high the suicide rate is in Japan, where guns are about as hard to come by as they are in anywhere in the world, the smart money is on “maybe not.” If someone is really motivated to kill himself, he’s going to find a way to do it.

    That said, I wouldn’t worry too much about your grade in the class. I suspect that most of the commenters who attacked your grammar, assumed you were at least in high school, if not college. For your age group you’re doing fine.

  22. OK everybody, calm down a bit, note the comment by the blog author:

    If I were actually trying to pass a law instead of trying to convince 11- and 12-year-olds to tighten gun laws, then of course there would have been more research and though and time and editing put into it. But this was for my 6th grade English class. Next time I’ll remember what you’ve said and try to to better.

    Unless I am reading this wrong, our author is in the 6th grade. This isn’t some college senior or Paul Helmke, this is a young mind working out how to research and present an argument, let’s be more constructive in our criticisms.

    That being said…

    1) Always cite or link to your sources. And another persons blog or political action website is not a valid source unless they are linking/citing academic works or studies.

    2) Gun Control is a hot button and some of us in the gun rights community have spiders who look for mentions of gun control to alert us to activity we find contrary to our beliefs. That is why you got flooded.

    3) Your writing and grammar are pretty good for 6th grade (I can’t say I was doing any better back then), but you need to remember that if you are researching a position to defend, your arguments will bear more weight if you can demonstrate that you have researched and attempted to understand the countervailing viewpoint.. Your piece, while not poorly written, was poorly researched and argued. I might recommend that next time you attempt to present and defend a position, you find a friendly person who holds the opposing view and ask them if you can bounce your argument off of them. Matt up above, or any other honest intellectual gun nut, would probably have enjoyed a chance to discuss the topic with you in a rational manner and help you explore it more fully. There are valid reasons for certain levels of firearms regulation, unfortunately, I don’t think you hit any of them very well, if at all.

  23. We don’t mean to gang up on you, or be unnecessarily impolite, it’s just a topic that motivates a lot of folk one way or the other. I kinda speak long on it, because I used fairly similar material back when I was in 8th grade.

    For your age group, it’s a fairly good writing. I’ve seen significantly worse from tenth graders and even college students. I’d advise you to read it out loud to yourself once or twice before turning it in, to catch the typos and grammar issues that Word’s Spellcheck really isn’t capable of grabbing, but so few people do that these days that I expect your teacher won’t mind a typo or two.

    Good luck to you.

  24. There is a pdf file available at the link below with tons of factoids. All facts listed have references to their sources. Many of them can be correlated to the information given by others above.

    Good luck.

    http://gunfacts.info/

  25. Hello Sarah,

    It was brought to my attention that you are a 6th grade student. You’re probably shocked by what’s happened here as a result of your paper.

    As you’ve just seen, you’ve inadvertently wandered into a minefield. Gun control is one of those topics that will bring out strong reactions in people. It’s a serious issue for a lot of people, myself included. In your case, your posting was picked up by a very widely read blog that deals with gun-related issues. This resulted in lots of people seeing your post. Many of us didn’t realize you were so young.

    I apologize if some of what I said if it came across as harsh. I honestly thought you were older than you are. Take that as a compliment. You’re discussing fairly sophisticated topics (gay rights, gun control) for someone of your age. The fact that you are thinking about them is commendable.

    But as you’ve learned, there is a downside to it. Your writing and arguments are actually comparable to those made by adults with similar feelings regarding guns. Often making the same conclusions or demands as well. That shows a lack of education on their part, not yours.

    Topics like this can bring out the best and worst in people. It is easy to misinterpret things. People are very involved and passionate on this issue. And will defend it. As you get older, you’ll be getting involved into issues like this and eventually cast votes for elected officials based on your views on them and the views they hold. Hopefully by then you’ll realize why people are so involved and care so much about such things.

    I would encourage you to take this experience as a positive one to learn from. You’ve managed to engage adults on this topic in a very level and mature fashion. We’ve seen adults respond far less properly and calmly with similar postings than you have here. Articles, I might point out, they were paid to write. Bravo!

    It is my hope you’ll take away some of the information you’ve been provided and examine it for yourself. Or at least the reaction you’ve received here will hopefully spark you into looking back on it and think “Am I making a reasonable, well-thought out and supported argument? I remember when all those gun people came to my blog…”.

    By learning to think critically, you’ll learn how to stand on your own and make wise and thoughtful decisions on issues that might concern you. And more importantly, defend your position with facts and reason. Often the best way to learn is see what holes were shot in your argument the last time so you can do better next time.

    You’ve done well. Rarely does a young student bring down dozens or hundreds of adults to engage her. A lot of professional writers can’t achieve that or do it as well as you have.

    Even if you never change your position or views on guns, you’ve still done well for yourself here.

    Take care and good luck with your studies.

  26. +1 to Matt’s “Bravo” comment. He has said everything that I want to say better, so I won’t repeat it here.

  27. Hey Sarah,

    Another thing you might well keep in mind is the Latin question “cui bono?”, that is, “who benefits?”. Every human, including me, has biases and prejudices, and the gun-control folks are no different.
    Moreover, the more passionately held the position, the more likely they will disregard all those pesky facts. If you can find the time, I’d reccomend that you take a look at Paul Helmke’s postings over at the Huffington Post and contrast them with news articles written about the same subject at the same time. You’ll notice a complete distortion of measurable & objective reality, and this is from a Grown Up with a law degree who was at one time the Mayor of a city. This is why some of the reaction to your article was so harsh.
    God willing, you will finish growing up and you will be out there on your own. Neither your parents nor the police can be with you every minute of the day to ensure that you’re safe. This is one of those ‘responsibility’ things, and ultimately, you’re responsible for your own safety and well-being. You may also find yourself, as I did, living in a bad part of a town or city because that’s all you can afford. You don’t deserve to be killed or hurt simply because you can’t find a well-paying job that will allow you to live someplace nice. I lived in NYC during the time that crack became easily available, and I kept a gun in my apartment, even though it was against the law, because even if I was arrested and sent to jail, it was better than being killed for my stereo or TV. Sometimes there’s no ‘good’ choice, just different bad ones.
    Your parents could have bought a yacht and a Ferrari, but instead they had you (kids are expensive!), and from what I’ve seen, they’ve done a really nice job of raising you (well, except for the liking Linkin Park stuff :D), and it would be really great for them to see you graduate from college, tall and strong, ready to conquer the world. And it’ll be great for you, too.

  28. Okay then. Now that I know you guys know I’m 12, I feel a lot better about everything you’ve said. :)

    I’m trying to take all of this in as best I can and remember it the next time I have to report something.

    PS: My next English assignment is a book report (in the form of an orbital) on a classic; I chose The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins. Maybe you’ll get to see that, too ;)

  29. Sarah,

    Like others I saw your website last night and even showed my son who is a senior in HS your argument. However I did not post anything in the comments since Matt had totally did a superb job in deconstructing your argument. I had my son read that post particularly.

    But I did check around your blog and by your tastes in music came to the realization that you were much younger than college age as most posters assumed. Based on your writing style I thought you around 14-16 and posted that to Matt. So congratulate yourself on that. I think it was the photo that made most think you were older. I said to my son that I doubted it was a personal photo but something you found and placed on your blog. Also you used word press and not a face book or myspace account.

    I think that you should actually save the comments or maybe print them out and use that as a discussion on how a personal blog post can generate so many comments on an issue that so many feel passionately about.

    Regarding your pro control position, I hope that you read the comments carefully. For instance the use of the Kellerman study of 43 times more likely to be used against the homeowner was totally debunked especially in one of the friend of courts briefs that was submitted to the Supreme Court in the Heller case that was just had verbal arguments on March 18th 2008. A site that your can check that has all the filings is: http://dcguncase.com/blog/. You can even listen to the verbal arguments done at the Supreme Court.

    Rather than state facts or statistics I would like to offer this thought. There are really only two ways a person can make another person do what they want. That is persuasion or force. Civilization is based on the use of persuasion. Even when you parents ground you it is really an argument of persuasion since you accept the restriction rather than get more privileges withdrawn.

    However if physical force is used against you, persuasion is very limited or not effective. The only way to prevent the use of force is with force. If you have the tool available to resist force, then force cannot be used against you. People then have to fallback on persuasion. So guns and self-defense is really a method to ensure civilization.

  30. Sarah, I’m disappointed that no one has extended an offer to take you and a parent to a trip to the gun range.

    Don’t know where you’re located at, but I’m sure there is a gun nut close who would be happy to give you a proper, safe and enjoyable introduction to firearms for sporting purposes.

    If you’re anywhere close to Southern Indiana I would gladly take you and an adult (parent) to the local range. I will supply everything and spring for lunch, also.

    I believe you’ll find that handguns are not just for killing people, but good for having fun and putting holes in paper, too. A day at the range would make a great follow up story for your Blog and your teacher. Luck!

  31. Sarah

    You don’t have to accept everything we say about gun rights. Feel free to do some research and join the discussion.

    Do keep in mind that for many of us, the reason we get upset with gun control/gun banning is because we are adults, and we are not in High School anymore. We don’t like the whole idea of “Sorry, you can’t do that anymore, Jimmy over there ruined it for the rest of you.” being applied to responsible adults, anymore than you probably like it being applied to you in school.

  32. Sarah, just out of curiosity, what is an “orbital?”

  33. Mike W.- an orbital is something my English teacher came up with. Basically it is a neat way of folding paper, giving it pie-slice shaped sections for each part of the book report (ie, “plot”; “setting”; “central conflict”). My plan, since my scanner doesn’t work (*cough*DADDY*cough*) was to just type it up and see what you guys think!

    MadRocketScientist- [I’m working my way up from the bottom, just so everyone knows.] That’s not exactly what I’m saying. Just because one person messed up doesn’t mean a certain privilege should be taken away from everyone. That just means everyone else should be on guard should the numbers rise.

    GrumpyUnk- Central/Southern Virginia. Shame :(

    RAH- The photo is actually a crop from the cover of a My Chemical Romance single (Helena). I thought it looked pretty cool xD. I do have a MySpace. Your thought is interesting; it’s caused me to think a great deal about the difference in results you get when trying to convince someone to do something and trying to make them. Maybe the problem is with the people who try and commit crimes. If the number of people who rob houses went down, maybe the need for guns would go down.

  34. I f crime went down, there would be less need for guns. However, there will still be a need. Just because the frequency of car crashes went down, you would still wear a seatbelt, right? I’m glad you realize there -is- a need for guns today, though. The problem is with the people who commit crimes, not with the tools they do it with.

  35. And in most places where gun controls are lifted (such as allowing civlian conceal carry) crime rates go DOWN.

  36. Sarah,

    I’m the proud Dad of two young Ladies, just a bit older than you. Your parents must be very proud to have such an obviously intelligent and well-spoken daughter!

    As others have said, you sort of stepped in a mine-field with this topic, although I must also congratulate the posters for being “nice.” I’ve unfortunately seen too many examples where “adults” let their emotions get the best of them and come across like petulant children.

    One thing I think others should have pointed out to you is the bias that exists in our school system. A majority of those involved in “education” — from the Federal Government people who oversee education in the United States to the teacher in your classroom — tend to have a certain “viewpoint” on many topics. As people’s personal opinions tend to color how they teach, often what you’re taught in school may not be completely accurate. This bias is particularly evident on “hot button” issues such as those you’ve touched on in your blog.

    I’m not saying that you’ve been intentionally misled — although that happens too — merely that when we approach a question looking for a certain answer, it’s all too easy to find “evidence” to support that answer. You should therefore endeavor to question everything that you’re taught. Naturally it’s often a bad idea to “challenge” authority figures like teachers — sometimes it’s best to do your own research and keep what you’ve learned to yourself rather than risk being punished because you bruised the teacher’s ego…

    “Critical Thinking” is the most important skill that simply isn’t taught in schools any more. The focus has become much more about making sure you do well on the “standardized tests” on which your teachers are ultimately graded. To be a good citizen it is important that you learn to “check up” on things and form your own opinions based on facts rather than simply accept as fact what you’re told by teachers, newspapers, TV or whoever.

    Bringing things back to the “gun issue”, there’s a “cliche” or “bumper sticker” that I think you should seriously consider. “G*d made men. Sam Colt made them equal.” A quick Google search should help you figure out who Mr. Colt was, and how he may have contributed to equality of men (and women).

    I would also encourage you to look into history. Every single Government which has slaughtered its citizens began by disarming them. You’ve been taught that our Revolution was caused by “taxation without representation” but that is not what caused the first battles — it was in fact the attempts by the British to take away arms from the colonists which caused the first shots to be fired.

    Further, our Founding Fathers made it very, very clear that they wanted The People of the United States to have any weapons that the army could have, so that no future Government could implement tyrrany. This is the reason we have the Second Amendment — not for hunting, not for personal protection, but to be sure that we could rise up and overthrow an oppressive Government if (G*d forbid) we ever needed to do so. Those other things are just side-benefits.

    To make another point, why do you think it is that even though we fought in two “world wars” no other country has tried to invade the U.S.? In WWII, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said they would “find a rifle behind every blade of grass.” They simply knew that the U.S. was not a country that could be taken over by another, because its citizens were armed, and knew how to use them. Contrast this to what happened to the Jews and other “undesirables” in Europe. They were able to be rounded up as they were because they had first been disarmed by their Government. Look into “The Warsaw Uprising” to learn how a few armed people were able to hold off thousands of German Soldiers for a long time!

    Lastly, it’s important for you to understand that there have been multiple cases where the Courts — even the US Supreme Court — have said that the police have no responsibility to protect an individual citizen. Their job is to find, arrest and punish the murderer, not to protect the victim. There’s another cliche that says “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away!” This is all too true. A gun allows a weak person to defend themselves against a stronger person, or even a GROUP of strong people. It is simply a tool, which like all tools can be used for evil, or for good. England and Australia today are proving yet another piece of bumper-sticker wisdom: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” There is actually much more gun crime in England today than there was before their gun ban! Research this fact, and then ask yourself why you haven’t been told this in school, or by the media! I’ll give you a hint: it’s that “bias” thing I mentioned before.

    Several people have offered to take you and your parent to a range, and to teach you basic “gun safety” and the basics of shooting. I would strongly encourage you to find someone in your area and take them up on the offer. I’ll go a step further — you can send me an e-mail at my user name at yahoo dot com and I will put you in touch with someone near you who will be all too happy to help! You’ll learn that guns are just machines, and that people who enjoy shooting them are among the most friendly and helpful people of all.

    Think of it this way: You may decide you don’t like it, then again you may find an interesting new hobby! At the very least you’ll have a new experience, and be able to speak with personal knowledge on the subject. My daughters both — when they were about your age — loved to go shooting with me. They’ve since moved on to other things, but I am happy knowing that they know how to SAFELY handle a gun, and that when they are no longer in my care they will be able to defend themselves if (G*d forbid) they need to do so.

    Thanks again for being so open-minded, and allowing us to disagree with you!

    G*d bless you on your journey — Please feel free to contact me at any time if I can help you in any way.

    Sincerely,

    DD

    PS: Please also take some time to check out Mr. Oleg Volk’s website at http://www.a-human-right.com/ Mr. Volk came to the US from Russia, and understands better than most how blessed we are to have the 2nd Amendment, and how it has helped to make this the greatest (though still imperfect) country in the world.

    Mr. Volk is also a photographer with amazing talent, and has taken thousands of pictures of people with their guns. His images, with their thought-provoking captions, make the point in a very poignant way.

  37. Firearms serve a purpose in society beyond merely the realm of personal self defense. Firearms also act as a final equalizer between people and tyranny/slavery. Although many find it hard to imagine a world where the citizens of the USA would need to fight for freedom again, that is, in my opinion, due more to a lack of imagination than the inability for a tyrant to appear and take power.

    Part of the reason Japan never even considered for a second the idea of invading America in WWII was because they knew a large percentage of the population was armed. Any invading forces would not be fighting just a regular army, but also a guerrilla war against all the civilian gun owners.

    Even today, firearms in civilian hands serve as a reminder to many political groups that any attempt to seize power through any means other than an election could be met with armed rebellion. There is a reason we don’t have our government changing hands via a Coup (bloody or not) every few years like some countries do.

    As for crime, crime is a social issue, and in my opinion, the only way for crime to be curtailed is for communities to stand up and fight it as a whole, not just by paying police to do it for them.

    http://picadorproject.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=84

  38. You might want to visit this website for an alternate point of view: http://corneredcat.com/

    “Some folks say the most dangerous place in the world is between a Mama Bear and her cubs. It may be so. I’ve never met a Mama Bear, myself.

    The most dangerous place I ever stood was between a cornered cat and an open door.

    When a cat feels threatened, she gets away from the danger as quickly as she can. She doesn’t care what damage she inflicts on her way to safety, but she’s not interested in fighting for fighting’s sake. She does only as much as she needs to do in order to escape. She doesn’t deal in revenge. If she feels threatened, she simply leaves. Efficiently.

    Until she needs to use them, her claws stay sheathed. She doesn’t go around threatening to maul people. She’s cuddly, she’s cozy, she likes to curl up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter’s day. She’s great company.

    But don’t try to trap her in a bad situation.

    This site is about women and guns, not about cats. But in a way, it’s about the cornered cat in all of us. It’s about the determination to get away from an attacker if you need to. It’s about making the decision to say, “Not me. Not mine. Not today.” And it’s about the tools to make that decision stick.

    If you have to fight …

    Fight like a cornered cat.

  39. Comment and question from New Zealand.
    What is meant by “stricter” or “tighter” gun laws? If an action is illegal can it be made ‘more illegal’ and if it can would it have the desired result?
    Handguns were totally banned in the UK about 10 years ago and the result was an increase in handgun crime!
    NZ has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world but low levels of firearms violence – despite having very high levels of interpersonal violence. (Firearms crime amounts to 1.3% of all violent crime in NZ) – check our overall crime rates on Nationmaster.com
    Japan, where gun possession is extremely limited, still seems to require armed police on the streets…..

  40. In firearm statistics related to children, “children” are defined as under 18. This is powerful to note because these statistics are inaccurate. Not to undermine the 200 ‘children’ who die from gun wounds every year, but statistically, medical malpractice kills more people than guns do annually. http://tinyurl.com/djnwwn

    Additionally, stricter gun laws will not prevent violent criminals from getting their hands on them.

    As a firearm instructor that works predominantly with women, the most common concern I hear is having a gun around their children. When you take the mystery out of a gun, you take the mischief out of the child. In other words, when a child is taught to properly respect a firearm, they won’t be playing with it and pulling the trigger. http://tinyurl.com/7th2zp

  41. You are very blind and stupid ,, and you dont know what is even going on..you need to think about getting saved by god and get your mind on reality,,,you defy everything that god has tought in the bible about life and humanity…i say this with respect of the truth and dont mean anything to you as an individual…what is going on in our country will destroy us all in time…

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