Thursday, June 13, 2013

Things that kill more people than guns and why I don’t care


I find it particularly irritating when people make the argument, ‘X kills more people than guns, but no one tries to take X away from people.’ Invariably, those comparisons are completely ridiculous.  Let’s visit a few examples of ‘X’ and see why.



Cars
It is a fact that more people are killed in automobile accidents than through gun violence, though the difference isn’t as great as you might think, especially considering the daily per capita use of cars versus the daily per capita use of guns. However, there are two important facts to consider. First, people need their cars to conduct their daily business. That just isn’t the case for guns, no matter how fond of them people are. Second, being well aware of the dangers posed by cars, we license and regulate both cars and drivers. We insist that car manufacturers continually increase safety features, both through regulation and through the free market. If you want to treat guns the same way, I would be all for it.

Swimming pools
Swimming pools do take the lives of more children than guns do. Fair enough. However, swimming pools are also stationary objects that can be avoided. I have never once worried that someone would bring a swimming pool to my child’s school. Nor have I ever glanced suspiciously around a crowd to see if anyone was carrying a concealed swimming pool.

Falls
Yes, many people are killed by falls. Definitely exercise caution the next time you change the bulbs in your chandeliers. But rest assured, you are safe from people trying to force step ladders under your feet at the mall.

Medical errors (taking wrong medication, malpractice, surgical errors, etc.)
Yup, this is a huge problem that we should work to minimize. It’s not one I worry about when I’m at the movie theater though. The person next to me may be loud and obnoxious, but he’s not slipping insulin into my popcorn or trying to amputate the wrong limb.

Cancer
Yes, I’ve actually heard a person make the ‘X kills more people than guns do!’ argument about cancer. Okay, you got me. Cancer does kill more people than guns. Is that supposed to mean that it’s not fair to ban guns if we’re not going to also ban cancer? Besides, doctors and scientists around the world are working day and night to cure, prevent and eliminate cancer. Are you suggesting we treat guns the same way?  I’m still waiting to hear someone say, ‘instead of limiting guns, why don’t we ban old age!’

Knives, hammers, baseball clubs, fists, spatulas, etc.
These items shouldn’t even be on this list because they kill no where near as many people as guns do, no matter what nonsensical rhetoric you hear. There have been at least two mass knifings since Newtown, and no one died in either of those cases. In contrast, there have been over five thousand gun deaths just since last December. If you can stomach checking it, Slate is keeping a running tally.

Did you notice something all these items have in common? 

First, with the exception of cancer, everything on this list has a primary use that is completely unrelated to violence. People don’t buy ladders with the idea that they might one day have to shove someone off of one. They buy cars and screwdrivers and even medication because they expect to use them to go somewhere, or build a cabinet, or lower their blood pressure. That isn’t the case for guns, which are constructed specifically to inflict harm, be it on an animal or a human. 

Second, most of these items are no threat whatsoever in the public square. They will not follow me into the grocery store, they won’t make an appearance at a political rally, and they won’t confront me at the playground. If I’m not taking any medication, I’m in no danger from your bottle of pills.

The point isn’t that guns are the most dangerous things on Earth. The point is that guns are dangerous objects that no one needs except for the express purpose of making things more dangerous for themselves and others. Comparing them to other dangerous objects is disingenuous if not absurd.

47 comments:

  1. There are several problems with these claims:

    1. The author makes an unjustified distinction between the manner in which people die. Sure, swimming pools can be avoided. But that doesn't keep more than 700 kids from dying in them every year. If the argument for banning guns hinges on the value of saving lives, then by the same line of reasoning swimming pools should be banned.

    2. The author assumes that guns have an "inherently violent" purpose. This overlooks the fact that the vast majority of rounds expended from firearms go into non-living paper targets or into tins cans and similar objects. Unless she's pleading for the safety and well-being of cans and sheets of paper, then this claim isn't borne out by the facts.

    3. The author overlooks the thousands of times guns actually save lives each year. On balance, the presence of guns in our society is a net plus.

    The best explanation for the author's anti-gun claims is that she harbors an innate prejudice against firearms - and, IMO, against the types of people likely to own them. In short, she's a bigot. And, like all bigots, she hides her bigotry behind misrepresentations and noble-sounding platitudes.

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    1. You, sir or madam, get an "attaboy/girl". The chronically misinformed alarmists need to be educated.

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    2. He presented a list of valid arguments, you basically just say hes wrong and leave it at that. I think instead of basing your data on emotion you go find some research because most impartial data does point to what he is saying. In fact just about the only time I can find information that paints guns as roaming death machines is when the data is collected by bias sources.

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    3. Heh. You're hilarious.

      1) You can teach your kids how not to die in a swimming pool. As it turns out, teaching your kids not to stop a bullet is harder. And really the only way to do that is to teach your kids never to say anything controversial that an insane gun rights advocate might find offensive. (Oh, I know, all gun owners are responsible gun owners! There are no insane ones! Or ones prone to anger!) I'm sure that this is the exemplar of the kind of society you wish to live in, but oddly, those of us who aren't found caressing our weapons at all hours of the night don't like the idea.

      2) So what you're saying is that the purpose of guns is... practicing to get better at shooting with guns! Hey, it turns out that the vast majority of hand modeling clay is used by people taking sculpture and ceramics classes. So therefore the purpose of clay must be learning to use clay. And the purpose of musical instruments clearly isn't to make music, it's to practice the instrument! This argument is as intellectually hollow, self-serving, and disingenuous as it is possible to get without simply running out of words. Congratulations.

      3) Haha ha hahaha ha. If you can find a single academic study that was not wholly funded by a gun rights organization that bears this out, I will suspect you of making it up and posting it on the internet. We don't know exactly how often guns in the hands of private citizens save lives in the US, because no organization or agency keeps track of it and in any case when someone gets shot (say, repeatedly in the back) by a 'responsible homeowner' they will always say they did it to save their lives. But what we do know is that people who shoot other people in claimed self-defense are outnumbered by accidental shootings by at least an order of magnitude, and probably as much as two.

      But, since the best explanation for 'Episcopal Bill's pro-gun claims is that he is too excited by firearms to be willing to face even small doses of actual factual information, there's no chance this will penetrate his hard, metallic exterior. So I'll just leave it here in hopes that other people won't be taken in by his lies, true though he believes them to be.

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    4. You can teach your kids how to handle a firearm.

      Guns are mostly used for target practice and competition. Who can handle a firearm the best.

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    6. no people don't need a car in there everyday life i didn't have a car for 5 years and did just fine. That said i am not against cars.But if you claim gun control is about saving lives then you have to look at other things that kill way more people than guns hell government kills more people than guns but nobody is trying to ban it. it does not matter what kind of gun control you have because it is a fact that criminals do not follow gun control laws or any other laws for that matter. You can totally ban guns and mass shooting and criminals killing people with guns will still happen because the fact of the matter is criminals don't go down to the local gun store do a background check and buy a gun like law abiding citizens do.

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    7. no people don't need a car in there everyday life i didn't have a car for 5 years and did just fine. That said i am not against cars.But if you claim gun control is about saving lives then you have to look at other things that kill way more people than guns hell government kills more people than guns but nobody is trying to ban it. it does not matter what kind of gun control you have because it is a fact that criminals do not follow gun control laws or any other laws for that matter. You can totally ban guns and mass shooting and criminals killing people with guns will still happen because the fact of the matter is criminals don't go down to the local gun store do a background check and buy a gun like law abiding citizens do.

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    8. The author is an anti gun authoritarian loon.....you're not going to convince them of anything.

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    9. Tell me how much you hate god and guns when you are coward in a corner prying the guy with a gun shows up you called

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  2. Wow. First response put the author in her place, cool and logically. Well done.

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  3. So the distinction here is that the author isn't frightened by those other things, so they're ok, but since he's frightened by guns, he should be making important decisions for other people.

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  4. A great post. Those excuses from the gun extremists are specious and only degrade their arguments. I hear them all the time, and any thinking person understands their ridiculous nature.

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    1. How is it an excuse to acknowledge the fact that guns are designed and manufactured as lethal weapons? What is abundantly obvious is that those of you who oppose guns only object to the fact that they have no other purpose but it brutally reminds of you of the fact that you have no problem with all the killing and carnage occurring by means other than guns. You abide death and destruction in every other context. That is the essential emptiness of your argument(s) and hypocrisy of your opposition.

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    2. I abhor guns because when compared to other western countries, we kill one another at an alarming rate. We are either more violent as a country, or gun availability is responsible. How do you defend the man who shot and killed a man for texting in a movie theater?

      I agree with personal responsibility and freedom, but I am also a pragmatist. The U.S. is in line with South Africa in per capita murder rate. When Australia changed its gun laws in response to a mass shooting it was successful in reducing murders, and suicides came down, not suicides by gun, but suicides in general. All of the evidence supports gun regulations saving lives. Why is that a problem?

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    3. Ahh...but do we now? The chances of being shot by any one of the 300,000,000 guns in America (and growing...) is approx. 0.0005 in 1.... Are you *sure* you aren't listening to FOX "news" hype?

      At the same time, there are any number of things that kill many times more people than guns...but no one outlaws prescription drugs, or swimming pools, or cars....why? Hypocrisy.

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    4. ....and all the while, crime rates are going down...the lowest they've been since the '70's....

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  5. Thanks to the writer for putting this so well. 30,000 gun deaths a year in the U.S. 44 school shootings since Newtown. Try as you might to deny/minimize/bully, we face a public health and safety crisis beyond measure. Enough said.

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    1. Actually we don't face a public safety crisis. You really should open your self up to both sides of every argument. "30,000 gun deaths" Is misleading readers to believe 30,000 that's 30,000 homicides. Fact is approx 20,000 of them are suicides. Do some research about other countries suicide rates vs ours. You will be surprised. Of the approx 10,000 gun deaths left to account for, the CDC has found 80% of them are gang related. Fix the gang problem and that takes us down to about 2,000 gun related murders each year, out of 315,000,000 people.

      Further more our homicide rates are the lowest they have been in 50 years. In fact all crime rates are lower today than they have been in 50 years. Yet gun ownership, has skyrocketed and pro gun legislation has been applied all across the country.

      I bet your one of those people who left their doors unlocked in the 70's but is scared to do so today. Reality is your much safer today. The 1970s and 80s averaged 9murders per 100,000. 1980 was the bloodiest ever recorded at 10.2 per 100,000. Today in your scary world we are at a 50 year low of 4.7 per 100,000. With gun ownership at all time highs.

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    2. The latest published numbers by the CDC say 16,253 gun homicides...not 30,000...

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  6. If only they could understand the difference between accident and homicide...

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  7. I think the car example is a good one, because is the most often referenced as the most often misinterpreted by the "anti-gun lobby." Let's consider your points one by one.

    1. "It is a fact that more people are killed in automobile accidents than through gun violence." This is true and it is great to see that we already share some common ground.

    2.You mention that "the difference isn’t as great as you might think" if we use some statistical manipulations to normalize the data. Interestingly, you chose to use per capita daily use. I would argue it would be far more appropriate to consider (bullets fired+time spent near a loaded weapon) versus (car rides taken+time spent near a moving vehicle). I assume you would agree that normalizing the deaths with this method, car deaths are significantly higher.

    3. "First, people need their cars to conduct their daily business." This isn't necessarily true, but it sounds like you're referencing the old adage "cars were designed to do something other than kill people." I'll agree with that. This would appear to make cars all the more dangerous, since accidental deaths by cars vastly outnumber (by orders of magnitude) accidental deaths by guns.

    4 "That just isn’t the case for guns, no matter how fond of them people are." I'm sure a variety of body guards, police officers, and military men would disagree with you, but I see what you're saying.Most people would do ok without their guns. In a sense, it's a lot like free speech. You don't actually need it, but it's nice to have a Constitution and a Supreme Court that says you can have it if you want it.

    5. "Second, being well aware of the dangers posed by cars, we license and regulate both cars and drivers. We insist that car manufacturers continually increase safety features, both through regulation and through the free market." So this comes back to point 3. On the one hand, we have something I'll call item A. Many people have item A and many people use it regularly. Item A is heavily regulated; you need special training and a license just to use it and you need insurance just to buy it. There are entire organizations of people dedicated to making item A safer to use and other organizations dedicated to improving the safety of different physical locations just in case someone decides to go there with item A. Item A also has a special purpose, and it has nothing to do with harming any living thing. Nevertheless, item A accidentally kills an enormous amount of people.

    On the other hand, you have item B. There is a lot more of item B in this country than Item A, and item B is also regularly used by a lot of people. Item B is barely regulated at all and you don't need any special training to purchase one. In fact, in many cases you don't even need a license. You don't need any special insurance with item B, and there are entire organizations of people dedicated to preventing anyone from adding additional safety features to item B. In general, no one is attempting to improve the safety of the areas where item B is used. Item B was designed with a special purpose, and that is arguably to harm or kill things. Nevertheless, item B accidentally kills a tiny, tiny number of people.

    When you replace "cars" and "guns" with some other words, cars actually do sound a lot more dangerous, don't they?

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    Replies
    1. Don't you go making sense and validating arguments now... LOL The liberal mantra is always "If I don't like it or agree with it, then you shouldn't have it".

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  8. Thanks for your post.
    David A. Kapelman is a personal injury lawyer representing victims of construction accidents, lead paint poisoning, medical malpractice,
    birth injuries, premises liability, sexual assault, injuries caused by defective products, automobile accidents, or any other personal injuries or accidents that result in serious injury or death

    construction accident lawyer

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  9. 'The Logical Outlook'
    oh wait

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  10. There's at least two retorts in these replies that murder this article, which was a horrible, biased article to begin with. A good article looks at both sides of an issue and measures out pros and cons. This surely doesn't do that, it had a clear intent and that makes for a horrible article.

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  11. you are right, more people are killed accident then by gun. but we have to keep watch on both things.

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  12. Obama: Well, banning assault rifles didn't go so well Joe. Those anarchists in Texas have done it again. What should we do next to save American lives?

    Joe Biden: Let's ban cancer. Can we do that?

    Obama: Nah, we make to much money on that. How about you George any ideas.

    Bush: we could regulate the car industry which has stopped innovation since the 90's....

    Obama: nah I just bailed out those guys and they moved to Canada and China.

    Bush: dang, I'm all out of ideas.

    Biden: Me too.

    Obama: Drones?

    Bush and Biden: DRONES!!! SAVING AMERICAN LIVES SINCE 2004. ( deceleration of war not included) for ages idiots and up



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  13. What people like this all fail to mention is how many are killed with LEGALLY OWNED firearms! less than 1% is how many. keeping guns away from law abiding citizens will do nothing to stop gun crime. Just ask the Brits, Australia, France...Hell, places here like Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington D.C. all of which either have strict gun laws, or just don't allow private ownership. lawful citizens with guns are not the problem, we have a moral problem. And also a lot of gun violence stats include suicide, in which case is a no brainer, if someone wants to die...they will die! We have gun laws and background checks. Look the stats up! Most people that commit crimes with guns legally do not have the right to have them. And I am sorry, but you will never be able to just wish away 300 million guns. And if you are wanting the government to try to take them all away, you might want to remember right above the right to keep and bear arms, is that little annoying right of free speech. But maybe the author of this p.o.s. wouldn't mind having someone throw them in prison because they said something that offended me.

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  15. but truth is that guns also kills more people.

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  17. Keeping gun is not a bad thing, but using it to harm other people is a bad thing. It is meant for your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Proper tanning is required so that you are efficient enough to handle a gun and knows the pros and cons of firing a single bullet. You can come to Boston Firearm Training Center and know how people are trained and what duties they need to feel before getting its license.
    Regards:
    Mass License To Carry Class

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  18. Well, I have got the best information from here the site is fully stuffed with the knowledgeable information. Joshua

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  19. this article is stupid. how do guns make it more dangerous. maybe if you are stupid it can be dangerous to have a gun. But if your responsible its just another piece of plastic on you or in your house

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  20. this article is stupid. how do guns make it more dangerous. maybe if you are stupid it can be dangerous to have a gun. But if your responsible its just another piece of plastic on you or in your house

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  21. Just like to put out there that every single person who is trained to defend your right to say we can't have guns, uses a gun.
    By this a mean every police officer, every FBI agent, every CIA, MIA, anyone who ever joined the military.
    So would you take a gun from a soldier?
    Do you trust that soldier any more when he is in uniform with a gun than out of uniform with a gun? Because I have a gun when I am in uniform and when I am out of it, but if you want to take my right to that gun I will not carry a gun in uniform or out of it...then what happens if you disarm our military...you lose your right to say you want to take away our guns

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  22. Pools are stationary but guns walk? Idiot

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  23. the misconception about guns is growing, this is really bad.

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  24. Simply great job! You highlighted some important issue that need to give more focus on them. Thanks for the post.

    Best Spotting Scope

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  25. Most important point not brought up yet...Guns rights are protected by the constitution. Pools, cars, cancer, hammers, knives ect aren't.

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  26. you forgot coconuts. They also kill more people than kids with guns do. Then again no one will start a civil war if you try to take away coconuts...but guns. Yeah you're not going to win that war.

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  27. you can only enforce gun bans and gun laws with men with guns willing to kill people with guns.

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  28. I promise you that if we ban guns more people will die for a few reasons
    1. Animal population will spiral out of control deer have no other predators beside humans really and the few predators they have won't be able to control their population and thus they will start to go onto streets more killing more people.
    2. If we ban guns then only the government and bad guys will have guns because I gave a feeling that banning guns will do as much as the war on drugs did meaning it'll just create an even larger and more dangerious black market.

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What are your thoughts? I welcome civil disagreement and discussion.