Joe Nocera of the New York Times reports on a project to use Google daily to track news of gun violence in America. He’s been at it for a year.
The news comes as I’ve been having back-and-forth with the small group of gun zealots in Arkansas who are pushing the notion that the legislature — despite conclusively defeating an open carry law — actually secretly deregulated handgun carry in Arkansas through legislative drafting missed by everybody in a little ol’ technical correction bill. Missed by everyone except the nutters that is.
The carry crowd believes we won’t all be safe until society is openly awash with people with strap-ons fully exhibited. They’re thus ready to draw down as needed on miscreants.
I feel safer at home. The toll of accidental shootings, road rage, gun-suicides and all the rest of unintended consequences argue against the notion that a more heavily armed society is a safer society. The gunners feel otherwise, naturally. I look forward to some promised visits by the open carry fellows. I have informed them, however, that they’ll have to visit my office without their strap-ons. Ours is a gun-free building, a policy allowed, at least for now, for private property owners under Arkansas law. (Unless there’s some other trick drafting somewhere I’ve missed.) Somewhat surprisingly, a couple of them have still expressed a willingness to venture into the belly of the crime-ridden belly of the Little Rock beast without their shooting irons. They’ve been cordial. I think they understand I refer to gun nuttery affectionately. (Well, not to those who threatened to shoot me and my dog and interrupted my night with profane phone calls during the great controlled carry permit hysteria.)
But back to Nocera and some of his key observations.
First, the biggest surprise, especially early on, was how frequently either a child accidentally shot another child — using a loaded gun that happened to be lying around — or an adult accidentally shot a child while handling a loaded gun.
Second, the N.R.A. shibboleth that having a gun in one’s house makes you safer is demonstrably untrue. After The Gun Report had been up and running for a while, several Second Amendment advocates complained that we rarely published items that showed how guns were used to prevent a crime. The reason was not that we were biased against crime prevention; it was that it didn’t happen very often. (When we found such examples, we put them in The Gun Report.) More to the point, there are an increasing number of gun deaths that are the result of an argument — often fueled by alcohol — among friends, neighbors and family members.
Third, gang shootings are everywhere. … As often as gang members shoot each other, they kill innocent victims, often children who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here’s the bottom line according to Nocera that will set the gunners’ hair on fire.
There are an estimated 300 million guns in America, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But to read The Gun Report is to be struck anew at the reality that most of the people who die from guns would still be alive if we just had fewer of them.
The prevailing wisdom in Arkansas, of course, is that we don’t have nearly enough.