Monday, November 16, 2015

Legal concealed weapon holders are a menace to society

This post is the second part of my response on a gun control thread on Facebook. Specifically, my response to:

2. Legal concealed weapon holders are a menace to society/toddlers are dying at more than one per week due to "legal" gun owners.

The articles responsible for the second part of this claim are the “People are getting shot by toddlers on a weekly basis this year” and “L. A. to require that stored handguns be locked up or disabled.”

In this case, the data is sort of accurate. It's not easy to find numbers of toddlers shooting people, but if we look at children under 5 killed by being shot accidentally, there are 30 per year. And that is a shame.

L.A. City Councilman Paul Krekorian said in the L.A. Times article “It’s unacceptable to live in a country where it’s more dangerous to be a preschooler than to be a police officer — and we can do something about that today.”

It is true that it is more dangerous to be a preschooler (death rate 25/100,000) than to be a police officer (death rate 15/100,000) but claiming that accidental shootings by lawful firearm owners are to blame is a lie.

If you look at the deaths of all children under five, you would be hard pressed to find a firearm death. That 30 deaths per year is competing with the 27,500 deaths from other causes.

Car accidents claim around 500 toddlers a year, but we don't ban cars on that basis. There are 400 toddlers a year lost to drownings. If our goal is to save the toddlers, we have a number of areas that will give more “bang for the buck” than harassing law abiding citizens.

In fact, the case can be made that innocent lives are saved by having unsecured firearms available. Just this week there was a story about a 13 year old boy who used his mother's gun to defend himself against armed intruders. Had this boy lived where this law was enacted, he could be dead now.

According to a 1993 survey, firearms are used in self defense 162,000 times per years in situations where the victim believed he would have been killed had he not used a firearm (this data excludes military law enforcement and security guards).

The majority opinion in the Supreme Court case D.C. v. Heller states:

Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

Understand I am all for protecting children from harmful things. When my kids were too little to understand I kept child proof locks on all the cabinets that had cleaning supplies and other poisons. But once they were old enough I removed those locks. There are already laws on the books against allowing minors access to firearms, just as there are laws on the books against negligently giving poisons to children; but we don't write laws that require all household poisons to be locked up at all times.

Now let's turn to the more general question: are lawful concealed weapons holders a threat to the public? Let's divide this into two parts, since they are different and the data is collected differently.

There are two ways a concealed weapon holder can be a danger. First off, they could become violent and shoot someone. Secondly, they could be well meaning but accidentally shoot someone.

So let's look at how many concealed weapon holders shoot someone in rage. There are no specific numbers for that, but when someone is convicted of a crime so they lose their conceal weapon holder's license, and we can track that. Understand that this includes not just a concealed weapons holder shooting someone intentionally, but any felony crime committed by a concealed weapons holder. According to the Florida Department of Justice that rate is 0.02%. Another study showed that while the crime rate for the general population is 3,813/100,000 and the crime rate for police is 124/100,000, the crime rate for concealed weapons holders in Florida is 12.5/100,000. In Texas that rate is 20/100,000

That means concealed weapons holders are 6 to 10 time less likely to commit a crime (with or without their firearms) than police officers. If you want to save people from being shot, disarming police would be a better thing to do than disarming concealed weapon holders. Understand that I respect the police and am not in any way claiming they are criminal or dangerous – I am saying that calling concealed weapon holders dangerous to society is even more absurd than calling police dangerous to society.

The second way a concealed weapons holder could be a danger to society would be to accidentally shoot people. Going back to my earlier CDC data, the total for all accidental firearm deaths in the US is 508 per year. There are over 300 million firearms in the US, owned by 110 million citizens. 38% of all households have at least one gun, and there are over 2 million licensed concealed weapons holders (plus six states, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, and Wyoming have “Constitutional carry”, meaning you can carry a concealed weapon with no license required). All of those law abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons result in less than 508 firearm deaths (the 508 includes all deaths, not just from people carrying concealed weapons). Again, compared to the 130,557 accidental deaths per year it is hard to say that firearms are a major factor.

To summarize:

  • Accidental firearm deaths are extremely rare
  • Concealed weapon holders present less of a danger to society than police.


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