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Counterpoint: The gun lobby’s most pernicious myth: There is no “good guy with a gun”

Counterpoint: The gun lobby's most pernicious myth: There is no "good guy with a gun"

This article is a counterpoint to an anti-gun article posted on Salon.com.

Counterpoint: The gun lobby’s most pernicious myth: There is no “good guy with a gun”

It must be pointed out, that while the Salon article, by Lucian K. Truscott IV, does include a lot of fancy sounding numbers and statistics, it is truly an opinion-based editorial and doesn’t give you all the facts behind the statistics it cites.

Let’s check the numbers, referenced in Trusctott’s editorial piece and break them down, and apply some real analysis.

Lucian K. Truscott IV writes:

We don’t have more automobiles than people in the United States of America. We don’t have more televisions than people. We don’t have more radios than people. We don’t have more cell phones than people.

What we do have is more guns than people.


A recent report published by the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, Switzerland, found that there are more than 393 million firearms owned by civilians in this country. We have a population of 326 million. That means there are 120.5 firearms for every 100 American citizens, according to the Washington Post. It’s a fact. If every single person in the United States possessed a gun, including babies, elderly people and the infirm — even including those hospitalized and on their deathbeds — there would still be 67 million guns left over. Sixty-seven million.

Those numbers certainly sound scary. What happens when we actually expand on these statistics and apply some background to them?

First lets list Mr. Truscott’s quoted statistics and cited talking points:

  • We don’t have more automobiles than people in the United States of America.
  • there are more than 393 million firearms owned by civilians in this country.
  • We have a population of 326 million
  • Therefore there are 120.5 firearms for every 100 American citizens
  • So for every American there are 1.205 guns

Let’s check these quoted statistics and look deeper using more data.

This data below was compiled using data from 2017, so it’s had time to be thoroughly vetted and should reflect less errors:

  • There were 272.48 million vehicles were registered in the USA in 2017
  • The US Population in 2017 was about 325.98 Million (Estimated)
  • There were 84 cars per 100 people in US in 2017
  • For every American there was .836 vehicles in 2017

2017 Firearms Fatalities vs Vehicle Fatalities

In 2017 Firearm related deaths and Automobile Fatalities came in surprisingly equal.

US. vehicle deaths topped 40,000 in 2017 as estimated by The National Safety Council.

The CDC shows that the United States saw 39,773 firearms fatalities, of which 23,854 were suicides, using a firearm. This leaves us with 15,919 firearm fatalities that were not suicide, of which 10,982 were homicides.

Let’s circle back on some statistics:

  • 325.98 Million people in the United States in 2017
  • 272.48 million vehicles were registered in the USA in 2017
  • 393 million firearms owned by civilians in the USA.

Now we can do some simple division to get the number of firearms and vehicles per person in the USA.

  • For every American there are 1.205 guns
  • For every American there was .836 vehicles
  • Firearms outnumber vehicles by about 25% per person in the USA

These numbers are eye opening. There are 25% less automobiles than firearms in the USA, yet in 2017, the number of fatalities were almost the same. Based on this raw data alone, vehicles kill 25% more Americans. What if we break down the firearm fatality data further and compare it against firearm homicides only?

Lets look at firearm deaths more closely.

The 2017 CDC data shows that the United States saw 39,773 firearms fatalities.

Data shows that of the 39,773 firearms fatalities

  • 23,854 were suicides using a firearm.
  • 15,919 were firearm fatalities that were not suicide.
  • 10,982 were homicides.
  • 4,937 were gun fatalities, that we can only assume were sad accidents or self defense.

Sources:

Once we start to use the firearm homicide values in our statistic, the ratios really start to diverge even further:

  • In 2017 your odds of dying in a vehicle related fatality were 1 in 8149.5
  • In 2017 your odds of being murdered by a gun were 1 in 24811.5

Remember, there are only .83 vehicles, per American (in 2017), so now our ratio has drifted from vehicles being 25% more deadly, to being 3 times more deadly than being murdered by a firearms.

The real problem, based on the amount of deaths per American, per instrument of death, is vehicles. Let’s solve a problem that impacts more Americans – Motor Vehicles.

Now we have addressed Mr. Truscott’s misleading statistics, and can safely look past most of the remainder of his heavily opinionated article. However I couldn’t resist calling out other portions, of his article, where his rationalization doesn’t seem to make sense.

Truscott then continues his anti-gun sentiment, but this is America. He is entitled to his opinion, and we should respect his 1st Amendment right of Free Speech.

The number of guns owned by civilians is an outrage, a profanity, a sign that this country has lost its collective mind. But not to the National Rifle Association it isn’t. Not to the Gun Owners of America, another major gun lobby organization with over two million members, which is frequently critical of the NRA for being too soft on gun rights. These well-funded lobbies for gun manufacturers and gun owners have long taken the position that what we need is more guns, not less. They say that more guns equal less crime, despite FBI statistics that show conclusively that violent crime, and especially crimes involving firearms, is higher per capita in areas of the country with more guns.

Salon article

Should we assume that Mr. Truscott “forgot” about or is purposely ignoring Chicago? Chicago has very strong anti-gun ownership laws, yet has a surprisingly high amount of firearm related violence!

We can agree on some points, even if we disagree on others

I think we all have to agree with Mr. Truscott, in the next part of his editorial. Mass shootings are sickening, an outrage and are maddening.

It’s madness. Every mass shooting proves how mad it is. Can you imagine what it must have been like in the El Paso Walmart, or outside the bar in Dayton, or on the street in Odessa? Guns were going off. People all around you were hit, wounded, dying, bleeding. Even if you were carrying a handgun, what would you have done?

Hide. Get behind something. Run. That’s what I would do. That’s what people did in El Paso, Dayton, and Odessa.

Salon article

I have to agree with Truscott’s instructions when he says, “Hide. Get behind something. Run.“, during a mass shooting. His advice is top notch! He deserves an “A+” here; although I do think the correct order of operations for this plan should be “Run. Hide. Get behind something.

“Run. Hide. Get behind something.

Unless you are a highly trained law enforcement professional or super elite Special Forces operator, and are trained in mass shooting scenarios, this should be your plan!

Hide. Get behind something. Run.” is great advice, unless you or your companions have a disability or injury that impairs your motor abilities, or have physical limitations. Then what are you supposed to do?

Even worse: you do manage to hide, but then the bad guy finds you. Now you are cornered by the psychopath, who is intent on killing every unarmed person he can. Sadly, in this scenario, your most likely outcome, without intervention, is death.

This is the time, where being armed, would be very advantageous.

I am a legal gun owner. I do carry a concealed pistol, especially when I am out with my wife and young daughters. Regardless if I have my sidearm, my first reaction, if caught in a mass shooting will always be “Run. Hide. Get behind something.“, and in this order.

I am not a police officer, I am not a member of the Special Forces. I am just a regular person, who has devoted hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to firearm practice and firearm safety. I am confident in my abilities, but there is no way that I qualified to find and stop a mass shooter.

My plan, in a mass shooting is this: “Run. Hide. Get behind something.”. You can be sure that I’ll be herding my family towards the nearest exit.

If we can’t escape, and are unlucky enough to be engaged, cornered or trapped by the shooter, I will go into mama bear mode. I will use any and all tools available to me, to protect my cubs. At this point, my only focus will be to prevent this shooter from harming my family, or any other human being, in our vicinity!

By being armed, in this terrifying situation, my family’s chances of survival go up exponentially. If you happen to be in our vicinity, during such a horrible event, I promise you, that you and your family’s chances also just got a lot better.

I’m no hero, but I’d like to think that I’m a good guy… and I do have a gun!

Sources:

https://www.salon.com/2019/09/07/the-gun-lobbys-most-pernicious-myth-there-is-no-good-guy-with-a-gun/

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8.xls

https://wonder.cdc.gov

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