A few gun stats noted in the Washington Monthly:
— According to the CDC, having a gun in your home is associated with triple the risk of homicide and nearly fivefold the risk of suicide.
— The Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC) has found that suicide attempts using a gun are far more likely to be fatal than such attempts using any other method. HICRC also reports that the availability of more guns is associated with more accidental deaths.
As if to prove the point, yesterday was “Gun Appreciation Day,” and TPM points out a little twist of irony: five people were sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds from at least three accidental discharges at gun shows commemorating the event.
Over Christmas, the family was talking to my brother in law —a sheriff in rural Maine, a hunter, an NRA member —about the possibility of limiting guns, and the “defense argument” —that we all need guns to defend ourselves.
He looked at me and said he definitely did not want me to carry! Then he made the serious point, that using guns to defend oneself or others takes both skill and emotional training. This is not something that just anyone can do. He could not imagine arming school teachers. And he noted, from 20 years as a sheriff, most gun deaths are from stupidity (accidents of various kinds) or family anger (and the human stupidity that encourages).
What we need: mandatory gun training, testing, and licensing. Because even if you are a clear and clean law-abiding citizen, if you do not know how to properly store, maintain, and use your arms, then you are statistically a far greater threat to yourself and those around you than is any burglar or phantom dictator. A gun should be denied to you not just if you are a criminal or mentally incompetent; it should also be denied to you if you are incapable of using it with at least nominally safe skills.
Nobody denies that we all have the right to travel, and part of that is the right to own a car. But we also all agree that if you are a menace with that car, if you are untrained or untrainable, if you cannot operate it safely, then you have no right to get behind the wheel of one.
Guns, unlike cars, are designed to kill people. That is their primary purpose. And right now, it is 100% legal in many if not most places in this country to acquire, keep, and use a gun with no training or testing whatsoever. That is completely insane.
Which is why I advocate a national training and testing requirement just as we have for motor vehicles. It makes eminent sense.