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Friday, April 19, 2013

Taking guns off the street

Things you thought were true about guns, but really aren’t
By Will Collette

Guns do not offer protection. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA and all our local gun-nut yokels are dead wrong – sometimes literally – in insisting that more widespread gun ownership means more protection and less crime. 

Scientific evidence to back up the NRA’s point of view is lacking, and thanks to the NRA, there is a lot less research available to argue against their position. That’s because the NRA got its disciples in Congress to forbid federal research on gun violence.

That doesn’t mean there’s no good science to dispute the NRA’s claims. For one, there is a definitive 2009 study done by University of Pennsylvania researchers for the National Institutes of Health showing that gun ownership tends to increase the risk of getting shot by 450%. I’m pretty sure this was the study that spurred the NRA to get a Congressional ban on more research.

Another study done for the NIH before the NRA won the ban on research was a 2006 study that showed a marked increase in men’s testosterone levels after using firearms and were three times more likely to engage in aggressive act. You’d think the NRA would like research like that – shows guys with guns have balls, right?

Despite the NRA’s victory in banning federal funding for gun research, that research still gets done, though not as extensively as it would be. For example, click on this link to a January 2013 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on gun deaths and children.

This study looked at the 6,570 deaths in 2010 among young people aged 1 to 24 years old. They conclude that the odds of children dying by gunfire increases the more readily available guns are. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by getting guns out of the house.

Now, that’s not a popular idea in a lot of places including Charlestown, where our CCA Party Town Councilors scorn the idea of simple measures like gun buy-backs that often give families an incentive to get rid of an unused gun that might otherwise become a fatality-producing plaything.

Here’s an abstract of a Journal of the American Medical Association article that notes that gun ownership leads to higher rates of suicide and higher incidence where the gun is turned on the owner.

Guns in the home do not keep people safe. Again, remember the macho Texas prosecutor and his taunt to his killers that he was armed and ready. Contrary to NRA propaganda, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that women living in homes with one or more guns are three times more likely to be murdered by gunfire. If their domestic partner has had a past history of abusing them, the likelihood is five times higher that they will be shot to death.

In the on-going debate over guns and gun violence, there is just too much bullshit being peddled by gun advocates that flies in the face of logic. And flies in the face of the evidence.

When we have ignorant men like the three CCA Party Councilors scorning one of the few ways we currently have to at least get a few guns out of homes, we need to ask why? Why do supposed intelligent men buy into outright lies and make fun of what little the NRA has left local authorities with as ways to control gun violence?

Five Rhode Island municipalities recently held Rhode Island’s first gun buy-back and, at the end of that day’s business, they removed just under 200 guns from the streets. I’m sure some of those guns were old. Many some of them don’t work. But lots of them, regardless of their age, still hold the potential for death for children, for spouses and girlfriends, for settling arguments in bloody fashion or for ending one’s own life. Two hundred down, and lots more to go.