Learning about guns in America

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What I recently learned:

While gun sales are soaring and making huge profits for manufacturers and their lobbyists, gun ownership “per household” is declining. This suggests a minority of people are hoarding guns, not a majority.

It means that while Wayne LaPierre and a minority of NRA members want you to think being armed to the teeth 24/7/365 is the best thing you could do with your life, it’s not what the majority of Americans, including a majority of the membership of the NRA, want or think.

This makes one wonder if those weapons hoarders are truly fearful or simply hoping to capitalize on making a profit reselling their weapons to other fearful folks when future regulations go into effect.

I learned that U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., lied at a Town Hall Meeting in which she stated the recent bill on background checks she helped vote down would have helped create a national firearms registry. This is absolutely false. If you read the bill you’ll learn how many ways it specifically would have forbid this.

I learned a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot his 2-year-old sister to death with a .22-caliber rifle he’d received for his birthday. The rifle had been left in a corner and his parents “did not realize” it was loaded.

I learned in an interview with Dan Baum, noted author, journalist and gun advocate, that he is doing all he can to point attention toward the fact our country has an enormous problem with gun safety/storage and that, while he fully supports teaching a 5 year old to handle a rifle (as he did at that age), there is absolutely no excuse for allowing open access to weapons.

Dan offered this profound comment: “We gun guys have proven ourselves to be criminally lousy stewards of the nation’s civilian arsenal.”

Richard McFarland

Walla Walla

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Comments

PearlY says...

Two problems with the claim that fewer households own guns than at some previous time. (I believe the usually quoted survey compares 1970 gun ownership to 2010).

First: In 1970, few people believed the government might try to take away their guns. There was no concerted national campaign to ban guns or demonize their owners. Gun ownership was respectable even among Democrats. There was therefore no reason for gun owners to answer falsely to a survey about their gun ownership. By the early 1990s, this had started to change, and in the last 10 years, I cannot imagine most gun owners anwering a survey question like that truthfully. I sure wouldn't. People don't even answer surveys accurately about whether they wash their hands after using the bathroom. Socially unacceptable behavior is very difficult to measure accurately, and most gun owners today are very well aware they are hated by a powerful elite in this country, the same elite that, we have just learned during the last week, targeted hated groups for special IRS investigations and harassment on political grounds.

Second: There are more households now in proportion to the number of people. Whereas in 1970 the average household size was 3.1, now it is 2.6. That may not seem like a big difference, but it would have a sizable effect on this particular issue, given that most of those new households are women living alone, and men and women own guns at different rates (although the gap is closing).

To give a very simplified example: Say your society consists of 10 couples, 20 adults living in 10 households with 11 children among them, and with five of the men owning guns. Average household size is 3.1, and the gun ownership rate is 50%; one out of every two households owns a gun. Then two couples divorce, and two new households are formed. Average household size drops to 2.6. Without any change in the number of people or the number of guns, we now have a household gun ownership rate of 42%, or one out of every 2.4 households. Media could truthfully report that gun ownership dropped by 16%. Gun haters will get all excited about it, but it has no meaningful effect, since the same percentage of the people own the same number of guns, and Oh! By the way, guns only have one trigger and can only be shot by one person at a time. They can't be shot by "households."

No, I'm sorry to have to tell this letter-writer that her hopes of a decline in gun ownership are without basis.

Obama has probably been the greatest gun and ammo salesman this country has ever seen. You can blame the NRA if it makes you feel better, but the NRA has been around since right after the Civil War, and the gun-buying spree only started in late 2008. When you consider that it happened at the same time that millions in the country were going broke, during the most severe recession we've had in decades, his sales record is pretty impressive.

Posted 13 May 2013, 11:56 p.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

One other little note of interest. During the 40's, 50's & 60's there was unknown numbers of weapons handed down from generation to generation that have never been accounted for and a lot of those weapons are standing or laying in a closet in the house and are not on a list. So for people to throw numbers out there is like throwing confetti in the air and give a specific amount. As far as gun safety goes that came with the presentation of the weapon.

Posted 14 May 2013, 6:15 p.m. Suggest removal

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