Monday, January 3, 2011

A Bit Of Perspective

Anti-gun folk like to point out that guns kill people--indeed, about 30,000 people die every year, in America, from guns.  Because of this, anti-gun folk conclude, we need to limit access to guns, if not ban them altogether.

Let's put this 30,000 figure in some perspective, shall we?

Currently, the United States population as around 300 million people.  Let's suppose that those 300,000,000 people will be made childless but immortal at this instant, excepting a weakness of guns--and that gun deaths remain at the current rate of 30,000 a year.  Then how long will it take for the American population to die off?  A.  About 10,000 years.

But immortality is such a ridiculous supposition.  Let's suppose, instead, that all those 30,000 deaths were caused by handguns, and that each death was caused by a single handgun, which is then promptly collected by police and destroyed.  Let's again assume that handguns will have no children--that is, we'll assume that from this moment, no handgun will be made--and we'll also assume that, except for police destruction, handguns will also be immortal.  It is estimated that there are about 80 million (80,000,000) handguns in America.  How many deaths will happen before all handguns will have killed a single person?  A.  About 2667 years.

Of course, it's rather silly of us to assume that all gun deaths are caused by handguns, VPC's belief that "Every Handgun is Pointed at You" notwithstanding.  Some of them are rifle deaths.  So, properly, we should include rifles in the above exercise.  It's estimated that Americans own 200 million (200,000,000) guns, total.  If each of these guns killed a single person, how long will it take for all of them to kill exactly one person?  A.  About 6667 years.

Now, one final bit of perspective.  Gun-toting folk like to point out that 40,000 people a year die from road accidents, while only 30,000 die per year from gun accidents.  Anti-gun folk will then respond, "But cars are designed for transportation.  Guns are designed to kill!"

Let that sink in for a moment.  A class of tools designed to transport people and goods from point A to point B kill more people than devices designed to kill people.  And this is true, despite the fact that devices to kill people are the prefered method for murder and suicide.

Ever wonder why we have silly studies saying things like "A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a loved one than an intruder" and "A gun, used defensively, prevents between 1 million and 2 million crimes per year"?  All these studies are refuted--some are more easy to refute than others--but all these studies suffer from a single flaw:  the number events they are trying to measure are tiny compared to the population at large.

Yet it's through studies like these that anti-gun folk use to gin up fear against gun-toting folk--and to try to get rid of guns altogether.  Ironically, they do it in the name of "getting rid of fear".  Just what are these people afraid of?

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