Making America hate again: Gun sales way up during the pandemic

Romper is a magazine for parents about how to understand and take care of their kids, and yesterday’s article (click on screenshot) emphasizes the huge increase in American gun sales during the pandemic. There’s no doubt that that’s true. But they also argue that there’s been a huge increase in unintentional deaths and injuries caused by children handling guns, an increase connected with the increase in sales. This is, as Romper calls it, a “hidden crisis.”  But the data they give about children-caused deaths are scant and unconvincing. The trend may well be real, but it’s not statistically demonstrable, and the article is a good example of how to mislead using statistics.

But let me back up. First, there’s no doubt that many people get killed by kids getting access to their parents’ firearms. This is a national scandal, and reflects both the pervasive ownership of guns by Americans and their failure to lock them up and store the ammunition separately. All I’m criticizing here are two statistics purporting to show a significant increase in child-caused deaths that went up with the increase in gun sales. That increase in sales is very real, and is really what I want to emphasize here.

A quote about gun sales, with the data shown below:

Within the COVID-19 crisis, another public health emergency is threatening our kids. Gun sales have surged during the pandemic, with an estimated 1.9 million more guns sold this March and April than during the same period last year. This spike in sales comes as kids and teens are home from school in states across the country, and many busy, distracted, overwhelmed parents try to balance work and homeschooling.

That data (see table below) seem sound, and this is really scary. More on that in a second.

But Romper adds this about 4-year-old Amir Jennings-Green, killed while playing with his cousins:

In an instant, Amir’s life was cut short in a tragedy that was preventable, one of at least 21 gun deaths that were the result of unintentional shootings by children in March and April of this year.

. . . All of these factors are increasing the risk that curious children and teens will get their hands on unsecured guns and hurt themselves or others. In March and April, unintentional gun deaths by children rose by a staggering 43%, as Everytown calculated, and unintentional gun injuries by children increased by 7% over the same period for the last three years. Those numbers could be even higher, as journalists struggle to cover the scope of gun violence while under lockdown orders.

In March and April of 2020, the peak months of the U.S. pandemic, there were 21 total deaths from guns handled by children, which is correctly represented as an increase of such deaths by 43%. That looks impressive, but the numbers are very small.

What it really means that there were 15 gun deaths caused by children the previous year. If we assume that there wasn’t a real increase, and the rate is about the same over time and can be estimated as the average value across both periods, we’d get an average of (15 + 21)/2 or 18 guns deaths expected each year. The numbers 21 and 15 are not significantly different from an expectation of 18, 18: the chi-square value is exactly 1, far from statistical significance. Although the difference may be real, one can’t demonstrate that it differs from a constant rate of children killing others that hasn’t changed between 2019 and 2020.  And certainly the 7% increase of “unintentional gun injuries” during that period cannot be statistically significant: it’s a difference between 33 and 35.

But if the numbers get even higher with a fuller accounting, then I’d be impressed.

It does seem likely that the more guns in homes there are, the more often we’ll have deaths and injuries. Regardless of the above, it’s clear that many more innocent people are killed and injured by home-stored or hand-carried firearms, or commit suicide when them, than are real malefactors like burglars and home invaders when guns are used in self defense. Ownership of guns, in net, takes more lives than it saves. That’s one reason why I favor a handgun ban, except, perhaps, for target shooting. (In that case, keep your guns locked up at the gun club.)

Well, enough of that; I expect the gun lovers will come out in force here to oppose me. But let’s just look at the increase in gun sales during the pandemic, which the Romper article breaks down by state (their link to the table below is here).

 

 

Just comparing March + April between 2019 and the pandemic period of 2020, we see that every state shows an increase save Hawaii, which reports no gun sales. That must mean that data aren’t available for the island state, as guns are legal in Hawaii and there are reports of a similar increase in sales there this spring.  Just scanning the data, I suspect that the rates are correlated with the “redness” of a state, but I’ll leave it to the readers to calculate such a correlation.

Overall, there was an 80% increase in sales between 2019 and 2020 during this period, and that is significant.

Why the increase? The Maui article above reports several causes:

All eight customers interviewed said they wanted to protect themselves and their families if coronavirus panic worsens and their safety is at risk.

“It’s not necessarily the virus that I’m worried about — it’s how people are reacting to the virus,” said one customer at the gun store, who asked for anonymity because her husband is a first-responder. “We’ve already had break-ins in our neighborhood. What if someone gets desperate and tries to steal supplies from our home?”

. . . “It’s combination of a few things,” Redeker said. “The virus thing is causing a lot of panic. That could explain the large numbers in a short time.”

And some people may fear that the government may try to take over during the pandemic, or there could be general civil unrest due to the disruption of society, and of course then the warm, living hands of Americans reach for their guns.

I’m ashamed to be living in a country so gun-happy, and once again I reiterate my call for not only greater gun control, but very strict gun control along the lines of England and especially Scotland. If guns don’t really protect you from the bad guys, and lead to more deaths of innocents than of malefactors, what reason is there to own them? The “militia” reason outlined in the Second Amendment is no longer valid.

 

h/t: Ken

73 Comments

  1. Joe Hahn
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    What concerns me is the following: Might this be the Trumpsters arming themselves to help Trump become dictator? They may think that if the liberals prevent their desired dictator from taking power they can help him.

    • Jim Swetnam
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      This is exactly what I fear. In the event this is true, will the police protect us from armed civil unrest? Will the national guard? Almost certainly Trump will encourage them, and how many red state governors will join him?

    • GBJames
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      You mean the patriots defending us all from tyranny, no?

    • Laurance
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Yep, Joe, I’m wondering something similar. I’ve been feeling as if the Civil War never really ended. I hope I’m wrong, but I see the possibility of a Perfect Storm, of Trump losing the election, together with a surge of the Covid virus which could destabilize society even more than it is destabilized now, and some people getting really crazy.

      But we’ve talked before. (Disclaimer: Joe is my Favorite Family Member. It was I who turned him on to WEIT.) These people are making an awful lot of noise and disrupting things terribly, but are they a majority or a minority? Granted, a minority can do one hell of a lot of damage, but what’s the danger that they could turn us into a dictatorship?

      • Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        My fear is that we’ll only know the answer to that question after it’s happened.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          I hope your fear doesn’t come true; but the fires are sure being stoked by the President, whose latest on Wednesday was to post a video on twitter from Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin which states “The only good Democrat is a dead democrat.” Oh, sorry, just a joke.

          In addition to the anti-lockdown mobs at state capitol buildings, clearly racist incidents perpetrated by albeit unhinged yahoos are increasing across the country and the hate is directed toward anybody non-white, and sometimes these people are armed.

          Also, the anti-lockdown protests bleed into white supremacist protests, since the wearing of masks has been hyper-politicized in some parts of the country, people who wear masks are targeted, too. Trump himself has baited one, asked the reporter if he was being “politically correct.”

          These elements of our society buy more guns and other people start buying guns to protect themselves and we’re a very armed up country.

    • Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Yep! It is not so much the pandemic but the coming “Second Civil War” that has them arming themselves. If you see lots of aloha prints, igloos, and a large number of “boogaloo” references, be warned that these are all icons used by some radical elements to signal a Second Civil War. This tweet explains: https://twitter.com/reecejhawaii/status/1265760646664122369

      • Jim Swetnam
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Second Civil War? The first never really ended.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      If Donald Trump loses the November election (as I hope and expect he will) this country will be in for perhaps the ugliest and most dangerous period of American history in our lifetimes. Trump will scream from the rafters that the election was stolen from him (probably by claiming massive mail-in vote fraud, as he is already laying the groundwork to do). He will probably try to mount a court battle to challenge the election results, and he will very likely refuse to participate in the orderly transition of power, including by declining to attend his successor’s inauguration (as previous defeated incumbent US presidents, in accordance with longstanding national tradition, have done).

      He will also undoubtedly encourage his supporters to protest publicly, and there may be sporadic incidents of violence by Trump’s hardcore dead-enders. But I will be shocked beyond dismay if there is serious armed insurrection or widespread support for the notion that Donald Trump can somehow refuse to relinquish office. If that occurs, we simply no longer live in a nation recognizable as the United States of America.

      I expect (or at least hope) that congressional Republicans and Republican Party regulars (the vast majority of whom privately detest Donald Trump, but fear crossing him while he’s in office because he has more control over their voters than they do) will chose to live on to fight another day in the political arena by declining to lend any aid or support to such efforts.

      Then again, I’ve been disappointed in the Vichy Republicans every step of the way since 2015-2016 when they allowed Donald Trump to climb to the top of the heap of their presidential contenders and to capture their Party’s nomination, so can claim no solid confidence in this prediction.

      • JohnE
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        I agree with you completely. If Trump loses, it is an absolute certainty that his “second amendment people” will rush to DC to defend his decision to reject the results of the election. The only question at that point will be which side our law enforcement officers and military commanders choose to take.

        I was living alone in a pretty secluded area many years ago and a man who lived quite close to me was murdered in his home by burglars. Following that incident, I made my first ever trip to a gun store to consider buying a handgun. I recall being visibly startled when I walked in the door and looked around, as the thought flashed through my head: “Oh my god, if these are the people who have guns, I need a freakin’ gun!” If you’ve seen the gun-toting crowds at various events on TV, you can’t help but be absolutely convinced that the people who own most of the guns in America and are who the most rabid advocates of “gun rights,” are precisely the people who should NOT have guns.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          The only question at that point will be which side our law enforcement officers and military commanders choose to take.

          I’m confident that the United States military command will give no support to any post-defeat hijinks or mischief from Donald Trump. The military tends to be a conservative institution, but military officers — the best of them anyway — understand the importance of the rule of law and the crucial nature of the orderly transition of power in our civilian government, regardless which candidate or which political party wins an election. They are, of necessity, institutionalists.

      • sugould
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        Please_don’t_be_right.

  2. Curtis
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I would bet that some the increase is due to the election year. There is always a fear that a Democratic president will tighten gun regulations. Gun sales also jumped over 20% in 2016.

  3. BJ
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I know quite a few people who have “stocked up,” so to speak, and none of them are wingnuts (well, maybe one. He’s kind of borderline). As with the paper goods and disinfectant products, it’s a panic reaction, desire to prepare for the worst, and a sort of modified prisoner’s dilemma, all rolled into one. People see the craziest buying up guns and ammo and think they better get to it before it’s all gone (panic). Many people believe in being prepared for the worst-case scenario, regardless of the odds, because it’s “better safe than sorry” (desire to prepare). People know that other people are going to try and buy up as many guns and as much ammunition as possible, so they try to do it before enough others deplete the resources (prisoner’s dilemma — everyone expects their fellow citizens to “defect”, so they try to “defect” first. If they could all agree to not buy up as much ammunition and guns as humanly possible, they could cooperate and buy only what they need, and the small amount of crazies wouldn’t amount to nearly enough to deplete the resources).

    I admit to doing much the same thing when it came to paper goods, as I knew from previous cataclysmic incidents (e.g. Venezuela’s economic collapse) that one of the first things to disappear is paper goods. I also stocked up on canned food and bottled water, “just in case.” It’s always better to be prepared for the .001% chance anarchy scenario than to have extra food and water that you’ll eventually use anyway, even if nothing bad happens. And I do have two pistols and two shotguns (for target practice and skeet shooting only) with plenty of ammo, but I’m not crazy and so don’t think I need a million rounds of ammunition.

    But make no mistake, there is a small contingent of crazies out there, and even 5%, while small, is only small in a relative sense. In a country of 320 million people, 5% is still 16.5 million people. And they’re stocking up because they think a civil war might be coming, or a race war, or a Democratic administration that takes all their guns, or a coup by the “deep state” against Trump, or…whatever. Aliens? Sure, why not.

  4. Alan Jardine
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Legal gun sales in Scotland:

    2020: 0. %age change from previous year: 0.
    2019: 0. %age change from previous year: 0.
    2018: 0. %age change from previous year: 0.
    2017: 0. %age change from previous year: 0.
    2016: 0. %age change from previous year: 0.

    Alan.

    • Jim Danielson
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      That may come to a shock to the Scots who buy guns legally from Tackle and Guns in Glasgow Scotland.

    • Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      That’s not true.

      There are an awful lot of gun dealers in Scotland if nobody is buying guns.

      • Alan Jardine
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        All right, farmers and the like can buy shotguns, etc. – but only after quite exhaustive checks. A random teenager can’t just walk into a store and buy a gun. Even air rifles have to be licensed now, I believe.
        Alan.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Whaddya say to a new lend-lease program, Al?

      Lend us some of that Scottish sanity and we’ll lease you back in perpetuity Trump’s Turnberry golf course, its appurtenances, and all adjacent properties.

      Deal?

    • Dominic
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Not even shotguns?!

  5. WDB
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    gun sales cratered hard after Trump’s election with an accompanying flood of used guns on the market further deteriorating the entire scene. It’s not likely that sales are anything like the glory days for the firearm industry when Obama was POTUS. Fun fact, based on laws signed and Executive Orders given Mr Obama was far more “pro gun” than Trump

    For full disclosure I am a gun owner and I’ve had extensive training in their safe usage.

    • BJ
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      I have to imagine there will be a big jump in sales if Biden is elected and the Democrats win back the Senate!

  6. Jim Danielson
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    When the article by Shannon Watts was first published I checked Canada’s rate of accidental shootings. I believe the stats was for 2015 or 2016. There was a total of 13 accidental deaths attributed to firearms for the entire year for all ages, children to adult.

    Children killed by firearms are probably under reported in the US since there isn’t a central reporting mechanism and various states/counties/coroners record them differently. In some places they are recorded as accidental, some homicide, some manslaughter. The New York Times looked into deaths of children by firearms in the states surrounding New York, they found a large number that were not reported and a much, much higher count of non fatal shootings of children.

    According to the article only 20 states (as of 2013) had enacted laws that hold firearm owners liable if they leave their guns unsecured and a child kills someone.

    In many states the firearm owners are not charged with any crime. Some prosecutors say they can’t get juries to convict, indeed some juries won’t award damages in civil courts. In these areas it is widely considered to be “just a tragic accident” or act of God, rather than the negligence it is.

    The NRA lobbies against safe storage laws when a state tries to pass such legislation.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Hey, if they run out of toilet paper they can always stick a gun up their, you know.

    Funny although millions of people lose their jobs they still find money to waste on a gun.

    I also suspect if your kid is killed by your gun all the statistics in the world are not going to help.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      … if they run out of toilet paper they can always stick a gun up their, you know.

      Haven’t heard about that one yet, buddy. But there is apparently a corner of gun culture in which taking a picture of a loaded pistol pointed at one’s johnson, with the safety off and one’s finger on the trigger, is now a thing.

      • Posted May 28, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Surely to be followed by johnson-less gun owners being a thing.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        I suspect what they are doing is blowing their brains out.

      • BJ
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        “But pointing a gun at your penis has nothing to do with owning the libs and everything to do with ironically mocking basic safety in gun culture. The trend is about a year old and it was born in the fires of Facebook’s gun groups. On one side are responsible gun owners, on the other is a group of men aiming a deadly weapon at their dicks to prove a point that they can only vaguely explain.”

        Man, I assumed it was going to explain that people did this to show how brave and cool and down with the gun-nut culture they are, but it somehow turned out to be even stupider. I was absolutely dumbfounded when I read this. I stared at the screen for a good thirty seconds just trying to process it. It’s like mocking lumberjack safety regulations by putting a live chainsaw next to your…well, dick.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

          What it is really is an attitude toward guns that should scare the hell out of the rest of us. It is juvenile and very stupid. It is the very reason why many more gun laws are needed.

          • BJ
            Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            If I was in Congress, I would gladly be the first to propose a “You Can’t Point Your Gun At Your Balls and Post it Online” bill.

            (not really. Free speech and all that. But it would be a good joke, especially if the NRA legitimately got all “up in arms” about it, which it probably would!)

      • sugould
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Is there some way to tell these people, they’re “not owning” me yet, and that they should try harder?

  8. Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m a competitive target pistol shooter from way back, but one thing that’s always been part of that culture (in my experience, anyway) is a ruthless commitment to gun safety erring always and extremely on the side of caution. This is NOT the case of the sorts of people who buy guns in panic thinking that either the guns will be sold out or that their fellow citizens will try to rob and/or kill them for toilet paper and food, or that the government is imminently planning to enact some kind of totalitarian coup d’etat from either side of the aisle. Even my (now-deceased) father, who initially taught me about gun safety, fell into this mind state, and we found a loaded, safety off, round in chamber pistol in his favorite chair after he died. Ridiculous, an otherwise very smart man sitting on a loaded gun every day in southern Ohio, in a room frequently occupied by my mother and my sister.

    I’m probably pretty much with Sam Harris on this issue. Guns should be licensed about as strictly as becoming a pilot is, and certainly more strictly than driving, because the average gun owner is nowhere near responsible enough. Just look at the people in those ridiculous lines outside gun stores not long ago, and the ARMED people protesting (against health-based restrictions) on the grounds of the capitol in my birth state. Unfortunately, to create such increased restrictions on firearms is not going to be doable with ordinary acts of the legislature. I think it would honestly require a new constitutional amendment, and I don’t see anyone with the will to make that happen.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Actually it is the people that must be changed, not the laws. There was a time in this country, not so many years ago when a state could put in place just about any laws or regulations on guns that it wanted. Not so today but the constitution is the same as before.

  10. Dominic
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    You guys really can’t kill each other fast enough! Must be an easier way… how about abortions?! If you could predict who would be a murderer you could abort the foetus first. But seriously, turn off the tap & the flow will stop…

  11. Mark R.
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The pandemic (like Trump) has exacerbated the social maladies that has permeated this country’s populace for hundreds of years. The recent police murder of George Floyd is yet another symptom of this country’s sickness. And why isn’t that cop in jail? It’s fucking madness.

  12. Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Civil war is unlikely. Most gun owners live around people they agree with and they are segregated from most non-gun owners. Almost like blue-red political diagrams of the US.

    More guns will lead directly to accidental and suicide deaths, that is about all there is to this recent uptake in guns.

  13. BJ
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Every state should have laws that hold gun owners responsible if a child gets a hold of their gun and injures or kills him/herself or someone else, though the laws need to be carefully written. Hell, one should be held responsible if an adult gets a hold of their gun and does harm to someone else, assuming the gun wasn’t properly stored.

    @Ken: I know some states have such laws, but how do you square these laws with the fact that children are also allowed to shoot guns (hunting or target shooting with their parents and whatnot)? I can’t look up every state’s law, but, the way I see it, the adult should be responsible whenever a child (say, anyone under the age of twelve) finds a gun and injures or kills himself or someone else, assuming the gun wasn’t “safely” stored. But, then, how do we define “safely?” I would say anything with a lock should suffice. A resourceful and determined child might find the key or the combination written on a piece of paper in an adult’s desk, but the responsibility to store the gun “safely” has to stop at a reasonable point, in the same way we consider “child-proof” bottles for medication a reasonable standard of safety, even if a determined child manages to break open the bottle and overdoses.

    But what about when a child accidentally kills or injures himself or someone else while engaging in legal firearms activities? Should the adult be held responsible because he should have properly taught the child about gun safety and ensured he was using it properly throughout? The problem here is that an adult can supervise a child completely but still have an accident happen, as you can’t stop something that takes less than a second to occur (e.g. the child, with the safety off, suddenly decides to look down the barrel of his gun with his finger on the trigger, despite being taught not to do so). It seems like it would be wrong to hold a parent responsible if a child accidentally made a deadly cut to an artery with a knife while the parent was teaching him how to cook.

    Disclaimer: I agree with the NRA on almost nothing. I hate them and think they’re one of the most destructive — literally, in terms of lives lost, and figuratively, in terms radicalizing people — lobbying groups in the entire country.

  14. max blancke
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t use Shannon Watts as an unbiased source on anything.

    But as for guns used in self defense, the ideal use is always one in which no shot is fired, and no person hurt.
    The few defensive uses of guns which have involved family or close friends have fortunately all ended that way.
    Those types of resolutions do not become part of the statistical record.

    I have made no secret of the fact that I was raised in a household and community where guns are common, and my kids experienced the same. But we are also pretty fanatical about gun safety, especially when young kids are around. I got my first rifle when I was nine or so, and I could look at it any time I wanted to, through the locked glass panel of my dad’s gun case. Handling or shooting were and are very closely supervised activities. When kids are going to be at other’s ranches or homes, gun storage is a topic that parents discuss beforehand. When my kids were still “kids”, and other kids were likely to visit, I always checked the doors to the vault and the shop safes. Even though they are never left open.

    My observation about the current run on gun purchases is that the people panic buying now are not traditional gun owning types. We already have guns. They are people who are just now thinking about worst case scenarios from current events. I hope that they will appreciate the responsibility that comes with gun ownership, and store the firearm securely until they get the training they need to be safe. Best case, they sell it when things stabilize a bit. If the worst case comes to pass, there will be larger issues to deal with.

    • Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      “Those types of resolutions [ones which involve firearms but no shots are fired] do not become part of the statistical record.”

      I see what you’re saying but we can make an inference. We’re still not safer with guns around. Statistics do show that.

    • phoffman56
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      The relevant stats are not the stats that say that, in US in whatever period, there were 10,000 cases of guns being used some way or other and, fantastic, only 1/5 of 1% of them resulted in the deaths of children. How bloody wonderful–only 20 dead kids, if my arithmetic is correct.

      The relevant stats (but Usians seem not to be taught much at all in school about the rest of the world, and half-truths about their own country) is that 20 were killed that way in US, but over the same year or probably many years, 0 in Norway and 0 in Australia and 0 in UK and 0 in Germany and 0 in Japan and ….

      • BJ
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        I think a lot of the issues with gun injuries/deaths in the US come down to culture, not ownership. For example, in Norway, there are 31 guns owned per 100 people according to this website: https://www.lifeinnorway.net/gun-ownership-in-norway/

        Furthermore, according to that site, Norway is in the top ten countries in the world in terms of gun ownership. France and Canada are also in the top ten: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-highest-rate-of-gun-ownership.html

        I would also add that many of the states in the US with the strictest gun control laws still see higher gun deaths per capita than states with less restrictive laws (e.g. Illinois versus, say, Iowa). It seems like culture plays an enormous role in gun deaths and violence.

        • phoffman56
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Yes, the fix in attitudes needed in US is not just a simple ‘Forbid gun ownership’–not quite anyway.

        • Jim Danielson
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          The difference between Norway, Canada, Switzerland, (and practically every other first world country) and the USA is the former have rather strict, country wide firearm regulations. They require anyone who wants to own a gun to prove they have the knowledge to use it safely. They have safe storage laws. Their firearm regulations are designed to promote safety and a safe gun culture.

          In those countries when people do extremely stupid or irresponsible things with firearms they get charged and almost always convicted. They get their firearms taken away. They lose their ability to buy firearms.

          I’m not aware of any other first world country that regularly has:
          Toddlers shooting people and themselves.
          Firearm owners who allowed toddlers access to loaded guns get off without even being charged or having their guns taken away.
          Police reminding their well regulated militia they shouldn’t fire off guns into the air in cities (or anywhere else) for celebratory purposes.

          In the US any idiot can buy a gun and they frequently do.

          • BJ
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Exactly my point. To change the stats, we have to both create more restrictive laws and change the culture.

            One other problem that probably can’t be solved much by stricter laws is gang violence. I don’t know how we deal with that. Because of our lax history with guns, there are tons available illegally, and we can’t just undo that. In London, for example, gangs usually use knives, but in Chicago, gangs carry and use guns.

            • GBJames
              Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

              It is a false dichotomy you propose, “culture” vs. “gun ownership”. Gun ownership rules/laws/norms/practices are simply features of culture. When you make more restrictive laws you by definition change culture. There are other changes one would also want, of course. But to imply, if this is your intent, that until we make other cultural changes there’s no point in gettin rid of guns is simply wrong, IMO.

              • BJ
                Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

                “But to imply, if this is your intent, that until we make other cultural changes there’s no point in gettin rid of guns is simply wrong, IMO.”

                I guess it wasn’t, but I thought it was clear that I believe we should be doing both when I wrote, “To change the stats, we have to both create more restrictive laws and change the culture.”

                Also, I don’t believe we’ll ever “get rid of guns,” nor do I think we should. I see no reason to rob people like my father of their favorite hobby of skeet shooting (and other gun-related hobbies). My dad has been shooting skeet four to five times a week for at least ten years, keeps his shotgun disassembled and locked in a safe when he’s not shooting, and follows all possible safety measures. I think responsible gun ownership should be allowed.

                It’s clear from the many other countries that have a large number of gun owners and very low rates of injury/death from guns that the US’ statistics are an anomaly for a First-World Western nation with high gun ownership. We should strive to be like those other nations, as (1) I don’t think guns should be completely outlawed, and (2) even if you do want to completely outlaw gun ownership, you’ll never win that battle, so you should go for the next best thing and fight for more restrictions and changing the culture.

  15. Jeannie Hess
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it is because I don’t have much stuff of any value, but I cannot imagine shooting a person who wanted to take my stuff. It is just stuff! The damage a gun could inflict to huge.

  16. Roger Lambert
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    So far what I see on this thread are a number of anti-gun people accusing gun buyers of panic behavior, while at the same time panicking about gun sales equating to upcoming civil war. The irony could not be more dramatic.

    The reason gun sales went up was because supermarket shelves were bare, and people did not know how bad it would get. Not because gun owners are all mouth-breathing Trump lovers secretly planning an armed junta.

    If we are ever going to have a rational discussion about gun violence in America, we need to realize that almost all gun owners are responsible people who are your neighbors.

    And we also need to realize that our gun control fantasies about banning guns, or emulating other country’s policies, are just that – fantasies – now that the Supreme Court has spoken so explicitly and vigorously about the rights of individuals to own and use guns for their personal protection.

    Guns are here to stay in the US unless we can amend the Constitution, and that is not happening any time soon. Most gun owners are responsible folks. Ideas about gun control need to start from these precepts.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      “The reason gun sales went up was because supermarket shelves were bare…”

      I think this is a simpleminded explanation. It fails to take into account all the other times that gun sales have surged. At the election of a black president, for example. Or following the Sandy Hook massacre.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        I was going to add that gun sales surge when gun lovers get frightened. And many of you are easily frightened.

        • Roger Lambert
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

          Simpleminded and easily scared. Yup, that’s me all right.

          • GBJames
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            The failure to acknowledge facts of non-pandemic gun purchase surges is noted.

    • Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      “Most gun owners are responsible folks.”

      How many times do we have to hear that? It adds nothing to the discussion, IMHO. I know of no one who argues that all gun owners are irresponsible, except perhaps in sharing the delusion that owning guns makes them safer.

      The issue is that there’s no way to tell the “good” gun owners from the “bad” ones. The mere presence of guns makes everyone at risk. Even when a gun owner is “responsible”, given some definition, who’s to say that their neighbor is also responsible or a small child who is a guest and hasn’t taken in the “don’t play with Daddy’s guns” message is responsible? Again, it is the mere presence of guns that puts people at risk.

      • BJ
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        As I noted in this comment, it seems gun culture/American culture might have more to do with gun deaths/injuries per capita than actual guns: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/making-america-hate-again-gun-sales-way-up-during-the-pandemic/#comment-1841494

        I’m in favor of significantly more restrictive gun control laws, but I think it’s an enormous failure that we don’t talk much about how to change the cultural issues at play and increase gun safety awareness.

        • Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          “… but I think it’s an enormous failure that we don’t talk much about how to change the cultural issues at play …”

          I agree that the culture is largely to blame but when we live in a free country, no one wants to talk about fixing the culture. It smacks of sending people off to re-education camps. I’m not saying it isn’t justified though. 😉

          That said, if we could get everyone to take Pinker’s Rationality course (and understand it), we would be virtually home. If they could apply cold, rational thinking to the pros and cons of gun ownership relative to defending one’s home and family vs safety, they would see an answer or at least be able to discuss it without falling back on stuff like “Most gun owners are responsible people.”

          • BJ
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            “That said, if we could get everyone to take Pinker’s Rationality course (and understand it)”

            Haha, that was a good joke 😀

      • Roger Lambert
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        I think , obviously, that it adds a lot to the discussion if you are thinking about what is the best way to reduce gun violence, and how new gun control laws should be structured.

        The fact that the percentage of guns and gun owners involved in gun violence is vanishingly small seems to me to be pretty darned germane.

        And that will come into play with regard to the Constitutionality of proposed gun control laws. The court looks at that sort of thing.

        • Posted May 29, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          “The fact that the percentage of guns and gun owners involved in gun violence is vanishingly small seems to me to be pretty darned germane.”

          I disagree. This is the “most gun owners are responsible” argument. It is not at issue. We can all stipulate to the number of gun incidents being much smaller than the number of gun owners, though I wouldn’t say “vanishingly small”. The issue is not whether each gun owner is responsible but the statistical fact that some percentage of gun owners will be dangerously irresponsible at some unknown point in the future and we have very few ways to predict which owners and when. In many cases, the gun owner IS responsible, right up to the point where they aren’t. To make this a person responsibility issue purposely misses the point.

          • max blancke
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 4:26 am | Permalink

            It is not irrelevant to the solution that gun violence in the US is largely associated with gang activity.
            What bothers regular gun folks is that almost all proposed laws would heavily impact communities like mine, where there is essentially no gun violence, but would have little or no effect where the problem actually is.

            • GBJames
              Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

              Nonsense.

              Two thirds of gun deaths are self inflicted.

              Half of women killed by guns are victims of domestic violence.

          • Roger Lambert
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            Statistics and percentages DO come into play when gun control laws are examined for Constitutionality.The court looks at these things.

            Example: The SC looks at the popularity of certain gun models and makes decisions on the validity of restrictions based on those percentages.

            IOW, gun control restrictions are dependent on how they impact responsible use. Statistics of responsible use are therefore important.

            Bans on cheap “Saturday night special” models, often used in crimes for example, would be allowed. But Glock 9mm would not be.

            If 50% of gun owners were using Glock 9mm to commit crimes, however, that calculus would no longer apply.

            The fact that virtually zero gun owners are involved with gun violence against another person is therefore highly relevant to future gun control legislation.

            • peter hoffman
              Posted May 30, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

              “Statistics and percentages DO come into play when gun control laws are examined for Constitutionality.”

              And was it the father the son or the holy ghost who was the author of the holy book known as the Constitution? Maybe it should have been added that the number of children killed by guns each year should be no more than, say, 5,000?

        • peter hoffman
          Posted May 30, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

          “The fact that the percentage of guns and gun owners involved in gun violence is vanishingly small seems to me to be pretty darned germane.”

          May I be so bold to suggest that you look at my answer regarding the relevant stats above, under response #14 of Max Blancke.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      … now that the Supreme Court has spoken so explicitly and vigorously about the rights of individuals to own and use guns for their personal protection.

      What we have are two narrow 5-4 decisions extending the Second Amendment to firearm possession by individuals, both cases decided within the last dozen years, based on recent revisionist history (done not by actual historians, but by lawyers and law professors), that leave yet unanswered vast questions regarding the extent of constitutionally permissible firearm regulation.

      • Roger Lambert
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        We have three decisions, none of which are “revisionist”. The previous SC gun cases are a mixed bag at ~ 50/50 split on individual rights.

        And these recent cases are pretty much on the specific topic of individual rights. Most prior cases involve a lot of other issues that complicate the dialectic.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          You’re counting as the third opinion the Court’s per curium (i.e., unsigned) unanimous decision regarding “stun guns” in Caetano v. Massachusetts, which simply assumed, without deciding, the validity of Heller and McDonald?

          I don’t see how anyone can read this, the majority opinion from the Heller, which relies almost exclusively and new academic interpretation of the history of the Second Amendment done within the decade preceding the opinion, as anything but relying upon revisionist historical interpretation. (But if you’d care to venture a different interpretation of the case’s text, I’d be happy to read it.)

          In 230 years of jurisprudence preceding the Heller decision, SCOTUS had never before held unequivocally that the Second Amendment encompasses an individual right to keep and bear firearms, and had suggested several times that it does not.

          Pace your original comment, the Court has not spoken “explicitly and vigorously” on the constitutional right to bear arms — at least not as compared, say, to how it has spoken since 1973 on the right to reproductive freedom established in Roe v. Wade, a right that a substantial portion of the US population refuses to accept as settled.

          • Roger Lambert
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

            I guess we interpret things differently. I have read synopses of all previous SC gun cases. My interpretation: when the issue of individual vs states rights to gun ownership has been relevant and discussed, the cases are split. Neither side can claim the other is “revisionist”.

            The only explicit discussion has been recent, and it draws upon this past history, and also what I would argue is a completely valid interpretation of the 2nd. There has never been a SC case arguing whether the 2nd does not apply to individual rights. The rights of citizens to own guns has never been in question. And an exploration of the discussions behind the scenes of the writing of the Constitution, and BofR only strengthens that interpretation.

  17. phoffman56
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Sorry if you dislike my sarcasm, but

    “If guns……… lead to more deaths of innocents than of malefactors, what reason is there to own them?”

    Here’s a `reason’ in the minds of idiots, which seems to describe fairly well at least 40% on USian adults.

    Members of this set of humans, even more now than 4 months ago, seem to think that the ‘innocent’ deaths of 100,000 people is a matter of far less importance than a non-innocent single death caused by a bad guy.

    After all, that bad guy might be breaking into your house, intent of stealing that half roll of asswipe which formerly had belonged to a celebrity, say Charlton Heston, just before he died (not of constipation AFAIK). And you bought it at auction, thinking you might make a few hundred dollars as the legend of Charlton, who was virtually god anyway, increased beyond bound.

    Furthermore, of that recent 100,000 deaths, not one of them could be even partially attributed to a bad guy, not even to a former reality TV star, chosen by god to lead his chosen people, the one now known to at least some of us as Mass Murderer donald.

  18. darrelle
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    testing

  19. Lee
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    “I’m ashamed to be living in a country so gun-happy, and once again I reiterate my call for not only greater gun control, but very strict gun control along the lines of England and especially Scotland. If guns don’t really protect you from the bad guys, and lead to more deaths of innocents than of malefactors, what reason is there to own them?”

    Guns, and the thought of owning them and the power they confer, are a powerful stimulant. They can easily make a person forget how truly mediocre they are and give them the idea that they are a hero, a patriot, someone standing betwixt a rogue government and all that is worth saving. And unlike Samwise Gamgee who fell temporarily under the power of Sauron’s ring, they have no innate common sense to realize this as a deception. They end up acting like fools and people end up getting hurt.

    It brings to mind the words of George MacDonald: “I learned that he that will be a hero will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is assured of his manhood.”

    There are too many hero-wannabes in this land who can barely read past the fourth grade level.

  20. Colin McLachlan
    Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    trying to sub.

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      I can’t seem to get back my WordPress bar across the top, where it shows me logged in, and with the bell icon to show replies to any posts I make. I’ll keep trying, and apologies for all the “sub” posts


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