Here’s an interesting graph of guns versus gun deaths (click this sentence to follow the link).
After reading what the author had to say, I must confess the simplicity of his presentation makes for a very strong argument.
I had to seriously ask myself the obvious question, “Do more guns cause more gun deaths?”
The chart certainly suggests that.
After a little serious reflecting on the situation, however, I realized that at least some of what the chart shows would also be the other way around.
That is, once there is “death by gun”, then you will have people buying guns. They will do so to defend themselves and the chart would look exactly the same.
Because of gun deaths, people buy guns.
One of my guns, my “carry”, was bought for that very reason.
I carry it to protect myself.
And I pray — I really do — that I will never have to use it for that purpose.
It’s a five-shot Smith and Wesson revolver. It fits comfortably in my right front pocket. And yes, before you ask, I have a permit even though that is not required in Arizona.
This gun is solely for self defense, not for fun. I practice with it, yes, but only as much as I need to be sure I can handle it safely and shoot it accurately.
But it’s not fun to shoot.
It’s small, very light, and because of that, the recoil is substantial. That’s a rule: the lighter the gun, the bigger the recoil. It hurts my hand to shoot it. It is not pleasant. Also, with its tiny little barrel, the “bang” is exceedingly loud. Even with hearing protection — double plugged — it is still very loud.
Remember the tiny little “pip-squeek” of a gun in the first Men in Black movie that knocked him over when he fired it? Well, this one is like that. It is not fun to shoot.
I bought that gun strictly for self defense.
Gun deaths motivated that gun.
Guns and gun deaths are related, but not solely by the fact that more guns lead to gun deaths. In my case at least, the opposite is true.
Gun deaths also cause more guns.
That part is circular.
Are there some other “not obvious” contributors? Contributors that are not circular in nature?
Well, how about individual freedom? Does the fact that you could buy a gun mean there are more guns in circulation?
What about affluence? If you have more spendable income, is it more likely you will buy a gun? What if we look at people who have lots of guns? I think we could say that, yes, affluence is a contributor to guns. Even if those rich people with lots of guns kept them locked up in their safes so they never cause any gun deaths, affluence is still going to give us more guns.
The chart would look the same.
Does the presence of 50 states who sometimes resist the efforts of one federal government make some kind of contribution to the number of guns? Second Amendment supporters would certainly say, “Of course!”
But are they making more gun deaths?
I will grant you that the potential is there, and that in our current political climate, there are many who are thinking about just such an eventuality. Let’s all please work to make sure that doesn’t happen.
But what about alcohol consumption, the tonnage of illegal Marijuana and worse narcotics captured at the border, and the rates of incarceration, and divorce in America? Are they going to increase the number of guns?
Without a doubt, yes.
And in those cases, gun deaths are perpetrated using those guns.
But remember there are also a lot of guns that aren’t ever used to cause gun death.
“Some (A), not B;” to go back to the graphic I used at the beginning of this article. Some of those guns out there do not lead to gun deaths.
The bottom line is this.
A gun is a tool and, yes, it can be used to kill people. It happens. No question about it.
But it is also true that there are many additional contributors to gun deaths. “Crazy people” is one. “Criminals” is another. Those seeking a final flash of infamy are another.
Guns and gun deaths are related but one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. Indeed, sometimes the opposite is true as in the case of my carry weapon. And there are many other “causes” that lead to gun deaths that are not related to the number of guns.
I know that may be hard for some to believe.
So, look at Chicago.
The number of guns in that city is very low and yet the number of gun deaths is very high. Horribly high!
Chicago reduced the number of guns in circulation but the rate of death by guns is terribly high.
Do I need to point out that reducing the number of guns isn’t working there?
In Chicago, “gun deaths” are not related to the number of guns in that city. Reducing the number of guns in Chicago isn’t helping.
Guns are not the problem.