“We’ve grown up around firearms. We know the safety and we practice it.”

Yet the 11-year old girl lies in a coma, the bullet removed from her brain on Friday, with a poor prognosis.

Maddy Montanye was shot in the head on Thursday by her father, Jesse.

Jesse’s .22 caliber pistol had jammed, and he was trying to get it unjammed while sitting in the living room across from his daughter. That’s when the weapon discharged and the bullet penetrated Maddy’s head. Several other family members where in the home at the time, but were not injured.

For reasons that are not yet clear, it took 45 minutes to airlift Maddy to the Hennepin County Medical Center. The hospital is about a 55 minute drive from the home. That will have to be investigated.

Surgeons removed the bullet and have removed part of her skull in order to relieve pressure on her brain. She is in critical condition.

In the state of Minnesota, in a typical year, about 700 or so people will end up with a bullet somewhere in their body. Gun proponents will tell you that some of these are criminals shot by law abiding gun owners who were defending their homes from armed invaders. But the truth is, almost none of them are. Indeed, about half of those injured are shot in a similar manner to the little fifth grader up in Pine County; They are shot and wounded or killed because of the accidental discharge of a firearm.

So in order to preserve our ability to kill someone who enters our home, who we believe, perhaps correctly, perhaps incorrectly, to not belong there and whose presence we believe requires their immediate death, we have adopted a system in which about 0.007%
of our population is shot yearly for no good reason. The total murder rate in Minnesota for this time period is roughly 0.0022%, and that includes ALL murders, a tiny portion of which are related to home invasions.

If you are a man over the age of 20 you are more likely to be one of the gun owners; You can have your toy and not suffer the consequences. Most of the people who are shot by accident are children between the ages of 10 and 19. (Some of the injuries are hunting accidents, of course.) Of course, you may consider the accidental shooting of your child to be a problem. A problem, perhaps, you should have thought of before you purchased the gun to begin with.

The available reports do not indicate if the pistol was registered or if any incidents like this one have happened in this home previously.

The gun had been malfunctioning, [Uncle] Jason Montanye said…. “We’ve grown up around firearms,” he said. “We know the safety and we practice it.”


No you don”t, Jason. Most gun owners say what you say. How many of them are also wrong?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn

55 thoughts on ““We’ve grown up around firearms. We know the safety and we practice it.”

  1. You make several statements of fact. Where are the good sources of documentation for these and many of the other assertions in this debate? My efforts to explore it by exploring data keep hitting the walls of one or the other points of view.

  2. A couple of errors (typos?). Young Maddy is 11 years old, not 5, She is in the fifth grade.

    the weapon ischarged

    was probably meant to be

    the weapon discharged


    if the pistol was registered for if any

    should probably be

    if the pistol was registered or if any

    Pedantic points to be sure, but errors like this can cause people to doubt the veracity of the source maing them.
    Or at least give them an excuse to dismiss it if it disagrees with their deeple held beliefs.

  3. “The source maing (sic) them?” … “Deeple (sic) held beliefs?” Whats the name of the law that says anyone correcting spelling on the internet will inevitably misspell themselves? 🙂

    Truely a sad story and one that repeats itself with all too much frequency in the US. Hopefully the young lady will recover and the uncle prosecuted.

  4. Robert, thanks for pointing out the errors. I actually hit “publish” rather than “draft” by accident, prior to yet another trip to the Laundry room. Not that I don’t normally add a few errors to my blog posts.

    But seriously, if one wishes to question the veracity of a source because of a typo, then one needs to get one’s priorities in place. That would more likely result from wanting to distract from the essential points that one may not want to accept or believe.

    Steve: That is often a problem in this debate. My statements of fact are sourced by the link provided. It is true that it is hard to get solid comparable and consistent information on gun ownership and related issues. This is, in my view, largely because it is a highly polarized debate and both sides have an interest in obscuring some of the facts, or at least, both sides have facts” that they wish were true but aren’t necessarily true.

    Here are links to blog posts that have in part been efforts to lay out some of the relevant information:

    See this list of posts: http://tinyurl.com/4fztl3e

    Especially these, many with extensive discussion: http://tinyurl.com/4axwykt http://tinyurl.com/3jg4b9c http://tinyurl.com/26ntosn http://tinyurl.com/27gpmjx http://tinyurl.com/y3a3egg http://tinyurl.com/3bmv4le

    And then these highly informative analyses: http://tinyurl.com/65are5v and http://tinyurl.com/44zp7fy

  5. Let’s go back 47 years, when the National Safety Council estimated there were more than 6,000 accidental gun deaths a year in the United States. Gun sales have averaged 75 million a decade for the last five decades, so more than twice as many guns are in circulation now than there were in 1964.

    Yet, the Census pegs total number of accidental gun deaths in the United States at just 650 a year, with 450 of those hunting accidents – and less than fifty of those children under 16. That is the science. Now let’s talk about culture.

    Safety is part of the “gun culture.” The hunter safety courses gun owners demanded have dropped the annual number of fatal hunting accidents from 4,000 a year to 450. The annual number of accidental childhood gun deaths has declined by more than 600%, from 1,300 a year to less than 50 since the National Rifle Association started teaching children who see a gun to stop what they are doing and go get an adult. Safety IS an integral part of America’s “gun culture.”

    We live in a society that could arm each of its citizens twice over. Yet the total number of American gun deaths by homicide, suicide, and accident is about the same as several major cities, Caracas and Rio de Janeiro among them. Cities that are almost totally disarmed by law.

    The facts are simple enough. Scientifically speaking, more guns result in fewer deaths. Culturally speaking, I will have to resort to a one word Russian phrase for those who deny that. “Nyakultura.”


  6. Stranger, talking about safety is part of gun culture. Practicing safety varies. Please do read the original post, where I make that point.

    Regarding changes in gun deaths over the decades there is an element missing in your data: From the 1960s to the present the chances of dying from anything traumatic has gone way way down because of methods of medical intervention. It is difficult to sort this out… eg. with auto deaths, we’ve added seat belts, air bags, other safety devices, lowered speed limits, all of which adds to fewer deaths per accident, but we’ve also learned how to save the life of many people that were originally left for dead.

    In regards to guns, guns have probably gotten more dangerous over this course of time, but intervention has probably gotten more effective. I’m not sure how one would make the adjustments, but I am pretty sure that rates of death are not useful across these decades.

    Also, referring back to the original post, we’re talking about injury, not death.

    And, I’ll save everyone a little time: Eventually this is going to come down to one issue: Being held responsible for allowing kids to get access to the guns you own at home. In the year you cite, 2000, 16,586 people, many children, killed themselves with firearms (another 300 or so tried but failed).

  7. I think this quote from the link sums up the problem pretty well;
    “Richard Stock teaches firearm safety classes in the metro through the state Department of Natural Resources. When he hears of accidental shootings, “it almost always boils down to you’re not following the fundamentals of firearm safety,” he said. “Always know where your gun is pointing and always treat is like it’s loaded.”

    People get careless and often shoot themselves or others while “cleaning” a loaded gun, or fiddling around with one as in this case. People can be charged for reckless driving, why not have some type of penalty for reckless firearm handling? Perhaps some type of penalty in addition to safety classes would give people a little more incentive to be more careful, and perhaps remove firearms from those who prove that they can’t handle them safely.

  8. Mike at #10 probably made the most telling comment of all. Number of deaths, percentage of deaths or injuries, number of firearms, rights, safety and all that is pretty much irrelevant.

    In the living room with children present is NOT the place to fix a malfunctioning firearm. “We know the safety and we practice it.” Bullshit.


  9. Vene: “Yes, Stranger, it’s totally fair to compare a developing nation to a first world nation.”

    Unless, of course, one wants to pretend that one’s own country is “superior” and the other country full of “primitives”, instead of admitting both are filled with human beings.

    There are plenty of countries with “gun cultures” which have nowhere near the same number of deaths from “accidents”, not even on a percentage basis: England, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, among others. Deaths from domestically owned firearms are too often labelled “accidents” in the same way car “accidents” are: people not willing to take responsiblity for their actions.

    If one drives fast in winter, it’s not the snow or ice to blame for a crash, it’s the driver not driving safely in the conditions. And if one cleans a weapon in a living room with others around, it’s not an “accident” if someone gets shot. It was stupidity and carelessness, an unwillingness to think ahead and take steps toward safety.

    There was an workplace poster slogan I saw once, and it still rings true:

    “Safety is no accident”


  10. ..and yet, in the CA Bay Area, we have had three recent accidental deaths of, or by small children, caused by handguns that I can immediately call to mind. Not all gun owners are responsible. And the reason we do not prosecute the gun deaths the way we prosecute reckless driving can be summarized with: NRA…

  11. “Rio de Janeiro” – “Cities that are almost totally disarmed by law.”

    Hey, they got a job for you at the favelas; mainly to tell the gangs there (who are so heavily armed that regular police don’t go there in at all and the special forces only go in inside armed carriers) that they are, as of now, totally disarmed. By law, goddamnit.

  12. In the state of Minnesota, in a typical year, about 700 or so people will end up with a bullet somewhere in their body…
    we have adopted a system in which about half a percent of our population is shot yearly for no good reason.

    Uh, do the math. If 700 people are shot and that is 0.5% of the population, then the population is (200)(700) = 140,000. According to Wikipedia, the population of Minnesota is ~5.3 million, so it’s 0.0013% which over an average lifespan, will give you a 0.1% chance of being shot.

    Stranger, you’re comparing apples to oranges applesauce to bushels of apples.


    …and perhaps remove firearms from those who prove that they can’t handle them safely.

    Good luck getting that one past the gun fetishists 2nd Amendment worshipers NRA.

  13. “Scientifically speaking, more guns result in fewer deaths”

    From what I can tell, the actual relationship between guns and deaths is far more complicated than simple cause and effect. I’m not a statistician, but I use statistics in my own research enough to recognize when an argument is well or poorly framed, and whether the statistical methods used are appropriate. The arguments presented to support statements like the one above have a number of flaws in them. By far the best predictor of crime rates is poverty, and since poverty rates have trended downward since the 60’s it’s reasonable that crime rates would also fall. This has nothing to do with guns. There are also spatial flaws in the arguments about guns and crime. The spatial unit of analysis tends to be states, but states are not homogenous samples. If you look more closely at the pattern of increased guns sales, they tend to be in places where crime rates were lower to begin with — suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. So, how can increased gun ownership be preventing crime, when the increases are not in the places where crimes tend to occur? It was noted that gun sales have increased, but is there evidence that gown onwership rates have increased? Is it just the same people who already owned guns acquiring more? I’ve read a lot of the literature on this, and even used some of it in my courses on data analysis. My take on it is that it has yet to be demonstrated that guns andor gun ownership have any effect on crime rates or deaths, one way or another. I’m sure this won’t stop any one with an ideological axe to grind from using whatever results support their position, whether robust or not.

  14. And to clarify, I also don’t think there is any relationship between gun purchases and gown ownership, despite what I wrote above. Guns and gowns are related only by my poor typing and proofreading skills.

  15. “There are plenty of countries with “gun cultures” which have nowhere near the same number of deaths from “accidents”, not even on a percentage basis: England, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, among others.”

    Australia doesn’t gave a gun culture: firearm ownership and use is very heavily regulated and quite rare. handguns must be stored at firing ranges: they are never legally in homes. Rifles are rare: in my 30-odd years I’ve known maybe half a dozen people who own them, and many of those were in the military.

  16. The father was irresponsible. Simple as that. The firearm (and gun owners in general) cannot be blamed.

    I’m pretty sure the gun owners who fight tooth and nail any effort to keep guns out of the hands of the irresponsible can be blamed.

  17. Why won’t Congress allow the CDC to collect the data needed to fully determine the public health impact of firearms? Gun worshippers don’t want to know the truth.

  18. Most of the accidental firearm-related deaths or injuries I read or hear about in the news are when one child playing with a parent’s gun shoots themself or another child. These can be traced to a) improperly secured guns, or b) children not properly trained to respect the deadliness of guns.

    In either case the parents have been irresponsible.

    (I include the recent case in which a boy took a gun to school, where it fell out of his backpack and discharged.)

  19. Hey chris- well DUH. I have been posting a lot about people owning dangerous animals on my blog and I get the same answer about when a dog kills or disfigures- “well, they were obviously being irresponsible owners”. That’s nice to know and all, but punishing irresponsible people doesn’t bring people back to life/un-disfigure someone so what good does it do to point that out? The fact is that there will ALWAYS be irresponsible people, so what do you propose we do about that reality?

  20. Skeptifem: I think that we should do, in part, what I’m trying to do (perfectly natural for me to think that, I suppose…): Change the culture.

    The current culture is to treat the culprit as a victim. Daddy loves his toys. Daddy does not secure his toys. Junior loves daddy’s toys to and wants to be like Daddy, gets pistol from unlocked drawer, accidentally kills one year old and self.

    Social response: Poor daddy.

    Daddy has suffered enough. Police will not consider charging daddy, reporters will not ask the tough questions (were those guns locked up or not? Do you have other guns that are not locked up?) Society will not legislate to protect other children form the daddies, etc. etc.

    When we say on a blog somewhere (i.e., here, now) that daddy is responsible in part for the child’s death, that is irrelevant. Daddy does not act like he is responsible, the police don’t treat him that way, his friends and family do not treat him as responsible.

    When, in Germany, a young boy easily accessed his daddy’s illegal firearms collection, took weapons to school and killed a bunch of people, the German authorities charged daddy with a major crime. Many Americans at the time opined that “he has surely suffered enough.”

    There are several aspects of crime and punishment, responsibility, victimhood and criminality that are almost always deeply misunderstood by almost all Americans.

  21. I had to listen to my idiot brother in law complain that the 25 shot clip he wants is illegal in NYS. He just retired from the NYPD and is boo hooing that he has to fill out a gun permit. Even the NYPD doesn’t have 25 shot clips but somehow, in his small little mind, he needs that. Gun culture is scary. I have no problem with gun ownership AND gun control. Cleaning your jammed gun in your living room is a recipe for disaster and dude (not his child) deserves a Darwin award.

  22. “Among children ages 5 to 9, motor vehicle occupant injury is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, followed by pedestrian injury, drowning, fire and burns, and bicycle injury. Among children ages 10 to 14, motor vehicle occupant injury is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, followed by pedestrian injury, drowning, fire and burns, and bicycle injury.” (This is from preventinjury.org). So gun related deaths are not in the top 5. But when a child dies on a bicycle because the parents did not require the child to wear a safety helmet, it does not spark a blog entry denigrating the parents and the bicycle. Despite all the safety equipment on motor vehicles, motor vehicle occupant injury remains the leading cause of death in this age group. Should we vilify the car or truck and the parents in each case through a blog? The subject of firearms evoke emotions and blinds people to a rational discussion of the issues.

  23. @Greg (#4)
    I agree that focussing on trivial errors as an excuse to avoid uncomfortable facts is just that, an excuse. I didnâ??t mean to diminish your point. I was instead hoping to reduce some of that ammunition.

    @Eric (#3)
    Guilty as charged 🙂 Fortunately no-one cares about my comment.

    Unlike, I hope, Greg’s post.

    I see this as an example of the blindness we can all have about habitual behaviours that are close to our hearts. I am sure this family believes that they are safe and conscientious gun owners and that this is just a tragic accident. Other gun owners will say (have said above) that this is just one irresponsible person, not a cultural issue at all.

    But I suspect the problem is more one of normalisation. When owing and using having guns is unexceptional, then people will become careless. This probably isn’t a particularly irresponsible person, although to my mind trying to un-jam a gun in the living room sounds pretty irresponsible. Rather, I suspect this is a person who has become too accustomed to the gun in his everyday life, and forgot that he was handling a deadly killing device.

    The more guns are made to feel like a part of everyday life, the more such ‘accidents’ will occur. This is a common finding in occupational health and safety in industry, and probably holds in the home as well. It is a phenomenon so well known we even have a proverb:
    Familiarity breeds contempt.

  24. As someone who grew up in a ‘gun culture’ as it was, I have mixed feelings on a lot of this and understand it is not a black and white issue. And while I’m not going to provide numbers, I can at least talk about what it was like.

    I lived in the country of Texas. It wasn’t too deep into it (lived on the outskirt of a town and was an hour away from a larger city), but my grandparents who I often visited lived on a farm with a few thousand head of cattle and the nearest anything was about 2 hours away.

    Guns out here were important. Hunting was about the only activity out there (and I went and I enjoyed duck hunting and it taught me a very deep respect for nature and for animals). And a lot of people used it as a food source. Poverty is very common in the country and not everyone owned land or cows. But they did have a gun and you went and if you shot something, you ate it. That, of course, came with that came shotguns and rifles. I never really handled a handgun until much later.

    And then there was home protection. Not just from people, but from animals. Mostly stray dogs. Rabies was rare (but I know my father shot a rabid dog once), but packs of stray dogs attacking cattle or other animals was not uncommon and you had to chase them off or lose your animals.

    As far as people. The nearest police station was often a good ways away (least for my grandparents). And people do get things in their head. My mother had a man stalking her when she was young and the reason it stopped was because her father threatened the man with a gun. Even recently in that area have been a number of break ins that the police can’t get there fast enough to deal with (they haven’t hurt anyone, yet). They aren’t, however, break into houses if they know the owners have a gun.

    I would even say my mother’s life was saved once because a man thought she had a gun. Someone trapped her on an upramp of a highway and got out of the car and started to come toward hers, but her glove compartment opened and she closed it… he left.

    All of that said, I’ve seen my fair bit of stupid. My uncle shot out a tv.. same situation of cleaning a gun.. my father, however, always cleaned his guns outside, away from everyone and learned from professionals how to unjam them safely. And we were taught never to touch them, never to point them at others, ect. He also went out and practiced with the shotgun, to really be comfortable with it.

    We only hear about the morons with guns, rather than the people who are doing it right. I think the people doing it right outnumber the ones doing it wrong. It doesn’t excuse what they did, but I’m not sure I can justify blaming everyone for a few or thinking everyone who owns a gun is a backwater uneducated idiot.

    Should we punish people who shoot others with negligent? I don’t know. It’s already a bad situation. If it would wake people up a little more, then I can get behind it, but if it just causes more grief then no, I couldn’t.. I just can’t imagine shooting your own kid, there wouldn’t be much worse you could do to them.

    More training before people are given a gun? Maybe. Require people who own handguns to go to firing ranges for a certain amount of time a year? Might help, but would be impossible/difficult to enforce.

    Shotguns are bought for hunting mostly. And that’s a different story, one I do support, but I’m not going there.

    Handguns are mostly where I see the accidental shootings at or where I see the of the debate. I’ve heard the line of, shotguns/rifles are for shooting animals, handguns are for shotting people. And that’s something I can understand.

    I know that it’s impossible to measure how many people’s lives were saved because someone thought they had a gun or because they did have a gun (and I have heard stories of this).

    It’s also impossible to predict what would happen if we made gun ownership illegal (such as, would only the criminals have guns? Would knives become the primary weapon of choice of people who want to commit crimes? Or would crime rate drop? Would it make police safer? ect). And we can look around the world and find examples of every situation we want to invent.

    I personally think the solution is going to be harder than no guns/guns for all. But what that solution is? I don’t know. I do know our current method isn’t working. People who shouldn’t get guns are still getting them and people who are more responsible are having to take the heat for it too.

    Yes, my husband and I own guns. A shotgun, a handgun (that I can’t use anyway because I can’t cock it), and some antic rifles just because they are antics. I like target practice. I like hunting (but I don’t do that anymore) and I’m not the only one.

    And that’s a lot of what you’re up against when someone says that guns should be illegal. It’s not just ‘ho ho, I have a gun’ mentality by a bunch of idiots. Statically, at least half of the people who live anywhere have to be over average intelligence (I’m not saying they apply it well, though – hillbillies really do exist).

    It’s a tool for a lot of people, something they depend on for food and protection… and that really hits home for these people when someone says ‘guns should be illegal’ and shows how disconnected people who say this are from people who have to live it.

    And that’s why, for me, I have mixed feelings on it all.

  25. Oh, and to Greg as I see I took forever in posting. Yes, we do have the cultural response of ‘poor daddy’, and that does unsettle me a bit.

    Some shaming wouldn’t be bad. And getting the father of the kid who shot up the school, that I’m for. I wondered that about the kids who shot up schools here in the US. Where are the parents and why aren’t they taking some of the blame here?

    But for shotting a friend/child/whatever for cleaning a gun? Like I said, I can’t imagine much worse to do to that person than that guilt. And that’s that culture, I know it. (Though, if I was his wife, I’d divorce him…)

    So, I guess the question becomes, what should we do to them? How far should the punishment go for people who misuse guns and cause a death of someone else?

  26. Raptor, we are having a parallel conversation on my facebook page about the overall question of what society should do to which people when they do something. My view: The current criminal justice system is very unfair and arbitrary, somewhat random but also very biased. People often forget to ask the question “but should we really put people in jail at all for this sort of crime” when we are talking, say, about dark skinned youths messing with drugs, or perhaps, when we are talking about gang violence. But when we are talking about good old boys, suddenly we wonder if jail is the right thing to do. (I’m not saying that YOU are being biased here … I’m sahying the entire conversation is almost always biased, not so much by what we are saying, but by what we are NOT saying.)

  27. You write that …”in the state of Minnesota, in a typical year, about 700 or so people will end up with a bullet somewhere in their body.” but “about half a percent of our population is shot yearly for no good reason. ”

    But half a percent (1/200) of the population of Minnesota (>5 million) is 25,000 people, not 700.

    Unless I’m missing something…

  28. Reminds me of a co-worker. He was a firearms safety instructor and claimed to be an expert marksman.

    Funny that. He shot his son last year and is now serving 20 years. Hit him once out of 7 tries from 12-inch range.

    I have been around guns all my life, though I no longer hunt or own guns. I have heard gun nuts say how safe and sound they are.

    I never believe them. Too many corpses in my past with lead in them.

  29. Oh no, I get that. And I agree. That whole story of the break ins out there in the country side…My family personally thinks there might be some good old boy stuff going on there with why the police are late showing up and not seeming to take it seriously. No proof, so all speculation.

    The good old boy thing drives me up the wall and yeah, we’ve a nutty legal system that certainly needs help. I’m not disagreeing with any of that.

    I guess what I’m against is that often in these debates people forget guns are tools (and weapons, yes, which is what gets people shot), ones that still have use today. From feral dogs to muggings, people justify why they need to have/carry a gun.. and some of the reasons can’t be just ‘you’re being paranoid about it’ away.

    This also makes me wonder, how many women disproportional carry hand guns because of how dangerous it is for women to live/work/walk through certain areas of this country? I know I would get my carry and conceal in those situations.

    Paranoia? Probably, but I also know that mace doesn’t work against certain people on certain drugs and tazers have one shot. Yet, I can’t deny the stories I’ve heard of people having these encounters with thugs and putting that gun not so much to use, but just the idea of a woman having a gun is what stops them… rather than you know, laws.

    (Truthfully, that sort of line of thought sickens/scares me. The very idea that there might be men out there who mean women harm but are only stopped because the woman might fight back by shooting them. – I can’t prove it, just go on personal stories, but I can’t help not come to that conclusion).

    So yeah, be interesting to see what you guys come up with over there.

  30. Intercoastal: The only thing you missed is that this was fixed in the comments already. I suppose I should go fix the original post, and I will when I get a chance.

  31. Despite all the safety equipment on motor vehicles, motor vehicle occupant injury remains the leading cause of death in this age group. Should we vilify the car or truck and the parents in each case through a blog?

    You know, it’s funny, because if guns had anywhere near the restrictions, licensing requirements, and mandatory safety features cars do, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  32. You know, it’s funny, because if guns had anywhere near the restrictions, licensing requirements, and mandatory safety features cars do, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    I would love to have a pistol with a seat belt or maybe some airbags.

  33. Here’s a view from over the pond.

    It’s nice that hand guns are illegal in most of Europe. There is no feeling of “oh my gosh he might have a gun” when accosted by a stranger (unless you are in the very few badland areas of a few large cities). I cannot think of any good reason why any ordinary person should own a hand gun. Target shooting, OK, but that’s not a reason for having one at home rather than storing it on the range, and then it should be a unglamorous target pistol, not a macho penis-enhancer.

    Shotguns and rifles are far less of an issue because they are typically used for the appropriate purposes (and only hunting style gear is available, not AK47 knock-offs).

    Safety bothers me. One reason I do not want any guns in my house is the fear that one day I might do something stupid with one, whether through carelessness, drink, anger, insanity, whatever. Without a gun, I cannot shoot anybody (including myself), either deliberately or accidentally. No gun is ALWAYS safer than a gun.

    Also on safety: it doesn’t matter how many safety courses people go on, some will still fail to follow basic safety measures, perhaps through over-familiarity or contempt for the rules (“I know what I’m doing”), or forgetfulness and simple mis-judgements (“oh yes, I suppose I shouldn’t have been doing that there”).

    As I said: no gun is ALWAYS safer than a gun.

  34. I feel like gun ownership is the perfect example of the internal struggle between rationality and emotion. Because emotionally, having been on the receiving end of violent crime in the past, I know the terrifying powerless of realizing that you are at someone else’s mercy with no real way to protect yourself. It’s a horrible feeling, and it’s easy to think that if only you had a weapon, you would never have to worry about being powerless like that again.

    On the other hand, rationally speaking, I live in a safe place, and violent crime is rare. The odds of it ever happening to me again are slim, and even if it did, the probability that owning a gun would improve the outcome is vanishingly tiny. Despite this, it’s all too easy to focus on the fears, rather than reality.

  35. I’m a part of the ‘gun culture’, but I’ll be first in line to send that idiot to jail. And yes, he’s an idiot.

    Greg, your snarky comment about asteroids and dinosaurs is well meant, but still incorrect. I never see a post on a driver falling asleep at the wheel and killing a kid here. I never see a post on a drunk guy killing his wife with a 9-iron here.

    I understand that you don’t like guns and that’s fine. I also think that you recognize your own biases. I think that’s fair.

    If we lived in a society that was safe. Where no one had guns (of course, then fights would just come down to who is stronger and women would generally lose a lot more than they win) and there were no criminals and no fear… then I’d be fine without guns.

    Honestly, I’d probably be fine without them anyway. I’ve never been accosted where I needed one. My home’s never been broken into.

    I guess my real question is… when you take away the right to own something that can be percieved as dangerous… well… what do you want to take away next? Cars are extrememly dangerous (and despite the snark, the point is still valid). When do you want those taken away? What about knives? Do I get to keep my pocket knife? Oh wait, the TSA has already taken that away from me. What about rope and twine? Do you know how easy is it to strangle someone with rope or twine?

    Are guns dangerous? Yes. Are their idiots with guns? Yes. And the majority of gun owners live their entire lives without accidentally killing someone. In my family there are 9 people who own guns, one is retired law enforcement, there are 3 former military, 1 gun store owner, several dozen target and skeet shooting trophies, and probably enough firearms and ammunition to completely freak you out. And yet, not a single one of these people, in the last 60 years has ever killed or injured anyone, or even had an accidental discharge.

    I don’t blame cars or the ‘drunk’ culture when someone gets killed in a vehicle accident. How about you not blame guns or ‘gun culture’ when someone gets killed by a gun. Put the blame were it belongs.

  36. Greg, your snarky comment about asteroids and dinosaurs is well meant, but still incorrect. I never see a post on a driver falling asleep at the wheel and killing a kid here. I never see a post on a drunk guy killing his wife with a 9-iron here.

    This does not make any sense at all. You seem to be suggesting that the validity of a particular argument I make depends on whether or not I blog about other, unrelated topics to comply with some sort of balancing act among topics.

    I understand that you don’t like guns and that’s fine.

    That is unequivocally untrue. Where do you think all the deer and wild birds I eat comes from?

    I guess my real question is… when you take away the right to own something that can be percieved as dangerous… well… what do you want to take away next?

    I’ve never made the argument (other than now and then to taunt someone but never seriously) that gun ownership should be taken away as a right.

    Cars are extrememly dangerous (and despite the snark, the point is still valid). When do you want those taken away?

    They are indeed, as are asteroids as is hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. That we understand and address dangers of cars is true but does not impinge on the discussion about problems with gun safety.

    (And, by the way, I’ve been writing about car safety lately as well, since we’ve had a rash of pedestrians run over by cars around here lately.)

    If cars were treated by regulatory agencies and society today as guns are, or to be more exact, if the NRA philosophy of gun safety and ownership rights were applied to cars, there would be no seat belts, air bags, improvements in braking systems, laws regarding traffic safety, and it wouldn’t be possible to give someone a ticket for speeding or driving recklessly.

    It is actually hard to compare cars and guns because they are so vastly different in so many ways. Please don’t argue that I said something about cars that is not comparable to firearms. I’m arguing that the comparison is generally invalid, and I was not the one who brought up cars. But, since you brought up cars, I’ll bring up toasters. If we applied a fraction of the thoughtful consideration of safety that we apply to cars and toasters to firearms the numbers on this table [ http://tinyurl.com/3mpgo2e ] would shift. If we called the argument that there are too many illegal guns anyway so why regulate their ownership or transfer what it is (irrelevant defeatist drivel) and regulated sales and ownership properly, other numbers on that table would shift. And so on.

    Do you know how easy is it to strangle someone with rope or twine?

    Compared to putting the barrel of a loaded gun to their skull and pulling the trigger? Much, much more difficult.

    And the majority of gun owners live their entire lives without accidentally killing someone.

    My ex mother in law owned a gun for 30 years and nothing bad ever happened. In fact, she forgot she even owned the gun. I discovered it one day when she asked me to get something out of a drawer (that was well within reach of my daughter, a young child at the time) … I believe it was place mats she wanted me to get. I dug a little deeper than expected for the place mats, pulled out a wad of them and the 32 caliber, loaded, came rattling to the floor.

    The reason so many people don’t fuck up with their guns is not necessarily because they know what they are doing.It is because of dumb, stupid luck.

    Did you read the post? Read the title of the post. It’s a quote. Read the words in the post. It’s a story. Read the end of the post. It ties the story back to the quote.

    You can tell me all you want about how you and your family are just fine owning guns. I don’t care. Do you know that the vast majority of American drivers will say, if asked, that they are above average drivers?

    I want it to be real. You don’t. You’re wrong. Eventually, I’ll make you do it the way I want you to do it. You may as well give up now and join us. You say you have achieved gun-safety nirvana, but you have no basis for saying that, no proof it is true, and no one else does either. All I’m asking for is to take that step, which would in turn allow us to weed out the chaff. What do I mean by “the chaff”? Read the post.

    I don’t blame cars or the ‘drunk’ culture when someone gets killed in a vehicle accident.

    I get that. I get that you have no clue. The rest of society, however, has gone ahead and blamed “drunk culture” for many auto deaths and the rate of auto deaths has dropped dramatically because of new laws and regulation and enforcement. Guns are next. Society is shifting in that direction.

    Put the blame were it belongs.

    I do. The philosophy you spout is the problem. Time to change.

  37. Why wouldn’t you blame cars and the “drunk” culture when someone is killed in a vehicle accident? We DO have a culture of “i only had a few” and “i drive better when i’m drunk than most people do sober” and “i am only a few blocks from home” and “Joe will follow me and make sure I get home ok” and that is something to stamp out.

    Also, as a bicyclist, I do want to reduce the cars on the road and I do blame the car culture of the US for bicycle related deaths.

  38. TJ @46: That’s a bit of a false equivalence. We do not have a culture that glorifies drunk driving, but we most certainly do have a culture that glorifies hipshot, derring-do casualness with ludicrously overpowered weaponry. There is a bit of a nod-and-wink attitude toward drunk driving, but it’s hardly the focus of 90-minute blockbuster action movies.

    Are there too many cars on the road driven by idiots that have no self-control? Indubitably. Must that change? Without question. And think about this – it’s actually harder for them to legally obtain and drive a car, than it is for most people to legally obtain a gun.

  39. Greg, please don’t paint the situation in Germany too bright.
    The father of the school-shooting kid got off lightly and in fact, the regulation that made it possible to charge him in the first place was only introduced some years ago after another school shooting. As a tiny sensible fraction of a totally “apear to be doing something about things” stupid law. Seriously, it made it legal to buy a sword on a medieval fair but not to carry it around afterwards…

    But yes, I think there’s more to guns and deaths as just “ownership”.
    Looking at some statistics I found some interesting numbers about the number of killings compared to the number of guns owned.
    While in very poor countries with high crime rates few guns are used for a large number of killings, in the first world, the numbers vary a lot. While in Germany, with quite some regulation and a rather “no guns in public” culture, there are about 150.000 weapons for each gun-related murder, it’s only 26.000 for the USA.

    As for the car/bike analogy: please somebody explain to me how the risks of gun-ownership relates to the benefits and then compare that to risk/benefit analysis of cars.

  40. Oh, forgot something:
    I think that the car-analogy works well in one area: how a change in culture reflects in more safety.
    20 years ago, if you got caught drunk driving, you’d get pity. Poor you, so unlucky, doesn’t the police have any real criminals to catch? Even if you had an accident you’d still get sympathy.
    Kids in the car and no adequate seat (even long after they’d been introduced)? Oh, surely nothing will happen on that short trip. If things did happen, it was tragic.
    Those things have changed, both have become totally unacceptable. You will not get sympathy, you’ll get anger. I think that most of Europe has a kind of similar attitude towards guns, we don’t consider them anything that’s handled in public or in a living-room. Just like there are special items to transport kids in, there are special places to handle firearms.
    And I feel that for the USA, to change that attitude will be very hard

  41. As for the car/bike analogy: please somebody explain to me how the risks of gun-ownership relates to the benefits and then compare that to risk/benefit analysis of cars.

    I’m not sure it relates at all.

    Do you have sources for those numbers, they’re very interesting. I’ve seen similar things.

    In canada, there are like 10 million people 50 million guns and no one ever shoots anyone.

    I think the attitude in the US is changing and can change.

  42. I think there is a parallel between gun culture and car culture, and that parallel is simple: entitlement.

    People think they are entitled to own a gun, and entitled to drive. Getting a license is easier than graduating high school. I personally don’t know anyone who doesn’t have their driver’s license. The longest I’ve ever heard of licenses being revoked is 5 years. That’s because North American culture frames driving as a right, rather than a privledge, just like guns.

    I think with any deadly weapon, you should be held accountable for it’s care and use. What I can’t understand is that people are allowed to do something that they have clearly shown they are so criminally incompetent at doing, that someone is permanently injured or dies. Maybe the threat of permanently losing ones ability to drive, own guns, own vicious dogs, etc would force people to treat these things with respect, regardless of if the incompetent fool has “suffered enough”. At the very least, it might stop them from doing it again.

  43. @Greg
    I plead guilty to chatting with Aunty Wiki: /wiki/Waffenmissbrauch#cite_note-8
    Canadians also seem not to do that well.
    Note that the statistic is only about intentional killings/murder, not accidents.
    But I found it astounding that there are about 20-30 million firearms in Germany. About 10 million are legal and registered, most of the rest are once-legal-but-not-registered-when-the-law-was-changed-in-1972. There doesn’t seem to be a big market for illegal weapons.
    In my personal experience with gun owners here there are two types:
    A)Sport shooters who love their weapons, own several, practice a lot and basically see their weapons as sports gear.
    B)Gun nuts who need a penis extension (sorry to put it that way). They only participate in the required minimum of sports events to keep their licenses and fantasize about using them to shoot “pigeons and bad guys” where being an immigrant usually makes you qualify as “bad guy”

    It’s an interesting point and made me think about a parallel in German society. If for a lot of Americans freedom and democracy would end if some more sensible gun laws were passed, a lot of Germany would think that the world was about to end if there was a speed limit on the Autobahn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.