If someone were to ask you, in all sincerity, why you have guns, what would you say?
For a lot of us, we might have a number of reasons. We might say because it’s our right as Americans to own them. Maybe we use them for hunting or competition. Regardless, I suspect self-defense as a significant factor for the vast majority of us. After all, if you need a gun, harsh language just isn’t going to cut it.
Yet anti-gunners routinely try to undermine the self-defense argument. They know that claiming self-defense isn’t a valid reason won’t play with the American public, so they routinely try to undermine the concern itself. They try to convince people that somehow, the risks outweigh the benefits. That’s why we’ve seen horrible studies that try to make that claim.
Over at The Trace, they’re pushing yet another one.
Guns are marketed for self-defense but more often used in suicide, a new study shows. Researchers at the University of Washington studied nearly 650 gun deaths that occurred in homes in the Seattle area during a seven-year span. Their takeaway: for every justifiable homicide, there were 44 suicides, seven criminal homicides, and one unintentional death. The findings appear in JAMA Internal Medicine. Bookmark it: “Will a Gun Keep Your Family Safe? Here’s What the Evidence Says”
I don’t know how many times we need to explain it to these people, but “justifiable homicides” is not the totality of self-defense with a gun. Saying it does, as this study apparently tries to do, assumes that every time a firearm is deployed in a self-defense situation, a bad guy dies.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I consider this the best-case scenario as it not only takes a scumbag off the streets permanently, but it saves the taxpayers time and money. However, that’s not really the majority of cases.
In fact, a large majority of the time, people deploy a firearm and they scare off the attacker without a shot being fired. Some consider this the best-case scenario, and they’re probably not wrong. After all, there’s no psychological impact from taking a human life or legal wrangling that might be required after a defensive shooting.
So how can we tell that the study’s claim is bogus? Oh, that’s easy.
According to the American Foundation For Suicide Preventing, there are, on average 129 suicides per day. That’s 47,085 suicides per year. Not gun suicides, in particular, just suicides in total. The AFSP notes that more than half of that number used a firearm, so over 23,500.
Meanwhile, the CDC apparently admits that there’s at least 1 million defensive gun uses annually.
Now, for a little first-grade math:
1 million > 23,500
Again, the problem is using justifiable homicides as a proxy for defensive gun uses. You simply can’t do that because, as previously noted, far too many defensive gun uses never involve a shot being fired in the first place. However, I think some of these researchers know that. They know it and still use it as a proxy because they know the numbers will be far, far lower than something like 1 million and therefore undermine the very nature of what they’re trying to accomplish.
Sorry, but I’m not going to just give them a pass on that one. It’s a bogus study and if the people at The Trace had a lick of intellectual integrity, they wouldn’t have held the study up as remotely relevant.