i-47b70456266b024ff5be5f86a61f2fb1-12300884_11262009_1.jpgDid I say toys? Sorry, didn’t mean to prejudice the case. I meant “Legal Firearms For Protection Against Intruders and a Repressive Government.”

We talk a lot about gun ownership and gun control on this blog, partly because I keep bringing it up. One of the reasons that I keep bringing it up is out of personal obstinacy. I dislike being told what I’m thinking by others who are not paying attention. I also dislike dogmatic arguments. And, I find it amusing that many right wingers assume that everyone who is not a wingnut is anti gun ownership. This conflation of Liberal with Unarmed is a dangerous assumption.

Anyway, yesterday, Burnsville Minnesota resident Michael Cody Schwartz was sentenced to a brief prison term, probation, and community service for shooting to death Logan Ahlers.

Logan and Cody knew each other since they were little kids, were very close friends, and spent a lot of time together. Cody kept a handgun in his apartment to defend himself against intruders. So, when his best friend, Logan came over one night unannounced, Cody killed him.

So, that idea that you can have a handgun in your home and use it to kill an intruder works. The part about separating intruders from your teenage child who had sneaked out for a few hours in the middle of the night or your best friend who let himself in from actual dangerous intruders is bullshit.

This is a failure of the system. Does this require new laws? Enforcement of existing laws? Better training? Required procedures for having a gun in the home? Or is this acceptable loss, for the liberty of being armed and dangerous?

A quick look at the available information does not provide any information about the legality of the weapon involved. I’m inquiring.

Sources:

>Burnsville shooting victim is identified; suspect to be charged Tuesday

Minn. Man Gets 90 Days In Friend’s Shooting Death

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Lindsay
    December 21, 2010

    You’ve made a compelling argument for never visiting someone who owns guns without giving notice (and leaving a message won’t cut it – you need confirmation that he/she knows you’re coming over).

  2. #2 gwen
    December 21, 2010

    That is such a sad story. I hope Cody has learned a valuable lesson, and that he can live with himself. Of course, he may have to figure out a way to justify his actions to do it…

  3. #3 Salmo
    December 21, 2010

    Why was there a prison term or any punishment at all? If you are allowed to kill home intruders, it should’t matter if they intended to rob you, or if you otherwise knew them. If this guy came in unannounced and uninvited, he’s legally allowed to be shot, it seems to me.

  4. #4 kermit
    December 21, 2010

    Chris It’s a compelling argument not to visit anyone who hasn’t a lick of sense, anyway. We don’t know all that happened here. Was Logan behaving like a friend letting himself in, or perhaps sneaking in to play a joke on his buddy? The devil is in the details.

    Salmo, if I killed someone with a driving mistake, an error in judgement but not egregious recklessness, I’d be in legal trouble but not likely charged with murder. It’s not that people are *allowed to run over pedestrians, but that accidental death from otherwise legal behavior is correctly seen as “not murder”. It can still be stupid and careless with other lives.

  5. #5 Juice
    December 21, 2010
  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Over the next few years, Alyssa will become a hormonally tainted teenager. She will experience bouts of depression. She may contemplate suicide. If she does, she’ll know where to get the rifle to blow her own head off with.

    Which is a much much more common scenario than scaring off burglars, despite the arm waving we see form the gun nut lobby.

  7. #7 Juice
    December 21, 2010

    http://www.examiner.com/self-defense-in-national/15-year-old-boy-uses-his-father-s-gun-to-stop-2-home-invaders

    Story about a 15 yo who scared off intruders by firing his father’s rifle.

    Includes links to stories about:

    – 11 yo who used his .22 rifle to save himself and his mother from home invaders

    – 16 yo who saved himself from a home invader by firing in self defense

    – a college student who shot two home invaders in self defense

    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/19365762/detail.html

    “They just came in and separated the men from the women and said, ‘Give me your wallets and cell phones,’” said George Williams of the College Park Police Department.
    Bailey said the gunmen started counting bullets. “The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough,” said Bailey.

    That’s when one student grabbed a gun out of a backpack and shot at the invader who was watching the men. The gunman ran out of the apartment.

  8. #8 Juice
    December 21, 2010

    “They had a rifle so I was thinking, ‘What should I do? ‘What if they shoot me?'” Gutierrez said.

    Alyssa made sure that has the next few years.

    Imagine what you want about her mental health.

  9. #9 lylebot
    December 21, 2010

    Juice is just saying that he/she is willing to accept a certain number of innocents shot dead by armed citizens in exchange for [apparent] bad guys shot dead by armed citizens. I wonder what Juice’s threshold is, though? 2 dead innocents for every 1 dead bad guy? 1 to 1? 10 to 1? 1000 to 1?

    Personally, mine is 0 to 1.

  10. #10 John Swindle
    December 21, 2010

    I’m mostly in favor of controlling weapons, just because it would be easier than controlling stupidity. I say “mostly”, because I don’t know how to justify taking guns away from people who really need them. So I’m glad you keep bringing it up.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Juice is using anecdotal evidence to argue against large numbers. Does Juice know how many people in the US die from gunshots a year, and under what circumstances? Shall we list their names here, one by one?

  12. #12 Warren
    December 21, 2010

    Hey, Greg!

    “Does this require new laws? Enforcement of existing laws? Better training? Required procedures for having a gun in the home?”

    All of the above, I suspect, or some combination thereof.

    “Over the next few years, Alyssa will become a hormonally tainted teenager. She will experience bouts of depression. She may contemplate suicide. If she does, she’ll know where to get the rifle to blow her own head off with.”

    Or she may grow up to be an emotionally-balanced, successful woman who leads a full productive life and is a benefit to her community and the world at large.

    What’s certain is that she has the chance to do so. Applying a conjectural argument, based on zero evidence to support it, isn’t valid.

  13. #13 KeithB
    December 21, 2010

    Maybe Time needs to udpate the article they did several decades ago when they profiled every death by gun in America. Here is the year after followup:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,970085,00.html

    An alarming number were teen suicides. Very few were intruders.

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    December 21, 2010

    Warren, it isn’t merely applying a conjectural argument. These things happen–to my ex-boyfriend’s brother, for example, who knew how to get his hands on an unsecured shotgun. Applying the same circumstances to Alyssa is simply putting the lives saved and lost on the most even of footings for comparison.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Warren, hold on a sec. I said that Alyssa may become a depressed suicidal teenager. That is true, not conjecture, it may happen. You told me not to make conjectural arguments. Then, you said that she got to live because she had the rifle. That is no true. Most people don’t get killed by armed home invaders. She MAY have been killed, but not likely. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to make up the rules about who can make reasonable conjectures to make a point and who can’t, and mine is more relevant than yours. Thousands of people in the US die from accidental discharge or self inflicted gunshots. Hardly any from home invasions.

  16. #16 RSG
    December 21, 2010

    We should consider the most likely thing that will happen because of having a gun in the house. And the most likely thing to happen is that a resident or close friend or relative of a resident will be killed. Needing to use it on an intruder is a very remote possibility at best. I once owned guns, but I got rid of them when I had kids, because I knew the thing most likely to happen was the thing I couldn’t live after. Dying by being shot by a home invader is far preferable to having one of my family killed, IMO, especially since the odds are many times more favorable toward the latter. Home invaders kill residents a few times a year, while innocent victims are killed or kill themselves every day.

  17. #17 Russell
    December 21, 2010

    Greg is right, that a lot of people commit suicide using guns. In fact, that accounts for the majority of gun deaths and for the majority of suicides. There are few accidental gun deaths, both relative to the number of gun deaths, and relative to other kinds of accidental deaths. I find it surprising how few accidental gunshot deaths there are, given the prevalence of guns in the US and the number of people who go hunting every year. Which is why it’s hard for me to see the original story as “a failure of the system,” rather than merely a tragic accident.

    As to age and suicide, I’m surprised to see that despite the social and hormonal difficulties of adolescence, people 15 to 24 are less likely to commit suicide than any other ten-year age group, except 5-14:

    http://www.suicide.org/suicide-statistics.html

    My intuition, of course, is that suicides in that age group are more likely to have a silly and ephemeral cause.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Russell, suicide attempts are probably far more common in that younger age group. I don’t have the stats at hand, but I think for ever suicide among teens there are quite a few attempts. The problem is that you can divide the attempts (including fatal attempts) into two categories to include most of them: Strangulation of some kind and poison including drugs, vs firearms. Among the young, the former are unsucessful 80 percent or so of the time, the latter sucessful 90 percent or more of the time.

    So, if we coached 10 year olds on where the gun is, how to use it, and that is is much more effective and reasonably painless, we could get that success rate up to near 100% and then you’d see a big blip.

    But actually, a lot of poeple like RSG see the risks and hide, lockup, or get rid of the guns. I wonder how many teens tried to kill themselves with pills, ropes or water but failed, but would have been able to use a firearm except for the adults in their lives getting rid of or locking up said firearms? Every one of those kids is a slap in the face for the laissez-faire gun ownership argument.

    I think there are several reasons for few accidents among hunters. One is that long guns are harder to shoot yourself with because they’re long. Another is a strong set of cultural proscriptions/prescriptions. For example, if you hang around hunters, it is never cool to have a loaded shotgun or rifle inside a house or car. If you hang around with handgun lovers, it is.

  19. #19 Juice
    December 21, 2010

    Juice is using anecdotal evidence to argue against large numbers.

    The original post is an anecdote.

    The rest of the post was just asking questions about how we deal with problems similar to this single episode.

    Some may say the anecdote makes an emotional argument in favor of stricter gun control laws.

    Someone else could use this same anecdote to make an argument in favor of the expansion of education in the line of self-defense and how to handle home invasions (or what you may only think is a home invasion).

    I’d pick the latter. Stopping people from keeping guns in their homes will not prevent criminals from using them during home invasions. On the other hand, more education in how to handle these situations (and the gun itself) would likely reduce the number of these kinds of accidents.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    The original post is an anecdote.

    Yes it is, but it is not being used to argue against large numbers.

    Some may say the anecdote makes an emotional argument in favor of stricter gun control laws.

    I find it hard to avoid an emotional aspect to this issue. There is indeed a huge emotional cost spent by many people who did not ask to be involved in this sort of thing at all because a small subset of a community insists on playing with its toys in a reckless and irresponsible manner.

    Someone else could use this same anecdote to make an argument in favor of the expansion of education in the line of self-defense and how to handle home invasions

    Which is … the argument I am making. And, that you keep missing. Because you have come to the table with your mind made up about what I’m saying.

  21. #21 Russell
    December 21, 2010

    Greg, that’s a good point about teens, suicide, and guns. It may be that the age that was considered “old enough” to be responsible with a gun when I was a teenager is exactly the age where we need to take the greatest caution.

    Every hunter I’ve ever known also owned a handgun. That may be a regional thing. What I’ve noticed in south Texas is that hunters will carry a handgun when going out in the brush, even when they’re not hunting. “Oh, in case of a bad hog or coyotes.” Birders and the rest of us go into the same brush, and never give a second thought to carrying a handgun. There are hogs. But they don’t seem to care as long as you don’t get too close. As to coyotes, the last canine that bit me was at the end of a neighbor’s leash. I still have the shorts with the hole in them.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    It is definitely not the case that the hunters I know in the north carry handguns. In Alaska, yes. There are actual dangerous animals there.

    I’ve spend years working in Africa both in non-hunting areas and hunting areas, and under conditions where it is normal to carry along a rifle for protection. Handguns are never considered.

    Yeah, I think those are toys!

  23. #23 Warren
    December 21, 2010

    Greg – to me, suggesting that a girl might commit suicide someday is every bit as conjectural as suggesting that she might not.

    Stephanie Z – no argument from me that suicides with guns tend to be a lot more successful than other attempted means; however, the fact is that Alyssa is alive now; she might not have been, had she not been able to intimidate wrongdoers; and there is no way for you, me, Greg, or even Alyssa to know if she’s going to shoot herself in a few more years.

    Saying that she might does not put lives saved/lost on an even footing. It simply raises one of many possible futures for this girl, and it’s no more nor less probable that she’ll shoot herself as it is that she’ll get elected president.

    Arguing entirely unknowable future possibilities does not accomplish anything useful; it’s pure speculation.

  24. #24 Russell
    December 21, 2010

    What do you think the difference is between Alaska and Africa, that you think a handgun is a reasonable thing to want while hunting in the first, but not while hunting in the second? Bears?

    BTW, I agree that most guns in the US are toys. Their use is recreational. Hunting rifles and shotguns no less than target guns. Hunting for Americans is recreation. A shotgun doesn’t somehow become less a toy when it is carried from the skeet range to pigeon hunting. Yes, yes, I like pigeon and venison. But if most modern American hunters went without the calories from all the meat they kill, they would be only a bit less obese.

  25. #25 Juice
    December 21, 2010

    I find it hard to avoid an emotional aspect to this issue.

    Yes. That’s obvious.

  26. #26 24fps
    December 21, 2010

    Re: hunters and handguns – I’m in Canada and grew up hunting with my dad. Handguns are hard to get here, and are never allowed to be carried hunting. I’ve hunted birds and deer in the southern prairies where there are coyotes and deer in the north, where there are bears and coyotes. You don’t need a handgun. I’m pretty sure the coyotes in Saskatchewan are just as scary as the coyotes in Texas. But maybe the hunters aren’t, hmm? ;-)

    Long guns are primarily made to shoot game. Handguns are primarily made to shoot people. My ex’s father, an RCMP firearms trainer, used to say that. I think there’s some truth to it.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Warren,I’m not speculating, I’m underscoring. Hardly anybody dies because of home invastion. Thousands die because of other forms of gunfire, and suicide is a big huge proportion of that.

    Here is the cold hard reality. Imagine two buttons. You get to press one and one only. One eliminates all suicide by gun by suddenly transforming our society into one in which people don’t have guns in their homes but has no effect on numbers killed in home invastion, mugging, or carjacking. The other totally eliminates death by home invasion and mugging on the street and car jacking by giving every single person a handgun and a full training course, but has no effect on suicide by gun.

    Here’s the differnece begtween, say, me and a gun nut.

    The gun nut would press the second button. I would press the first button. I’m not saying it’s ideal, just that given these two choices, I’d press the first button.

    I would save thousands of lives a year. The gun nut would save a handful of lives a year. But the gun nut would throw away all those lives so he could have his toys.

    This isn’t even a close call, morally.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Russel, I didn’t say I thought the handgun was reasonable in Alaska. I just noted that in Alaska, hunters (and others) tend to carry handguns in the bush, in Africa, they tend not to. In fact, in most (all?) game parks in South Africa, where people tote guns around like they lived in Texas, you check your pistol at the gate.

    I am also saying that handguns do not make much sense in Africa, in my personal and, if I may say so, expert opinion. I don’t know why they would make sense in Alaska. Maybe for hikers because they are small.
    Griz researchers I know tend to pack a large pistol and no rifle.

    BTW one of the reasons rifles work in Africa is that the animals know what they are in many areas. In fact, a fake rifle works.

    BTW, I agree that most guns in the US are toys. Their use is recreational.

    Yes, and there is nothing WRONG with them being toys. What is wrong is the seeming need to preserve unfettered access and use of the toys at the risk of a lot of other people’s lives and well being.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    December 21, 2010

    And Chris is dead, Warren, but you left him out of your comment entirely. That’s why you stack the risks up right next to each other. Otherwise you leave out the people you’re not comfortable thinking about.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    Yes. That’s obvious.

    An excellent demonstration, Juice, of willful ignorance on your part. I’m speaking of the emotional cost to the family and friends of someone who gets their head blown off so you can play with your toys.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2010

    24fps: I have to say that the idea that one is in danger from coyotes is funny. I mean, everything is potentially dangerous. A lemming could bite the tip of your finger. A raccoon could have rabies. I’ve had jackals appear suddenly from the dark and sit next to me looking for an opportunity to take food out of my hand, and they’re about the same as coyotes in many ways. I’ve had a number of medium to long distance encounters/sightings of coyotes. They hunt singly or in pairs, they are very scared of humans, if one actually attacked an adult human, the adult human could easily take the coyote.

    And those pigs don’t attack humans.

    Brown bears, on the other hand….

  32. #32 Joel
    December 21, 2010

    Here is one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen in my life. I dare you to watch it.

  33. #33 Joel
    December 21, 2010

    Kyle Wayne Dinkheller (June 18, 1975 – January 12, 1998)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Dinkheller

  34. #34 Art
    December 21, 2010

    A police detective in Norfolk Virginia related a comment sequence of events.

    Norfolk, a navy town, has a lot of sailors leaving loving wives and/or girlfriends behind when they go out to sea. Wanting them to be/feel protected they buy them a gun. Mostly the gun sits in a bedside cabinet. The sailor come back from a cruise and then goes out to drink with the boys. The drunk sailor now remembers that he promised to be back before midnight figures he can sneak in without waking her.

    Unfortunately he has forgotten his keys. Remembering that his wife/girlfriend always leaves the bathroom window unlocked he decides to sneak in that way. Meanwhile, inside, the sleeping lady of the house hears a drunk trying to climb into her bathroom window. Trembling in fear at the thought of the very situation her sailor told her about happening, and with no experience or confidence with a handgun, she takes the gun and enters the bathroom. Where, she sees, silhouetted by the light outside, a man climbing into the window. In fear for her life she shoots him. Only after the fact does she realize who it is.

    There are many variations on this story but it happens enough that it is old hat to police in the area. People often get guns out of fear. Guns can reinforce a habit of countering fear with violence and a gun used in an act of violence is often fatal.

  35. #35 WMDKitty
    December 21, 2010

    As far as I’m concerned, there is NO valid reason to own a gun. Guns are not made for your safety, they are made for one reason only: TO KILL.

    Funny how societies that restrict or outright ban gun ownership have fewer “accidental” gun-related deaths…

  36. #36 Tsu Dho Nimh
    December 22, 2010

    @5 and @7 When these gun-wielding children are pissed off at their parents, they know where to get the guns and how to shoot to kill.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/08/national/main4586103.shtml

  37. #37 Russell
    December 22, 2010

    WMDKitty, accidental firearm death in the US is under a 1,000 a year. In a typical year, three times as many die from smoke inhalation. Four times as many drown. And twelve times as many will die from accidental poisoning. All those, of course, pale compared to the number who die on the roads. Given the prevalence of guns in the US and how many go hunting each year, I find it a bit surprising that accidental firearm deaths are so few.

    That’s accidents. Firearms account for the majority of suicides, and suicides account for the majority of firearm deaths. And those numbers are significant.

  38. #38 drivebyposter
    December 22, 2010

    With the 11 year old girl with her pink rifle….it astounds me that 1) the rifle was loaded in the house (it had 2 bullets in it)
    2) it was not locked up.
    3)Three people were terrified of a little girl with a pink .22
    A bit insane and possibly illegal.

    And would it be fair to say she probably was not going to get murdered? I can’t imagine anyone thinking that murdering a small girl would do anything but make it freaking impossible to get away with a burglary.

  39. #39 Emily
    December 22, 2010

    The number of apples that fall from the tree is not relevant to the number of oranges used to make juice.

    Imaging going to the doctor. The doctor says “you’re going to die of a rare form of cancer. But that is OK because it is a RARE form of cancer. You are not going to die from one of the COMMON forms of cancer.”

  40. #40 Russell
    December 22, 2010

    No, Emily, but the rate of accidental deaths from various activities does — or at least should — influence how we evaluate risk. If one of your kids or grandkids takes up target or skeet shooting, the big worry about their safety is still how they get to the range and back.

    Most recreational activities entail some risk. It irks me a bit, but I suspect a sailing outing is riskier than a hunting outing.

  41. #41 Emily
    December 22, 2010

    No. We are not evaluating risk here, especially relative risk. We are talking about regulating a specific activity or industry. Also, everybody drives all the time, few mess with firearms. Are you certain you are calculating relative risk correctly? In hunting season how many hunters die in a car crash going to/from the hunt vs. are killed by accident during the hunt. Perhaps more in the car, but the difference is not as big as you assume, I suggest.

  42. #42 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2010

    Emily is dead on that you’re not assessing relative risk, Russell. That requires a calculation of exposure, which you’ve not only left out of your statement but not even alluded to. All of the other death rates you note are for daily exposures, whereas hunting is a very small fraction of the year, even for the dedicated.

  43. #43 Russell
    December 22, 2010

    Emily, Stephanie, to actually calculate relative risk for hunting and range shooting, one would need the number of accidental gun deaths in the field and on the range, as opposed to the other times people accidentally shoot themselves. Seems I saw an article a while back where someone killed themself cleaning a gun, strange as that seems. The other route, of course, is just to lump it all together under “gun activities.” Or maybe, “gun ownership.” In which case, the exposure rate is pretty significant. According to a 2004 survey, 38% of US households and 26% of individuals have at least one gun:

    http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/13/1/15.full

    And that could well be an underestimate, given the high rate of non-responses.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2010

    Russell, is having a gun in the house every day exposure in the same way that driving a car to work every day? No.

    Simple test, suggested by Emily or close to what she said, anyway: Highway deaths vs gun deaths on hunting weekends in areas where there is a lot of hunting. It should be easy to eliminate gun and car deaths that are not related to the hunting activity. That would give a rough estimate. It would take an examination of the regional news sites for two or three regions for four or five years to get some numbers.

  45. #45 CyberLizard
    December 22, 2010

    Pigs don’t attack humans? Wild boar certainly attack humans, at least down here in the south they do, though death from such an attack is quite rare. They’re very territorial and can weigh up to 400 lbs. I would think it would take a very heavy caliber handgun to take one down, if you hit it in the right spot. Then again, they are popular with bow hunters, so maybe not, IANAH.

    Regardless, I happen to agree with Greg on this topic. I say ban all the guns and let people carry swords!

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2010

    Cyber Pigs don’t attack humans?

    Right now you’re talking to one of the few people you’ll ever meet in real life who has quite literally been attacked by a number of wild pigs. I also studied pig evolution and pig-human interaction. Yes, pigs are dangerous and they are known to attack humans. But these Texans are not really in danger.

    Almost all pig attacks are feints (like black bear) or cases where the humans are hunting the pigs, at which time they can get fairly dangerous but even then, being fairly smart about it, they tend to run away noisily. By and large, per capita of pig or human, they are not something to worry about unless you are looking for an excuse to carry around the toy.

    In my case, I was either sneaking up on them or trying to eat them. In over two dozen close encounters, I felt the pig was really interested in my demise once. That was exciting.

  47. #47 Russell
    December 22, 2010

    Being in Minnesota and attuned to this news, Greg, you’re ideally situated to do that. Keep track of the deaths from ice fishing also. I had a colleague in Minneapolis who liked to do that. Alas, I was never there a convenient week-end to join him.

    But. Did you ever really worry about relative risk to the various field activities you have done? I’m always aware that there are a large number of ways to get hurt, in the field or on a boat: a simple misstep and hard fall, getting lost and dying from exposure, poking your head up into the boom’s path during a jibe, mosquito bite, slipping off the dock on a cold winter’s night, and many, many others. Truthfully, I never tried to calculate the relative risk to going into a Costa Rican rain forest or sailing to the BVIs or even just birding in south Texas brush. I keep an eye on the various risks, practice reasonable precautions, exercise some common sense. And I don’t worry about the rest. Yeah, shit happens. If it eventually happens to me and I die outside, that is better than dying inside.

  48. #48 CyberLizard
    December 22, 2010

    Oh, I agree that a pig attack isn’t the most logical (or logical at all) argument for carrying a handgun. I suspect that most of the boar “attacks” around here are more of the “damn pig jumped out of the bushes and scared the shit out of me so I ran screaming through the woods but I’ll tell everyone I was attacked” variety. At least, that’s what mine were.

  49. #49 MadScientist
    December 22, 2010

    I’d say if the weapon were not lawfully possessed he’d be getting a hell of a lot more than 90 days. Shooting without identifying someone is pretty stupid, unless you could tell that they’re armed. But then – how many gun owners receive any training at all for such situations? I’d bet only an almost insignificant minority; many people see too much TV and have the propensity to shoot anything that moves. I’d also bet a lot of gun owners out there wouldn’t shoot because they haven’t got it in them to kill.

  50. #50 MadScientist
    December 22, 2010

    Re: Hunting and handguns – I never understood that. I had an idiot friend who went hunting for javolina one day and I tagged along. He had a new 0.44 and thought he’d use it for hunting. I told him he was an idiot. Well, he shot his javolina and I was laughing so hard I had a hard time keeping my 0.30/30 steady enough to kill a rampaging boar. It was really funny, the boar charged off in one direction and my friend ran off screaming in another direction. I don’t doubt you can kill animals with a handgun; I used to carry a G-lock just in case an animal charged me. I could drop the rifle and do a hell of a lot of damage with the rate I can fire the handgun. But despite this notion that a wounded animal could charge me, it never did happen and I’ve never fired my handgun while hunting. But using a handgun as the primary weapon for hunting – that goes on the top of the list of dumbest ideas of all time. The exception is if you’re one of those people who likes to do it just to prove it can be done.

  51. #51 Doug Alder
    December 22, 2010

    24fps – also here in Canada, also have an ex RCMP ex Father-in-Law :) – prospectors are one of the few classes of people I know of that are allowed to “open Carry” their sidearm (but only while in the bush) – it’s generally faster to use a .45/9mm/.38 from a sidearm at short range than it is to get a shot off from a rifle and that, in Grizzly/Kodiak/Polar bear country could really be the difference between life and death.

  52. #52 Warren
    December 22, 2010

    Stephanie Z:

    “And Chris is dead, Warren, but you left him out of your comment entirely.”

    Who is Chris, and how did he become germane to the discussion of a girl loading a rifle to scare off intruders, and who might (or might not) shoot herself at some unknown date in the future?

    Greg – Fewer people die by home invasion than by suicide, sure. Lots of people die of suicide by gun, indubitably. However, those two facts don’t bear any relationship to one another. Trying to draw a relationship between home-invasion statistics and gun-related suicides is stretching things a bit, don’t you think?

  53. #53 Stephanie Z
    December 22, 2010

    Warren, what’s the stretch? Someone pointed out that a teenager was able to defend herself from maybe danger because she had access to an unsecured gun. The unsecured gun is also what allowed Chris (my ex-boyfriend’s brother) to kill himself successfully (if terribly slowly) as a teenager. Those are directly related. You don’t get the access for protection without the additional risk of successful suicide. How would those be anything other than related?

  54. #54 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2010

    Knock knock ….. Warren? Are you in there?/

    Children (and others) who commit suicide with guns, in the hundreds per year, do so with a gun that was purchaced and kept in the home becasue some gun nut was paranoid about home invasion. Seriously, Warren, this is what we have been talking about. Why are you pretending to not see this connection? Jeesh.

  55. #55 Monado
    December 22, 2010

    For years, some people wouldn’t use seat belts because they wanted to be “thrown clear” in case of an accident. Now we know that you’re much more likely to die if you are ejected from the car. You have to look at the numbers, not pick and choose your incidents. Once in a while, someone is injured by a seat belt that is restraining them. Nevertheless, they save many lives–at least 40% of people who, without them, would have died. Once in a while, having a gun may save someone from being robbed or beaten by an intruder, or even save their life. Nevertheless, having a gun in the house quintuples your chance of being killed by a gun. You have to go with the odds.

    I’ve had this argument before.

    “You want to stop me from being able to defend myself.”

    “No, I want to keep you from shooting your daughter some night.”

  56. #56 Joel
    December 22, 2010

    Here is somthing to consider concerning exposure.

    What do we know about kids and gun accidents and suicides?

    When researchers studied the 30,000 accidental gun deaths of Americans of all ages that occurred between 1979-1997, they found that preschoolers aged 0-4 were 17 times more likely to die from a gun accident in the 4 states with the most guns versus the 4 states with the least guns. Likewise, school kids aged 5-14 were over 13 times more at risk of accidental firearm death in the states with high gun ownership rates. The findings indicate that gun availability is associated with accidental death by shooting

    http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/guns.htm#know

  57. #57 Warren
    December 22, 2010

    Stephanie Z, bringing up an event that happened in your personal life and about which I knew nothing, presenting it in an argument as though I should have known what you were talking about (“Chris is dead…”), and then berating me for not being able to read your mind (“What’s the stretch?”) is not a reasonable way to go about having a discussion.

    You’ll get no argument from me when you say there is danger in having unsecured guns in the home. Housebreakers can find and use them just as readily as despondent (or angry, or unaware) kids. It used to be said that more homeowners are killed by their own guns than by those of burglars; I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    It is surprising (actually irresponsible) that the girl Alyssa had unrestricted access to a rifle, particularly a loaded one; you’d think her parents would have been a little more careful than that. Why they’re not up on charges of reckless endangerment, I can’t say.

    I don’t think it would be wise to extrapolate her experience forward and suggest that we should provide unrestricted gun access to all kids.

    I’m also curious as to why this girl was left unsupervised – her cousins “going away for a while” were damned fools to leave a young girl alone, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that they were little older than the housebreakers.

    Greg – more or less what I just wrote to Stephanie Z. ;) Secured firearms for home protection are sensible; leaving an eleven-year-old alone in the house with a loaded rifle in a bedroom is not. No disagreement there.

    The only thing that pulled me into this was your apparent semi-certainty that, someday, that girl would go on to shoot herself (comment 6), when in fact you cannot have any such knowledge of future events.

  58. #58 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2010

    Warren, I’m pretty sure that both Stephanie and I are saying exactly the same thing as each other, and the same thing we’ve both been saying, but saying it in many different ways, referring to many different contexts, examples, etc, to be undrestood.

    I did not introduce Alyssa as a datum. She was tauted as an example of why every home should have insecure guns, so the 10 year old can grab the loaded rifle and blow someone way just in case. I simply pointed out that the probabily that she will end up killing herself with said gun is much greater than that she would actually save her life with that gun. I take Stephanie’s cousin to be a device for underscoring the issue, sort of how I have used my own personal and extensive experiences (of being attacked by wild pigs or not or actually being under fire, etc. etc.) to underscore the point. I don’t think we are especially far apart in our basic opinions about gun handling in the home. I probably have less faith in gun owners than you do, and I take the belief that having guns in the home to protect oneself is an unequivocal good as an indication of a feeble mind rather than a strong heart.

  59. #59 Warren
    December 22, 2010

    Hey, Greg!

    “Warren, I’m pretty sure that both Stephanie and I are saying exactly the same thing…”

    Which is why that last response did some double duty. ;)

    “I simply pointed out that the probabily that [Alyssa] will end up killing herself with said gun is much greater than that she would actually save her life with that gun.”

    …in a way that read as something predictive, rather than speculation, at least to my eye. Possibly because of the way it was stated — accurately pointing out that she’ll be hormone-ridden soon, and will have cases of the blues — and then tying those certainties to the speculation of a suicidal decision.

    “I don’t think we are especially far apart in our basic opinions about gun handling in the home.”

    I don’t think so either; I’m not in favor of having them lying around on the coffee-table, after all, and I certainly wouldn’t tuck one into a drawer and forget I left it there. I believe there’s responsibility associated with gun ownership.

    “I probably have less faith in gun owners than you do[…]”

    I wouldn’t be too sure of that. Some of them scare the hell out of me, and some of them are disturbing, and a lot of them probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near one, simply because of the danger they represent to innocents and to themselves.

    “…and I take the belief that having guns in the home to protect oneself is an unequivocal good as an indication of a feeble mind rather than a strong heart.”

    I think I’d tend to agree with you on that. Alyssa’s story is interesting, since the article doesn’t make any mention at all of how or why an unsecured .22 rifle was left where she could get to it in the first place. That strikes me as being crazy, regardless of what the outcome ended up being.

  60. #60 Monado
    December 24, 2010

    One of my least favorite stories about the U.S. was the case of a homeowner who, when someone knocked on the door, shot him. To my amazement, he wasn’t charged with, say, second-degree murder because he claimed that he thought that a Japanese student who wanted to ask directions was a dangerous criminal. It went on my list of reasons to hardly ever visit the U.S. Since when is standing on someone’s doorstep a capital crime?

  61. #61 Monado
    December 24, 2010

    Counterexample to the “home invasion” anecdotes: Man shoots teen who hit him with a snowball. The man left the scene and returned with a gun. The teen’s attempts to apologize were ignored. Teen in critical condition…

  62. #62 Monado, FCD
    December 24, 2010

    Ah, here it is: Yoshihiro Hattori.

  63. #63 Greg Laden
    December 25, 2010

    I remember the Hattori case. Demonstrates the all too common link between overzealous gun nuttery and racism.

    The sixteen year old child who threw the snowball at the gun nut is dead. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-02/26/content_7669205.htm

  64. #64 kermit
    December 28, 2010

    Greg: “Juice is using anecdotal evidence to argue against large numbers. Does Juice know how many people in the US die from gunshots a year, and under what circumstances? Shall we list their names here, one by one? ”

    A couple of (late) comments, Greg.

    If Alyssa *had shot one of the intruders because she thought she was in danger, it would have been listed as a gun crime, and the surviving *intruders would have been charged. How many gun crimes are people (including police) protecting themselves by shooting somebody, and the crime charged to other criminals? And how many are avoided – like Alyssa’s story – and never make it into the gun crime statistics?

    She might grow up to be a suicidal teen, true. What are the chances that she will, compared to a preteen who had been raped or otherwise seriously abused? I seem to recall that folks who have successfully minimized the damage to themselves by taking action, whatever the nature of the emergency (but especially when attacked by other people), fare much better psychologically.

    You seem to be equating a blanket and complete ban on ordinary, private, gun ownership with a disappearance of firearms from the US. We tried that with alcohol once. How’d *that work out for us?

    As a martial artist who doesn’t own firearms, I would like to see them all magically disappear, sure. I am annoyed at the idea that some 14 year-old gangster can shoot me dead in a random drive by. But I don’t want to see the firearms analog of alcohol during prohibition, either.

    Many of my family and the people I train with are gun owners. None of them are idiots, deranged, or dysfunctional in any obvious way. Not all citizens from Alaska are Sarah Palin, and not all gun owners are trailer trash (even if they live in trailers). A couple are scientists.

  65. #65 Stephanie Z
    December 28, 2010

    kermit, I don’t think you’re quite aware of how crime data work. You might want to familiarize yourself with the National Crime Victimization Survey. Or you can look at an analysis of the data and find out what Greg’s comment about large numbers means: http://quichemoraine.com/2010/06/gun-protection-best-case-scenario/

  66. #66 Greg Laden
    December 28, 2010

    You seem to be equating a blanket and complete ban on ordinary, private, gun ownership with a disappearance of firearms from the US.

    I must have missed where anyone has suggested a ban on private gun ownership. As far as I know that has not been suggested by anyone here. Please provide a pointer to that. It is possible that you are assuming that I am suggesting that, in which case you are providing a great example of how people come to the table in this sort of discussion thinking they know what others are thinking, then arguing against that.

    Regarding the concept that there are unreported cases of people protecting themselves from home invasions with guns: Could be. One of the “nice” things about homicide and suicide is that there is always (almost) a dead body and it is impossible for authorities to ignore or underreport these events. That was the great advantage Daly and Wilson had in their study of human behavior via homicide.

    However, the degree of underreporting of home invasion would have to be immense to even approach the order of magnitude of gun suicide. Impossible.

    Many of my family and the people I train with are gun owners. None of them are idiots, deranged, or dysfunctional in any obvious way. Not all citizens from Alaska are Sarah Palin, and not all gun owners are trailer trash (even if they live in trailers). A couple are scientists.

    Yes, true. No argument there.

  67. #67 kermit
    December 29, 2010

    Greg, I apologize. When you said “[Imagine] One [button] eliminates all suicide by gun by suddenly transforming our society into one in which people don’t have guns in their homes but has no effect on numbers killed in home invasion, mugging, or carjacking.” I carelessly assumed you were thinking of that as a viable option, attainable by some sort of wiser cluster of gun laws. Another reading does not suggest that.

    I have no trouble with waving a magic wand and removing all firearms. The question, of course, is what can we actually do to minimize the violence per se, with firearms obviously being a major player. One issue not here addressed is that households which have firearms are not the same as households which do not (e.g., are more likely to be biblical literalists?); they are largely self-selecting groups. How much do those average differences affect consequences from violence, drunkenness, suicide, etc.?

    However, this thread should probably be allowed to die peacefully, of old age.

  68. #68 a.j.
    January 28, 2011

    I’m shocked by the inaccuracy of your blog post . . . “So, when his best friend, Logan came over one night unannounced, Cody killed him. ” ???? Logan and MIKE (his middle name is Cody) had been hanging out that night from about 9:00pm until the time of the accident, Logan did not come over unannounced. Logan passed out in front of Mike’s door after bar close, Mike told him to wake up and come inside, Logan got up and ran inside and jumped on Mike while he was holding the gun. Logan grabbed at the gun, Mike let it go, Logan hit the trigger, KILLING HIMSELF. Mike did not think Logan was an intruder and he did not pull the trigger, Logan did. It was a pure accident with no ill-intent behind it. Mike was guilty of having a loaded fire-arm while intoxicated, something he should have never done and he knows that and will pay for the rest of his life for that mistake. Jail time and probation are nothing compared to the pain of losing his best friend. They both acted foolishly and no one can argue that, but it’s important to make sure what is being said is true. Please make an effort to check your resources before posting, lies are hurtful.

  69. #69 Stephanie Z
    January 28, 2011

    a.j., Greg cited the source of his information. If you have a source for yours, how about you post it instead of ranting.

  70. #70 Greg Laden
    January 28, 2011

    aj, you are obviously involved and I appreciate the additional information. However, have to disagree with this:

    Mike was guilty of having a loaded fire-arm while intoxicated, something he should have never done and he knows that and will pay for the rest of his life for that mistake. Jail time and probation are nothing compared to the pain of losing his best friend.

    I disagree with that because it is this attitude that has kept us from making real gun ownership reform. If Mike is guilty of this (and he is innocent until proven guilty) that I really don’t care how badly he feels about it.

  71. #71 Emma
    Minneapolis
    August 24, 2013

    Ummmm…..You really need to read the facts about the case before you post a story about it. Logan did not just show up they had been at a bar together for the majority of the night. It was an accident plain and simple. Yes it was a tragedy and Logan lost his life too soon but bad things happen when you mix booze and guns!

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