Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alternatives to Gun Ownership for Home Protection



Having a firearm in your home may FEEL as if you are protecting yourself, but it is an illusion.  For every gun that is used for self-defense, there are 11 guns in homes used for completed or attempted suicides, 7 used in criminal assaults and homicides, and 4 used in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263). In other words, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to harm someone in the household than to protect them.  Pulling a gun on an intruder may also escalate the situation, making a simple home robbery, which may not be fatal, into a life-and-death shootout.  The risk of homicide is three times higher in homes with firearms (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).

Gun advocates like to push forward the scenario of a home invasion, when you are home and have to defend your life against brutal attackers bent on killing and raping.  Does that scenario happen?  Yes, but it is very rare.  The chance that those guns will be used against you are far greater.  According to Catalano (2010), household burglaries occur on average about 3.7 million times a year (based on data from 2003 to 2007).   Most burglaries occur when no one is home (72 percent).  Of the burglaries in which someone was home and violence occurred (7 percent of all burglaries), 65 percent of victims knew the robber.  Most people subject to violence were not injured or suffered minor injury (89 percent). Burglary-related homicides are rare, accounting for 430 average annual homicides or less than 1 percent of total homicides (2003-2007). Approximately 95,460 firearms were stolen in burglaries every year during this time period. That gun you bought to protect you against the bad guys is now in their hands, untraceable, and potentially maiming or killing innocents.

Sure, most adult non-felons have the right to own a firearm, but that doesn't mean it makes sense for them to do so.  Though I and Ceasefire Oregon do not advocate for gun ownership for nearly any reason, we especially recommend that a home NOT have a gun in it if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • if anyone in the household has a history of violence or felony conviction
  •  if there are children of any age in the home (even if the gun is stored locked and unloaded, children typically know combinations and where keys are kept -- The National Violent Injury Statistics System, p. 2).
  •  if anyone in the household is emotionally unstable, depressed, or has expressed thoughts of suicide (Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467, p. Wiebe, p. 771).
  •   if your family has a history of problems with guns


Make your home a hard target.  Burglers will more likely pass you up to find an easier home to break into.  So what are some alternatives to owning a gun? 

  • Be aware.  If you see something suspicious, react.  Go inside.  Lock the door. Call the police.  Call your neighbors.
  • Insure that all doors and windows have strong locks, and that you use them whenever possible. Be judicious about who has keys to your home.
  • Purchase and use a home security system, and advertise the fact with exterior signs.  These systems can be costly, but well worth the price.
  • If a home security system is not within your budget, you can still purchase signs to fool would-be intruders.  You can also install inexpensive magnet-alarms for windows and doors.  Most burglars wouldn't know the difference.
  • Get a dog and advertise the fact that you have it.  If a dog is not a reasonable choice for your household, you can still put a used dog bowl and leash near your door, along with signs, to fool intruders.
  • Know your neighbors, talk with them regularly, and keep an eye on each other's homes.  Share phone numbers so you can call each other if there is anything suspicious.  Notify them of your schedule, particularly if you are going away on vacation.  Your neighbors and you don't have to be best buddies, but if you just introduce yourself and show you are more than just "that guy next to me" they'll be more likely to react if they see someone suspicious around your property.
  •  Remove privacy fences or large hedges that impede sight of your doors and windows from the road.  We all like privacy, but it allows intruders to enter unseen.
  •  Install motion-sensing lights outside your home, back and front.
  • Start or join a neighborhood watch program for your block, and be active in it.
  • Many local police forces have programs where, if you request it, they will patrol your property more often while you are away on vacation, or will patrol more often if you have a reason to feel threatened.

Of course, if you disagree with my suggestion not to own a gun, you can still do all of these suggestions in addition to owning a gun, thus reducing the need to have to use it.


For more facts about the dangers of having a gun in your home, see this page of the Brady Campaign, which cites studies for their statements:


Addendum (3/7/13): Some additional thoughts, posted at the National Crime Prevention Council site, as well as this poster.

Citations mentioned above:


Catalano, Shannon, “Victimization During Household Burglary,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, September 2010, NCJ 227379

Kellermann, Arthur L.MD, MPH, et al. “Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership.” New England Journal of Medicine 327 (1992): 467-72.

Kellermann, Arthur L. MD., MPH, et al. “Gun Ownership As a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home.” New England Journal of Medicine 329 (1993) 1084-1119

Kellermann, Arthur L.MD, MPH, et al. “Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home.” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care 45 (1998): 263-67

The National Violent Injury Statistics System. Youth Suicide: Findings from a pilot for the National Violent Death Reporting System. Boston: Harvard Injury Control Research Center: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009. http://www.sprc.org/library/YouthSuicideFactSheet.pdf. Originally accessed through Harvard School of Public Health: Means Matters. Source of Firearms in Youth Suicides. Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 2009. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/youth-access/index.html.

Wiebe, Douglas J. PhD. “Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated With Firearms in the Home: A National Case-Control Study.” Annals of Emergency Medicine 41 (2003): 771-82.

51 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I agree completely.

    About the font, before publishing your post switch to the "Edit HTML" function. There you should see the font settings and you can adjust them as you like.

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  2. Well written food for thought. I agree with you 100% Your uncle who was a policeman said don't try and use any weapon because the criminal will take it away from you and use it against you. Acting totally meek and cooperative is best. I had to post as anonymous because I don't know my URL. This is from Jean, your cousin.

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  3. Repeat of the comment I posted at MikeB:

    Baldr,

    Do you lock your doors on your home? If so why? What are you paranoid about? Home invasions are extremely rare.

    Actually I did read your linked post and I will agree with you that making your home an unattractive target is a good idea as are your list of steps you can take to do so. The only way to truly win a deadly force encounter is to avoid it.

    I will disagree, of course on keeping firearms as a means of defense. Also I disagree on your point about escalating a home invasion from a robbery to a lethal force situation just because you have a firearm in your home. The victim is still the legal occupants of the home in the case of a criminal break-in. How do you determine if he wants your TV or to rape your small child before it is too late?

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  4. Your Uncle who was a policeman always told us not to try to use any weapon because they are usually taken from you and used against you. He felt acting very meek and cooperative was the best way to get out of a situation unhurt. I agree with what you have said 100%, especially the part about the suicides and attempted suicides and also family violence and accidents. It's just a real bad idea to have a gun.

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  5. This is a great post. Thanks. You might also check this source that agrees with you about guns for self defense: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2009/09/gun-possession-safety/

    As to the font changing, it's hard sometimes when you insert quotes or links that are in different fonts. Someone suggested to me that I copy and paste to Word and then get the font right and copy and paste again.

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  6. Were you copying and pasting text in? I've seen that happen. What I ended up doing, when all else failed, was to paste the text into textedit (I'm a mac guy) and the force the format to "plain text". Then copy and paste that into the blog.

    Hope that helps.

    Now back to the argument.. :-)

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  7. Oh my, so much misinformation. Where shall I start?

    " For every gun that is used for self-defense, there are 11 guns in homes used for completed or attempted suicides, 7 used in criminal assaults and homicides, and 4 used in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263). In other words, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to harm someone in the household than to protect them."

    The Kellermann study has been debunked as using junk statistics, arbitrarily "cooked" and "cherry picked," to support the idea that guns are used in the home more for crime than for self defense, when the actual statistics and multiple studies prove him incorrect.
    http://home.comcast.net/~dsmjd/tux/dsmjd/rkba/kellerman.htm
    http://gunowners.org/fs0401.htm


    Just from my observations, I can see the suggestions that guns are least likely to be used for self defense than for violent crime or suicide in the home are total BS. First, there are around 15,000 suicides every year where a firearm was used, so doing the math, Kellerman is claiming that there were only about 1,300 defensive gun uses in homes? FBI crime statistics show reported incidents are dozens of times that number, and other studies report even higher than that. Kellermann is only considering defensive gun uses where shots are actually fired (shots are fired less than 5% of the time when guns are used for self defense). However you look at it, Kellermann isn't properly considering anywhere near a correct number of defensive gun uses, which throws off his entire report.

    Second, the Kellermann study doesn't take into account any illegal activity going on in the home. There's a lot higher chance that firearms will be misused in a home where street gang and drug activity is taking place, because illegal activity attracts violent criminals and violent criminals like to keep guns around.


    I will say that your suggestions to keep safer are absolutely, positively fantastic ideas. Nobody should just rely on a gun and not take any other measures - a firearm is a tool of LAST resort, not the first or ONLY method of defense. If all other defensive measures fail, a firearm IS the best choice to keep yourself and your family safe.

    There's a website with a lot of good self-defense information I STRONGLY recommend everyone should read and learn:
    http://nononsenseselfdefense.com.

    There is literally an hour or two of good reading on that site with suggestions about crime, where it happens, what prevents/reduces it, and how to keep yourself safe. The site doesn't focus on guns for self defense, and in fact states that if you have to use a firearm to defend yourself, you've already screwed up by allowing yourself to get into that situation to begin with.

    ...Orygunner...

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  8. This is like the man who, when he heard that most people die within five miles of home, said: "I'm moving." Kellerman assumed that only in killing the intruder was that a 'successful defense', thus purposely eliminating nearly 90% of all defensive gun uses.

    You might want to read http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/kellerman-schaffer.html titled "Serious Flaws in Kellerman, et al (1993) NEJM"

    The short version

    .No peer review
    .No release of raw data has ever been made
    .Sampling and bias errors
    . 65% of subjects in subgroups were black
    . Does not consider positive aspects of gun ownership

    "Kellermann attempted to identify and measure the risk factors for being murdered in the victim's home as opposed to an overall risk of gun owners or their families being murdered. The risks are different. Stated another way, murders in the home of victim residences are a subset of all murders.

    Kellermann's study claims a murder is roughly 3 times more likely to occur in this subset (the victim's home) to gunowners rather than non-gunowners. That is quite different from claiming a gun in the home triples one's chances of becoming a homicide victim."

    Finally, 65% of the households in the survey are black. Blacks represent about 13% of the US population. If 65% of your study is drawn from 13% of the population I'm not for sure you can say anything meaningful about the entire population.


    "So what are some alternatives to owning a gun? "

    These are all great ideas and any one of them could help you not need to use a gun.

    I take all kinds of care not to make it easy for a fire to start in my home either, but I still own a fire extinguisher...

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  9. I am comfortable ignoring gun safety advice from the Brady Campaign.

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  10. how are you editing? if it is in HTML, look for the size code

    {font size="font size"}...{/font}

    another code could be the heading code {h1,h2,h3, etc.}

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  11. Thanks for the blog font comments. I was copying and pasting from Word, and it turned out there were different fonts.

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  12. States just need to be a vigorous as my home state. Fortunately, NJ does not recognize self defense as a valid reason for gun ownership, this is one important fact that is mistakenly overlooked when people look to NJ as a beacon of gun law sanity. Because of this common sense realization, gun violence is very low. And thankfully, so is gun ownership.

    You need to realize that there is NO reason to own a gun. This so-called self defense excuse is really the last bastion of guntardiness we need to overcome as a Progressive society.

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  13. 18Echo,

    All articles in the New England Journal of Medicine are peer-reviewed. It's part of their submission process.

    Release of raw data is a very rare thing, for any study, but sometimes authors will do so if contacted. I don't know if anyone has done so for this author.

    Determining positive aspects of gun ownership was not a goal of the study. Should it have been? One can argue that, but that might have required broadening the study beyond what was manageable. His goal for that study was murders in homes that have firearms, not all murders of any kind, gun owner or not. That would be a whole different study (though worth looking at) and would have required a much larger effort, bringing in a huge set of complicating variables. Science is about being focused as much as possible on subsets of variables, to reduce error. If his error rate were considered too high, it wouldn't have passed the peer review process.

    As for the racial makeup of the population studied, I can't say how they were chosen. I'm guessing he focused on a particular area that just happened to have that racial distribution, and not the other way around.

    Your attitude toward seeing a gun as a last resort (like a fire extinguisher is for fires) I think is a healthy attitude, though I stick by my philosophy that the risks outweigh the potential benefits (regarding the analogy, a fire extinguisher isn't likely to kill you or your family).

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  14. Because of this common sense realization, gun violence is very low.

    Citation needed. According to my research New Jersey has a gun homicide rate of 2.65 per 100,000 population, which is the state-by-state median, and thus by no stretch of the imagination "very low" (compare with Vermont and New Hampshire, with rates of .45 and .43 per 100,000 population, respectively).

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  15. BantheNRA: "NJ does not recognize self defense as a valid reason for gun ownership"

    NJ is also not legally responsible to defend you so as far as they are concerned. You are on your own. Just remember that an armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

    "You need to realize that there is NO reason to own a gun."

    I'm not sure William Petit would agree.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheshire,_Connecticut,_home_invasion_murders

    The only people with guns were the people that raped his wife and daughters, murdered them, then set them on fire. All while he was bound and gagged. Would his having a gun made a difference? Who knows? We know how not having one worked out. I'd rather take my chances in a shootout than be the victim of a massacre.

    For all I know you are the love child of Bruce Lee and was raised by Chuck Norris, so you really don't need a gun. I'm wasn't. In my world view, the strong protect the weak, and men defend their families from evil. If your is invaded by people with guns, your possible responses are limited. There is a chance that mine will be less so.

    The cool thing is that you have absolutely nothing to fear from people like me. We are not the kind of people that invades homes or wants to commit any sort of violent crime. In fact, anyone can deal with us at anytime using the power of persuasion with no fear of violence.

    It's only those that would use illegal, coercive force that need to fear.

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  16. Baldr, if we wanted to show that a gun in the home is X times more likely to be used to harm someone in the household than to protect them, wouldn't we have to look specifically at cases where the gun that was kept in the home is the one that was used to harm someone in the household? Kellerman did not do that.

    Furthermore, with 60 million+ gun owners in the US and 30,000 or so gun deaths of any type, it's clear that the vast majority of gun ownership is totally benign—it is far more likely that a gun in the home is not going to be used either in self defense or to harm anyone in the household.

    Am I wrong?

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  17. @BantheNRA:

    Aren't you SO glad that New Jersey gun control laws stop violent criminals like this guy?
    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9KQQSOG0.htm

    Now I realize that is just anecdotal evidence, which does not prove there is a widespread problem, but the point is that a man was jailed and harrassed for a VICTIMLESS crime through no malice or fault of his own. I don't want to live in a society that causes this sort of problem for innocent people in an attempt to make us safer.

    If you claim that gun control is what makes New Jersey so safe, do you have any evidence that firearm-related violent crime went down AFTER their stricter gun control was introduced?

    I don't understand what's progressive about taking rights away from sovereign citizens... Your suggestion that "there is NO reason to own a gun" is simply your opinion, which I am glad the majority of people in this country do not share.

    ...Orygunner...

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  18. Guav, is it not alarming enough to show that having a gun in the home has a significantly higher chance of homicide, no matter the source of THE gun used in the killing? Plus, using that measure accounts for shooting by a criminal with his gun, as well as taking the gun from the homeowner for the homicide, and for the potential that the homeowner has escalated the situation by drawing a gun.

    If you are not concerned with the potential for a gun to be used in either self defense or to harm others in the home, and consider the vast majority of gun ownership totally benign, then for what reason would one want a gun at all? As I've shown, the risk isn't worth it.

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  19. Orygunner, I agree that the case of the NJ flyer seems an overreaction. Clearly he fell through the legal cracks. Any regulation, of any type, has cases like that. I'm not convinced that this is a common problem.

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  20. 18Echo, I'm certain that NJ law enforcement officers would disagree with your statement that "NJ is also not legally responsible to defend you so as far as they are concerned. You are on your own."

    The Petit case was horrible, but as I've shown, such cases are very rare, and the risks outweigh the potential benefit.

    Your worldview of protecting the weak and your family is an honorable one. I have the same philosophy, but I don't wish to endanger them with guns to achieve that end.

    I have friends and family who are gun owners, and I grew up in a family with guns, so I think you can put to rest the suggestion that I fear gun owners in general.

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  21. I'm certain that NJ law enforcement officers would disagree with your statement that "NJ is also not legally responsible to defend you so as far as they are concerned. You are on your own."

    So if I get viciously beaten by muggers when I'm walking my dog in Camden, can I sue the police for failing to protect me?

    The answer, of course, is no. The police are not liable for failing to prevent an attack. This is well-established case law.

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  22. "Guav, is it not alarming enough to show that having a gun in the home has a significantly higher chance of homicide, no matter the source of THE gun used in the killing?"

    No. If I have a gun in a safe in my house and someone breaks in with a different gun and shoots me, it doesn't mean that MY gun was the cause of my death. That's just illogical!

    "18Echo, I'm certain that NJ law enforcement officers would disagree with your statement that "NJ is also not legally responsible to defend you so as far as they are concerned. You are on your own.""

    I'm fairly sure that courts have upheld repeatedly that the police have no legal obligation to respond and assist you.

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  23. @Baldr: No, it may not be a common problem, but the problem does exist. In order to justify infringing on the rights of ordinary citizens, doesn't there have to be PROOF that there is a benefit from such restrictions? The correlation between gun control and safer societies is weak at best, and correlation does NOT equal causation.

    As far as 18Echo's statement, the Supreme Court has ruled MULTIPLE times that the police have NO DUTY to provide ANY protection to ANY individual.
    http://www.google.com/search?btnG=1&pws=0&q=police+no+duty+to+protect

    Do many police officers FEEL they have a duty to do so? Absolutely! I believe most police officers do. But there is no LEGAL duty.

    What this means in an extreme example is this: A police officer could be standing 10 feet away watching you get mugged or raped and you CANNOT successfully sue the police department or the officer for failing to act to protect you. Now the officer may get reprimanded by their department or even fired for failing to act or fulfill their sworn duty and/or department policy. But for the individual they failed to protect, in a court of law, you have no redress whatsoever.

    ...Orygunner...

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  24. BanTheNRA:

    Well you must not have ever been to Newark, Camden or here in Jersey City. No shortage of gun crime around here.


    Baldr Odinson:
    "Guav, is it not alarming enough to show that having a gun in the home has a significantly higher chance of homicide, no matter the source of THE gun used in the killing?"


    No, why would it? You're telling me that by merely having a firearm in my home, I have a greater risk of being harmed by someone else's gun? Are you serious? If you (or Kellerman) can demonstrate that the average gun owner has a higher risk of being harmed by their own gun than ever using it in a self defense situation, then that would be a different story. But that is absolutely not what his studies show, despite being characterized that way.

    Something else you might want to take into consideration is that people who live in or near high crime areas might be more inclined to own guns for defensive purposes. Living in or near high crime areas also makes them more likely to become victims of violent crime and raises the probability of them being killed with a gun (theirs or someone else's). If you just study three counties as Kellerman did—two of which are low income—then you're not getting a very accurate picture of what the broad risks of gun ownership are for the average gun owner.

    "If you are not concerned with the potential for a gun to be used in either self defense or to harm others in the home, and consider the vast majority of gun ownership totally benign, then for what reason would one want a gun at all? As I've shown, the risk isn't worth it."

    Well, as I already told you, you haven't shown that. Kellerman's studies have been widely refuted and rejected by criminologists, people much more qualified than I (or doctors) to weigh in on the issue of what makes people safe or puts them in danger. And since the Kellerman studies (only taken seriously by gun control advocates) are the only ones that show such inflated risks for gun owners, I'm not inclined to give them as much credence as you have.

    There are many reasons why "one" might want a gun other than for self-defense. In fact, I'd be willing to wager that a large number of those 59,999,970 million gun owners who neither shoot burglars nor are shot by burglars with their own guns might very well own them for other reasons—sport, collecting, heirlooms, "just 'cause."

    Personally, for me, self defense is my primary motivation for gun ownership. While I acknowledge that the vast majority of Americans (and by extension, gun owners) will never be in a situation where they have to defend themselves with a firearm or are killed by one, my personal experiences have been somewhat different.

    Violence has come to me and to those I love several times in my life. I've been mugged, I've been jumped, I've had my house broken into while I was there, my mother has been raped, and I've had a friend—unable (or unwilling) to defend himself—beaten to death in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk. Unfortunately, I have been in danger enough times in my life to place a high value on the capability of defending yourself (whether with firearms or other means).

    It has been my experience that most people who can't understand why anyone would want to carry weapons for self defense have never had their life threatened or been in danger, or have never been forced to defend themselves or their home. For those of us who have, however, your arguments are not very compelling.

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  25. My goodness, Guav. You've said a mouthful. No wonder you are so passionate about self-protection. I, too, have been involved in shootings and seen people killed, and have had a friend die by gunfire. But I have taken another route for healing.

    I don't doubt that many gun owners purchase for other reasons, but hunting and self-protection are by far the most common.

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  26. Baldr, your post reminds me of the death of Jerry Stomps in Oregon. His son said Jerry always carried a loaded gun. Prosecutors are saying Mr. Stomps was shot to death by his wife. I don't know who did it, but someone shot Mr. Stomps to death with his own weapon. So much for keeping him safe.

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  27. When someone claims that people with guns could have prevented the Tucson Massacre or the Virginia Tech Massacre, I remind them of the Lakewood shooting in November 2009 in which four police officers were shot to death. One officer managed to get off a couple of shots (exact number unknown) but the gunman still got away and all four officers were shot to death.

    So if someone thinks he can actually succeed where four armed, trained, experienced police officers could not, then he needs to seriously think about the reality of massacres and ambushes. Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood's characters were just that: characters in a story--not real life.

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  28. eumenides, do you do any thinking for yourself, or just parrot the same tired, useless excuses you hear from other anti-rights advocates?

    (Actually, I'm making an assumption, maybe you originally said this stuff and dozens of other people are copying YOU.)

    You're making a common mistake most gun control advocates do, and that's trying to use anecdotal evidence to support a broader claim.

    So Mr. Stomps was shot to death with his own weapon. Every set of statistics I have seen prove that "having your gun taken from you and used on you instead" happens an extremely small percentage of the time a firearm is used for self defense.

    The four police officers were seated in a booth in a coffee shop, when the killer ambushed them, intent on killing them. How many regular citizens get ambushed by people intent on murdering them? VERY very few. To suggest that because ANYONE caught off guard and ambushed couldn't defend themselves with a firearm as reason nobody else can in any other circumstance is extremely faulty logic.

    For the instance of the Tuscon massacre, there's no telling. The one nearby armed citizen was too far away when the shooting started and the suspect had been tackled by the time he got there.

    For Virginia Tech, the gunman was able to walk around constantly reloading and shooting people for minutes... What leap of logic suggests that one responsible armed student or teacher present wouldn't have a VERY good chance at stopping or at least slowing down the attack?

    In all three of those situations, one armed person in the right place would have had a very good chance to make a little, or a LOT of difference. Except in your flawed, biased logic.

    Oh, here's an example that disproves your theory of "reality" - a person with a gun at the right place at the right time.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReJn0kmobnI

    Now that I've proven that a gun in the right place and the right time saves lives, and you've proven that disarmed victims leads to higher death tolls... What possible excuse is there not to have some guns in the "right" hands? Or are all hands wrong to you unless they have a badge attached?


    ...Orygunner...

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  29. Guav sure has a dramatic way with words, but it's a bit condescending to say that gun control folks have never experienced any of those things.

    I have, and I've chosen other ways to respond, lake Baldr.

    The irony is, poor Guav is worse off with his guns than he would be without them. And when you multiply Guav my tens of millions, we're all worse off.

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  30. eumenides, could an armed citizen on the scene have prevented the Tuscon or VA Tech shootings? Absolutely not. Might they have cut them short? It's entirely possible, but there is no certain answer, every situation is different.

    Having a gun on you is not a magic talisman that wards off attacks, and there is no guarantee that you'll be able to stop an attack in progress. However, people successfully defending themselves against armed, and often multiple attackers with their own weapons is not unusual, nor is it something that only happens in movies. It's a common occurrence, and normal people do it quite frequently. Here are just a few examples from this month:

    Jan 5: The resident said he answered a knock at the door of his home to find a man coming toward him with a shotgun and demanding money. The man in the home, armed with a handgun, fired his gun several times, striking the would-be robber three times.

    Jan 5: One of two armed men who tried to rob a house late Tuesday ended up with a gunshot wound instead of loot when a guest in the home opened fire on the two intruders, according to Beaufort police.

    Jan 6: A Dougherty County woman's workday started out with a shootout with a couple of armed robbers. She was grazed by a bullet, but she's sure she shot that gunman too.

    Jan 10: Sheriff's deputies say three men approached the victim, pulled a gun and demanded money, but the robbery didn't go as planned for the suspects. The victim pulled his own gun and fatally shot one of his attackers.

    Jan 17: Police say two men with guns tried to rob a Subway on W. Sugar Creek Road in north Charlotte Monday night. The clerk ended up shooting both suspects with his own gun.

    Jan 19: Authorities say a store owner shot and injured a would-be robber who Metro Police detectives believe could be responsible for more than a dozen similar crimes.

    As far as the four police officers who were shot, that's just another reason why I would never personally open carry even if I could—why would I want potential bad guys knowing I was armed? Seems like a good way to make yourself a target for ambush. Just my opinion though.

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  31. Read what I wrote, Mike. I didn't say "gun control folks have never experienced any of those things."

    "The irony is, poor Guav is worse off with his guns than he would be without them."

    Of course, you're not condescending at all. But that aside, there is absolutely no way you can categorically state that I am "worse off" with my guns than I would be without them. You have no way of knowing whether or not someone is worse off or better off—most of the 60 million gun owners are not worse off.

    And for the record, all of the things I mentioned that have happened to me in my life occurred before I ever owned a gun. Nothing bad has happened since. That's not BECAUSE I now own a gun, but quite obviously, things have not gotten worse for me.

    So stop saying things that have no basis whatsoever in fact, Mike. You don't know me and have no idea what you are talking about.

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  32. To echo Orygunner. "For Virginia Tech, the gunman was able to walk around constantly reloading and shooting people for minutes... What leap of logic suggests that one responsible armed student or teacher present wouldn't have a VERY good chance at stopping or at least slowing down the attack?"

    What we know FOR SURE is what happens when no one but the crazy guy is armed. It's called a massacre. Given NO other choices do you want your loved ones in a shootout or a massacre?

    I choose shootout because they *might* have a chance. Given 'some chance' or 'no chance' I'll take some chance every time, and so would any rational human.

    The anti-gun people worry that shootings would go up, but consider that the ADULTS (that might be students) armed on campus are already legally carrying everywhere else but campus and have met all the requirements to carry. There is nothing magical about the campus boundary and it obviously does not stop crazy people with guns. One might argue that it attracts them since they know that there are large numbers of people that cannot fight back.

    How many shooting have happened at the University of Utah? How many accidental shootings? How many arrests for someone showing a firearm?

    Students have been allowed to carry concealed there 5+ years and I can't find ANY record of problems. Odd no?

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  33. Guav, points taken. I was condescending and I don't know you.

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  34. As a husband and father, I have the obligation to ask "have I done everything possible to keep my family safe?" That responsibility falls squarely on me.

    My house is well lit, locked with dogs inside. If all that does not deter someone, forced entry should trip the alarm and notify the police. If that still doesn't deter, AND the bad guy(s) make their way upstairs, the threat is extremely serious at that point.

    I am absolutely not thinking I can do a better job than professional law enforcement, but I'm in the driver's seat until the arrive.

    If anyone would provide for a secret service detail to guard my family, I'll happily keep firearms out of the house.

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  35. Sean, you seem to be doing everything right, though I wouldn't think a home invader would still go so far after all of those impediments. And, based on what I have seen, the risk those guns have of harming your family outweighs the risk of that very rare home-invasion scenario.

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  36. @Sean, sounds like you're doing the right stuff, and you're right, YOU are responsible for your own family's protection, the police are under no legal obligation to protect you (says the Supreme Court).

    @Baldr: I haven't seen any evidence but a casual correlation between firearms in the home and people living in the home getting shot with them. What about the likelihood of fireams AND violence accompanying ILLEGAL ACTIVITY such as drugs and gang activity? Sure, a firearm present will increase the possibility of someone being shot if someone is intent on harming someone in their household, but you have no proof the firearm is nothing more than the tool used for the crime - NOT a cause.

    Protecting my family is very important, but it's not the only reason I own firearms. Plinking and clay target shooting are a fun, safe family activity. I use firearms to teach my kids responsibility, safety, and marksmanship.

    If you believe that your perceived "risk" isn't worth those benefits, consider that I also ride motorcycles (I'm a motorcycle safety instructor, actually). Riding a motorcycle increases the risk of being injured in an accident, yet I manage that risk as best as I can, because the benefits (feeling of freedom, enjoyment of riding with friends and my family, huge gas savings) are worth it to me.

    I manage my risks riding motorcycles by wearing proper gear, making myself visible and my intentions known to other drivers, always working to improve my mental and physical riding skills, and making sure my motorcycle is maintained.

    I manage my risks with firearms by keeping all my handguns except my regular carry gun securely locked in a lock box (My carry gun is always either on my person or next to my bed when I'm sleeping), my long guns are kept far separate from the ammunition, and my two teenage children are well trained in firearms safety and I trust their responsibility that they're not going to play with the long guns (or try to get into the handgun box) without my permission.

    Perhaps riding a motorcycle or having a gun in your home aren't worth the risk YOU perceive, and that's YOUR choice, and I respect that. My choice is to do both, and to manage that risk wisely.

    ...Orygunner...

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  37. I agree with all of these things and this is actually something taught in Concealed weapons classes. although I was hoping this article would give alternative means to defend yourself when all of these things have failed

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  38. This is great advice. Or, rather, it would be if things worked as they ought to. The advice is not completely invalid, but should be taken with a serious grain of salt. Most of these measures may help, but are not guaranteed to keep you safe. Let me give you a brief rundown.

    Be aware. If you see something suspicious, react. Go inside. Lock the door. Call the police. Call your neighbors.

    Less than a month ago I was standing outside my parents house in a not so horrible part of Minneapolis. There was much screaming and a fight was brewing. I made 6 (that's six) 911 calls before police responded about 15 or 20 minutes later. By that time a man was bleeding all over the street from a stab wound. I was aware. I called. They didn't get there in time. By the way, this is less than ten blocks from the local precinct.

    Insure that all doors and windows have strong locks, and that you use them whenever possible. Be judicious about who has keys to your home.

    That's good advice on the surface. However, a burglar who actually wants to get in is unlikely to care whether the door is locked or not. The weakest point of most American doors is the door itself, followed by the door jamb. The lock will hold, but the thin wood around it won't stand up to a single good kick. Doors with glass panes are completely worthless, as are doors with large windows next to them. There is a lot more to hardening a door than getting a good lock and controlling keys. Security doors, reinforcement plates and security strikes are a good start.

    Purchase and use a home security system, and advertise the fact with exterior signs. These systems can be costly, but well worth the price.

    I can't afford one, and therefore have no personal experience. Can they have a faster response than the police?

    If a home security system is not within your budget, you can still purchase signs to fool would-be intruders. You can also install inexpensive magnet-alarms for windows and doors. Most burglars wouldn't know the difference.

    The ones that wouldn't know the difference are not burglars. They are merely thieves of opportunity. A burglar with any experience will know. Burglars go to the same stores you go to and see the same fake stickers you buy.

    Get a dog and advertise the fact that you have it. If a dog is not a reasonable choice for your household, you can still put a used dog bowl and leash near your door, along with signs, to fool intruders.

    Again, a random hooligan might be fooled. A burglar won't be. Burglars check out houses before they strike and they will know there is no dog.

    Install motion-sensing lights outside your home, back and front.

    I have that. Didn't prevent a pair of knife-wielding crackheads from attacking me in my own garage. Also, I one car stolen and another almost stolen from under the same streetlight. Relying on light to scare away criminals is kinda silly.

    Start or join a neighborhood watch program for your block, and be active in it.

    I checked out a local program. What kept me away is their response to me asking what they would do if they spooked a criminal and he turned on them. They said they would use a manual they have. Defending yourself is not, apparently, a part of it. I have a family to take care of and I can't put myself in danger this way.

    Many local police forces have programs where, if you request it, they will patrol your property more often while you are away on vacation, or will patrol more often if you have a reason to feel threatened.

    Given their response to the live report of an actual crime in progress I find this to be of dubious value.

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  39. I own guns and they are loaded and hidden within the home in convenient places that are rotated throughout the day as our activity's move from inside to outside, front to back, dinner to bed. I have 4 children and we have that part taken care of. I agree that people should harden their homes; but guns are not only for self defense, or hunting. We have a government in this country that was put in place by the people; and can be removed by the people. That is the reason we have gun RIGHTS in this country to keep you and I free.

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  40. Eric, you're actually telling me you hide and re-hide your guns throughout your home several times a day? Sorry, man, but that's a sign of extremism in my mind. Even carrying a gun on your body all day in your home seems less worrisome to me (though another sign of extremism, in my mind), or do you do that, too? Either you live in a warzone or you are exceptionally paranoid.

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  41. I would also add, children and guns do not mix and are a dangerous combination.

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  42. Children + ALMOST ANYTHING are a dangerous combination.

    Children are far more likely to get hurt or die by falling down stairs, poisoning themselves or drowning in the family pool than they are to shoot themselves or someone else with the family gun.

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  43. @ Guav: If you have small children, you gate off the stairs, you don't leave them alone around a pool (or don't have a pool), and you lock up your poisonous materials and medicines. Similar precautions need to be taken with children regarding guns. Lock them up, with ammo separate, or better yet, remove the guns from the home altogether. This is basic safety, which you gun guys don't seem to understand.

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  44. Of course you should take precautions when you have children and guns in the same household—whatever gave you the idea that I disagreed with such a concept?

    And since there are 60+ million gun owners in the US with some 200+ million guns and only about 70 accidental gun deaths of children 14 and under a year, it appears that most "gun guys" (and girls) understand basic safety quite well.

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  45. With webcam surveillance, you can login from any computer, from any corner of the world and watch what is going on in your house. Whether you're on vacation, or away at work, your home is just a click away. What's more, most webcam software providers like GotoCamera www.gotocamera.com even allow you to login from your mobile phone and watch videos of your home.

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  46. I am comfortably accepting all the gun safety and home defense instructions

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  47. VERY ENLIGHTENING ARTICLE ABOUT GUNS, TAKES AWAY THE FEAR AND PARANOYA ASSOCIATED WITH HOME BURGULARY!!! VERY FEW DEATHS OF THE BURGULARIZED OR INTRUDER COMPARED TO THE OVERALL STATS OF GUN VIOLENCE!

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  48. I know of of three gun owners whose guns were either used against them or used in suicides. I have never known a gun owner who used their gun for its intended purpose: self protection.

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    Replies
    1. You have some real interesting friends. Luckily they are not representative of the 60 million gun owners who managed to not get shot or shoot themselves.

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    2. Guav I don't believe I called them "friends," just sad statistics of ever increasing gun violence in our society. Do your research. Countries that prohibit ownership of certain guns have, by contrast, much lower incidence of gun related deaths, and lower crime, overall. Stop spewing ill-supported stats nd start reading.

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    3. "Do your research"

      Take your own advice. You said we have "ever increasing gun violence in our society," but gun violence is not increasing—it has dropped 49% since 1993. If you don't have a realistic grasp of the situation, why should I take anything you have to say about it seriously?

      "Countries that prohibit ownership of certain guns have, by contrast, much lower incidence of gun related deaths, and lower crime, overall."

      Certainly not true across the board at all. Some do, some don't. And the ones that do also generally have a more robust and secure social network—there are a lot of things that correlate much closer to violent crime and homicide than firearm availability.

      "Stop spewing ill-supported stats and start reading."

      Oh yeah? Like which ones? Point them out, I'm curious to see what you think you're talking about.

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