Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gun debate goes on and on and on...

AURORA, CO - JULY 23:  Two daughters of movie-...
AURORA, CO - JULY 23: Two daughters of movie-theater-shooting-victim Gordon Cowden's embrace one another at the makeshift memorial built across the street from the Century 16 theater July 23, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Two of Cowden's teenage daughters were with him in the theater when he was killed. Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes is suspected of killing 12 and injuring 58 others Friday during a shooting rampage at a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises.' (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
What happened last weekend in Aurora, Colorado was everyone's worst nightmare. Like most others who have watched the details of the tragedy unfold, I thought about how I have been going to movies all my life. It has always been a relaxing, enjoyable, peaceful experience. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that someone could walk up and down the aisles shooting innocent people.

That kind of horror often plays out in movie theaters, but on the screen, not in the audience. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live through such horrific violence, or what would be worse to die because of it.

Turning an American iconic activity into a bloody horror has enraged me. But I am even more horrified that so many people refuse to place any kind of blame on the relative ease of this 24-year old killer to obtain weapons of mass destruction. We went to war with a country over such a thing! But so many people, the very people that condoned the unjust war in Iraq that was based on lies by the George W. Bush administration, defend the right to own semi-automatic weapons and magazines that hold hundreds of shots. Their argument is based on self defense. I have to ask what is wrong with these people?

A quick Internet search of the subject, revealed multiple sources that make the claim, "more guns, less crime." In fact, that is the title of a book written by John Lott. The NRA has embraced his work and in the summer of 2003 recommended the book and its analysis to then Attorney General John Ashcroft in a letter signed by 18 state attorneys general. They sang the praises of Ashcroft's position on the Second Amendment. And so it goes...

I can't help but remain skeptical because it only seems to me that violence is much more a part of life today than it has ever been before. In my unskilled, unstudied opinion, guns seem to be at the very heart of it. Never before has this country seen the kinds of mass killings that we are seeing on a seemingly regular basis. Shootings resulting in multiple deaths have occurred in fast food joints, the workplace, college campuses, elementary and high schools, shopping malls and now at movie theaters.
A little further research revealed a working paper written by Mark Duggan from the National Bureau of Economic Research at Cambridge, Massachusetts, who looked into the relationship of guns and crime. His paper was entitled: "More Guns More Crime." At the time of his research, Mark was a student at the University of Chicago in the Dept. of Economics.

His paper http://www.nber.org/papers/w7967 was an in-depth analysis--than a cursory Google search. Those first results were obvious bias sources. One article on Google can be recreated literally hundreds of times by different sources. Such is the case with gun advocates.

Duggan noted his paper one item that stood out for me. He said he used statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) because the NCHS data gave a more accurate source of homicide data than the FBI. He noted that between five and eight-percent of homicides are not reported in the FBI state-level data each year.

Another paper published by Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III is entitled, "Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis." http://www.nber.org/papers/w9336, students at Yale and Stanford respectively.

"While certain facially plausible statistical models appear to generate this conclusion, (Lott's book "More Guns Less Crime") more refined analyses of more recent state and county data undermine the more guns, less crime hypothesis," said Ayres and Donohue III.

Donahue also wrote, "The latest misfires in support of the 'More Guns, Less Crime' hypothesis," in the Stanford Law Review, 2003.

The discussion has gone on for years, with no resolution. Fire power is getting faster and more lethal while political leaders continue to back away from the very subject. Who can blame them? The country is as divided about guns as it is on a host of other topics, especially in this election year.

So, the argument between gun and non-gun advocates continues, while more and more potential future victims of gun violence go about their happy lives. Potential killers keep going to gun stores and ordering their Glocks on the Internet. One day the two will meet. Bang, somebody will be dead!





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