Ban guns in Los Angeles?


Using our submission form someone suggested we check out Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles’s plan for a gun free Los Angeles. You know I was on that in a second. I was hoping for some new information or perhaps well thought out arguments -unfortunately what I found was old statistics and extremely loose connections. The most recent statistic mentioned on their site is from 2000, and some are as old as 1986! Has nothing been written since then? Of course it has, the problem is that the new information doesn’t back up these old claims so people with knee jerk anti-gun reactions tend to ignore them.

One of the most disgusting claims made by the PSR-LA is that guns in the house cause suicides. They go as far as to say “To put simply: suicides… would be much less likely if the gun were not in the house in the first place.” This is right after they state that Japan, which has extremely strict gun control laws, has approximately zero children killed each year from guns (which I’ll get back to in a moment). So, if Japan has no guns, and guns cause suicide, then how come Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world? The US has a rate of about 10.9 suicides per 100,000 people, meanwhile Japan had a rate of 26.1 in 1998 and 24.8 in 2003. And even worse, youth suicide is rising. I’ve never met any normal, happy person who suddenly wanted to kill themselves when they were near guns. I think it’s safe to say suicide is ugly problem that has much more to do with the society at hand than the tools within arms reach, and suggesting otherwise is flat out irresponsible.

But what about all those kids in the US dying from guns? Remember that a child is classified as anyone under 20 years old. The vast majority of those handgun deaths are children over the age of 14, and are gang related. (more on that misleading fact here) It’s not news that we have a gang problem in the US, but again possession of a gun does not make someone a gang member. Additionally, Sheriff Baca has said on countless occasions that guns used in crimes in LA are not legally owned, and is stepping up efforts to find out how criminals are getting these guns. People who own guns legally are not the problem, and making new laws doesn’t effect criminals who already get their guns though illegal means.

Another often touted claim that the PRS-LA is waving around is Great Britain’s gun ban. They state:

Great Britain, for example, banned all handguns in 1997 when 16 children and their teacher were killed in a primary school gun massacre in Dublane, Scotland. The county’s gun-related offenses fell by 21% following ban.

Sounds positive right? Well, that’s from 1997. What’s happened since then? It’s gone right back up. And keeps going up. This article was published today:

“Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies. Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year – a 10% jump – including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

“There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals. Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales – up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.”

While it would be fantastic is eliminating crime and violence was that easy, this is the real world and things aren’t that simple. Most of the statements made byt the PSR-LA stem from Hoplophobia and have little basis in fact. The fact is, in the US, since 1987 more and more states are passing laws allowing law abiding citizens to carry guns which has lead to more and more guns being owned by these law abiding citizens. In 1986 there were 8 shall-issue states, 20 may-issue, 21 no-issue, and 1 unrestricted state, in 2006 there were 35 shall-issue states, 12 may-issue, 2 no-issue, 2 unrestricted state. In 20 years not a single state that has passed one of these laws has gone back to remove it, and there have been no mass shootouts or blood running in the streets as folks opposed to the idea predicted. It’s made people safer. So, as much as I’m sure the PSR-LA has good intentions with this site and this campaign, it’s unfortunate that they are ignoring the current statistics to back up their position.

[image from A Human Right | some links from CACCW ]

15 thoughts on “Ban guns in Los Angeles?”

  1. I think you’re right the Japanese comparison is flawed, but I would argue that if there were more guns in Japanese households, there’d be more suicides. Just as if there were more guns in US households, there’d be more suicides. If it were easier to OD on aspiring, there’d also be more suicides.
    If someone is suicidal and they know a gun is nearby, theres naturally less a need to make additional efforts to do the deed.
    I think its a bad argument for increased gun control, but if I had kids in my house I’d certainly make sure they couldn’t access said weaponry.

  2. There’s a useful stat on guns and suicide (I don’t have a citation handy, although you’ll whine and complain because it’s a few years old). The run-down: Women attempt suicide more frequently than do men. However, men are successful at suicide more often. Why? Because men use guns more often than do women. It’s a cliche, yes, but suicide attempts are often as much a cry for help as an attempt to end a life. With a gun, the balance shifts to the latter.

    Many (most? all?) of those who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge but failed reported changing their minds on the way down.

  3. Whatever… those suicide “facts” are ridiculous. Suicide is easy. More homes have ovens in them than guns, and an oven can be used quite easily to kill oneself. Should we ban ovens just in case some youngster get too close to one? Same goes for a car in the garage as well as hundreds of other easy and readily available ways to kill oneself, not the least of which is an item that anyone can buy, anywhere… a rope. If someone wants to die that badly they’re going to do it, gun or no gun. I know too many people who have killed themselves… and not one of them used a gun.

  4. I am interested in disussing the exact opposite strategy. You may have heard the story of the town of Kennesaw, Georgia. In 1982 the city council unanimously voted to require the head of every household to own a gun and ammunition. In the following years violent crime fell dramatically. This website has been following the stats of the town along the way.

    Apparently law breaking citizens are less likely to break into a house or rob a store if they know the owner has a gun. Makes sense.

  5. ” think you’re right the Japanese comparison is flawed, but I would argue that if there were more guns in Japanese households, there’d be more suicides. Just as if there were more guns in US households, there’d be more suicides. ”

    This really husrts my head.

    Without fact to support this, it means it is purely opinion. Yes, the way to get the facts going forward in Japan is for Japan to allow guns(ownership), and see the carnage (or not) happen, but, regardless, the statement ignores the fact that SAFE gun ownership will not change the suicide numbers. Only the unsafe or careless gun owner can provide access to a gun for the purpose of committing suicide. Unless you are implying that LEGAL gun owners in general commit suicide more than non-owners. (stats are against you on this.

  6. Wow. So according to the study referenced by Sean Bonner, guns are used defensively far more than to outright kill someone (I didn’t see anything about other gun crimes). In 1994, like 1300 defensive guns uses (DGUs) stopped an unspecified crime per one gun homicide. Could have been trespasser, rapist, or some other guy trying to shoot you.

    I found a gun in the hedge of my property, but it’s too rusted to be used. The funny thing is, this rusted gun, statistically, more or less, was probably used defensively more times to stop a crime before it was stashed after some unknown crime.

    Seeya at the gun store. Remember, we all have to buy them to make the world safer!

  7. don, pull the facts out of your own ass, although not much may be in there. You did not link any study to support your statements, but I driect you (on your own merry time) to research the NRA logs on gun usage, including suicide, and if you do not trust their facts, the Feds keep long lists of those stats. FBI, former ATF, Homeland Security.

    A gun purchase a month, thats all I ask!

  8. I like that we keep the discussion going on this issue – but I hate, hate, HATE that graphic at the top of the post.

    Rampaging mobs, eh? Nice use of old inflammatory tactics. Their stats go back far, and the graphic pins fears to 1992.

    I just don’t think that kind of language solves anything. People who react to it are the ones far from where the riot violence was centered.

    At least find a new graphic that uses Katrina. Oh wait, the mobs of looters and killers were partly made up, weren’t they?

    There are so many dark implications I hardly know where to start.

  9. CD, all those who were caught in South Central when the riots started AND were unarmed AND were yelled at and chased by a car full of raging maniacs AND ran a train signal to get away AND wished they had a gun because they were scared shitless… please raise your hands.

    Me CD, all those who were caught in South Central when the riots started AND were unarmed AND were yelled at and chased by a car full of raging maniacs AND ran a train signal to get away AND wished they had a gun because they were scared shitless… please raise your hands.


  10. People kill people, guns are just one of many tools. Civil unrest…I bailed to Vegas last time as the tanks were stationed at the mall 2 blocks from my house. Better to extricate ones self from a mess.

  11. Regardless of statistics, lets remember one thing.

    Bad Guys have guns.

    Can anyone tell me how we completely eliminate this fact?

    The guns in my safe are in no way contributing to this problem. They have never been used in a crime.

    They may, however, keep someone from harming me or my family.

    Badguys don’t follow any rules. They have guns illegaly, they seem more inclined to shoot first, then rob. They ambush cops. Gangbanger on Gangbanger shootings kill innocent children, and get away with it.

    Some of you may choose to cower and be victims. I choose not to. I’m not going to force you to protect your family and loved ones, don’t take away my choice to protect mine.

    Just remember, one day, a legal gun owner could save your families lives.

  12. Michael #1 – you were both in South Central and watching approaching plumes of smoke at the same time! Wow, impressive.

    But that doesn’t negate the fact that a very, very small percentage of Los Angeles was in the line of fire in 1992. I’m not saying that those who were didn’t wish to be armed at that point in time, but I can hear that justification being used by people in untouched areas unlikely to ever see rioting even in the most dire of situations. Stikes me as silly.

  13. CD – michael #1 lives in downtown, and since the riots didn’t only last a few minutes it’s pretty reasonable for him to say he was in south central when they started and saw smoke later.

    That aside, what is an area likely to see riots? I doubt anyone who lives in an area that has seen riots thought it was likely to see riots prior to them happening. If there is a major earthquake that hits LA and knocks out major services to the city, I’d guess many areas that aren’t likely to see riots would be just as open to looting as anywhere else. My wife’s family lives in the middle of no where in Florida because it’s safe and not likely to see riots, yet when it got trashed by hurricanes a few years ago people were going door to door there looting what they could. Truth is you don’t know what can happen, and can only look at what has happened else where as a guild to how you might handle the same situation.

  14. I’ve worked as a reporter on the crime beat and I’ve seen it all — guns used in commission of a crime, guns used to kill those doing the committing, people trying to use a gun in self-defense and getting killed, people trying to commit a crime and being scared off by a gun.

    I’ve read comments from criminals who say they’d be less likely to go into a house if they thought the owner had a gun, but I’ve also read all the county Sheriff’s reports where one of the most common things stolen in a home robbery is guns.

    Will criminals get guns if guns are banned? Yes, though fewer available guns will mean fewer criminals will get them. But then those fewer will know they’ll have total control in a situation, unless they are going up against other criminals.

    I’m pro gun, but it took me a long time to get that way. Certainly I’ve been dismayed by the ignorant reporting by my bretheren. Often it’s implied that guns used during crimes are automatic weapons, when they seldom are. And all that junk about teflon bullets, etc. is mind-boggling.

    I bought a rifle made in 1938, it fires a single shot at a time and holds 5 rounds in the clip; it could pierce most body armor. Many semi-automatics and handguns would be stopped by body armor. Which should be banned first?

    The number one reason I’m pro-gun? I don’t trust my government.

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