To Savage and the stranger on guns

Last year there were the mass shooting in the Orlando club.  Shortly afterwards, a spokeswoman for the national pink pistols had published an essay on guns making people safer.

Within a few hours, the local Seattle alternative newspaper had published its rebuttal.  The rebuttal is by Dan Savage and he manages to suggest that Nicki Stallard and other gun-rights advocates have the wisdom and intelligence of Neanderthal man.

I emailed the stranger asking for the opportunity to present a discussion of the piece by Savage and the stranger did not reply.

So, rather than reading this in “the stranger,” here are some thoughts.  There are two basic premises advanced by the Savage essay.  One is that guns make you less safe rather than more safe.  The other is that it reflects even extra and extreme lunacy to suggest that some persons be carrying their weapons in a nightclub or other place of alcohol use.

It was recently reported in the news that robbers had broken into a home in Oklahoma.  The robbers were dressed in black and one had a knife and another had brass knuckles.  The son in the family had heard tapping or other indications of criminal entry and taken his AR15 to confront them.  After having words with them that were not satisfactory, the gun-wielding man shot the three robbers in the city of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Now, this situation turned out badly for the robbers and well for the man with the rifle.  The story is found at and this is one of the few also found on cnn.  Often the stories of evil-doers being stopped by a man with a gun are carried on foxnews or breitbart and are not found on cnn or in your local paper or news website.

Now, Dan Savage and Mother Jones magazine would have you believe that most situations of gun use end up the opposite . . . in some way, bad and evil.

Basically, you or I could present a dozen or a hundred or a thousand testimonies of defensive gun use, and Mother Jones and Savage say, “Yes, but statistically, that is not what happens.”

Mother Jones says, approximately, you have to factor in all the cases in which you get shot by the burglar (or robber) because you had a gun and resisted him, and also all the cases in which the burglar grabs your gun and uses it against you or someone else!

So lets consider a case of just that.  There was a multiple shooting in the Tacoma Mall in 2005. During the shooting, there was a legally armed citizen who confronted the assaillant. Because McKown had scruples about shooting a person he regarded as a kid, and for other reasons, McKown did not simply shoot the assaillant.  Instead, McKown verbally told him to drop his weapon, while McKown’s own pistol was, reportedly, still in its holster or, at least, still concealed.

The assaillant named Maldonado then turned and shot McKown, leaving him paralyzed for life.

Does having a gun make you personally more safe like the unnamed man of Broken Arrow or actually less safe like the people like Dan McKown?  Do guns in the hands of the public make society more safe or less safe?

The answer is obvious and here is why.  Less than half of all robberies are done by a robber with a gun.  More than half of robberies are done in the USA by a person without a gun!  Even if we add in robberies with a knife, that still leaves about half of robberies being done strong-arm, by physical intimidation, threat or by hitting you with a fist.  About 90% of rapes and attempted rapes are done without any weapon other than feet, hands and fists.

If you have a gun or other weapon, you are in a position to deter or stop most robberies and most rapes and attempted rapes.  You are in a position to stop or deter about 3 in 4 assaults.

Everyone should find it intuitively obvious that a homeowner with a gun will stop or deter most unarmed burglars, most unarmed robbers and most unarmed rapists.

The question is whether or not there are worse problems for you if you have a gun and if you are being robbed or burglarized by a man with a gun.  In that case, statistically, you seem to have greater chance of being shot, although the statistics in many of the studies of gun ownership are confounded by the presence of criminals engaged in criminal activity while carrying guns and getting robbed or attacked by a rival gang!  People who engage in either risky or criminal activities are more likely to carry guns.  The fact that they are shot or attacked more often than the general public reflects the risky or criminal activities they have chosen, and not simply the fact that they carry or own a gun!

A gun-owning man was kidnapped in Las Vegas.  Was it because he owned a gun (he did) or because he was a jeweler with immediate access to large quantities of gold and diamonds (he was)?  If you are an illegal drug dealer, you might own some guns and you also might be subject to armed attack and even to being shot to death by robbers, rival gangs and the police.  If you then get shot, your getting shot will be confounded with others in a way that seems to show a correlation between owning a gun and getting shot.  There really are not that many wrongful homicides per year; all it takes is for several drug dealers to get into a shootout and a social scientist can prove statistically that owning a gun is associated with a higher risk of getting shot.  So, yeah, maybe you are a jeweler . . . or maybe you are a drug dealer; either way, you have reasons to own guns and your occupation itself or some of your hobbies also place you at greater risk than usual of being attacked, robbed or killed.

Now, having a gun, while being challenged by an attacker with a gun, seems to lead to more resistance and more confrontation, whether one is a member of a gang or of the general public.  And if you don’t have the drop on a robber (and the robber has a gun) and you are resisting or reluctant to part with your wallet or your car keys, then, sure, you are probably upping your chances of being shot.

So sometimes the question is who shoots first and many members of the public are not trained to shoot first, to kill even an armed robber and lots of members of the public, even with their gun in their hidden holster, do not have the drop on most of the robbers with guns.  A gun does not make you safer against another man with a gun, if he has his gun pointed at you and yours is not yet pointed at him.

Now, Dan Savage can argue all he likes that he does not like the guns and the gun-fondlers, but Dan Savage probably does not want to live in Mexico or in Russia or even in France.  Dan Savage probably does not like the idea of living in Red China. Mexico has “great” laws against ordinary people carrying or owning guns and that does not mean that people like Dan Savage want to live there as a permanent resident.  Dan Savage writes elsewhere that he makes a ton of money and he implies that he could live where he wants.  Savage lives in America, where you and I can have a gun and he doesn’t live in Mexico, Red China or in Russia where you can’t carry your gun for self-defense.

So, Savage doesn’t particularly like the gun-fondlers as he calls them and Savage thinks that the gun-fondlers make society less safe and not more safe, and yet, strange to tell, Savage is voting with his feet to live among them rather than in Mexico with its great anti-gun laws . . . or Cuba or Red China or North Korea.

So, why does Dan Savage, who makes all the money he could want, live in a land teeming with pistols and rifles?  The only major nation with almost no guns and some lower crime rates of at least some crimes is Japan . . . and Japan also has almost no immigration.  Japan has borders which are nearly 100% effective.  Is Dan Savage willing to suggest that we establish electrified fencing on our borders and really cut down on legal and illegal immigration as a way of reducing the crime rate and the violent gun use rate?

Reducing immigration and taking in fewer refugees would reduce gun violence and also knife attacks in the US, but that is not one of the ideas that Savage is known for putting forward . . . though the one nation put forward as an example of few guns and low crime takes in very few foreigners.

How about another nation as a possible residence for the rich Dan Savage: Red China!  Ordinary citizens can’t own their guns there . . . I just can’t imagine that the public not being able to own guns would cause problems, problems such not being able to vote for your leaders.  Is Red China too far away?  OK, so why not Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from the USA?  You don’t get to own a gun for your own self-defense and you also do not get to vote.  Yeah, that is just a random coincidence, as we all know!

Now, we could suppose that Savage will say that people owning guns has nothing to do with having the right to vote.  After all, there is just this correlation between people not having the right to vote and not having guns for their self-defense in certain communist lands, and being able to have a gun and the right to vote in America.

It is just a random correlation, or is it?

Well, the fact is that during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, there were groups of armed blacks who protected civil rights leaders and civil rights workers.  There were the deacons for defense and there were other groups.  Some of these armed blacks marched or walked with other blacks while those blacks were face to face with hostile police or Klan members.

In one case, police were hosing down with a fire hose some civil rights workers and the deacons for the defense showed up and began to draw their weapons and the police and fire department put away their fire hose.  So, in fact, the weapons in the hands of the blacks helped establish in actual fact freedom, liberty, equality and the right to vote of blacks.  That use of weapons to establish the right to vote or to have one’s vote counted was not first time, in this land or in others.

Here is what the US government says about crime in Mexico.

The general crime rate in Mexico City is above the U.S. national average. Crime varies widely. Armed robberies, kidnappings, car thefts, credit card fraud, and various forms of residential/street crime are daily concerns. The low rate of criminal convictions contributes to the high crime rate. Although there is no pattern of criminals specifically targeting foreign or American businesses or personnel, criminals will target anyone perceived as sufficiently lucrative and vulnerable. Criminals select victims based on an appearance of prosperity, vulnerability, or a lack of awareness. Thefts of the vehicle’s operating computer and sound systems are common crimes. Although Mexico employs strict gun-control laws, criminals are usually armed with handguns (or knives).

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