Monday, July 23, 2012

Responsible Gun Owners

It's not "news" but it's news to me:
In 2002, [NRA President David] Keene’s son David Michael Keene was driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway when, in a road-rage incident, he fired a handgun at another motorist. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for “using, brandishing, and discharging a firearm in a crime of violence.” I asked Keene if this private tragedy had left him uncertain about what the N.R.A. had wrought. He said no: “You break the law, you pay the price.”
(emphasis added)  I wonder if the other driver agrees with Keene? 

That incident is far from the focus on that (excellent) New Yorker piece, but let's be clear, Keene was trying to shoot the other driver:
[Police] said Keene allegedly shot a bullet into another car Dec. 1 while traveling along a stretch of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, shattering the car's rear window.

The bullet lodged in the driver's seat and came within inches of striking the driver, police said.
So he's probably lucky he wasn't prosecuted for attempted murder.  The other driver is lucky not just to not get shot, but that he didn't panic and crash, and that he was able to get Keene (Jr)'s license plate.  For all we know, this wasn't the first time Keene had shot at someone over sheer petty rage.

Anyway, all this really adds an anecdotal highlight to something that there is statistical evidence for, that so called "responsible" gun owners too often turn out to not be very responsible at all:
Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal

We analyzed data from two national random-digit-dial surveys conducted under the auspices of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.  Criminal court judges who read the self-reported accounts of the purported self-defense gun use rated a majority as being illegal, even assuming that the respondent had a permit to own and to carry a gun, and that the respondent had described the event honestly from his own perspective.

Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah. Gun use in the United States: Results from two national surveys. Injury Prevention. 2000; 6:263-267.
Keep that in mind when you hear gun proponents citing their ridiculous inflated statistics on the number of "defensive gun uses" per year.  Much like "Stand Your Ground" incidents, these are typically based on one party's side of the story.  Yet even their own naturally personally biased accounts of the incidents are very often themselves actually crimes!

My main point here is to back up what I was getting at with my other recent post on preventing gun deaths, that this crystal clear distinction some have between hard core career criminals and decent, law abiding people just doesn't hold up.  James Holmes is really a strong example of what I was getting at, a person who had no criminal track record, and yet for some reason (and mental illness is a pretty decent theory) decided to engage in a horrific one.  Few gun owners will do what he did, but there's a range of lesser, but still serious crimes they can and do engage in, often without realizing or acknowledging that they've done so. 

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