Monday, January 24, 2011

Washington DC Gun Violence - The Real Lesson Behind the Numbers

On New Years Day, 1 Jan 2011, there was a Washington Post front page article: District, Prince George's report continuing decline in number of homicides (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/31/AR2010123103990.html) and I was absolutely delighted with the drop in homicides in the DC area from 299 in 2009 to 278 in 2010 but one needs to delve a little deeper into the numbers to understand the real lesson of the article. The articles states, the DC rate was 22 per 100,000 population (131 homicides & 599,657 population per the current Census website). The 5 Maryland jurisdiction’s (PG, Montgomery, St Mary’s, Charles, and Calvert) rate was 5.6 per 100,000 (119 homicides & 2,140,597 population) while the 5 Virginia jurisdiction’s (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun) rate was 1.33 per 100,000 (28 Homicides & 2,085,431).

This means that us “gun tottin” Virginians who are fortunate enough to live in a state where firearms ownership is almost unrestricted are 16.4 times less likely to be a homicide victim than an unfortunate DC resident where lawful gun ownership is still almost impossible. We Virginians are also 4.2 times less likely to be killed than a poor Marylander where firearms are also heavily regulated but even they are 3.9 times less likely to be a victim than the unfortunate DC resident.

Now I’m not opposed to registration and some reasonable limits on ownership such as terrorists, ex-cons and the mentally unstable but there should be no restrictions on owning or carrying a gun by average citizens – anywhere in the US. There is a “God-given” right of self protection and a gun is an exercise of that right. These above statistics clearly demonstrate that contrary to liberal rhetoric, “guns actually do make us safer.” Case in point, Virginia has by far the laxest gun laws and the least gun violence of any of the surrounding jurisdictions. Could it be criminals are not so anxious to murder law abiding citizens if they might be "packing heat?"

The obvious message in these statistics - guns make us more and not less safe.

While we’re talking gun violence, here are a couple of other interesting (and maybe) inconvenient FACTS:

In any given year in this country there is one child drowning death for every 11,000 residential swimming pools or 550 children under the age of 10 drown every year in our 6 million pools. Meanwhile there is one child killed by a gun for every one million (plus) guns in this country or with about 200 million guns, approximately 175 children under 10 die. This means a child is over 100 times more likely to drown in a pool than be killed by a gun. Hence, banning residential pools is a much more effective way of protecting children than banning fire arms.

In Switzerland, every male adult is issued an assault weapon for militia duty and required to keep it in his home. As a result, Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of guns in homes in the entire World yet is one of the safest places to live. Fire arm deaths in Switzerland is .56/100,000. Compare that to the United States where Assault Weapons are heavily regulated and automatic ones are outlawed and our rate of fire arm deaths is 2.97/100,000 per year. That means an American is 5.3 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than someone in Switzerland where everyone and their brother has an automatic assault weapon. Go figure!


- (sign me) A "Gun Tottin" Virginian-