The Guardian wants to tell us that even though some to many lives were saved in that most recent Texas church shooting as the congregation blasted the assailant this isn’t good enough, it still doesn’t justify the idea that the proles might have gins to defend themselves. After all, how will true socialism ever be achieved if the mere citizenry can disagree to effect?
Every time the US suffers another mass shooting, gun rights activists make an argument that goes something like this: if a good guy with a gun had been there, this terrible tragedy could have been prevented.
That argument has been dismissed by gun control groups as an unrealistic suggestion that diverts attention away from the need to strengthen laws restricting firearm access, but a shooting that occurred over the weekend has now supercharged the “good guy with a gun” defense.
Tsk, facts and evidence, eh?
Such instances of defensive firearm use are also rare in the larger landscape of America’s gun violence. According to the not-for-profit Gun Violence Archive, only 1,532 gun violence deaths in the US this year have been the result of defensive use, representing about 4% of the total number of such deaths.
That total figure – 39,150 gun violence deaths in 2019 – now includes the two innocent congregants who were shot in the span of a few seconds on Sunday, despite the presence of a “good guy with a gun”.
Sigh. A decent number of those gun deaths are suicides:
In 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries (23.2 injuries per 100,000 people), and 33,636 deaths due to “injury by firearms” (10.6 deaths per 100,000 people). These deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides, 505 deaths due to accidental or negligent discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms use with “undetermined intent”.
The suicide rate in the US is not markedly different from other rich countries. It’s lower than Iceland or Japan, places where no one has a gun. The availability of guns leads to it being easier – if more messy – to do so for short drop hanging isn’t a way that many like to go. But it would be the marginal level of suicide given that ease which is caused by guns, not the total number even then. And there’s little to no evidence – rather than supposition – that the marginal rate is anything at all.
But even then the Guardian’s looking at entirely the wrong number. We don’t want to know how may bad guys were shot by good ones. We want to know how many good guys weren’t shot by bad ones as a result of the bad guys oozing intestines through their bullet holes from the good guys.
Last church shooting had what, 26 dead? Here three. So, congregations being armed saved 8.7 times the lives. Or, perhaps, with one bad guy down and 26 non-deaths, each bad guy down saves 25 lives? At which point general gun availability saves more than it kills, by a long, long way.
Not that I’m trying to insist upon that you understand. Only that this is the number we’re actually interested in. Not how many bad guys were killed righteously, but how many people didn’t die as a result of such shootings? And it’s not obvious that the balance is negative there, is it?