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Rethinking Gun Control is a reader's digest of the key Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm Related Violence (National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, June 2013). The report is a comprehensive review of gun violence as requested by President Obama in January of this year. Mr. Saletan summarizes ten key concepts, and points out that the incidence of defensive gun use is on the same scale as criminal gun use. If you only have fifteen minutes to think about gun law and poilcy this week, please bookmark this diary, and go read Mr. Saleton's article. Some of the findings may surprise you.

Lady Justice wandered through the fashion district of NYC where she discovered a latent interest in firearms law.
Join us below the fold for discussion. This is an open thread.

Rethinking Gun Control

Surprising findings from a comprehensive report on gun violence.
June 24, 2013, William Saletan, Slate
Background checks are back. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden said that five U.S. senators—enough to change the outcome—have told him they’re looking for a way to switch their votes and pass legislation requiring a criminal background check for the purchase of a firearm. Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who led the fight for the bill, is firing back at the National Rifle Association with a new TV ad. The White House, emboldened by polls that indicate damage to senators who voted against the bill, is pushing Congress to reconsider it.

The gun control debate is certainly worth reopening. But if we’re going to reopen it, let’s not just rethink the politics. Let’s take another look at the facts. Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the existing research on gun violence and recommend future studies. That report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, is now complete. Its findings won’t entirely please the Obama administration or the NRA, but all of us should consider them. Here’s a list of the 10 most salient or surprising takeaways.

1. The United States has an indisputable gun violence problem. According to the report, “the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.” (Richardson and Hemenway, 2011)

...continue reading Rethinking Gun Control at Slate.

Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm Related Violence (National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, 2013)

From the NRC report, p27: In 2010, incidents involving firearms injured or killed more than 105,000 Americans.(20) A recent estimate suggested that firearm violence cost the United States more than $174 billion in 2010, (Miller, 2010). However, it is essentially impossible to quantify the overall physiological, mental, emotional, social, and collateral economic effects of firearm violence since these effects extend well beyond the victim to the surrounding community and society at large. ([Institute of Medicine], 2012b)

...continue reading Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm Related Violence.

The cost of our loose gun policies is huge. It's hard to wrap my mind around big numbers so let’s be conservative and round down to $150 billion per year. And let us compare that estimated financial toll in terms used to discuss the national budget deficit. That is $1.5 trillion dollars over a decade. If our projected budget deficit is $15 trillion over the next decade, then the ongoing cost of gun violence is about one-tenth of the budget deficit. The toll is roughly ten-fold larger than the cuts that the GOP wanted to make to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka Food Stamps). I think we all agreed those proposed cuts to the SNAP program are unacceptable.  Can we afford to simply continue absorbing the cost of our loose gun policies?

Like voting laws, most gun laws are passed and enforced at the state level. If we are to remain a broad coalition of urban and rural voters, we must educate ourselves about firearm technology and law. If we are to become effective advocates for change, we need to educate ourselves about state and local laws where we live, so that we can join with our neighbors and community leaders to demand effective action. If we don't master both the technology and legitimate fears, we will remain vulnerable to poorly written gun safety bills that can't pass, or that are ineffective even if they do become law. With 300 million guns in circulation, the impact of any new laws may take time to manifest. There are always unintended consequences. Let us always bear in mind the intent may be genuine but the resulting law may still fail to address the problem it sought to solve.

In a previous diary I looked at who is prohibited from buying/owning firearms, Background Check 101 - What is a Straw Buyer?

Most of the 300 million firearms in the US start out in the hands of a law abiding gun owner. With ongoing daily shootings and recent mass murders galvanizing debate, many are asking themselves more urgently than ever before "How do so many guns find their way into homes and hands where injury and death result?"

...continue reading Background Check 101 - What is a Straw Buyer?

Join us to discuss which of Mr. Saletan’s ten points surprised you the most.
The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group studies actions for reducing firearm deaths and injuries in a manner that is consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment.  We also cover the many positive aspects of gun ownership, including hunting, shooting sports, and self-defense.

To see our list of original and republished diaries, go to the Firearms Law and Policy diary list. Click on the ♥ or the word "Follow" next to our group name to add our posts to your stream, and use the link next to the heart to send a message to the group if you have a question or would like to join.

We have adopted Wee Mama's and akadjian's guidance on communicating.  But most important, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Originally posted to Firearms Law and Policy on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by notRKBA, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), and Shut Down the NRA.


Do you agree with Mr. Saletan? Which of the ten points surprised you the most?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for cutting away the blindfold. (23+ / 0-)

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:29:33 AM PDT

  •  thank you for a comprehensive look at the issue (9+ / 0-)

    as I read bits and pieces, various things popped into my mind such as how gun violence reflects the systemic failure of so many of our institutions.  The other industrialized nations have extensive social safety nets and care for their citizens to try to circumvent the core sources of gun violence.

    You have presented a great deal to try to wrap my mind around but the bottom line seems to be that it is time for extensive social change, such as the US experienced between the changes of the New Deal to the Great Society.  The question is if there is a national will for such change or if our citizens are willing to accept an unacceptable status quo

    •  We didn't get to our current state overnight (7+ / 0-)

      You are welcome, Entlord. Nice to see you.

      I agree that just as success has many fathers (and mothers) so does our failures.

      There are many laws/policy/interventions that by themselves won't have much impact, but that together can produce beneficial changes. IMO, we can not afford to cordon off any area and say, "We can't touch that."

      One of the interesting tidbits in the CDC Report is essentially a single observation in Philadelphia, that promoting green spaces, e.g. reclaiming vacant lots and converting them into community gardens, had a measurable impact on reducing gun crime.

      They don't know all the factors but they suggested that green spaces under local control lead to "more informal" community patrols. Nothing like neighborhood watch. And the other factor is simply practical. Vacant lots are places where a criminal can stash a gun before or after a crime. Cleaning up the lots removed those little reservoirs.

      I'll see if I can find the exact pages.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:00:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good morning, entlord. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have missed you.  How have you been?  Any recent acquisitions?

      •  thank you; we are a bit off kilter today (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, Joy of Fishes

        Guy was arrested for kidnapping and beating gf and was released RoR.  yesterday he went to the workplace of the gf, shot her in the face w/a shotgun and then blew his head off.
        My daughter knew the guy and his whole family as well as the girl.  The magistrate who released him RoR was the same magistrate who released my daughter's former bf after he kidnapped 2 people and cut one of them when a drug deal went bad.

        She is freaked out over this

        •  Oh my (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy of Fishes

          I'm so sorry this is happening in your community. My thoughts go out to you and your daughter and the families of the deceased. Very traumatic for all the survivors.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 07:14:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm skeptical of widespread social change, BUT ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Social change" is probably the most difficult kind of change for people to make. Views on guns are firmly and deeply held by good people on all sides.

      Information, statistics, a thoughtful presentation of the arguments - not the most polar arguments on either side, but a way to lop off the extremes so people in the vast middle can reason together about the possibilities - may be our only hope.

      That statement will rouse the absolutists, for whom everything is a slippery slope. They would have more credibility if the lobbyists and spokespeople for absolutism didn't repress gun statistics at every turn. How can we craft any kind of middle ground, working our way(s) toward reasonable and creative compromises, as long as we determinedly know very little about the subject beyond our own heartfelt beliefs?

      2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 07:09:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've never really (6+ / 0-)

    considered this issue in terms of cost--before.

    That's an intetesdting point.

    Mayan Word For 'Apocalypse' Actually Translates More Accurately As "Time Of Pale Obese Gun Monsters."......the Onion

    by lyvwyr101 on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:07:32 PM PDT

    •  It's easier to focus on the number of deaths (5+ / 0-)

      because it's so concrete and measurable. The coroner must determine the cause of death.

      But whether it's suicide, homicide, accident or a shooting by police, the forward costs are borne by those who survive.

      The lost time from work, lost breadwinner, lost caregiver, lost sibling... on the personal level. And on the community level the costs include the unexpected loss of a key employee. The toll of PTSD for first responders and others. The lost economic investment after an urban shoot-out...

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:31:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The defensive vs. offensive summary (6+ / 0-)

    are not what is uniformly found in the literature. E.g.,

    Some controversy exists about the relative frequency of criminal and self-defense gun use in the United States. Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of over 1900 adults conducted in 1996, we find that criminal gun use is far more common than self-defense gun use. This result is consistent with findings from other private surveys and the National Crime Victimization Surveys. In this survey, all reported cases of criminal gun use and many cases of self-defense gun use appear to be socially undesirable. There are many instances of gun use, often for intimidation, that are not reported to the police and may not appear in official crime statistics.
    Results—Even after excluding many reported firearm victimizations, far more survey respondents report having been threatened or intimidated with a gun than having used a gun to protect themselves. A majority of the reported self defense gun uses were rated as probably illegal by a majority of judges.
    •  Thank you for the links (5+ / 0-)

      I've been trying to reconcile why there is a 25-fold difference in the different estimates of defensive gun use. Found this in a section about false positives in telephone surveys. From DOJ. It's old (1997).

      But it is written at a layman's level and I don't have a background in statistics, so this made sense to me as one important factor for the large difference in the estimates.


      The key explanation for the difference
      between the 108,000 NCVS estimate for the annual number of DGUs and the several million from the surveys
      discussed earlier is that NCVS avoids the false-positive problem by limiting DGU questions to persons who first re-
      ported that they were crime victims.
      Most NCVS respondents never have a chance to answer the DGU question, falsely or otherwise.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:27:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  From the second link above (5+ / 0-)

      Interesting methods.

      In order to obtain a generous estimate of self defense gun uses, we included incidents even when the respondent refused to give any information about the event or, from the description, it appeared the other party never knew the respondent displayed the gun.

      Self defense gun use incidents were summarized and sent to five criminal court judges (from California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) who were assured anonymity. The judges were told to assume that the respondent had a permit to own and carry the gun and had described the event honestly from his/her own perspective. The judges were then asked to give their best guess whether, based on the respondent's description of the incident, the respondent's use of the gun was very likely legal, likely legal, as likely as not legal, unlikely legal, or very unlikely legal.

      Two examples from the 1999 survey of incidents that were unanimously deemed probably illegal were:

      • A 62 year old male said that at 6 pm “the police called. My alarm at my business went off so I went there to shut it off. Two men were outside my building, so from my car I shot at the ground near them”. The respondent said the men were trespassing.

      • A 58 year old male was inside his home at 2 pm. “I was watching a movie and [an acquaintance] interrupted me. I yelled that I was going to shoot him and he ran to his car”. The respondent said his acquaintance was committing a verbal assault. The respondent's gun, a .44 Magnum, was located “in my holster on me”.

      Two examples of self defense gun use from the 1999 survey that were unanimously deemed probably legal were:

      • A 26 year old male was with friends at another's home. At 8:30 am “a friend of mine was in the process of getting robbed and he was drunk. We went to help him just as the robbers were leaving”. The respondent's gun was not loaded and “I never really took it out of my pocket”.

      • A 38 year old male was inside his home at 4 am. “Someone broke in; I woke up to the sound. I got my gun from the safe [loaded it] and went downstairs. The person left and I called the police”. The respondent did not know whether the burglar had a weapon.

      Over two thirds (68%) of the 146 self defense gun use incidents from the two surveys were reported by six respondents. Three people claimed 50, 20 and 15 self defense incidents in the previous five years, but refused to describe the most recent event. In the 1999 survey, an 18 year old male reported six cases. He described the most recent incident: “I was at school and they pulled a gun during an argument. They fired and I fired”.

      So basically when you actually look in detail at the self-reports of "defensive use," you find some pretty fishy / soft data. Without looking at this level of detail you wouldn't know that their self report of a defensive use might not actually be what we might think of as defensive use. Furthermore, the 2/3 of supposed DGUs were from just six people? This was after excluding someone who reported 97 DGUs himself. Basically the data on this are really, really weak IMO.
  •  Gun limits and ownership limits (8+ / 0-)

    only a gun owner can control their gun.

    Limits would bring the unlimited gun and the unlimited ownership back to earth.  

    Guns are being distilled into fewer hands with more guns. (My own personal belief.)

  •  A small fact (5+ / 0-)

    Urban and rural voters, even if you secured 100% of both, would only get you to 50% in certain districts.  In any statewide or national race, suburban voters today make up the overwhelming majority, in excess of 60%.  That's where you win or lose this argument (and both are frequently done.)

    Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper!

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:42:30 PM PDT

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (4+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:29:45 PM PDT

  •  asdf (4+ / 0-)

    1. We have a gun violence problem.

    We have a violence problem, end of sentence. Violent deaths did not originate with guns. I had an ex who studied medieval art history and while helping her study for her masters degree I learned quite a bit about violence in the era "before guns" - I saw plenty of shit that is too brutal even to have in one of the Saw or Hostel movies.

    I sincerely think that those who insist upon using a phrase similar to "gun violence problem" are in denial to some extent about the simple fact that violent capabilities exist in all people.

    2. By most measures crime and gun violence are going down.

    3. We have 300 million guns but two-thirds are rifles.

    4. Handguns are the problem.

    If handguns are the problem, end of sentence, then I await the push for a handgun ban that would also apply to the civilian police force as well as the civilian security that guards people like mike bloomberg. If nobody is willing to follow through on that - if nobody is willing to make it apply to everyone - then that shows that the pivot is not the handgun but is actually the person that is holding it.

    5. Mass shootings are traumatic but they are not the biggest problem.

    Airplane crashes and mass shootings share a category: Low Probability High Impact Event.

    6. There are more gun suicides than homicides.

    It's odd to be distracted by the method when the issue to be dealt with is the intent.

    7. Defensive gun use is both common and effective.

    Damn straight! Because the cops aren't sitting on the transporter pad on the starship enterprise just waiting to beam down to your location in under five seconds. When someone's coming at you they are coming at you RIGHT NOW and aren't going to sit around and wait the four minutes for the cops to show up and pull your ass out of danger. Cops show up after an event has been going on for a few minutes, if the attack is completed quickly enough then they show up in time to snap crime scene pics and bag the evidence.

    It is simple fact that in the district for recalled colorado legislator John Morse the average response time for the priority one 911 emergency calls: more than 10 minutes. Plenty of time for the boston strangler to leave you getting cold and still escape.

    8. Carrying guns for self-defense is an arms race.

    I'm not so sure about this one. I see where someone can come to that conclusion, but I think that conclusion is the result of misunderstanding what exactly is escalating and fail to include consideration for the inherent upper limit of what can be carried.

    9. Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives.

    10. Gun acquisitions by criminals correlate with dealer sales volume.

    Interesting. A correlation implies that it's some other mechanism than the extra special care taken by the single gun shop in washington dc versus the standard fbi background check done by a dealer at a gun show in arizona.

    •  Thanks for going point by point (3+ / 0-)

      I have a soft spot for people who number their notes!

      I was most surprised by No. 10. I had found persuasive the idea that most gun dealers are law abiding business owners doing their best, and that most crime guns originate from a small number of corrupt dealers.

      Now with a straightforward correlation with sales volume it makes more sense that FFLs are not really set up to be effective gate keepers. They screen out some attempted purchases by prohibited persons, but they just are not equipped to detect which customers are straw buyers.

      Interesting point on No. 5

      5. Mass shootings are traumatic but they are not the biggest problem.
      Airplane crashes and mass shootings share a category: Low Probability High Impact Event.
      If airplane crashes happened with the frequency of mass shootings, would people still fly?

      I won't press you on your point about No. 6

      6. There are more gun suicides than homicides.
      It's odd to be distracted by the method when the issue to be dealt with is the intent.
      I just disagree with your assertion that gun suicides are a distraction. From a public health framework reducing gun suicides is a worthy focus. Whether it's homicide or suicide the cost is born by those who survive and must pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 03:29:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Plane crashes are unintentional. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, Joy of Fishes

        Mass killings, a term defined by the FBI as when a person kills four or more people in a single event with no cooling off hiatus, are intentional.

        It is exactly that difference that changes how we remember the instances of each. Most everyone remembers the lockerbie flight over scotland - it was an intentional bombing that blew up the plane, and it was 25 years ago. How few remember the colgan flight from newark to buffalo that came to a crashing halt in clarence center? That was 4 years ago. How few remember the comair flight from lexington kentucky? That was 7 years ago. How can people remember lockerbie with a single word from so long ago yet the recent escapes them?

        People remember the times that someone intentionally went apeshit and wrecked things. People don't remember so much the times that things merely went pear shaped.

        Oh, and about suicides. SUICIDE is a worthy focus. Whether by gun or by razor or by pills, it is the intent that stirs the hand. Don't get distracted by the gun, as if taking away the gun would make those suicides disappear. There is always more than one way to do things, if the intent is there. Ever think that maybe people choose guns because they don't want to make a mistake with the rope and end up a quadriplegic? Or maybe they pick a gun because they don't want to be bloated in a tub of water? Or any other number of reasons? The people who make a focus on gun suicides have a fundamental flaw in their reasoning. They seem to keep thinking that if a person managed to fail in their non-gun attempt then they simply MUST have some sort of glorious epiphany that will steer them away from a second try. It's a very authoritarian logic, choosing for those people how they must feel and what they must think if they would just have chosen something other than a gun and manage to live through it.

        •  Only true for some (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, Joy of Fishes

          There is quite a bit of research demonstrating that suicidal ideation is often fleeting and impulsive and access to a lethal means makes a difference. If someone plans it for ages that is one thing and that definitely happens, but often it is a snap decision made easier by access to firearms.

        •  Interesting analysis (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy of Fishes

          Recced for convo even though I diagree with your views about suicides. I will acknowledge that different locales have different means available. Tall buildings and bridges don't exist as options in many rural locations.

          But I think there is plenty of research about suicidal thoughts that a key problem is the number of steps and the executive functioning required to complete a plan. In other words, other methods have far more opportunities for the plan to go awry or for someone to notice and intervene.

          You appear to be claiming that those who choose a gun are just more rational and determined to complete. Do you have any references for that claim?

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:23:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Timely (4+ / 0-)

    I am only hearing now about the shooting in
    Washington DC today, killing 13 people.

    So your article is very timely.  For the next week, the TV and newspapers will be full of talk about rethinking gun control.

    It would be interesting to know how much the city of Washington spent today responding to this mass shooting event.  Have you seen any estimates on the costs of responding to shooting events in your reading?

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 03:06:01 PM PDT

  •  None of Saletan's points surprised me. (4+ / 0-)

    I had been aware of the Institute of Medicine's report shortly after it was released.  As a gun owner and Second Amendment advocate, I consider it important to keep myself educated on the topic.

    I think the main takeaway from the IOM report is that, while there are significant things to be done on the gun sales side ::coughprosecutestrawpurchaserscough::, root cause mitigation is going to have a far greater effect in reducing gun violence, without the risk of infringing on Constitutional rights.  The comments upthread about a reduction in violence in areas that stress green spaces highlight a fine example of root cause mitigation.

    I live in an area where gun ownership is common, children are taught the rules of gun safety from a young age, and gun rights (and responsibilities) are taken seriously. Attempts at restricting gun ownership or the types of guns and accessories that one may own don't go over at all here.  

    •  I'm glad to see that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      I also grew up in the country with guns in the house and my father taught me how to shoot straight at the age of ten. I know very well the family/community culture of which you speak.

      Now I live in NYC, unarmed. If we were to move to Montana or Wyoming in some future chapter of our lives I could see keeping guns in the house again. I don't think we have a single "gun culture" in this country and I see and appreciate concerns on both sides of the "rural/urban divide."

      Thank you for stopping by, shaktidurga, and sharing your view.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:14:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite part: (3+ / 0-)
    Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was 'used' by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

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