Bullet Points

As we begin 2017, there are already several dispiriting stories of shootings. An infant was killed in his crib by a random shot. A firearms advocate was accidentally killed while letting a teen relative hold one of his guns. A New Years reveler stepped out to his host’s front stoop and was hit by a random bullet fragment that penetrated his skull. A woman was shot in the eye at a firing range, and later died. A young police officer was killed serving a protection from abuse order – his troubled killer was shot by police soon afterwards. An old man with dementia was shot by police because he had something in his pockets – it was a crucifix.

We haven’t had a mass shooting yet [Update 20170106: Mass shooting at Ft Lauderdale airport, 5 dead, 8 injured] but dozens of people have been killed or wounded on the street, in a park, in a car, in a house.

Pundits go around and around assigning the blame for gun violence. A popular book claimed that more guns would lead to less crime, but it seems clear that more guns have not only led to more shootings, intentional and accidental, by gun owners, but also to more panicky shootings by police who are all too aware that, A: any of the people they encounter may be carrying weapons and, B: they are unlikely to be severely punished for a bad shooting.

So I’m just wondering when it will be my turn.

Update 20170106: Over at ScienceBlogs, The Pump Handle just reposted a Jan 2016 article: Higher gun ownership rates up the risk of a woman being murdered

In studying data that spanned from 1981 to 2013, researchers found that firearms were used in about 62 percent of homicides. More than 78 percent of all homicides involved an offender who was an intimate partner, family member or other acquaintance. In all, a non-stranger perpetrated more than three-quarters of the firearm-related homicides studied. But while men were more likely to be killed with a firearm, women were more likely to be killed with a gun by someone they knew.

The study found no evidence that greater availability of guns protects women from being killed. On the contrary, the study suggests that greater availability of guns translates into a higher risk that a woman will be killed by someone she knows.

“The data is just not consistent with the argument that having a high prevalence of firearms is protective against stranger homicide,” Siegel told me. “But for women, the level of gun ownership in a state is one of the primary factors in predicting her risk of being killed by a firearm.”


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