Guns aren’t safe under any circumstance

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear editor,

Following the recent burglary of my home, if I had a dollar for everybody who has come up with some variation of “Guess you’ll be getting yourself a gun, now!”

Well, I won’t.

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I don’t “get” people who think that having a firearm in their home is some kind of protection. It is far more likely that their gun will either be found and turned on the owner than used to foil a robber.

I think the proponents of owning a gun must have some very active fantasy lives involving their bravely facing down a quivering criminal and receiving the congratulations of grateful police. This is almost never the case.

Statistics and responsible agencies support the view that a firearm in the home is far more dangerous to the owner than it is a protection.

Just a few here:

Did you know? In America, four people are killed by firearms every hour (Centers for Disease Control).

A gun in your home makes it three times more likely that you or someone you care about will be murdered by a family member or intimate partner (Kellerman,New England Journal of Medicine v329, n.15 1993).

Women and gun violence

In 1997, homicide was the second leading cause of death among young women age 15 to 24. Suicide was the fourth leading cause of death for this same age group. Fifty-six percent of these deaths were caused by firearms (National Vital Statistics Report, 1999).

In 1998, for every time a woman used a handgun to kill a stranger in self-defense, 302 women were murdered in handgun homicides (FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, 1998).


The largest category of firearms fatality is suicide, not homicide. In 1997, 54 percent of all gun deaths were suicides, and 42 percent were homicides (National Vital Statistics Report, 1999).

I would like to add a personal note here. My father took his own life with a rifle my family kept in the bedroom closet. Perhaps, had it not been there, he would have tried something else that would not have worked quite so definitively and be with us today, but, who knows.

In a household with a gun, a person is almost five times more likely to die by suicide than people living in a gun-free home. (New England Journal of Medicine, v327, n.7, 1992)

The self-defense myth

In 1997, for every time that a civilian used a handgun to kill in self-defense, 43 people lost their lives in handgun homicides. (FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1997).

In 1997 there were 15,690 homicides, of which 8,503 were committed with handguns. Only 193 (2.3 percent) handgun homicides were classified as justifiable homicides. (FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1997).

We need to get over this idea that a gun in the house is some kind of great idea. I know there will be a LOT of response to this to the effect that I am so wrong, blah blah blah. Well, I would like to see one of those people standing over the body of a 16-year-old he has just killed. No “stuff” is worth that.

To protect another life, yes. “Stuff?” No.

If there had been a gun in my home when this burglary happened, the very nice police officer who had my computer thrown at him might be dead and the children recently sentenced for the burglary might be headed for a date with a lethal injection.

As it is, there is still some kind of hope for these kids.

Get a grip, gunsters.

Nancy Lea