Gun statistics in the United States are contradictory. It is often stated vehicle accidents kill more Americans than guns, but in a 2010 study it was revealed more people were killed by guns than by traffic accidents in states like California and Colorado. The total national number of traffic deaths in 2010 was just over a thousand more than all gun deaths. In January another study; this published by the Violence Policy Center showed states with high rates of gun ownership had the highest number of gun deaths. That study is similar to another that states people with guns in their homes are more likely to die violent deaths, with numbers of homicides higher in America than other first world countries.
But the rate of gun deaths continues to decline, showing not all gun statistics show the need for America to increase the restrictions of gun ownership.
In 2015, the Violence Policy Center found 259 justifiable homicides occurred in the U.S in 2012, which is 20 less than the average rate between 2008- 2012; but as gun ownership rises, the national gun homicide rates have dropped from 7.0 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010. America is the most armed country in the world, while sitting 103rd in most in intentional homicides. Even more confusing is contradiction between gun control and gun deaths. According to the statistics from the American College of Physicians , gun control looks logical, but a study by the FBI works in favor of the gun rights crowd by showing, in 2011 California experienced the most gun related deaths in the country. That came after the Brady Center ranked California as the state with the best gun control.
The statistics continue to be debated, as to whether gun laws are too weak, or shouldn’t exist at all. Those laws call for background checks, waiting periods, and other stipulations are supposed to protect Americans from criminals, but Dylann Roof was able to sneak past those regulations and use a gun to kill nine people, compelling the director of the F.B.I to claim an error in gun control legislation contributed to the massacre. In response, Democratic senators from Connecticut, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal released a statement that read, “We shouldn’t give known criminals the benefit of the doubt when it comes to guns. If law enforcement needs more than three days to ensure they’re not giving weapons to dangerous people, Washington must allow them the time to do their job. If we refuse to act, we’re just biding time until this happens again.”In June, Jessica Winter of Slate cited the cases of Seung-Hui Cho, Jared Lee Loughner, and Adam Lanza; three murderers who sneaked through background checks before committing their heinous crimes, to lament the fact a debate revolving around a controversial flag replaced discussion about gun control. Even though 92% of gun owners polled by Quinnipiac University support background checks, some American gun owners, or those born around guns, believe their fellow man needs to calm down the rhetoric.
“I don’t support them because I don’t feel anyone’s personal lives or property is anyone else’s business. I don’t think a background check has ever prevented a criminal getting a firearm,” said Jim Triche, a father, husband and gun owner. Triche’s children have been taught about gun safety in order, “To prevent accidents, to eliminate the mystique, and to sate any potential curiosity.” Triche argues, “Kids like things that are forbidden or taboo, and if you take away that nature, teach them respect instead of simply forbidding them something, they have a better starting point to make rational and responsible decisions.”
Triche is mostly self-taught, but learned about safety protocols from his grandfather every time he went to shoot cans in his backyard. He knows how to handle a gun like, “don’t point the barrel at anything you don’t want to destroy.” The knowledge and experience with safe gun ownership is not exclusive to just him. One woman, who doesn’t own a gun, but grew up in an armed home, believes gun ownership is not a scary hobby.
Brenda Reed was around guns her entire life, without ever being in danger. Her parents told her about guns, and warned about them. They did not take safety lightly, even locking weapons sitting inside a locked safe with an additional lock. Reed admitted to never having the desire to grab a gun even when she knew there was gun in her house. She never feared for her life living in an armed home in an email interview Reed argued, “I feel completely neutral to a gun as an item because I am educated about it. I know what it will and won’t do. If I don’t have it loaded, don’t point it at a person jokingly, don’t put it where a kid could accidentally find it, then those people will not be shot.”
Reed has a friend in Jarrad Pechie, who first owned a gun in his early twenties when he moved into a bad neighborhood with his first wife. Upon the first purchase, Pechie reached out to his stepdad who was a gun owner himself. The stepson was taught, “- a few fundamental pointers about safety and maintenance. What he stressed above all else was to treat every gun you see or handle as though it were loaded, even if you’re certain it isn’t.”
Like Reed, Pechie was mentored by gun owners within his family, who taught them everything they needed to know, especially proper storage of the weapon. Pechie was given a book titled, The Art of Shooting, which was, “a treasure trove of information,” that contained instructions on safety and maintenance. Despite the serious concern showed to preventing accidents, many believe no house should be armed; that is a belief Pechie does not share. “When properly secured and stored, a gun is less dangerous to have in your home than a kitchen knife. Of course there will always be accidents, but they are due to improper or downright negligent treatment or storage on the owner’s part, literally 100% of the time.”
These two Americans don’t have their gun in a shoebox underneath their bed, and no gun is sitting on the coffee table to greet a child coming home from school. Their knowledge of guns is just as important as ownership. Pechie does not wave his weapon around, or even tell a lot of people he is a gun owner. “There’s this stereotyped image of a gun owner; some redneck with a beer in one hand and an AR-15 in the other, standing in front of an American flag and trying to look like a badass. I’m not saying there aren’t people like that, but it’s certainly not all or even most of us, from what I see.”
While some Americans will use cases of three small children in Houston dying from accidental shootings in a span of four days, to push for more gun control, many guns owners insist their families are safe. According to the CDC the number of children killed by accidental gun shots dropped from 86 in 2000 to 62 in 2010.
Despite the statistics and personal tales revolving around safety, American gun owners are still seen in a negative light. One mother in Michigan; originally from Australia has taught her children guns are bad, going as far as banning toy guns from the home. In a story from 2013, published by the Los Angeles Daily News, Alicia Glover is quoted as saying, “It’s the thing I hate about living here. I hate that the gun culture is so strong here.” She also added her aversion to the second amendment, claiming, “Irrespective of constitutional rights, people have human rights.”
Pechie disagrees with people like Glover, but he respects her right to not have a weapon in her home.” I couldn’t care less if people don’t want to arm themselves. I just wish that they’d return the favor.”
The Second Amendment is arguably the most protected section of the Constitution. It is also the most controversial. As the country recovers from another shooting, gun culture is often blamed for the violence, but the American gun owner refuses to paint gun owners with a blood drenched brush. Reed believes, “I think it’s sad that people try to blame an inanimate object for the evil within a human. I am of the belief that if a person wanted to kill people, whether it’s just one or a hundred, they can do it with or without guns.”
The debate about guns tends to center around how the government can prevent criminals getting access to guns, without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens. “I think we’d all like a foolproof method of keeping weapons out of the hands of crazy or dangerous people. We’d all at least feel a little safer if we were sure that unfit owners couldn’t at least legally purchase a gun,” Pechie succinctly explained, however; he wonders what negative affect more regulations will have. Gun regulations have barred medical marijuana users from owning firearms; and women with dangerous exes have died while waiting for approval. Pechie questions whether America wants “-to actively deny people who suffer from depression, but with no history of violence, the same rights afforded to everyone else?” In the eyes of the normal, peaceful gun owners like Pechie, “Background checks, like other restrictive laws, only make acquisition more inconvenient- but not impossible, or even difficult- while also keeping some law abiding citizens from exercising their rights.”
Despite the constant string of news stories about a child being mistakenly killed by bullet, and the calls for more gun control after a madman shoots up a public place; gun legislation has been shown to not prevent a gangster with a territorial beef from obtaining a weapon, and the hatred many Americans have towards the culture has ignored common decency.
In 2013, a newspaper in New York published an interactive map of registered gun owners in three different counties in the suburbs of New York. Former crooks blasted the piece as “asinine,” and “exceptionally stupid.” Frank Abagnale, the reformed thief portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film “Catch Me If You can,” claimed, “It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like. This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home.”
A decades old study backs up the danger of publicizing the names of gun owners. A 1982 poll conducted on male prisoners in 11 state prisons found 34% of the inmates, were “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim.” 40% admitted to not carrying out a crime if they believed or knew their potential victim was armed. With nearly 2.5 million Americans defended themselves from potential crimes each year with guns, and almost 200,000 women preventing rape with firearms each year; American gun owners seem to be swimming in logic.
Triche believes those who are scared of gun owners need to have their fears tempered. “Gun owners are no more violent than anyone else. Most of us are probably less so, since most of us respect the fact that we could seriously harm someone if we don’t act with care. Pulling a gun is the last thing a rational person wants to do. It’s a last resort option.”