Re: "smart guns" from Australia

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Fri Apr 07 2000 - 22:42:45 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 09:05 PM 7/04/00 +0100, Bryan Moss wrote:
> >Hal, I think Damien was referring
> >to notion that someone would *need* to defend themselves.
> >This highlights the difference in perspectives: Most of the
> >Americans on this list are Libertarians; they look at the
> >gun "problem" in terms of an individuals need to protect him
> >or herself from intruders. The common perspective in the UK
> >is to look at the effect of guns on society as a whole,
> >without regard to the individual.
> Good post. Yes, this is about it. As I said to Hal off-list, what I found
> weird is the basic notion that a civilised society can take it for granted
> (apparently) that every household and member is in imminent danger of rape
> and death. And that the preferred way to deal with such a perilous
> situation is to threaten lethal-force mayhem back - even if it works, even
> if it's reached a kind of malign stand-off stability.

I understand completely where you are coming from. I would love to live
in a society where:

a) I need never worry that another individual would consider stealing
from, raping, assaulting, or killing myself or others to be reasonable
activities to fill one's afternoon or evening. Sadly, there is nowhere
on earth where such societies exist.

b) I need never worry that elected politicians or career bureaucrats
would value their own power and self-aggrandizement over the rights of
any individual citizen, or group of citizens, where I would never need
fear that the majority of voters would make dumb decisions or act in
fear, hate, or a panic to confiscate the life, property, and liberty of
me and mine. Sadly there is no society on earth where this state exists.

What I do know is that freedom is not free. It costs, both in the blood,
sweat, tears and pocketbooks of many Americans in dealing with foreign
tyrants, but in the added risks to everyday life that must be assumed if
the individual is to have any say in what risks they as individuals are
willing to accept, and what ones they are free to take personal action
in managing or eliminating.

It seems from the mortality rates of the past century, that the actual
risk to life and limb is much higher in gun control societies,
specifically because such societies tend to engage in widespread warfare
and genocide far more frequently, so while liberty oriented societies
maintain a constant minor level of violence, the controlling, socialist
societies tend to have relative peace for periods, accentuated with
short periods of great violence.

What does this tendency impart about the fears of people like Bill Joy
for the next century, if he is arguing for more government control of

> I do realise the general availability of firearms in the USA, which clearly
> can't be recalled this far down the track for all kinds of reasons historic
> and ideological, provides the basis for such a tragic Mutual Assured
> Destruction way of life (even if this is usually only droning away in the
> background outside the urban blights).
> I gather that in Oz some crimes of violence have increased after gun
> recall, but as far as I know there's less chance of death or major
> impairment when you're hit by a heavy stick or even a knife in a brawl or
> robbery. I have no figures on this, so maybe it's my wishful thinking.

Try thise web pages:

Source: Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter
Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.

     A National Institute of Justice publication, Firearms and Violence,
cites Kleck stating, "victims were less likely to report being injured
those who either defended themselves by other means or took no self-
protective measures at all. Thus, while 33 percent of all surviving
victims were injured, only 25 percent of those who offered no resistance
and 17 percent of those who defended themselves with guns were injured.
surviving assault victims, the corresponding injury rates were,
30 percent, 27 percent, and 12 percent." (Many of the conclusions
in Firearms and Violence are rebutted elsewhere in GunCite and those
aren't will be addressed in the near future.)

How often do gun owners accidently shoot a family member in the course
defensive gun use? Again in Targeting Guns, after reviewing studies,
     Kleck says this kind of accidental shooting is extremely rare. He
estimates that less than 2% of fatal gun accidents occur during
gun use. With approximately 1,500 fatal gun accidents annually, that
amount to 30 per year. With over 2 million defensive gun uses annually,
odds of a defensive gun use resulting in a fatal gun accident would be
less than 1 in 65,000.

     Also, using the data from above, Kleck estimated that at most 1% of
gun defenders lost a gun to the criminal.

     If defensive gun use is common then many criminals should certainly
have encountered armed resistance. Professors James D. Wright and Peter
surveyed 2,000 felons incarcerated in state prisons across the United
States. Wright and Rossi reported that 34% of the felons said they
had been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim";
69% said that they knew at least one other criminal who had also; 34%
that when thinking about committing a crime they either "often" or
worried that they "[m]ight get shot at by the victim"; and 57% agreed
with the
statement, "Most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed
than they are about running into the police."

<End citation>

Another interesting page is:
which refutes the myth that gun owners are '43 times more likely to be
killed.' (what Kleck calls a 'nonsense ratio').

> The points added by James and John (this is getting very Biblical,
> appropriately I suppose) don't persuade me, but I do see their case. In
> principle, I'm aghast at the notion of vigilantes blowing away `trash'
> (partly because American and Australian whites both seem to have logged up
> quite a hearty score in dead black `trash' over the years). But I read
> enough Heinlein in adolescence to approve secretly of the idea of citizens
> assembled deciding that enough's enough and chucking sociopaths out of the
> airlock. And when I see egregious criminal scumbags roaming free, I wish I
> could reach for a gun and blow the fuckers away. And that's one reason why
> I'm very, very glad that I *can't* reach for a gun, in Oz, and by and large
> that neither will the scumbag...
> I'm out of this discussion now. If I find any stats on the NRA claims, I'll
> pass them along.

Outside of the big cities, it is much the same here in the US. Vermont
and NH's homicide rates match that of Britain, despite having open
borders with states that have much higher crime rates and greater gun
control laws...You might be led to ask why then, do I own guns when I
live in such a peaceful area? a) because I can (ain't freedom great?),
and b) freedom also means I shouldn't have to limit where I can travel
just because there is crime there.

While the present media and liberal hysteria against guns worries me, I
do see hope. The US v. Emerson case is to hear final arguments at the
beginning of June at the Appeals Court of the 5th Circuit.
Constitutional handicappers seem to be weighing in at at least two to
one FOR the individual rights interpretation, and the quantity of
breifs, including amicus curea breifs, seem to fall along this line as
well. If we win this level, it should go to the Supreme Court (assuming
that Reno, et al will try to appeal it and expedite the case before Gore
loses and Clinton leaves office to get indicted at the end of his term
in January.)

In the interests of amicus on the list, I would suggest that the list
accept an agreement that the issue be laid aside at least until the 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals hears final arguments and issues a ruling. It
seems likely that C-SPAN will be providing coverage of the case at that
time, so stay tuned.

Mike Lorrey

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