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Friday, March 08, 2013

Can Gun Laws and Gun Ownership Coexist? Yes, and I Can Prove It

Vintage photo of hunters in Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin is a gun-owning state. All you need to do to prove that to yourself is show up around November. The woods are crawling with guys in orange snowsuits and hats, in search of whitetail deer. Or ask about wild turkeys when you stop in a roadside tavern. It's like asking about the Packers -- everyone's an expert. It's not at all unusual for people to be extremely familiar and comfortable around firearms and stories about hunting trips are part of many family get-togethers. In fact, we're number twelve in the top twenty gun-owning states. In the latest available figures from 2007, our percentage of gun owners was 44.4%. That means we beat out rootin'-tootin' shootin' Texas -- by a country mile. The Lone Star state's percentage of gun ownership was a measly 35.9%. We also beat out other southern states -- i.e., those supposedly immersed in "gun culture" -- such as Georgia (40%), North Carolina (41.3%), South Carolina (42.3%), Arizona (31.1%), and Florida (24.5%). Don't talk to us about your "gun culture" -- we've got a culture. You've got a hobby.

Now take a look at this map from a study on state gun deaths. In 2010 we were one of the states with the fewest gun deaths per capita. How can this be? Simple. All it takes is common sense gun laws.


States that have more laws restricting gun ownership have lower rates of death from shootings, both suicides and homicides, a study by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University found.


States with the most laws on gun ownership, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, have 42 percent lower rates of death from guns than those with the least restrictions, including Utah and Oklahoma, according to the study, published on Wednesday in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study was released as a Senate committee approved new gun-control measures backed by President Barack Obama to crack down on illegal trafficking in firearms in the wake of the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Based on data from 2007 through 2010, the study looked at the relationship between the number of restrictions states placed on gun ownership -- from background checks on gun buyers to bans on military-style assault weapons -- and the number of gun-related homicides and suicides reported.

Prior to 2010, Wisconsin didn't allow concealed carry. Then Gov. Scott Walker was elected, decided that what was working needed fixing, and passed a concealed carry law. We also have a 48 hour waiting period. In 2010, we didn't have a Castle Doctrine, which is similar to "stand your ground" laws in that it allows someone to shoot people trespassing on their property, no questions asked. Also after 2010, it became legal to carry a loaded weapon in your vehicle. Gov. Walker and state Republicans seem to have spent a lot of time fixing things that no one knew were problems. Unless we reverse these idiotic and unnecessary laws, we can't expect to do as well in the next study.

But imagine what Wisconsin was like when the data in this study was collected: common sense gun laws increasing public safety and a high percentage of gun ownership. Kind of looks like pretty much everything the blood lobby tells you about gun regulation is not so awfully true, doesn't it? No one came and took anyone's guns away. Crime didn't run rampant as citizens were helpless to defend themselves. Joseph Adolph Hitlerstalin didn't rise up and run a ruthless and brutal dictatorship out of his villa on the shores of Lake Michigan. No zombie apocalypse, no Road Warrior, no Red Dawn. It's just a quiet northern state dotted with barns, cheesemakers, bait shops, and hunters. All this Chicken Little crap about guns being the only thing propping up the sky is all paranoid horsecrap, meant to fool gullible cowards into supporting laws who's only real purpose is to scare them into buying more guns. And, as the gun ownership levels in the states show, those laws fail to do even that. Texas, one of the most conservative states in the union, has hardly any guns at all compared to Wisconsin (although, to be fair, their screwed up policies creates such economic inequality that few can probably afford the luxury of a firearm. Texas, like all conservative economies, is a merely support-system for the wealthy elite).

Want a gun and sane, effective firearms regulations? Turns out we can do it. I grew up where it was done. It's not about grabbing anyone's guns -- in fact, that's completely unnecessary. It's about passing laws against stupidity, because the nature of stupidity is that it's too stupid to recognize itself as stupidity. Stupid needs to be stopped from being stupid.

It really is that simple.


[photo via Tobyotter]

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