Two Sides Of The Gun Debate

An old friend of mine, over on Facebook, posted a story about a young woman who surprised intruders in her home by shooting both and killing one. He held this up as a sample of how wonderful and useful it is to have a gun in the house. His comment, "Imagine what would have happened if her Father hadn't trained her so well…." is an important one to consider in light of how this story was framed.

I responded with my own post suggesting that having a gun in the house isn't necessarily a good thing by posting a story where a father, thinking the house was being broken into, shoots and kills his own daughter.

My reponse, predictably, set up a spirited discussion on Second Amendment rights and why gun control as a means of reducing the number of people getting killed by guns is a myth, complete with links to a pamphlet by a gentleman who sees that same amendment as "the only civil right under perpetual attack". Really? The only civil right under perpetual attack? Clearly this guy is not paying attention. 

My point, and my only point in posting this story, was that my friend picked a story out of the air (off the net, actually) where someone with a gun at home stopped (killed) an intruder. He used that story as 'proof' that having a gun at home is a good thing. So I randomly picked a story off the same net, the first that came up in a Google search, which demonstrates the exact opposite. I typed "father accidentally kills daughter" in a search bar. There are tons of returns for those stories. Ditto if I use "son" instead of "daughter". One incident of a someone stopping and killing an intruder does not qualify as proof that "guns are good to have around the house".

So here's a sample of the first few stories in a Google search looking for parents accidentally killing their kids with the house gun.

Story 1

. . . the man was awoken by a commotion at his house on Glover Street. "He went upstairs to fetch his firearm and while he was there, he heard the commotion again near the door. He fired a shot which hit and injured his… daughter," said Dlamini. "She was taken to hospital in a critical condition, where she died."  (Link to story)

Story 2

The Army Ranger charged on Thursday in his 2 year old daughter's death say he is devastated by the loss of his angel. "I live with the guilt everyday. It was an accident and I miss her and think of her constantly," Josh Henry said.

Henry left his gun near the bed he was sleeping in with his daughter. His daughter Cheyanne was asleep and he left the room to talk with a fellow soldier recently back from war when he heard the gun go off.

The 2 year old shot herself in the chest. (Link to story.)

Story 3

Phoenix Police are looking for a man who is suspected of accidentally shooting his 12-year-old child. Residents in the area of 3900 S. 3rd Avenue were having a party early Sunday morning that included several children. At some point during the party, the father reportedly shot his child while attempting to clear his gun. (Link to story)

Story 4

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an incident in which a 12-year-old boy accidentally shot his father in the chest while firing at roosters on a farm in Thurmont, authorities said Thursday.

The boy and his father, a 48-year-old Frederick resident, were outside at the farm, where the boy was shooting a .22-caliber rifle, said Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“What they were shooting at were Bantam roosters, which were very aggressive on the property,” Bailey said.   (Link to story.)

Story 5

The investigation continues into the accidental fatal shooting of a 37-year-old Rochester man by his off-duty police officer father at the Adirondack lakeside motel where they were spending the weekend.

State police say Matthew Leach was pronounced dead at a Utica hospital after being wounded early Saturday morning at the Clark Beach Motel in the village of Old Forge.

Troopers say 59-year-old Michael Leach called 911 around 12:50 a.m. to report the shooting. Police say Leach told them he thought he had fired at an intruder. (Link to story.)

Story 6

A Connecticut grade-school teacher accidentally shot his 15-year-old son during what he apparently thought was the attempted robbery of a neighbor’s house, police said Friday.
“Something like this is a tragedy, a loss of human life,” State Police Lt. Paul Vance said.

The incident occurred in New Fairfield about 1 a.m. Thursday when a woman called her neighbor, Jeffrey Giuliano, and said she thought there was a robber in front of her house. (Link to story)

All of these stories make a stark and undeniable point. Guns are dangerous and one person's protection is another's dreadful mistake. Notice how often the theme of "I thought there was an intruder" comes up.

As I have mentioned more than once and in more than one post, I am not 'anti-gun' but anti-promoting guns as an answer to society's ills. I countered my friend's suggestion that having a gun in the house had been a 'good thing' in the case he mentioned. My rebuttal is there to show that it's hardly that simple. A gun in the house can be used against a perpetrator just as quickly as it can against a family member. Accidents happen and I would argue that the vast majority of gun owners haven't a clue how to properly use them.

The Second Amendment was put in place to prepare the population against an impending attack by the British. You know what? It's been a while and as near as anyone can tell, the British aren't coming to invade America.  As my stories demonstrate, most Americans wouldn't know "the enemy" if it came down to it. What we've got isn't a 'prepared population' but a bunch of people living in fear that someday somebody is going to attack them. And so they keep their finger close to the trigger while we wait for the next unfortunate accident.

Edited : Putting good/bad stories aside and looking to statistical results from a large study of gun mortality in the United States, the following study from the American Journal of Epidemiology makes for fascinating, if occasionally a little dry, reading. Some highlights include the fact that a gun in the house increases the risk of suicide by about 500% and plain old homicide by 300%. Over 76% of victims knew their assailant. 32% of gun murders occur during a family argument, whereas only 15% involve a robbery. Read on.

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