Three totally unrelated links make a post, right?

THE SELF-CENTERED LINK: a mini-essay about my story “A Heretic by Degrees.” Me musing about Driftwood and how I created it.

THE INTERNETS ARE FULL OF WEIRD LINK: since this is only photos, not video, it might be rigged, but the “action shots” make it look pretty real. Paintings created by an elephant. And here I thought creating art was the last bastion of “things humans do that other animals don’t” . . . .

THE ARMING FOR INTERNET SLAPFIGHTS LINK: might be of particular interest to jaylake. Pursuant to a discussion elsewhere, regarding whether the Mumbai attacks would have been stopped faster if India had an armed civilian populace, the abstract for an article on American gun ownership. Money quote: “For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” That’s twenty-two injuries or deaths for every one incident of defense. Mind you, that doesn’t factor in possible cases where the gun acted as a successful deterrent without anyone being hurt, but I rather doubt there are twenty instances of that for every one of the other. I wouldn’t say I want to see guns completely outlawed in the U.S., but these numbers make a good counter-argument to the “but I need to defend my home from burglars!” justification, as well as the “an armed society is a civil society” idiocy you get from some corners.

0 Responses to “linky”

  1. mindstalk

    elephant: color me skeptical; that’s way better (or representational) than other examples of animal ‘art’ I’ve seen.

    guns: remember the difference between handguns (more likely to be used to repel muggings, or in muggings, or in a drunken barfight, or suicides) and long guns (more likely to be used to kill large animals, or in a hypothetical revolution). I’m not sure either has the edge in repelling home invasions.

    Use of guns in deterrence would be a big thing to know. Equally big would be their role in deterring crime *attempts* that thus never happen, e.g. reports that concealed carry laws are followed by a decrease in crime (and possible an increase elsewhere, as criminals move on to safer ground?)

    “an armed society is a civil society” may come from Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon. Recently I saw people saying that’s more subtle that it sounds, with the book early on having a scene of someone being bullied into issuing a duel challenge and getting killed.

  2. jaylake

    Gun advocates are as blind to data as they are to human costs, unfortunately.

    • mindstalk

      More complete version of the “money quote”:

      “Results: During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

      The article itself might be better but the abstract text itself seems to make an unwarranted jump from “in or around a residence” to “guns [kept] in the home”. Then there’s the significance of the figures: is the fact that some people will try committing suicide with guns a good reason to keep guns away from most people? Would the suicides simply turn to another method? Of the “criminal assaults or homicides”, how many are a home intruder turning a gun against the owner, and how many are domestic violence, and like the suicides, would banning guns prevent the violence or merely cause it to take another form?

      • Marie Brennan

        I suspect the article does a better job than the abstract of bridging that gap, but I can’t say for sure. (If it doesn’t, then it’s a crappy article that has no business in a peer-reviewed journal.)

        Of the suicides and homicides, certainly some portion of the violence would take another form. But the thing about guns is they’re fast; you can get one out and kill another person with very little time to reconsider. A suicide who has to wait for the pills to take effect, or for their slashed wrists to bleed them out, or whatever, has more time to decide maybe they want to live after all. A guy might murder his wife with a knife, but the up-close violence of it might deter him, or the wounds might not kill her before someone has a chance to call 911. I suspect — though I cannot say for certain — that at least a few of those deaths might be prevented if they were not so easy. And certainly the accidents fall into that category; I doubt kids will be more likely to play around with kitchen knives or drain cleaner because there’s no gun handy.

  3. calico_reaction

    At the Knoxville Zoo (in TN), there was (maybe still is) an elephant that would paint, but of course, it was all splashes and abstract, though it was very pretty. Never actual pictures like that, if that’s actually real. 🙂

  4. lordlothair

    Often times, on both sides, the information and numbers that you see are so scewed to make a point. Take everything on any hot topic with a grain of salt, and use it as an opportunity to do your own research.

    Other people have started to talk about the info missing in the article, so I will just jump straight to my two cents on guns:

    All the men in my family have been in the military at some point in time. Most of these individuals have also been hunters and/or involved in law enforcement. I and my cousins played in homes with guns all the time. None of us got shot, none of us pulled the guns out and played with them as toys, none of us showed them off to the neighborhood kids because we thought they were “cool”. None of this happened because we were educated about guns. We were taught to handle weapons, to always treat them as loaded, and to respect them for what they were. All of the weapons were stored and secured except for personal defense weapons. And those weapons weren’t hidden away in a drawer we were told where they were and why they were there. This familiarity with the weapons made it very clear to us that they were not toys and we didn’t accidentally find them and want to show them off (that was reserved for porn caches).

    The reason I bring my life up is the fact that many accidental shootings occur because someone was not informed, had not been exposed to or taught about weapons, and didn’t “know any better”. That isn’t to say that education will eliminate accidents, they are called that for a reason, but it will help. Hiding a gun away in a sock drawer or a closet is just dangerous because it makes the weapon mysterious and new to a child and really serves no better protection then it would in a proper gun safe. Education issues aren’t just for children, I know plenty of adults that are more familiar with the use of a sword than with a firearm, and they are exceptionally dangerous around a gun because of that lack of knowledge.

    I’m a big fan of required waiting period on purchasing a weapon, required licensing to carry a weapon in public, and logs and records of the owners of said weapons. The things that are in effect in many places already. However, many need improvement. I shouldn’t be able to just pay some cash and fill out a form and get a gun. I should have to show safety and proficiency in the weapon before I was allowed to carry it in public. I should have to show a knowledge of the law and the proper use of the weapon in order to own it. And if at any point in time I am negligent in those issues, my guns should be taken from me. That wraps education, verification, and control all in one nice little bundle.

    As to the suicides… when I was working for the coroner’s office down in Louisville in the late 90s we had very few gun related suicides when compared to total suicides. Yes, a gun would make it easier, but look around your house and see how many ways you could come up with to kill yourself (don’t forget to look in the medicine cabinet or under the sink) if someone is convinced and determined, they will find a way.

    As to the assaults or homicides, I would bet money that the people shooting in those cases were not licensed gun owners and were the same criminals that would have had the guns regardless of any gun control laws.

    As to deterrence. I have carried a weapon legally on my person as long as I have been able to. In all of that time I have never had to fire my weapon in an off-duty “street” setting. However, in that time I have drawn my weapon twice and flashed it four times. All six of those times a potential situation has immediately de-escalated and was resolved very quickly with no harm to any party. I can make no guarentees that the gun “saved my life” but I wouldn’t risk my life on all six of those resolving without some harm otherwise.

    So, that’s my six or seven cents… debate on!

  5. dsgood

    An armed society is a society in which old men are polite.

  6. mythusmage

    On Guns

    My problem with the study lies with the cities chosen. Hardly what I’d call representative. Now had it been a comparative study between, say, Seattle and Knoxville, then you’d have something. In-so-far as Seattle is a gun control town, I suspect the Seattle results skew the study however.

    A bad protocol in other words.

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