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Nancy Grossman: Guns in home do not mean safety increased

To the editor:

Dr. Jay Fleitman wrote in a recent column about his choice to purchase a firearm to “protect” his family in the event of a home invasion.

Unfortunately, many of us, even doctor-scientists such as Dr. Fleitman, make safety-related choices based on emotion, while failing to actually examine the scientific evidence. As in all things, simply feeling safer does not necessarily mean we are safer.

During an assault, those who possess a firearm at the time of the assault are four-and-a-half times more likely to be shot in the assault than an unarmed person. In other words, attempting to “protect” one’s family by confronting that burglar has a higher likelihood of ending badly than, say, calling 911 and staying out of the way.

Like childhood abduction, which is carried out overwhelmingly by someone who is known to the victim, burglaries that involve violence are most often committed by family members or acquaintances of the victim, rather than a stranger.

Although feared, burglary-related homicides by strangers are actually quite rare.

In addition, simply having a gun in the home is associated with a greatly increased risk of firearm-related homicide, suicide and accidental shootings in the home.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that doctors urge parents to remove all guns from their homes and cite this statistic, “guns kept in the home are 43 times more likely to be used to kill someone known to the family than to be used to kill in self-defense.” Forty-three times more likely.

There are valid reasons to keep a firearm — hunting or target-shooting, for instance — but all indications point to family members being less rather than more safe when guns are kept in the home.

Nancy Grossman


Legacy Comments3

The "4.5 times" number came from a "study" conducted by Prof's Hemminway and Banas. A primary way that statisticians prove their theories or conclusions is to give their data to peers/colleagues for validation. Prof. David Hemenway has a history of not sharing his data, as with his research on the also anti-gun "study" Guns and Road Rage. Prof John Lott Jr. ("More Guns Less Crime") made several attempts to see Prof Hemenway’s data used for Hemenway's "Guns and Road Rage" but it was never provided (http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/search?q=hemenway&2009). When a researcher willing does not provide their data for review by peers/colleagues you know the data is cooked. Hemenway and Bana's conclusions from their research also defy FBI, Centers for Disease Control and DOJ numbers, according to the website Crime Prevention Research Center (http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/2014/03/comparing-murder-rates-across-countries/). While the US is at, or near the top, of firearms ownership per 100 people, the US is also in the bottom 50% of homicide rates per 100 - even taking liberal gun-free havens, and killing zones, like Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC into account. Over 65million firearms have been purchased by law abiding citizens in the US since President Obama came into office. Yet, conversely, firearm related crimes, including accidents, continue to plummet in the US. For example, as reported by FactCheck.org "The Department of Justice, which commissions the Census Bureau’s victimization surveys, reports that there were more than 1 million firearm incidents and more than 1.2 million firearm victims in 1993 and again in 1994. But by 2009, the number of firearm incidents (326,090) and firearm victims (352,810) dropped by more than two-thirds." (http://www.factcheck.org/2012/12/gun-rhetoric-vs-gun-facts/). Additionally FactCheck.org reported: "For example, in 2011, there were 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs" and "According to the FBI, nearly twice as many people are killed by hands and fists each year than are killed by murderers who use rifles." (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/03/FBI-More-People-Killed-With-Hammers-and-Clubs-Each-Year-Than-With-Rifles). In conclusion, if the "research" done by Branas and Hemenway had any validity to it, the researchers would first make their data available to other researchers so that their research can be verified or proven invalid by their peers – it does not appear that they have done this. Second, there were an estimated 270 to 310 million lawfully owned firearms in the US, prior to President Obama getting elected. Now add the 65+million sold since Obama was elected. If Branas and Hemenway’s "research" conclusions were valid, logic would dictate that there would have been a tremendous spike in firearm related homicides or accidents since President Obama came into office. But alas, there has not been. In fact, firearms related homicides and accidents continue to plummet across our nation.

Placing a firearm in the home of people uneducated in its proper use could lead to tragedy. Placing a table saw in the home of people not educated in it's proper use coule lead to tragedy. The solution is to ensure that people with tools are properly educated and responsible. Like any other hazard, education and responsibility go hand in hand with safety. I will, however, be glad to make a yard sign for anyone that wants to declare their property a gun free zone. That will provide them all the protection they need. Then they can leave my property alone, knowing that I will not enter theirs and make it hazardous. ;-)

I'd like to know where Ms.Grossman gets her numbers stating that people who use a gun for home self defense are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in the assault. I don't believe that for a minute and she doesn't say where she got that figure. What I do know for a fact, not some opinion I read someplace, that an home invasion happened near my house some years back when a number of people entered the home of a couple living in an area that was not close to the next house, in the rural area we live in. The home invaders had to know full well that the house was occupied by the owners in the wee hours of the morning. My question is, what were the invaders going to do what with the people inside? Whatever their plan was, it didn't happen because the home owner chased them off with his firearm. He didn't shoot himself or his wife, or anyone else. He did however scare the hell out of the home invaders as they couldn't escape fast enough. In fact I can find many stories on the internet of people saving themselves and their family members because they did have a gun. Calling 911 will get the police rolling but unless you live right next door to the police station, I doubt they will get there in time to catch the invaders. If they do that means the home invades stuck around too long and probably were preoccupied with whatever they were doing to those poor folks home at the time. Having a gun in the home is a choice that home owners can make for themselves but If they do choose to have a firearm in the home, it is the responsibility of the gun owner to obey the Ma. laws and to have a plan in the event of a home invasion and to have proper training and practice to pull it off. If your not willing to make that commitment, then I suggest an alarm system, a dog or two, with the instincts to protect their turf. Ma. is rated as one of the safest states to live in as far as gun crime goes because of the laws that are in place now. What I don't need is my doctor asking me questions about if I have a gun in my house. Its none of his business. If I am there to see my doctor, its probably NOT to talk about guns.

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