The myth of self-protection
Re: Goodbye becomes a heartbreaking routine in Newtown, Dec. 20.
As history has shown, that awful tragedy in an elementary school in Connecticut that took the lives of 27 people, including 20 children, will renew calls by many members of the U.S. gun culture for all citizens to arm for self-protection. True to form, at the NRA press conference on Dec. 21, its spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, called for such an action, including putting a police officer in every school in America.
Studies tend to reveal people who carry a weapon for self-protection are more likely to increase violence than reduce it; the weapon is also more likely to be used against the victims than by them. An American study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that guns kept in the home were 22 per cent more likely to kill a family member or an acquaintance than an intruder.
A 1988 study of gun fatalities in King County, Washington between 1978 and 1983 found that, for every time a gun was used in a self-protection homicide, 37 lives were lost in gun suicides, 4.6 lives were lost in gun homicides, and 1.3 lives were lost via unintentional gun deaths — 43 deaths for every self-defence homicide. A second study revealed that keeping a firearm in the home increased the risk of homicide almost threefold.
In an average year, about 100,000 Americans are killed or injured with guns.
According to the FBI’s 2008 data, 245 alleged criminals were killed by civilians, far fewer than were killed by police. This squares with an FBI report that, in 1992, handguns were used only 262 times by law-abiding citizens to kill criminals justifiably.
Arming for self-protection?
EMILE THERIEN, Ottawa