A look at gun possession … and of gun use

The Journal News in suburban New York published a story a few days ago that involved going through public records and finding the names of every registered gun used in Westchester and Rockland counties. Then it took every name and address and put them on a map. So neighbors now know who has a gun next door to them.

That bothers me. It just feels like an invasion of privacy, and I’m not going to link to it (though it didn’t take more than a quick Google search to find it).

The permit holders obeyed the law by seeking a permit before they got a firearm. I’ve got tons of problems with the use of guns, but I don’t see any reason to publicize every person with a gun in the two counties, especially when they haven’t committed a crime.

That said, there are a hell of a lot of guns in Westchester and Rockland counties, and if that’s the case in suburban New York, the numbers have to be astronomical throughout the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the Violence Policy Center, a pro-gun-control organization, went through state databases and listed, “the circumstances for all killings (private citizen, law enforcement, mass shootings, murder-suicide) not ruled self-defense by private individuals legally allowed to carry concealed handguns.”

This, I have no trouble linking to. Go here for the 216-page PDF.

It’s scary. Lots of murders. Lots of suicides (an alarming number of murder/suicides). Lots of kids finding their parents guns and blowing themselves away.

The listings all show how police and courts dealt with the incidents, and there are contrasts throughout the country, especially in terms of parental responsibility on children’s deaths. Some states prosecute. Others don’t. And each incident is a detailed account of what led up to the deaths.

Meanwhile, Ezra Kline posts a chart over at the Washington Post that shows the leading causes of violence-related deaths in the U.S. by method and age group (click to enlarge):

causes-of-violent-death

As Ezra says:

You know that line, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” It’s true, so far as it goes. But in the United States, when people decide to kill people, or kill themselves, they typically reach for a gun.

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