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Too many guns, too few truths

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Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 9:43 am | Updated: 4:28 pm, Thu Feb 28, 2013.

For those of you who would like a definite answer to the question of the relationship between guns, gun laws, and violence, I have it for you. Unfortunately, neither of the many sides of this issue will be pleased with the answer.

That said, here it is, and this should come as no surprise: The definitive answer is that no one knows. Although both of the main sides, pro-gun and anti-gun, are quick to make statements supporting their sides, along with convincing statistics, the facts don’t support either side.

Why is that? As in most areas involving human behavior, we don’t have a lot of data that “proves” any particular assertion that might be made. What we do have is a lot of contradictory or questionable data. Why is there a paucity of truly useful information regarding the relationship of guns and gun ownership to violence?

One possible explanation is that the gun industry, including makers such as Smith and Wesson, Colt, Ruger, FMK (a company that prides itself on engraving the Bill of Rights on each of its handguns), Calico, and Kahr, are somewhat profitable. In total, according to IBIS World (an Australian research company) these companies and many others like them annually generate around $11.7 billion in sales with profits just under $1 billion.

As might be expected, as happens in any profitable industry threatened by regulations or controls, the manufacturers, dealers, and consumers will fight back. As is apparently the case, the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers are working hard to make sure that there are no more restrictions placed on guns and their sales as well as trying to limit research.

When a layperson looks at some of the websites of the manufacturers and dealers, it can seem a bit intimidating (how about scary as hell?).

The Calico Company, in its own words:

“Calico firearms incorporate the Helical Feed System with the option of using a 50 or 100 round drum magazine. Even fully loaded with the 100-round capacity, in the 9mm versions, they are lighter than the UZI or MP-5. The Helical feed magazine can be loaded and stored indefinitely without spring fatigue, and with the Calico speed loader, the 50-round magazine can be loaded from an open box of ammo in less than 15 seconds and 30 seconds for 100 rounds.”

Won’t that provide some amazing entertainment in the hands of a mentally unstable person?

Because I am not a gun expert I cannot evaluate Calico’s claims. So maybe it is just a bunch of BS? But this manufacturer, as well as many others, definitely appeal to the “manly” parts of many men’s psyche, mine included.

This gun control issue is one that probably won’t die out for a while, especially if we have some more Newtown copycats. It seems that as long as a certain percentage of people keep yelling, “They are going to take our guns away,” or keep making comments such as those of the NRA on the Biden task force – The NRA was “disappointed with how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.” – there will be a group of people who will believe that their rights are in danger.

From my perspective, it is pretty obvious that there is little danger of the government taking away ordinary weapons used for self-protection, hunting, or target practice. There are more than 200 million privately held guns in the United States. Finding and confiscating them is obviously a task that would be truly challenging.

The other realization that I feel is missing from the gun debate is that no single set of numbers will summarize the issue and make it clear who is “right.” As long as both sides keep slinging questionable numbers at each other, it will be difficult to determine what really needs to happen to bring down gun violence. Having more accurate data certainly won’t hurt in moving this debate along.

Travel abroad has helped shape my viewpoint regarding the United State’s relationship to guns and gun ownership. While in Iceland I asked for various people’s opinions. One from a 24-year-old summarizes what several others had to say. This Swiss social worker, on vacation in Iceland, told me regarding comments she had heard, “I was shocked, because what the guy (NRA VP Wayne LaPierre) said made no sense to me – the more people have guns, the more dangerous it is for me.”

It seems apparent to me and countless others, that the ready availability and excessive quantities of guns does lead to unnecessary death. We need to work on this.

Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and weekly columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at

© 2015 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • David Tunno posted at 3:30 pm on Sat, Mar 2, 2013.

    David Tunno Posts: 160

    Mr. Wychopen,

    I was not expecting a reply from you, nor wondering why I hadn’t seen one.

    Your statement about hunters and sport shooters is, again, completely off point for the reasons I already mentioned. So, I don’t understand why you would repeat it.

    As for your visits to socialist countries where the people “don’t seem to have anyone telling them they can’t say certain things,” you admit there are exceptions. I submit your examples ARE the exceptions. Surely you know enough history to know what socialist countries have done to freedom of the press, a freedom you and I enjoy and participate in and, by the way, a freedom that was won by means of arms against our previous government.

    What would be your view of a government that reduced that freedom to the point where you are allowed to say this, but not that? You are allowed to use these words, but not those? You are allowed to say this about the government, but not that? I would venture to guess you would be upset. So, if it is a freedom you deem essential, that freedom should be upheld without change, but other freedoms, not so much?

    You wonder why we should fear socialism? Let’s ask those Cambodians who resisted the Pol Pot regime, that is if any of them survived the genocide that killed millions of them. Let’s ask those Jews and other “undesirables” who weren’t among the millions killed by the Nazis (a.k.a., the Nationalist Socialist Party). Same with the Russians, the Iranians who revolted under Ahmadinejad and on and on through history old and new. All those millions of people who were slaughtered may have had no fear of those governments until it was too late, but no matter, they were also unarmed. Of this we can be sure, because they were unarmed, those governments had no fear of them.

    Instead of fearing socialism, you write, “We should actually be much more afraid of the greed and avarice of the people in positions of power and influence.” And that would be because “people of power and influence” in socialist countries are free of greed and avarice? Are you serious?

  • wychopenhotmailcom posted at 7:54 pm on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    wychopenhotmailcom Posts: 33

    Mr. Tunno,

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful piece. Your efforts deserved a more timely reply but I was out of the country for a couple of weeks and did not take the time to respond, but now I am taking the opportunity.

    I did not want you to think that my lack of a timely response meant I have no thoughts or even an answer to your initial question.

    My statement seems fairly clear. I don't detect any reason to fear the government attempting to take away most of the guns of the populace. I use hunters and sports shooters as examples of people who possess and use guns but probably have nothing to worry about as far as government agents coming and confiscating their weapons.

    I find it difficult to understand why people think that they can battle the government if it did want to confiscate the guns. They would be like Charlton Heston who held a rifle and said "From my cold, dead hands." Do people really think they can beat the strongest military the world has seen? So, unless the government is taken over by someone who wants to conquer the United States and enslave us? what is the problem? Since no one can explain why we must have assault style military weapons in the hands of citizens, I think I won't object to some controls being put upon them. The military needs weapons with unlimited magazines and firepower. The police certainly should be well equipped, but I fail to see the importance of arming the citizenry with these same or similar weapons.

    If you believe that our government is trying to take away your rights, work on electing people who agree with you.

    I have been to a number of "socialist" countries and spoken to quite a few of their citizens and to be blunt, they are pretty happy with their lot in life. They don't seem to suffer from not having assault weapons. They don't seem to have anyone telling them they can't say certain things, Yes, I know anyone can find exceptions, but people can also find exceptions to any assertions about American freedoms.

    Finally, I just don't get this fear of socialism. We should actually be much more afraid of the greed and avarice of the people in positions of power and influence.

    Well, those are my current thoughts, but I am always willing to reconsider and change my perspective. I hope all the fearful people can do the same, or present real evidence that there are real reasons why we should fear our own government and socialism.

  • Bookldy209 posted at 6:45 pm on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    Bookldy209 Posts: 357

    Unless, of course, one needs the paycheck to survive.

  • David Tunno posted at 5:08 pm on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    David Tunno Posts: 160

    I agree, Charles, that they should not be given serious consideration, but if Bookldy209 is right, that is a scary, George Orwell kind of reality. As a "book lady," she should know George. Has it come to that? I don't think so, but if I'm wrong, all the more reason to stand up, be counted, fight back and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Bookldy209 posted at 10:01 am on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    Bookldy209 Posts: 357

    Please understand that those of us who live and work here and volunteer in the public domain cannot afford to go against the grain. Maybe being less than brave but more about trying to work with the status quo.

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 5:18 am on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    That is the best reason David Tunno to not take the anonymous posters seriously at all. If you cannot stand on your real name online what does that say for you in real life and in public.

  • David Tunno posted at 7:50 am on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    David Tunno Posts: 160

    Bravely spoken by someone hiding behind a piece of clip art.

  • Old Man On The Hill posted at 7:42 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    Old Man On The Hill Posts: 2

    There appears to be two main sources of gun violence - street thugs (Stockton, LA, Chicago etc.) and mentally ill persons. In the case of street thugs - make the penalties suffciently Draconian and that problem will be greatly reduced ether by deturance or attrition (permanent residence in prison). The mentally ill present a stickier problem. The mental health system in this country is broken and no one seems to have a solution. Gun violence arising from sources other than these two areas would appear to be small in number. Of course, reversing the moral decay of the country would fix many of our problems, but we cannot depend on political aniimals to have a clue in that arena. They will continue to posture and grandstand.

  • chris posted at 12:37 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    chris Posts: 9

    Soaring hyperbole does nothing to advance your cause sir.

  • Cleareye posted at 12:12 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    Cleareye Posts: 639

    "Socialism" is alive and well in America. The people like what they have of it but don't seem to want very much more. Police, fire departments, public schools are all socialist creations. Social Security, unemployment insurance are others. Get used to it. It's not all bad. And no one wants your guns. We just want to keep them out of the hands of criminals and lunatics, and we'd like to know if our current laws are working to our benefit. To do that we must actually learn about gun violence in all its aspects.

  • Cleareye posted at 12:03 pm on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    Cleareye Posts: 639

    The day will come when tourism will suffer because of foreigners fear of our absurd attitude about guns. It may be amusing in Hollywood shoot em ups, but not in reality. American men are seen as being afraid of their own shadows and must have a gun within reach or they are vulnerable to being overcome. What happened to real men?

  • chris posted at 9:52 am on Tue, Feb 26, 2013.

    chris Posts: 9

    To debunk the thought that the government can control anything one only needs to examine the outcome of the "war on drugs" or prohibition. To paraphrase R.M. MacIver - One cannot legislate morality.

  • raiderdadeo posted at 12:56 am on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    raiderdadeo Posts: 112

    So next week you will be doing the rest of the story right? Next week, will you debunk the anti gun side?

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 3:27 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    Guns do not kill people. People kill people with whatever device they might find, use or get a hold of. That is the way it has always been and always will be.

  • David Tunno posted at 12:24 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    David Tunno Posts: 160

    Mr. Wychopen, what point were you trying to make with the following statement from your column?

    "From my perspective, it is pretty obvious that there is little danger of the government taking away ordinary weapons used for self-protection, hunting, or target practice."

    Was it that the 2nd amendment was included in the Constitution to protect citizen's rights to those particular activities? If so, you are completely wrong. Do you really believe the authors of the Constitution would have concerned themselves with the sports of hunting and target practice?

    The 2nd amendment was included to protect citizens against the government. The nation had just been through a revolution against a heavily-armed government (England), a revolution that would not have been successful but for the fact that a great many Americans were armed. It was to protect American's right to do that all over again, if need be, that the 2nd amendment was included. This was not an afterthought that came years or decades later. It is part of the Bill of Rights. Here's how it reads:

    "Right to Keep and Bear Arms. A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

    Where do you read about hunting, self-protection and target shooting there? Your list of gun-ownership activities is the list, however, that the left uses to justify restrictions on the 2nd amendment. Put simply, they interpret the Constitutional right in a way that makes no sense for a Constitutional amendment, and ignores the plain language of the amendment, but supports their desire to remove, or partially remove, the right of citizens to bear arms.

    "...being necessary for the security of a free State." The amendment doesn't even suggest the value of citizens owning guns is for purposes of repelling foreign invaders. It has that value also, as Japanese Admiral Yamamoto famously observed, but it is not so limited.

    Now, you might argue the militia is not "well-regulated," but you can't argue that it has no right to exist. You can certainly argue that crazies and criminals don't have the right to bear arms of any kind, but that wouldn't get you anywhere, because no one is going to argue against you. Crazies and criminals in America forfeit all kinds of rights, including the right to liberty and sometimes life.

    So, I return the first question I asked of you at the outset. I don't think you will have an answer, which is an answer in and of itself. I think when we drill down through this discussion to the bottom line; the most relevant point is that it is one key marker for the differences between those who believe in a socialist government and those who don't. Those who do, do not fear a large intrusive government. They welcome it. Those that don't believe in it, do have that fear.

    The nation's founder had that fear, hence the 2nd amendment, which brings up yet another marker. Those who believe in a socialist form of government, the antithesis of the founding principles of America, of necessity must view the Constitution, at least major portions thereof, as an old, quaint, outdated document offering little or no relevance or connection to the America they want, while those who do not believe in a socialist form of government might view the Constitution as have little or no connection with the America we had.