No, Swimming Pools Are Not More Dangerous Than Guns

by

JC Schildbach, LMHC

With summer coming to its official end in a few days, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Less time spent around swimming pools means less chance that swimming pools will kill us—because swimming pools are more dangerous than guns—right?

I hadn’t heard this particular claim from the pro-gun embracers of NRA misinformation until fairly recently. But, then, after a bit of poking around on the Internet, there it was—turning up in all kinds of discussion threads, with no citation of the information source, and rapidly morphing further and further from the truth to the point where pro-gun folks were saying only that ‘Swimming pools are more dangerous than guns’ or ‘More people die in swimming pools than from guns.’

Repeat a lie often enough, and people (who don’t bother to look into the facts, and who like the sound of the lie) will repeat it along with you.

With a few well-spent minutes with the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, I quickly realized that the claim was completely false.

Now, if you want to say that more U.S. children, age 14 and under, die from drowning than die from being shot, that is actually true. Of course, this is something like saying more U.S. children, age 14 and under, die from drowning than from heroin overdoses.  More nine-year-olds go swimming than are shooting up or packing heat.

However, once you add in the next age-based demographic group, which is 15- to 24-year-olds, the total number of deaths by drowning is easily eclipsed by the total number of deaths by firearm.

For a quick comparison of the 2013 CDC statistics:

Age 14 and under, deaths by drowning: 625

Age 14 and under, deaths by firearm (intentional and otherwise): 408

Age 15 to 24, deaths by drowning: 501

Age 15 to 24, deaths by firearm (intentional and otherwise): 6085

So, by including those people over the age of 14 in the statistics, the numbers skew undeniably toward guns being much more dangerous than swimming pools. Including all age groups in the U.S., there is a total of 3,391 drowning deaths to a total of 33,169 deaths by firearm.

Also, keep in mind that drowning does not only include swimming pools. It includes all drowning that is non-boating-related. Anybody who drowns in a bathtub, a lake, a river, an ocean, or any other body of water is included in the statistics. So, really, swimming pools would appreciate it if you would quit blaming them for all of the drowning deaths.

But, even if the statistics weren’t so blatantly obvious in spelling out the relative danger of guns versus drowning, the assertion of the relative danger of swimming pools versus guns is, on its face, rather stupid.

For instance, I could not pick up a swimming pool and walk into a school, a movie theater, or a church, and start drowning people with it.

Similarly, when a woman asks her estranged husband for a divorce, there’s something of a greater threat that he will get a gun, shoot her, all their children, and himself, than there is that he is going to drug any of them and pitch them into the backyard swimming pool. And, in case you hadn’t thought about it, a big chunk of those homicide-by-firearm statistics for the 14-and-under crowd involve fathers murdering their families.

We can even use the pro-gun folks’ favorite (albeit highly unlikely) scenario of a home invasion to show the ridiculousness of weighing the threat level of swimming pools versus guns. Your front door is kicked in, and three men storm in—shoot them (with the gun you keep at your side at all times in your home, just in case anybody kicks in your front door), or try to lure them into the swimming pool?

Just by the stationary nature of swimming pools, it’s relatively easy to steer clear of them, as well as most other bodies of water. But with the NRA pushing for everybody to have access to guns everywhere and at all times, concealed or open carry, who knows when you’re going to find yourself dealing with some Frank Castle wannabe or an aspiring Dylann Roof–who, by the way, thinks he’s one of the good guys with guns?

I suppose I could throw a bone to the pro-gun folks and say that in terms of accidental deaths, there are more deaths by drowning than deaths by accidental discharge of firearms across all age categories. Those totals—drowning: 3,391, accidental discharge of firearms: 505. Even if we add in the 281 deaths by firearm that may or may not have been intentional, deaths by drowning win by a pretty hefty margin over accidental and possibly-accidental deaths by firearm.  Still, a swimming pool, even in your own backyard, is less likely to be involved in the death of a family member than a gun you own, especially when you factor in the extreme number of suicides by firearm—21,175. Again, the swimming pool (or, I should say, bodies of water) could have an edge on killing your kids who are still under the age of 14, but after that age, the gun surges ahead by thousands.

Okay—I know that actually citing statistics with pro-gun people is about as useful as, say, asking my dogs to brush their own teeth. In fact, I can easily imagine the pro-gunners reading the paragraph immediately preceding this one and taking it as evidence that swimming pools are, in fact, more dangerous than guns. But I included it anyway, so that the overall picture is hopefully clearer, and so that any readers will have all the information they need to refute anyone who wants to claim that swimming pools are deadlier than guns.

But, if actually trying to provide information in a verbal argument becomes rather difficult, I put the information into some memes you can readily share. Just drag and drop to your desktop, and you can copy them into any comments-section argument where the swimming pool stats come up.

Here’s effort number one:

Pool_and_Gun_Long_form

So, that was a bit wordy. Trying to be factually accurate in short format is kind of tricky. Let’s try that again.

Pool_and_Gun_Next_longest

Well, that was definitely better for brevity, but lets make it even simpler.

Pool_and_Gun_short_form

Or, you could take the quick and rude approach.  But be careful.  Gun lovers can be very sensitive.

Pool_and_Gun_rude

Happy (and safe) swimming!

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63 thoughts on “No, Swimming Pools Are Not More Dangerous Than Guns

  1. The argument that pools are more dangerous than guns is NOT just about accidents and children. The outrage over gun deaths causes people to try to ban guns whether it’s a homicide or accident. Yet they don’t have the same outrage over drowning deaths. Gun deaths provoke calls to outlaw the guns. Drowning deaths provoke no such emotional response, even though each pool is many times as likely to kill someone than each gun is. Gun control advocates simply don’t see gun ownership as a legitimate activity, while accepting swimming or playing in the pool as totally worth while, and worth the risk involved. Going to the shooting range or target shooting simply doesn’t count as a legitimate activity with them.

    The arguments about how hard it is to keep kids from pools vs guns does not change the facts on which is more dangerous. It only explains why pools are more dangerous. The risk is about real world pools vs real world guns as people actually do secure them or fail to secure them, and how each are used in real life.

    The suicide rates are unlikely to change much in the absence of guns. A few people might change their minds if they have to change the method of suicide, but Australia simply saw a big increase in the use of hanging for suicide as the rate of gun suicide declined.

  2. Actually, you’re wrong about suicide rates in Australia and in general. And most suicides are committed with handguns–so, for instance, a ban on AR-15s and similar weapons would probably not significantly reduce suicides by firearm. But if you remove the easiest means to kill oneself (handguns), then there are fewer impulsive suicides, and fewer fatal suicide attempts, which is what actually occurred in Australia, counter to your ‘hanging’ argument above (that is, while there may have been an increase in other forms of suicide, there was an overall decrease in the number of suicides). And I already laid out the statistical arguments about ‘deaths per capita’–or total number of deaths relative to total number of guns/pools, relative to total number of households where such things are present, and explained where “points” in the argument could be conceded. Also, being concerned about gun control does not necessarily correlate to one’s desire to have a swimming pool or to view one activity as more legitimate than another. Personally, though, I’m much less worried about people who want a swimming pool than about people who so rabidly defend the right of people to have AR-15s and similar weapons that they are willing to excuse the occasional mass killing of children, concert-goers, congregations, movie-viewers, etc.

  3. I almost never respond to any website, but I’m just getting so tired of the spin, nonsense, and missing the point, I see in both your article and reply to the other commenter.

    First, you people always include suicide in your statistics to boost the numbers up. When we talk gun crime, we’re talking murders. Even leftist Michael Moore didn’t stoop to that level in his Bowling for Columbine movie where he correctly stated the 12,000+ gun homicide rate. It has since come down further, somewhere in the 9000+ range. If people want to take their own lives, that’s up to them. That’s pro choice, something I thought liberals were all for.

    Second, the point about swimming pools has nothing to do with whether people can use them to murder other people. What a strawman argument . It has to do with death count. After every school shooting liberals throw emotional temper tantrums and say we need to ban guns (or a certain type of gun) to save the lives of school children, of which there are just a handful every few years. Yet hundreds of children drown in swimming pools every year and the libs remain silent. This is why liberals show themselves to be totally disingenuous. If liberals were really concerned about child deaths, they’d be talking about swimming pools more than school shootings. If not an outright ban on those frivolous luxury items (pools), they could still go full big govt liberal on pool owners and mandate tall fences with locked gates around all pools, mandatory yearly inspections, mandatory swimming lessons, mandatory life vests, and mandatary liability insurance. You know, make pool owner’s lives an expensive bureaucratic living hell like liberals do elsewhere.

    And then we come to the mind-numbing stupidity of the AR-15 argument. Liberals don’t know what one is or why they think it differs from other guns, but they mindlessly parrot what they hear in the liberal media. The idea that if the AR-15 is banned it’s going to stop school shootings is the most idiotic of all talking points. There’s thousands of other guns to choose from. Dianne Feinstein created a list of guns that she’d rather people use when conducting school shootings, and many of them are just as effective if not more so than an AR-15. But the important point for liberals is they’re not as scary looking. Banning something based on looks is a level of irrationality that us who aren’t liberal will never understand. School shooters aren’t fussy. They use all kinds of guns. The most deadly school shooting used handguns. Not one school shooter is going to sit around and mope because a certain gun was banned and then decide not to shoot up a school. And then you lie and claim that some are willing to excuse the occasional mass killing of children to defend owning an AR-15, when in fact they’ve pointed out a million times that banning the AR-15 won’t stop school shootings. Jeez. It’s the same dumb arguments after every school shooting and liberals can never learn. There’s only one lib that’s ever said anything sensical on the issue, and that’s either you ban all guns or you ban none. Anything else is pointless and ineffective.

    What do people value more, swimming pools or children? See, I can play the same ridiculous guilt trip. If liberals don’t do something about swimming pools, then we will know they value them more than children.

  4. For someone who claims to be concerned about ‘the other side’ being disingenuous, you’re having a field day mischaracterizing “liberals”–although liberals aren’t the only ones who are in favor of additional restrictions on guns and gun ownership. Even President Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of conservatives everywhere, argued that there was no reason for the general population to have weaponry like the AR-15 and similar guns. And, no, the concern about AR-15s is not because they are “scary-looking”, it’s because of their incredible destructive capabilities and the easy access that people have to them–your argument about other types of guns being ‘just as effective’ notwithstanding. And I’m ok with your suggestion of all guns being banned, although nobody is actually arguing for that–and contrary to what you suggest, there are liberals who own guns, and liberals who see gun ownership as just fine, but with more restrictions on who can access them and what their intended uses would be. And I’m sure not only one liberal has ever said that banning all guns is the only effective route to go.

    Funny also that you bring up regulations around swimming pool ownership. Many states have laws requiring pools to be surrounded by fences of certain heights, and with locked gates. There are also insurance requirements around them. Gun ownership is not restricted anywhere near as much in terms of where guns have to be stored, and training and insurance requirements are non-existent. I’m all for requiring insurance on guns, training, a registry, etc.

    Also, your stats about 9,000 gun homicides per year are just flat wrong. And, as I’ve already mentioned several times, since suicides by firearm are essentially an example of how gun ownership does not make one’s family member’s safer, removing those statistics from the debate is rather disingenuous. I’m fine if you want to parse out what categories the deaths fall into–accident, homicide, suicide, but leaving them out altogether is just a means of suggesting that gun ownership is safer than it actually is. And suicide is not just a matter of ‘pro-choice’–it’s a decision made by people who see dying as a rational choice, often because they are suffering from mental illness or dealing with an overwhelming level of stressors. Easy access to guns just makes it that much easier for people to kill themselves impulsively.

    Your idea of there being a “ridiculous guilt trip” around school shootings and ownership of AR-15s and similar weapons. along with many of your other comments, really does suggest that you are willing to write off the deaths of children murdered in school–after all, you say there’s “only a handful” of these incidents. And the deadliest attack on a school in the U.S. was actually committed with explosives–explosives that were then put under extreme regulations, much like the fertilizer used in the Oklahoma City bombing was immediately put under strict regulations. But where we “learned” from those attacks and took steps to stop further attacks of the same kind from happening, we’ve just never “learned” that stricter regulations on guns and gun ownership could lead to a reduction in such crimes.

  5. But it’s unfortunate that we seem, as a species, to need to collect and account for ourselves chiefly in numbers and statistics. Even in our language – even in the terms I’m condemned to use here to communicate – we abstract ourselves away to perceived commonalities and necessary generalisations, eventually almost obliterating our true selves and all reality from what we discuss, eroding meaning from our very existence just to communicate some tiny shadow of our thoughts. But we don’t have to accept these constraints foisted upon us by not only language but our (seemingly) increasily narrow and dogmatic use of it – both in semantics and in acceptable ideals. We should not generalise about ourselves more than necessary. Likewise, we shouldn’t have to legislate for ourselves more than necessary either. Let’s all remember that legislation is there for law, and law is there not to dictate every facet of our lives but to govern where meaningful contest or conflict should require peaceful settlement. Legislation, not the legal process, is by definition – by almost sheer necessity in practical implementation – a blunt instrument. Predent is there to inform the deciders, law is there to be interpreted and enforced. Even at their most finessed, laws can at best call for the discretion of official people or trusted people-people who might be required to use their knowledge, trusted position or expertise to make decisions about the liberties of others on a case by case basis. However, even in these circumstances, such ideas are (seemingly) quickly losing popularity, in particular, in certain arenas. The idea of law alone, not more directly judges or officials, determining outcomes of legal precedings would be a terrifying prospect to the Romans; those upon whom our systems of law are modelled. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to meaningfully discern between the lives of individual weapons, regardless how logical that might be. In point of fact, it could even be quickly found to be untenable in some cases, particulary if parts of guns were interchangable. Licensing *a person*, however, and charging them with the responsibility of using the weapon responsibly, is a far more achievable goal. Sad that we have to even feel like guns or pools or anything be regulated. Sad that any of us die through accident, neglect, or yes, from killing each other. And so it’s sad that we must entertain the idea of passing laws to prevent such events. But in so doing, we need to honestly ask ourselves when the more complex underlying issues behind gun violence – or even pool deaths – will be soberly tackled. Laws are a last-ditch effort, aren’t they? Or does anyone suggest we declare “war” on gun owners? Schools? Fellow citizens? Unless I’m missing something, legislation to control guns says ‘nothing else worked’ in preventing people from using guns in violence. So I think we’re being dishonest with ourselves if we are only getting here now. On some points – we should have been there *years* ago. On other points, we should respect the rights of responsible gun owners who have put in place reasonable safeguards to prevent their weapons being either used without their knowledge, or, for their needs to be excessive beyond their trusted and reasonable purposes. Unless I’m hoping to be part of a cold war, for argument’s sake, I personally don’t need a nuclear weapon. No citizen should want, nor indeed feel the need to have, a nuclear weapon. Surely we could all agree on this extreme. So at a point we have an idea of ‘defence’ becoming absurd. Likewise, at an extreme, the argument of sports ownership becomes absurd. On the other hand, I don’t think too many of us would take it well that all cars should be banned because they kill lots and lots of people every year. I wonder… do cars kill more people or guns? The pollution from cars? – now and previous? *Actual* lead poisoning? I wonder where that research would lead on that?

    Mike Moore was mentioned on in a response here, and it’s worth noting that in “Bowling for Columbine”, Moore did indeed discuss what he thought was the *actual* major cause of gun violence – the culture of fear. He compared and contrasted the US and Canada, and indeed many other places with high levels of gun ownership. All non-US countries had several things in common – but in general, they had some degree of protection for the underprivileged that was in law, because sometimes law can work. Like Canada, which supported it’s lower classes – not to the point of some hyper-regulated, dystopian nanny-state, like some hellish third-world anti-libertarian social backwater where none dare tread. But to the point that poor people weren’t so vulnerable that they would be driven to desperation. Education was accessible. You might not be getting the best education available, but again, if you were economically challenged there was at least a rope up – if you worked hard you could hope for a better future. Sure, it’s harder to legislate around “a culture of fear” than to just cry for gun restrictions. And those are needed, desperately in the long term. But no amount of a wrong antidote will cure a poisoned patient. No amount of misplaced legislation over gun control will cure a culture of fear. To cure that you need to both preserve people with sane regulations while maintaining reasonable liberty. You need to offer welfare and support while not destroying people’s incentives to try to improve themselves. I think the US still needs to wake up to itself and realize that the “all or nothing” mansion-or-on-the-street dream-peddling extremism nonsense is caustic. All the demonizing of the poor while worshiping rich and (often terrible!) parasites should be replaced by the ability to work for a fair wage, aspire to a comfortable life and to think rationally, work hard, but understand compromise and the need to help people *at a state level* while not unnecessarily undermining personal freedoms. And Moore demonstrated PLENTY of places that somehow managed that. And yes, at some point a really, really efficient killing instrument is just that, and no matter how trustworthy we might find someone, we’d have to be nervous if they have it – even if they offer it to us. I wouldn’t trust myself with a nuclear weapon and I am slow to even frustrate, let alone anger! Are we truly all naive enough to believe that even a President can order a nuclear strike with absolutely no checks and balances? No safeguards? Of course they can’t. Even the vast majority of guns have a safety on them! But let’s wake up. The US needs (and deserves) more social attention than just some knee-jerk tightening up of gun laws. And no – no I don’t even think that’s a good place to start. I think we can clearly see that this particular approach, no matter how horrible the violence, just isn’t going to work. Sometimes simple solutions to complex problems just don’t work. No amount of wishing is going to change that. Maybe it’s time to look at what mainstream media can and will get away with, and start looking at basic protections for disadvantaged citizens.

  6. Wow! Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree that there are, of course, complex problems underlying all of this, the ginning up of fear, a ‘culture of cruelty’, and extremism of many varieties like you highlight. I will just note that guns of the AR-15 variety are legal but restricted in Canada–meaning it is much tougher to get one, and people can’t just stockpile them in their homes.

  7. Suicides and homicides are not really a fair comparison to use in determining how dangerous a gun is to keep around. We see that as far as accidental shootings go, swimming pools are statistically more dangerous. What you are confusing, IMO, is the lethality of the two. Yes, guns are more lethal than pools, but that doesn’t make them more dangerous to keep at home. They are actually quite safe so long as the rules of gun safety are adhered to.

    The total number of gun deaths (33,000) a year does not undermine the argument of pools being more dangerous. Two-thirds of those deaths are suicides, and we know that the suicide rate is not driven by guns because other countries with no guns have either a very similar suicide rate or even a higher suicide rate in the case of Japan and South Korea. The other one-third is due to homicides, and a very large portion of those is due to inner-city gang violence, which is a whole complex problem unto itself.

    Regarding a right to own AR-15s, which you mention in some of the comments, I would say that in regards to mass shootings, defending the right to arms is like if say instead of mass shootings, we were having repeated Muslim terrorist attacks, a bomb here, a bomb there, a truck massacre here, and truck massacre there, etc…30 dead here, 60 dead, there, and so forth. If Muslim terrorists were the common denominator in all these attacks, that would not justify infringements on the rights of Muslims in the name of security. With guns like the AR-15, the guns have been around for many decades, but the mass shootings have only really increased greatly as of late. Which means there is something else going on that is causing these (three of them however have been Muslim terrorism thus far).

    You mention about the destructiveness of ARs and Ronald Reagan. I would argue that:

    1) Reagan was mistaken on that issue

    2) ARs are no more destructive than any other firearms. They are semiautomatic rifles, which have been around for over 100 years now. ALL guns are more destructive or lethal than other guns, depending on their application. Bolt-action rifles are excellent for sniping at people (and the military use the Remington 700 hunting rifle as a sniper rifle). Handguns are ideal for concealing a weapon and sneaking a weapon up on someone. 12 gauge shotguns are extremely destructive and deadly, but used by many millions of people and law enforcement for self-defense. They were nicknamed the “Trench Broom” by the Germans in WWI because you could take out a trench so quickly with them and they wanted U.S. soldiers caught using them to be tried for war crimes. A 12 gauge with 00 buckshot or slugs will put down a grizzly bear. Semiautomatic rifles can obviously also be very deadly.

    People like ARs because they are easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain, customizable, have low recoil, great accuracy, and excellent stopping power. They are ideal for physically weaker people, physically disabled people, and elderly people. Yes, they can very much be misused for mass murder however.

  8. “Excellent stopping power” –for stopping what? “Ideal for physically weaker people, physically disabled people, and elderly people” — ideal for physically weaker people, physically disabled people, and elderly people to do what? And Ronald Reagan was not at all mistaken in asserting that people do not need weapons designed by the military for inflicting as many casualties/as much damage as possible in the most efficient way possible.

  9. Regarding physically weaker people, disabled people, and elderly people, so that they can easily defend themselves. For example, my mother had breast cancer and surgery recently. She is almost 70. There is no way she would be able to handle a handgun like a 9 mm and definitely not anything like a 12 gauge shotgun. She could however, handle an AR-15.

    Regarding stopping power, one problem that police have had a lot of times is if they end up having to shoot a person (usually a young male) who is high on a drug that makes them very aggressive (like cocaine), that if shooting them with hand guns, the person can require a significant number of shots before dropping. There was a woman in Georgia for example who was defending herself and her child against a man who broke into her home. She used a six-shot revolver. She shot at him with all six shots, missed once, and hit him five times. He did not go down. He did, luckily for her, decide he’d had enough and ran out of there, but he did not die or anything. But what if he had been high on cocaine and kept coming? She would have been defenseless then. I can tell you that where I live right now, in the more urban areas near Rochester (I live near Rochester, NY) there is a problem of cocaine addicts trying to break into people’s homes.

    Now a weapon like an AR-15, or say a 12 gauge shotgun, have much better stopping power than a handgun like a 9 mm. You will not get shot six times with an AR at close range firing .223 or 5.56 and not drop. It also is more accurate and has less recoil than a hand gun.

    Regarding Reagan, he was wrong on his assertion about so-called “assault weapons.” Regarding this concept of military weapons designed “to kill as many people as possible in the most efficient way possible,” that is inaccurate. An AR is a semiautomatic rifle. It is no different in basic function than any of the other semiautomatic rifles like the M1 Carbine, semiautomatic AK-47, Mini-14, M1A, etc…or even the various semiautomatic handguns. Yes, semiautomatics can be used for mass murder. But that is because they allow for effective self-defense. Anything that allows you to make repeated strikes at an attacker will allow you to also make repeated strikes against innocents. But they are not designed explicitly for mass murder.

    Actual assault rifles, in their original design, were designed to kill a large number of people very quickly. The first was designed by the Germans and called the “Storm Rifle” based on the idea of “storming the enemy.” But to be an assault rifle, it requires automatic fire. Without it, it isn’t an assault rifle. Same with a machine pistol. To be a machine pistol, it needs automatic fire. But assault rifles and machine pistols are highly regulated.

  10. But the AR-15 and similar weapons were not designed for self defense. It was designed as a weapon of war–not explicitly for mass murder–but for war–where taking out the enemy efficiently is one of the goals. And in spite of your hypotheticals and example, the idea that anybody needs an AR-15 for home defense is rather ludicrous. Where exactly are the weak and elderly keeping their AR-15s that they can get to them quickly if somebody kicks in their front door–on the coffee table? Leaning against the nightstand?

    Also, the definition of “assault rifle” varies in different states and in different regulations. And since you mention the heavy regulation of ‘real’ assault rifles and machine pistols–is there some problem with adding additional layers of regulation to the other weapons under discussion? Does an able-bodied 18-yo really need to be able to buy an AR-15, or even stockpile AR-15s and ammunition, with very little oversight? Since most mass shootings have been carried out by young, white males in communities that do not suffer a high rate of crime, I’m pretty sure that none of those people were making the argument that they needed an AR-15 to protect their homes and families.

    And, since I didn’t address it earlier–there are several countries with higher suicide rates than the United States–if we’re looking at per capita rates, and a few with higher total numbers of suicides. But there are cultural differences at play, among other things. To generalize, the United States has a largely negative view of suicide as ‘the coward’s way out’, as well as a fairly negative view of seeking help for mental health concerns or suicidal thoughts, combined with an overtaxed system for providing mental health care, systemic blocks to accessing care (in the form of insurance companies, etc.), and plenty of stigma around seeking mental health care. The presence of guns in the home makes impulsive suicides much easier to carry out and makes those attempts much more lethal.

  11. I need to write a bit of a long post to respond to your questions properly, so apologies for that. Regarding the idea of the AR-15 being designed for war, that can be said pretty much for all the commonly-owned and used firearms in America. To ban military guns, you’d have to ban everything. For example:

    Bolt-action rifles: The bolt-action rifle was designed as an explicitly military design. It is still the most accurate form of rifle design and was designed because the newer forms of warfare involving firing from the prone position made the lever-action rifles difficult to use. Bolt-actions quickly became adopted by civilians however and are extremely common for hunting rifles today and in fact, the U.S. military and law enforcement use a version of the Remington 700 bolt-action hunting rifle as a sniper rifle.

    Shotguns: The most common shotgun is the 12 gauge pump-action. They have been used in every military conflict the U.S. has been involved in since WWI and as I pointed out above, during WWI the Germans nicknamed them the “Trench Broom” and wanted U.S. soldiers captured with them to be tried for war crimes. 12 gauge pump-actions are extremely common among civilians and law enforcement in the United States. They have very wide use, from self-defense, to military, to law enforcement, to hunting, target shooting, etc…

    Lever-action rifles: Designed in the mid-1800s as a military rifle, but were adopted by regular citizens as well. Used for everything from war to hunting to self-defense.

    Muskets: Both breech-loading and the older, slower muzzle-loading muskets, were designed as weapons for war.

    Handguns: The Colt 1911 pistol, .45 caliber, which was designed in 1911 (hence the name), became the standard sidearm for the U.S. military for many years. Today they use the 9mm I believe. Both the 9mm and the .45 caliber pistols are extremely common handguns among both civilians and law enforcement in addition to the military. Other handguns that are functionally identical are the .357 Magnum and .38 Special.

    Cartridges: The cartridge refers to the casing/shell, with the bullet in the front, and then the gunpowder and primer behind it. The AR-15’s .223 ammunition actually derives from a hunting round, the .222. The 5.56 is derived from the .223. Prior to the creation and adoption of the .308 Winchester and 7.62 x 51mm by the military, the 30.06 was the standard rifle cartridge used by the military. Today, 30.06, while no longer used by the military, is still an extremely widely-used cartridge for things like hunting and self-defense. 00 buckshot gets its name because it was originally designed to hunt bucks, but it is used by law enforcement and the military.

    So I mean you can find a military design or origin in pretty much every commonly-used gun in America. You’ll find quite a few military designs in firearms adopted for hunting use and a lot of hunting designs adopted for military use. For example, to make AR-15s better for hunting, one company designed a longer AR-15 barrel. The military found it made the AR great for sniper use, so they adopted the barrel for that.

    One thing you say is that a military gun means it is designed to kill “efficiently” as opposed to being for self-defense. Well that depends on how you define it. If you are talking about being able to shoot and stop someone quickly, then yes, they are designed for that, but that is the point, and that makes no difference whether one is attacking an enemy on a battlefield or defending themselves in their home. No one is going to want a gun that won’t stop an attacker quickly and efficiently. In that sense, use of a gun by an infantry soldier shooting at a terrorist in Iraq or Afghanistan and use of that same gun by a person shooting at an intruder in their home, will be the same. If you mean “efficiently” as in kill lots of people very quickly, such as automatic fire weapons, well as said, those are already highly-regulated.

    Also, it is important to understand what the word “arms” in the Second Amendment means. It doesn’t mean every weapon period. For example, they had primitive biological weapons at the time—the British used smallpox-infected blankets against the Native Americans. But the right to keep and bear arms did not refer to a right to keep smallpox-infected blankets. Today, it similarly is not a right to modern engineered biological weapons. The standard warship of the time was the ship-of-the-line, but warships were not regarded as “arms” so in modern times, the Second Amendment doesn’t cover a right to things like modern warships, submarines, battle tanks, attack helicopters, etc…vehicles of warfare. “Arms” I believe also was distinguished from “munitions” at the time, and thus did not cover things like grenades and explosives. So those wouldn’t be protected either.

    Now today, we use the word “arms” as a general term for all weapons (“global arms trade,” “nuclear arms,” etc…), but the word at the time meant what today are called “small arms,” i.e. things like pistols, rifles, shotguns, swords, knives, etc…and armor (the definition at the time included armor). “Arms” makes no distinction between “military” versus “civilian” arms because they are one and the same. They are a basic tool, one used by both civilians and a professional military. And today there still is really no distinction either, aside from ones with automatic fire. But otherwise, arms are arms, regardless of who utilizes them. The pistols, rifles, shotguns, knives, etc…used by the military are the same ones used by law enforcement and ordinary citizens. And that is the whole idea behind the concept of the right—small arms are not some “military-specific” tool, rather they are a basic tool that all free humans have a right to possess. They are basic tools of combat and warfare. Warfare and combat can be anything from a person attacking you and trying to kill you to soldiers fighting on the battlefield. Combat doesn’t just happen between professional militaries. And the idea thus is that every person has a right to possess arms as a basic right in nature, as self-defense is so inherent a right in nature, that the government does not have a right to a monopoly on arms (small arms). This also helps to serve as a check on the government since it has a monopoly on force. And then of course the people’s right to self-defense as well.

    Now the government DOES have a monopoly on very destructive weaponry, such as explosives, vehicles like battle tanks, attack aircraft, nuclear-biological-chemical weapons, etc…but those are military-specific weapons that people make no use of. Small arms, however, are something ordinary citizens, the military, and law enforcement use. Now you might wonder then how are automatic fire weapons banned. Well automatic weapons were originally only restricted in 1934 due to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre when Al Capone’s gang gunned down members of a rival gang. This was all due to the bootlegging wars due to alcohol having been made unconstitutional at the time. The legislation required paying a fee and a special registry for ownership of automatic weapons. Then in 1986, a clause was inserted into the Firearms Owners Protection Act to try and kill it that closed the registry, thus making purchases of brand-new automatic fire weapons illegal. So those are why they are so highly-restricted today. Whether they should be many debate. But that is the existing law.

    Regarding the weak and elderly, well they might keep an AR-15 in case of a breakdown in civil order (natural disaster for example) and yes, some people keep guns by their bed. The weapons with the differing definitions you refer to, the so-called “assault weapons,” really do not exist. It is a strictly politically-created term that has no technical basis and which is defined completely-arbitrarily by the politicians. Technically, I would argue, such laws should be eliminated and are probably among the most blatantly unconstitutional laws ever devised. For example, most “Assault Weapons Bans” do not cover weapons like the Mini-14, but that is just as capable as an AR-15. Here in New York, they have an assault weapons ban. But you could still buy AR-15s. They were just made “Assault Weapons Ban-compliant.” So then after Newtown, the state amended the law to try and ban ARs. The result was the AR makers modified the weapons further to make them again compliant. Some states, to get around this, have just flat-out outlawed the AR-15, but they haven’t outlawed the other guns that are functionally identical. So such laws are absurd.

    If a person is responsible enough to drive a car at 15 (as in Florida), then they are plenty responsible enough to own and operate a firearm at 18. There is nothing wrong with young people purchasing AR-15s or owning multiple weapons (ownership of multiple weapons does not mean “stockpiling” necessarily, just as said multiple weapons do not per se constitute an arsenal either). With most mass shootings, all the person needs is one gun anyway. But how would one define “stockpiling” of guns or ammo? Most of the people with gun collections who are harmless. And ammunition? To a gun control proponent, having 3,000 rounds might sound like a lot. To a person who shoots frequently, that is actually a rather low amount. But a person with 20,000 rounds and 10 guns is no more dangerous than a potential mass shooter with 50 or 100 rounds.

  12. So, you clearly know a lot about weapons. But it sounds like you’re saying ‘regulation is hard, therefore we shouldn’t do anything.’

    A few other points, you mention 15-year-olds being able to drive–but it is not like the moment they turn 15, they can just grab the keys and go. In most states, drivers first have to pass a permit test, and only drive with an adult over 21 in the car with them. Then, after they turn 16, they can take a driving test in order to get a license and be allowed to drive alone. Even then, they have to have insurance, and have to renew their license every few years. There is also policing of roadways to try and ensure drivers are operating their vehicles safety, vehicle registration, emissions tests, etc. So, the analogy doesn’t hold up in that guns in the U.S. are not subject to a similar regimen of testing, insurance, etc. Also, cars aren’t designed with the purpose of killing, but guns are.

    Also, your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is a bit off. It does not suggest that people are individually guaranteed the right to purchase guns with no oversight. It actually reads, “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.” It is essentially designed to establish something like the National Guard, because the founders thought a standing army was dangerous. Those militias were regulated by the government, guns were registered so the government was aware of who owned what guns, and the government inspected peoples’ weapons and readiness to use them in defense of the country. It was a measure to protect the common good, not a measure to give free access to guns.

  13. I’m curious about the percentage of the 6084 gun deaths in the 15-24 range. How many of those are self-inflicted?

    Sincerely yours,
    A data driven gun clinger

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