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Monday, March 25, 2013

Griper Blade: In the Gun Debate, Suicides Count

Gun suicide chart
It always happens with gun stats; no sooner are new numbers out than gun nuts immediately dismiss the bulk of them as suicides. Gun violence is gun violence, so logically it should make no difference. Yet, for people looking for a way to poke holes in arguments for saner gun regulations, suicide by firearm is some sort of special class of gun violence. A great example of this is a post by the hopelessly dishonest John Hinderacker, written earlier this month. "New Study Finds Firearms Laws Do Nothing to Prevent Homicides" argues that once you rule out suicides, rates of gun violence is actually higher in states with fewer guns. It's actually a statistical tie, but math is no impediment to the seasoned, professional liar. The problem here should be obvious; you could just as easily argue that gun ownership does nothing to prevent crime. As pro-gun arguments go, Hinderacker's sucks. But the main point is that you have to rule out suicides as real gun violence. "Most people -- most liberals, certainly -- would say that a person has a right to commit suicide if he is determined to do so," he writes. "If guns are the suicide weapon of choice, and it is easy to see why they are for most people, why should the state try to make its citizens use other, more difficult or painful means? On the other hand, some people undoubtedly do commit suicide on impulse who, if they had not had access to a gun or other effective means, may have gone on to live a happy or at least normal life. This is an argument for keeping guns away from those who are suicidally depressed, locking them up in your home, and so on. But those mental health issues are very different from the scare headlines on the basis of which activists... are trying to sell unconstitutional gun measures to the voters." So conservatives are for assisted suicide now -- so long as the assistant is the gun industry...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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