2008-03-28 : USA : Gun statistics you seldom see

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2008-03-28 : USA : Gun statistics you seldom see

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 09:59

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/gun- ... ice-irvine

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Gun statistics you seldom see



If someone breaks into your home, and you have a justifiable fear that he
might kill or harm you or someone else, you have a right to defend yourself
with lethal force.


GORDON DILLOW
Register columnist



It was the sort of incident that never makes it into the official crime
statistics - that is, an incident in which a crime may have been prevented
by a firearm.


It happened earlier this month in Irvine. Police were looking for a man
suspected of raping an 18-year-old woman in her home. As the cops searched,
the fleeing suspect, a 27-year-old L.A. gang member, tried to hide by
breaking into another home. Inside, the homeowner, a man who had recently
undergone defensive firearms training, heard the commotion, grabbed a
handgun and confronted the suspect.


The homeowner didn't shoot the alleged rapist, although legally he almost
certainly could have. If someone breaks into your home, and you have a
justifiable fear that he might kill or harm you or someone else, you have a
right to defend yourself with lethal force.


But as I said, the homeowner - for security reasons, he declined to be
interviewed or identified by name - didn't shoot. Instead, he shouted at the
suspect to stop, at which point the guy ran out of the house. Shortly
thereafter he was caught and arrested by the police.


"The homeowner took the appropriate safety steps," Irvine Police Lt. Rick
Handfield told me. "And he had had some firearms training, which is an
important part of gun ownership."


But did the homeowner's use of a gun prevent another crime from occurring -
perhaps an assault on the homeowner or his family? Or would the suspect, who
turned out to be unarmed, have fled when confronted by the homeowner, gun or
no gun? The police can't definitively say.


So how will that incident be reflected in the crime statistics?


Yes, the rape will be added to the grim numbers of that despicable crime,
and the successful arrest will appear in the Irvine Police Department's
annual statistics. And ironically, if the homeowner had justifiably shot and
killed the intruder it still would have been listed in the overall
statistics as a gun-related homicide - the same statistics that anti-gun
activists use to promote stricter so-called "gun control" laws to keep
firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.


But police departments and other government agencies don't collect hard
numbers on crimes that may have been prevented by armed citizens - because,
as in the Irvine case, they're difficult and sometimes impossible to
quantify.


And that's unfortunate. Because crimes prevented by firearms are as
important in the debate over guns as crimes committed with firearms.


As you probably know, last week the U.S. Supreme Court took up the 2nd
Amendment question. The case could finally decide whether the U.S.
Constitution gives individuals the "right to keep and bear arms," as opposed
to a collective right afforded only to organized state "militias" such as
the National Guard.


(By the way, California law defines our state's "militia" as "all
able-bodied male citizens . between the ages of eighteen and forty-five" -
which, at age 57, I find somewhat insulting and discriminatory. And in any
modern application I guess we would have to include the gals in the militia,
too.)


Well, I don't have enough space to go into all the 2nd Amendment arguments.
But to me it's obvious that a homeowner in Irvine - or any other law-abiding
citizen - has a constitutional right to have a firearm.


Of course, whenever gun ownership rights are debated, anti-gun activists
like to point out that about 30,000 people are killed by guns in America
every year -- although they seldom note that about 60 percent of those
deaths are suicides, or that the firearm murder rate has dropped by 40
percent in the past 15 years, or that far more people are killed by motor
vehicles or medical malpractice every year than are killed by guns.


And they never mention how many crimes have been prevented by citizens
bearing arms.


Once again, that's a hard thing to quantify. One U.S. government survey in
the 1990s estimated that more than 80,000 Americans a year used guns in an
effort to protect themselves or their property against crime. Other
estimates put the number far higher, at more than 2 million crimes prevented
each year by the presence of privately-owned firearms.


But those are estimates and extrapolations - which means we can argue about
the numbers all day long.


Still, this much is clear. When faced with a violent criminal in his house
in the middle of the night, it would be hard to argue that that homeowner in
Irvine would have been better off without a gun.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
GOSA
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