Saturday, December 6, 2008

Get the Facts: An Object Lesson in Stupid Gun Behavior

The Dallas Morning News reports on a man who accidentally killed his girlfriend while teaching her how to handle a gun.

It's a classic story: He took out the magazine, thought the gun wasn't loaded, and pulled the trigger. Now a 19-year-old woman is dead and the 22-year-old man is likely headed for jail.

Unfortunately, this isn't unusual; while looking for statistics on accidental gun deaths just now, I came upon another story about a 19-year-old woman killed accidentally by a gun she got from her boyfriend. That one happened about three weeks ago in Arizona.

Now unintentional shootings aren't a huge cause of death in the United States. The CDC gives a figure of 789 such deaths for 2005. That's just a drop in the bucket out of 30,694 firearm-related deaths in that year. It's particularly tiny compared to 12,352 gun-related murders or the very disturbing figure of 17,002 suicides by firearm.

But that doesn't make such deaths any less stupid. And the number of unintentional shootings that didn't kill anyone is more sobering: 15,698 in 2007, according to the CDC.

That's more than 16,000 instances per year where something bad happened because someone was being stupid with a gun.

Readers of this blog know that guns aren't my first choice for self defense. But there are circumstances where they can be valuable tools if you know how to use them.

If you're going to keep a gun around for self defense, learn how to use it -- and from a professional trainer, not a drunk boyfriend. Keep it locked up and away from children. And don't ever point it at anyone you don't intend to shoot!

No comments: