Guns, Guns, And Still More Guns

It seems to me…

Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”  ~ Ayn Rand.

While the current gun debate since the incident in Newtown, Connecticut, normally focuses on mass shootings and assault weapons, far more Americans die from suicide than in such events.  Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The national suicide rate, which has increased by 12 percent since 2003, is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.  Research cited by the New York Times stated, “Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases”.

Even the origin of the weapon is not that relevant.  The issue that gun advocates seldom accept is the relative ease with which weapons can be obtained.  The U.S. has the highest incidence of gun-related incidents for one reason: we have the greatest number of guns.

The prevalence and easy availability of weapons obviously extends to gangs, the psychologically disturbed, and criminals as well as responsible owners.  While gun advocates are correct in their assertion that enactment of current recommendations restricting sales of assault-type weapons and high capacity magazines will do little to reduce the overall death toll, it would aid in preventing the type of mass murders that attract public attention.

The supposed prevalence of violence in games and entertainment being in some way the cause of gun-related incidents is not supported by facts.  Most wealthier nations share an equal amount of violence in their games and entertainment but with a much lower degree of gun violence.  Japan, with probably the highest percentage of violent game players has essentially zero gun-related deaths.

The case can be made comparing today’s gun-related deaths to auto-related deaths in the 1960s[i] when there were 50,000 traffic fatalities.  Automakers, starting in the 1920s, asserted that cars did not kill people, it was the drivers that did (sound like a familiar argument?).

At the time, insufficient research was available to indicate what could be done to reduce the carnage on our highways.  Only in the mid-1950s was it possible to show that vehicle design was as much to blame as bad drivers.  Subsequent vehicle improvements, starting with mandatory seatbelt requirements, have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in death rates.

Following findings by the CDC that the presence of a gun in a home tripled the probability that a family member would be shot, the NRA, realizing that research was not in agreement with their stated presuppositions, successfully blocked comparable subsequent gun-related safety research.  The NRA attempts to have people believe the only two available choices are either unrestricted gun ownership or totally banning them, which is blatantly untrue.  Extensive and unrestricted research on weapon safety is required to determine what combination of technologies and policies would be most appropriate in reducing death and injuries.

Controlling the number and type of weapon availability actually increases the freedom of the average person: the right to live is an extremely important right and freedom.  Governments have an obligation to place more restrictions on individual gun ownership if so doing leads to more lives being saved.

That’s what I think, what about you?

[i] Board of Editors.  Science Agenda, Ready.  Aim.  Investigate, Scientific American, March 2013, p10.

About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Assault, Assault-type, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Control, Death, Firearm, Gun, Handgun, Incidents, National Rifle Association, New York Times, Newspaper, NRA, Rifle, Semi-automatic, Suicide, Violence, Violence, Weapon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Guns, Guns, And Still More Guns

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    • lewbornmann says:

      Please let me know in what areas you have questions and I will try to respond. It is difficult to respond to every comment but I try to acknowledge questions that are of interest to the majority of subscribers.


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  4. Craig says:

    May I ask how experienced you are in this area? I’m asking not because I want to insult or harass you, just because I have a slightly different opinion on this, but I’m not an expert in any way.


    • lewbornmann says:

      You are entitled to your own opinion and it would be interesting to learn where you disagree with what I stated. As for my experience, I received my first rifle 60 years ago, own a number of rifles, shotguns, and handguns and enjoy shooting (but not hunting). I, like many others, am appalled by the gun-related violence in the U.S. Common sense demands something be done to mitigate it. Unfortunately, the rights of the many must be limited due to the irresponsible action of the minority of gun owners.


  5. Albert Fonda says:

    Having obtained an airplane seat belt in 1953 and installed it in my own car, as protection for my safe and at times enthusiastic travel, I was pleased when I could buy later models already so equipped. I suggest that gun owners would similarly like to have protection for their own safe and at times enthusiastic use of the guns in their possession. But it is too late for anything but regrets when the top shelf or the hidden key has been found and their property has been misused by others.

    There do exist means of protection of guns from unauthorized use, as discussed here:
    Trigger Locks – A False Solution? at,
    and here: How good are gun locks? at Better than nothing, but with many drawbacks. The Scientific American editors are entirely correct to call ( for “thorough and vigorous research on how to make gun ownership safer.” Starting with guns already responsibly owned.

    It hurt the pride of the car makers to add even safety belts, which they did only under the pressure of public opinion; now the safety they provide is a bragging point. Without any changes in design by the the gun makers, the gun groups and the protection manufacturers are in a good position to go and do likewise for all owners of guns now in use. They might prefer to do so voluntarily, before Washington does it for them.


    • lewbornmann says:

      I agree. Unfortunately, the gun lobby has framed this debate so that many gun owners believe any limitations are equivalent to total confiscation of all weapons. Even the most inclusive measures proposed are far less than what are needed to reduce the senseless total of annual weapons-related deaths in the U.S. Statements by the weapons lobby are obviously mendacious and contradictory to their actual goals. They say they want to keep weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals and those with psychological problems but oppose every proposed measure intended to do that. While they say more study is needed, they consistently have opposed allocation of any funds for research in this area.

      Yes, the automotive industry likewise opposed safety-related requirements, they realized it was in their best interests to take the lead in that area. Now if only the gun lobby would come to the same conclusion.


  6. Pingback: Weapon-Related Violence | Lew Bornmann's Blog

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