Florida State Study Finds An Armed Society Is A More Dead Society
There's compelling new data out to support my longstanding argument that guns make everything worse.
A recent study found that when you allow people to carry around guns in public like it's the Wild West, you encourage more Wild West showdowns. It's potentially High Noon at every hour of the day.
The research shows that more guns don't decrease crime rates, and most experts agree that when there are more guns, there are more homicides. This isn't a shock when you consider that an asshole with a gun fatally shot a man after picking a fight over a parking spot. There's also the other asshole with a gun who fatally shot a teen after picking a fight over the volume of his music.
The victim in the second example was Jordan Davis, whose mother, Lucy McBath, is currently serving in Congress (go give her money so she can stay there). Davis's murderer, Michael Dunn, fired 10 rounds into the side of an SUV because he claims he saw someone holding a gun. There was no gun, but gun humpers see guns everywhere. They imagine threats where there are none. They lethally escalate situations that could've been avoided entirely if they weren't high on .45 caliber courage.
The gun deaths I've linked to so far all took place in Florida, home of the despicable stand-your-ground law. It's fitting then that an assistant professor at Florida State University, Emma Fridel, would author the study debunking most of the NRA myths around gun ownership.
From Business Insider:
[Fridel] measured the effects of gun ownership rates and concealed-carry laws in all 50 states from 1991 to 2016. She controlled for other factors that might influence mass shooting and homicide rates, like unemployment rates, poverty levels and states' mental health expenditures.
What she found wasn't shocking but still terrifying: Lax concealed-carry laws increased a state's gun homicide rate by 11 percent, and higher rates of gun ownership in general was associated with a 53.5 percent increase in the likelihood of a mass shooting.
Guns make everything worse.
But, what about the good guys with guns? Gun rights groups mention them all the time, although most are fictional like Dirty Harry, who we know is a good guy because his nickname is “Dirty."
"In popular culture, you hear people saying, 'Oh, if I had a gun and I was at that Wal-Mart, I could've stopped that shooting,'" Fridel told Business Insider. "But that's probably not true."
It is definitely not true.
Alabama police shot Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., 21, in the back three times while Bradford was helping to evacuate shoppers during a shooting at a Birmingham mall. Bradford was a licensed gun owner, but he was also Black and thus easily confused for a “bad guy with a gun."
Philando Castile informed a police officer who stopped his car that he was legally carrying a gun and still wound up dead. He must not have been a “good" (i.e. white) enough guy.
According to Fridel's research, conceal-carry laws "are a stronger predictor of firearm homicides than gun ownership" itself. This makes sense because when people assume that everyone else is packing, they are more inclined to shoot first and ask questions later. This includes the police, who have a constant fear a gun is present when they interact with civilians. It's not unreasonable, considering there are more firearms in America than there are people.
The study revealed an interesting fact: Mass shootings are a small percentage of our ridiculously high total gun deaths. The Gun Violence Archive estimates 465 mass shooting deaths out of the 39,485 gun deaths in 2019. However, the immediate horror of mass shootings result in more gun-related legislation that Republicans help bury. A recent and happy exception is Virginia, where they failed to block some sensible gun safety laws.
Fridel's study suggests two very simple ways to combat gun violence in America: Reduce gun ownership and make concealed-carry permits more difficult to obtain than just shouting for your right to kill NOW. This doesn't have to remain an ongoing tragedy. We can realize that the true good guys don't have guns at all.
Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).