In case you haven’t heard, the Centers for Disease Control recently released some data on gun violence. The folks at Guns.com have summarized the findings here.
Most of it will be nothing new to those of use who have owned, used and carried firearms for years. The truly wondrous thing, which should give us all a sigh of relief, is that a federal scientific agency was able to be just that: scientific. In an era of political manipulation, in a remarkably gun averse administration, the CDC gave us good news.
For instance, there are lots (and lots) of defensive uses of firearms every year. Mass shootings are rare and unpredictable. Gun turn-in programs don’t do a heck of a lot. People who are poor, engage in substance abuse, sell illicit drugs or are African-American are more likely to be victims of gun violence. White people who die of gunshot wounds are more likely to have committed suicide.
But one thing stood out to me; not as surprising but as worthy of comment. It’s this pearl: people who use a gun in self-defense are less likely to be injured when they are attacked, even when compared with other forms of self-defense.
It makes sense from a historical, and biological, standpoint. When the first cave-man decided to use a long and pointy stick to fight off a Cave Bear, his scientific friends remarked: ‘Wow! Gorg didn’t get killed like everyone else usually is!’ Technology in the form of the stick saved relatively small and hairless Gorg from the enormous power of a larger predator.
And when his decendent learned to use an atlatl or bow to kill the raider intent on taking his wife and children, the raider with the club was shocked at the pointy things sticking out of his very large, usually very victorious body. The men of the village were saved from fractures, head injuries and deaths. And the raider made a great find for later archeologists.
Humans invent things and one of the reasons we do so is to defend ourselves. We invented antibiotics to defend ourselves against bacteria. And we invented, and continue to develop, weapons in order to protect ourselves from animals and other creative (but morally inadequate) humans.