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Friday, March 8, 2013

Uninformed babbling about guns and stuff 

We’re revisiting beliefs that some people hold firmly, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Babbling about more cops

We talked about the belief that more cops equals less crime in the last issue. Briefly, if a city has a very-much under strength police force, this belief can be valid. However, in most cases, more cops cost more money, but have little, if any, effect on crime rates. It’s been well-demonstrated that more community involvement, local pride, and civic improvement reduce crime.

And about fewer guns 

Similarly, some believe that having fewer guns leads to less violent crime. On the surface, that seems like it should be true. However, the opposite has been shown to be true in nearly every study of the issue. Israel has lots of guns (and trained gun users), the U.S. has a moderate number, and Britain and Wales have few guns per capita. (We usually use firearms per 100,000 citizens as a measure.)

Violent crime in Britain and Wales is 3-4 times that in the U.S., which in turn has more violent crime per capita than Israel. And, municipalities that adopt rules favoring gun ownership, and especially, concealed carry of guns, in the U.S., see their violent crime rates drop significantly and rapidly.

So, believing that reducing gun ownership will reduce risk to law-abiding individuals is irrational. Maybe it feels good to do something – anything. And, preaching that “if we save only one life, it’s worth itis silly. Reality is that reducing gun ownership increases the risk of violent crime against law-abiding residents. Another way guns help

Babbling about bullets

How about the “deadly” effects of pistolsWe've seen bad guys on TV flipped head over heels by a single shot from the hero’s pistol. And the hero or heroine stops a bad guy from evil with a single shot from fifty feet away. What’s the reality?

A bullet from a handgun will damage a little over ½ of 1% of an average person’s tissues. That’s about three quarters of the volume of an average thumb. If that tissue is vital for consciousness the bullet may cause rapid death, or at least rapid incapacitation. The injury might cause later incapacitation or death through blood loss or infection.

Vital tissues include brain and upper spinal cord, major blood vessels connected to the heart, or the heart itself. These are occasionally destroyed by a pistol shot. Most often they’re not.

Momentum fantasies

As far as knocking a bad guy over, or into the air, that’s pure Hollywood hype. Remember basic physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the bullet flipped a person over, the pistol it departed would pretty well flip the shooter over as well.

Pistols can be dangerous, certainly. But they aren't dangerous like a death ray, they’re dangerous like a screwdriver, but at a greater distance.

Assault weapon babble

Now to “assault” weapons. According to a California Senator, these are rifles that have certain characteristics that make them deadly to honorable citizens. Remember, automatic weapons have been forbidden since the 1930’s. Outside of our military forces, only gangs and police departments have them.

What the uninformed refer to as “automatic” are actually semi-automatic, which means they are designed to use some of the expanding gasses or some of the recoil to operate. That is, the gases open the action, toss out the empty cartridge case, cock the hammer for the next shot, and push a new cartridge into firing position.

Feinstein babbles

Some of what Senator Feinstein calls dangerous and forbidden features include:

A handle at right angles to the bore. This makes some military weapons easier to use in confined spaces. Few gangbangers battle in trenches or tiny buildings. Some shooting hobbyists think they look cool, and in some configurations they can help with accuracy.

A heat shield. This is a hole-filled shroud around part of the barrel. When shooters shoot a lot of rounds, in practice or in competition, the barrel gets warm or hot. The shield keeps them from burning their hands. We know of no schoolyard shooters who fired a lot of rounds and risked burning their fingers.

A bayonet stud. This is a knob that holds a big knife, called a bayonet if it has a matching groove to fit the stud. We've never read of rapists attacking women with fixed (attached) bayonets, but it could happen. Ridiculous but -- just barely -- possible. 

Large capacity magazines. Most competitive shooters change magazines in far less than one second. So, if a gangbanger is discharging rounds into an enemy gang at the rate of one round per second it will take him twenty seconds to empty a 20-round magazine and 21 seconds to empty two 10-round magazines. The police are unlikely to be able to capture him during the one second his rifle is not loaded.

Just more uninformed babbling

So, the Senator’s forbidden firearm features are just another example of babble about a subject that isn't understood very well. Lots of passion and rhetoric shown, little knowledge evident.

(Speaking of lack of knowledge: just for fun, Google Feinstein’s picture holding an “assault rifle.” You’ll notice that the muzzle points in the direction of people, her finger is on the trigger, and the action is closed. She’s violating three of the safety rules that every purchaser of a firearm in California must be able to cite from memory.  Just one example

More about uninformed babble soon 

We’ll address some more “firmly-believed, but wrong” beliefs in a later blog. They’re very common.

What about you – are your “hot buttons” based upon what you think “ought to be,” or on what is fact?

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