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Aurora theater shooting: Gun sales surge predictable -- but will it last?

kleck.jpg
Gary Kleck.
Colorado dealers turned in 40 percent more background check requests for gun purchasers in the four days after the Aurora theater shootings than they did the previous weekend, a spike in gun sales similar to previous runs after other mass killings, including the 1999 Columbine High School attack, according to the Christian Science Monitor. But just how significant is this latest rush by Americans to arm themselves, which seems to be happening in other areas of the country as well?

"I'm skeptical about this having any kind of lasting effect," says Florida State University criminology professor Gary Kleck. "People who are already thinking about purchasing a gun are possibly being pushed into it by news of this violence. But overall, year after year, we see the same percentage of households reporting gun ownership."

Kleck, an expert on patterns of gun ownership and crime control -- and an author of several studies that bolster the idea that guns used in self-defense and as a deterrent save more lives than are lost in gun-related homicides -- says the spike in sales is only a statistical blip. Short-lived fears about politicians pushing for more gun control have been known to fuel other stampedes to the gun shops, such as one that occurred shortly before Barack Obama's election as President in 2008.

"When the federal assault weapon ban was being debated, people went out and bought anything that was military-looking," Kleck notes, "even though they only ended up banning a narrow range of models."

glock wikipedia.jpg
Wikipedia
James Holmes is said to have had two Glock handguns in his possession when he was arrested.
In the wake of the attack in Aurora, some gun control advocates are again calling for bans on assault weapons and deploring the ease with which suspected shooter James Holmes allegedly obtained his guns and ammo. But Kleck finds the more "professional" voices among the gun-control crowd are being comparatively cautious.

"They haven't been saying this or that measure would have prevented this particular act of violence," he observes. "They know it sounds ridiculous to say that. Stopping someone from buying 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet wouldn't have stopped this shooter from firing the 100 or 150 rounds he did fire. What they are saying is that now is the time to think about gun control -- again."

But the author of Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America is no more sanguine about the ability of gun owners to prevent a tragedy such as the one in Aurora than he is about the gun-control lobby's ability to gain traction from the event. Despite the millions of gun sales in this country every year (fewer than one might think, actually, since background check rates don't equate to sales), the percentage of adult citizens who actually carry guns with them for self-defense remains low -- around 2 percent, according to Kleck.

"Suppose you have about 300 people in a theater," Kleck says. "There's a chance you wouldn't have a single conceal-carry permit in the entire group. It's unlikely you would have one who is trained and mentally prepared to handle a situation like this."

Still, he adds, "I don't accept the argument that [armed citizens] would have just ended up killing an innocent bystander. Even if they did, it could well result in fewer deaths than if the shooter was simply allowed to fire into an unarmed crowd."

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "Aurora shooting: Tom Mauser, Columbine father, on gun control, political silence."


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10 comments
Monkey
Monkey

The more anti-gun loons talk about banning guns, the more guns are sold. It's just a good investment, banned guns are worth more money, they don't go away. Drug laws don't prevent people from buying drugs and gun laws don't prevent people from buying guns. Blaming guns make for good conversation, but it doesn't prevent violence. Last time I checked, violent crimes were still illegal, but violent criminals don't seem to care about the law.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

200,000,000 Guns in the U$A is NOT ENOUGH!

 

The piss-pant spineless cowards in America need MORE GUNS!

 

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Monkey " It's just a good investment, banned guns are worth more money"

 

The propensity for gun owners like you to willfully violate gun laws, just like you violate drug law, is hereby noted.

 

Remember -- James Holmes was a "LAW ABIDING GUN OWNER" ... right up to the moment he pulled the trigger.

 

And some other parting FACTS --

 

-- Where there are more guns there is more homicide

 

-- Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide

 

-- Across states, more guns = more homicide

 

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html

 

Your *perceived* safety with a firearm in your possessions is, in fact, just another delusion you've built your life upon.

 

Hope that helps.

majoriot
majoriot

@DonkeyHotay Actually, it's the piss-pant spineless cowards buying up the guns. And the NRA is doing the work for the gun industry.

Monkey
Monkey

 @DonkeyHotay Yes, homicide is bad, but places with more gun restrictions have more homicide. Chicago comes to mind, keep googling Donkey. Check out NY and CA too. I think you will notice a pattern, you can't stop people from killing each other by blaming guns. Laws against homicide allow us to penalize people who break the law, laws against guns penalize people who don't break the law.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Remember -- cowards shoot first.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Monkey 

 

Using survey data on rates of household gun ownership, we examined the association between gun availability and homicide across states, 2001-2003. We found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide. 

 

This relationship held for both genders and all age groups, after accounting for rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and resource deprivation (e.g., poverty). There was no association between gun prevalence and non-firearm homicide. 

 

Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64.

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Monkey 

 

Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states over a ten year period (1988-1997).

 

After controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

 

Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997. American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993.

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Monkey 

 

We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries from the early 1990s.  We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded.

 

Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries. 

Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88.

 

IcePick
IcePick

 @DonkeyHotay You confuse me sometimes.  How can you be so right on gun control and so wrong on MMJ?

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