The Cowardice of Mortality

A couple of studies floated to the surface last year in the debate about ammosexuality that I found interesting, not so much for what they concluded — we all sort of knew this stuff instinctually — but for the implicit underlying meaning when you put two and two together

First up: gun ownership statistics clearly state that the higher the rate of gun ownership in an area, the higher the crime rate. This has been confirmed by any number of studies, most notably the NBER study of 2000, as well as a Harvard review compiling these studies published later in the last decade.

Indeed, the only known study that has been widely accepted to show that more guns equals less crime has serious flaws, not least of which is the dog ate the homework. Literally.

While there is no conclusion as to the causality of gun ownership in crime statistics, there is definitely a correlative effect. This means that people either own guns because they live in high crime areas, or owning a gun creates a higher crime rate. It can be either one, but not both and while no study claims that owning a gun creates a higher crime rate, it should be pointed out that no study refutes that possibility. We simply need more data, something conservatives and the NRA are desperate to prevent (just look at the dust-up over our newly appointed Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murtha, who once gently hinted that he thinks guns are a bad idea.)

So we have established that more guns, more crime. This is particularly true for homicide, but let’s move on.

Let’s look at who actually owns guns in America. Based on the information presented there, we can draw a picture of the person most likely to own a gun.

He’s white (duh!), Southern (double duh!), rural (ibid!) and….old. Forty percent of men over 50 say they own a gun. Forty percent of men identifying as white say they own a gun. 51% live in rural parts of the country, and 47% of white Southerners say they own a gun.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? White Southern rural men, past their prime are the primary target audience of gun manufacturers. But note what else this means.

31% of women say they own a gun. Only 35% of households with a child under 18 own a gun (and yet, somehow we get the tragedy of a child killing another child or a parent almost monthly).

Age disparities are even starker: Only 26% of people under age 26 own a gun, and only 32% between 27 and 49.

Blacks and Hispanics, already nearly a plurality of the American population, are even more anti-gun. Only 20% of blacks and 19% of Latinos say they own a gun. And population density seems to correlate with an anti-gun sentiment, as gun ownership drops by 50% in urban areas and drops by 15% in suburban areas.

Crime rates and population density don’t have a correlative effect, but crime rates and poverty do. And as the South has the highest poverty rate in the nation, by a long way, it makes sense that Southerners would own guns.

But here’s the thing: The South has the highest crime rate, it’s true, but the rate above the national average is disproportionate to the variance in both gun ownership and in poverty.

In other words, the crime rate is actually lower in the South than it should be. Until you look at non-violent property crimes (essentially, burglary). There’s where the crime problem in the South exists. A lack of police, lack of basic home security like a burglar alarm or even a couple of dogs on the porch, all could lower that rate more effectively than owning a gun, which as we’ve seen is proportional to a higher crime rate.

Indeed, the very act of owning a gun could attract criminals to steal it. In a burglary.

Let’s marry these two studies. What conclusions can we draw?

If your primary purchaser is the same as a catheter manufacturer’s, you can be assured of two things: either you’d better make a product that people will need or you’d better be prepared to go the way of the buggy whip. Your primary source of income is dying: of old age, of gun shot wounds, it doesn’t really matter. Your primary market is thinning itself out.

Given the demographic study above, I have to think that attracting a younger and more feminine audience would be something gun manufacturers would do. And indeed, they are.

For instance, for the first time in my life, a pistol is being advertised on the television. To women. I’ll give Glock credit: in this commercial at any rate, they are bypassing the “what if it was your daughter” condescension in favor of making a gun sexy.

Well, except for that one moment where there’s a hoodied fellow lingering menacingly and she pats her purse.

Apparently, Glock learned the lesson of their earlier commercial: comedy and gun ownership just don’t mix. And certainly, this latest campaign is a step up from the insulting pretty pink pistol for breast cancer.

And then there’s Crickett.

Neither of these is destined to make a big sale, to be certain. Kids these days watch TV. They see themselves being slaughtered in the faces of the Newtown students and understand that guns are not for kids.

And women get it: a strong security system is going to do a lot more to protect a household (guns don’t even make the list), particularly a single parent household, than a gun. Besides, who wants to see their toddler shoot a playmate by “accident”.

So it seems pretty clear that the wave of ammosexuality is washing back down the beach. And yet, the ammosexuals will not go without a fight.

I think when you consider the age of the primary market and the correlation between more guns and more crime, something leaps off the page: these guys are scared.

No, not of the scary dude in the hoodie down the driveway. He’s a myth anyway.

No, there’s a different hood, a cowl, and he carries a scythe.

The problem is, of course, you can’t shoot this guy dead.

One Reply to “The Cowardice of Mortality”

  1. “No, not of the scary dude in the hoodie down the driveway. He’s a myth anyway.”

    A minor point, but since when have Americans had any problem being terrified by myths?

    A somewhat more significant point, these studies are possibly useful for marketing guns but not much else. The fact that lots of guns are located in a given area says nothing about why they are located there, but a great many utterly bullshit theories are concluded from that juxtaposition as to one causation or another.

    People who eat a lot of salt have high rates of heart disease, so medicine jumped to the conclusion that eating salt caused heart disease. We now know that those two facts are not cause and effect but are probably both results of something else.

    The conclusion I draw from your discussion is a hint that we don’t need to campaign against guns, but merely wait for the “gun generation” to die out. Probably an oversimplification on both your part and mine.

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