Allowing guns will not prevent violent acts in schools


 Please allow me to correct the misstatements contained in the letter to the editor titled "Presence of guns good for defense."The studies of purported gun use for self-defense have been shown to be methodically defective with invalid and inaccurate conclusions. The statement that guns are used for self-defense 2 million times a year is simply false. According to Harvard Public Health Professor David Hemenway, "Self-report surveys of rare events easily lead to huge overestimates of the true incidence of such events, particularly if the event in question has some potential social desirability." (Survey Research and Self-Defense Gun Use: An Explanation of Extreme Overestimates, in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology)The presence of a gun did not stop any of the shootings noted in the letter. The Mississippi and Pennsylvania gunmen had already left the schools when they were stopped and the Appalachian School of Law shooter had run out of ammunition. All three shooters, unfortunately, accomplished their missions and were not deterred by an armed civilian. While guns are used, on occasion, to prevent crimes, such use is greatly exaggerated by gun extremists. In fact, firearms are very seldom successfully used by civilians in self-defense. In 2005, the last year for which complete data is available, there were only 143 incidents of justifiable gun homicide in the United States, compared to over 12,000 criminal gun homicides. Criminal gun use is far more common than self-defense gun use. Every day in this country, guns are used to murder, maim, rob, terrorize and intimidate people. The bottom line is that the risks of gun ownership far outweigh the benefits.  Cathie Whittenburg is the director of the New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.


Cathie Whittenburg

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