November 27 2012

Arms and the Woman in Virginia

Charlotte Hays

One of the first blogs I wrote this year was about Sarah McKinley, an eighteen-year-old Oklahoma woman who defended her home and infant with a 12-gauge shotgun. Sarah McKinley’s husband had died of cancer on Christmas Day and she was alone with her baby.

While two men were trying to break into her house, McKinley called 911 and asked if it was okay to shoot. To her credit, the 911 operator said that McKinley had to do what was necessary to defend herself and her child.

I personally dislike guns and would not own one. But I am glad that Sarah McKinley didn't feel that way. In the hands of law-abiding citizens, guns can save innocent lives. I thought about Sarah McKinley when I read this story in the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Many gun dealers point to women as the most significant demographic of new gun buyers. “We are seeing far more women now — empowering themselves I guess is the word for it,” said Marcus, of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk.

Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico has been selling out its eight-hour women-only basic pistol instruction classes for the past three months, said Ed Coleman, the general manager.

“The fastest-growing segment of the gun-owning population is women,” Coleman said. “The numbers of women that are buying firearms for the first time are far exceeding men.”

In an item on Hot Air, Mary Katharine Ham writes about an apparent link between increasing guns sales and decreasing crime rates.

Ham quotes from another story in the Richmond paper. This one was headlined “Gun-related Violent Crimes Drop as Sales Soar in Virginia:”

Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales.

The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent.

But the total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped more than 27 percent, from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 crimes in 2011.

The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“While there is a wealth of academic literature attempting to demonstrate the relationship between guns and crime, a very simple and intuitive demonstration of the numbers seems to point away from the premise that more guns leads to more crime, at least in Virginia,” said Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory and has an interest in gun issues…

“So while it’s difficult to make a direct causal link (that more guns are resulting in less crime), the numbers certainly present that that’s a real possibility,” Baker added.
The opposite – that more guns are causing more crime – cannot be derived from the numbers, he said.

Ham sums it up:

Freedom preserved and less crime for everyone. Nifty, huh?

The nanny state, of course, abhors guns.

Whenever there is an episode of gun violence, I get a call from a Georgetown liberal friend. She blames those hateful guns. I always try until I am blue in the face to explain that piling on new laws only makes it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get guns. I wonder if she thinks that mass killers are likely to be deterred by new laws?

Sarah McKinley, the young mother, who asked if it was okay to shoot—that is who would be deterred. She would not want to break the law.

Nobody decent wants a wild west. But what we have to worry about is not the guns but the hands in which we find the guns. For some reason, most enlightened liberals find it incomprehensible that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens who have beent taught how to use the might save innocent lives. Indeed, John Lott, who has long linked lower crime rates to legal gun ownership, was shouted down earlier this year by CNN host Piers Morgan and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz.

And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to think that the police are put at risk when law-abiding citizens have guns! The logic eludes me.

I particularly don't get the logic when a gun can empower a woman, who may not have the innate physical strength of a violent male.

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