Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Violence Policy Center: Gun Use for Self Defense is Rare

American gun owners are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else with their firearm than to stop a criminal, according to a new study from a group calling for tighter gun control.
The study, released Wednesday by the Violence Policy Center, found there were 258 justifiable homicides involving civilians using firearms in 2012, compared with 8,342 murders by gun. Even if a criminal isn't shot down, the study found that civilians rarely use guns to protect themselves.

"Intended victims of property crimes engaged in self-protective behavior with a firearm" only 0.1 percent of the times they were targeted by a crook.

The report, titled "Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use" relied on FBI and Bureau of Justice data. The Violence Policy Center said the report disproves the premise of arguments by the National Rifle Association that more guns in the hands of regular people will reduce crime.

The NRA has staked its entire agenda on the claim that guns are necessary for self-defense, but this gun industry propaganda has no basis in fact,” the group's executive director, Josh Sugarmann, said in a statement. “Guns are far more likely to be used in a homicide than in a justifiable homicide by a private citizen. In fact, a gun is far more likely to be stolen than used in self-defense.”

In addition to the thousands of annual murders, roughly 22,000 people die accidentally from a gun or use one to commit suicide.

Gun rights advocates, however, have long armed themselves with contrarian statistics, saying people are safer thanks to the Second Amendment.

The Cato Institute, which advocates against restrictions on gun ownership, maintains a map showing where a firearm has successfully stopped a crime. The group says there are many unreported incidents in which a would-be criminal flees when a civilian brandishes a gun in self-defense.

"Gun control proponents cannot deny that people use guns successfully against criminals, but they tend to play down how often such events take place," the Cato website says.

The Gun Owners of America maintains a section on its website "just for skeptics" that cites reports that Americans each year use guns 2.5 million times in self-defense.

Claims that guns are used millions of times each year in self-defense are untrue, however, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, which also found that "firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense."

“Purchasing a gun may help enrich the firearms industry, but the facts show it is unlikely to increase your personal safety,” Sugarmann said. “In fact, in a nation of more than 300 million firearms, it is striking how rarely guns are used in self-defense.”

Washington Post: CT's Permit-to-Purchase Law reduced homicides by 40%

by Jeff Guo
In the early ’90s, gang shootings gripped Connecticut. Bystanders, including a7-year-old girl, were getting gunned down in drive-bys. “The state is becoming a shooting gallery, and the public wants action,” an editorial in theHartford Courant said at the time.
So in the summer of 1994, lawmakers hustled through a gun control bill in a special session. They hoped to curb shootings by requiring people to get a purchasing license before buying a handgun. The state would issue these permits to people who passed a background check and a gun safety training course.
At the time, private citizens could freely buy and sell guns secondhand, even to those with criminal records. Connecticut’s law sought to regulate that market. Even private handgun sales would have to be reported to the state, and buyers would need to have a permit.
Critics scoffed at the plan. They argued that a permit system would hassle lawful citizens, while crooks would still get guns on the black market. If the problem was criminals with guns, why not clean up crime instead of restricting guns?
“This will not take one gun out of the hands of a single criminal,” State Rep. Richard Belden complained to the New York Times in 1994.
Even some supporters of the law, which took effect in 1995, called it a “small step” — a gesture to placate residents alarmed at the gun violence.
Now, two decades later, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, say that Connecticut’s “permit-to-purchase” law was actually a huge success for public safety.
In a study released Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, they estimate that the law reduced gun homicides by 40 percent between 1996 and 2005. That’s 296 lives saved in 10 years.
to read more, click here

Yesterday's Massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church

Heeding God’s Call
Inspiring Hope, Raising Voices,
Taking Action to End Gun Violence

Yesterday, yet another horrific gun massacre of innocents.  This time the setting was all-too-familiar those of us in the faith community.  A small group had gathered at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. to pray.  Knowing the civic leadership of their pastor, Rev. Clem Pinckney (also a state senator), they were no doubt praying for peace, in their lives, their community and the world.  Rev. Pinckney and 8 other members were shot by a young man who had been out on bail, yet was reportedly given a gun by his father.  Whatever our faith tradition, we are in prayer today for the families of the victims and perpetrator, and for the congregation and community of Charleston as they try to heal and make sense of the senseless.
We at Heeding God’s Call are shocked, but not surprised by yesterday’s events.    This slaughter was sadly predictable, and makes patently clear that the American faith community MUST step up to confront our the epidemic of gun violence, wherever it occurs, be it in an historic African American church, every day in the streets and neighborhoods of cities and towns across the nation, in a formerly peaceful elementary school or in homes beset with domestic violence or those in despair seeking to end their lives.
It is the responsibility of the American faith community to confront gun violence with God’s love and compassion, but also with human commitment and steadfastness.  It is time for all houses of worship, all clergy, all faith traditions and all of the faithful to stand, walk, march, advocate and vote to bring down the idolatry of guns and to save the lives of all of our families, neighbors, fellow citizens.
We must pray and grieve, but God demands more of us.  We must act.  We must mobilize.  We must confront the evil of gun violence and those who would profit by it.  NOW.
Heeding God’s Call has been devoted to action to end the evil of gun violence since we began six years ago.  We work daily to ‘change the game’ and to enlist people and institutions of faith get into the street and confront the evil that is killing so many Americans.  We ask you to join us in this sacred campaign, by letting us know how you feel today and supporting us.  Please contact us on Facebook and let us know what you are thinking.  Please join us by using the Contact tab on our webpage.

Heeding God’s Call      8812 Germantown Avenue Chestnut Hill, PA 19118-2719

From the American Academy of Pediatrics -- The best preventative against injuries and deaths to children is not to have a gun in the home

Handguns in the Home

Firearm violence has become a public health crisis in the United States. Guns are widely available in our society and are kept in millions of American homes. According to the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, almost 8.7 million chil­dren and adolescents have access to handguns, and many are either unaware of or ignore the possible consequences of handling these lethal weapons. Their mere presence poses a very real danger to children.
School-age children are curious about and often attracted to guns. They sometimes see guns as symbols of power. So do many adolescents and adults.
The availability of handguns in settings where children live and play has led to a devastating toll in human lives, reflected in some sobering and almost un­thinkable statistics: Every two hours, someone's child is killed with a gun, ei­ther in a homicide, a suicide, or as a result of an unintentional injury. In addition, an unknown but large number of children are seriously injured—of­ten irreversibly disabled—by guns but survive. Major urban trauma centers are reporting an increase of 300 percent in the number of children treated for gunshot wounds; in fact, one in every twenty-five admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States is due to gunshot wounds.
Parents should realize that a gun in the home is forty-three times more likely to be used to kill a friend or family member than a burglar or other criminal. To compound this problem, depressed preteenagers and teenagers commit suicide with guns more frequently than by any other means.

The best preventive measure against firearm injuries and deaths is not to own a gun. However, if you choose to have firearms in your home, adhere to these rules for gun safety:

  • Never allow your child access to your gun(s). No matter how much in­struction you may give him or her, a youngster in the middle years is not mature and responsible enough to handle a potentially lethal weapon.
  • Never keep a loaded gun in the house or the car.
  • Guns and ammunition should be locked away safely in separate locations in the house; make sure children don't have access to the keys.
  • Guns should be equipped with trigger locks.
  • When using a gun for hunting or target practice, learn how to operate it before ever loading it. Never point the gun at another person, and keep the safety catch in place until you are ready to fire it. Before setting the gun down, always unload it. Do not use alcohol or drugs while you are shooting.
Even if you don't have guns in your own home, that won't eliminate your child's risks. Half of the homes in the United States contain firearms, and more than a third of all accidental shootings of children take place in the homes of their friends, neighbors, or relatives. A Center to Prevent Handgun Violence survey estimated that about 135,000 students carried handguns to school each day, and another 270,000 brought handguns to school at least once; that figure may be even higher today.
Here is some important information you need to communicate to your youngsters:
  • Let them know that risks of gun injuries may exist in places they visit and play.
  • Tell them that if they see or encounter a gun in a friend's home or else­where, they must steer clear of it, and tell you about it.
  • Talk with the parents of your child's friends, and find out if they have firearms in their home. If they do, insist that they keep them unloaded, locked up, and inaccessible to children.
  • Make sure your children understand that violence on TV and in the movies is not real. They need to be told—and probably reminded again and again—that in real life, children are killed and hurt badly by guns. Al­though the popular media often romanticize gun use, youngsters must learn that these weapons can be extremely dangerous.