Facts can be inconvenient, sometimes.

You know, all this insistence on the truth can sometimes get in the way of what I want to say.

I was going to write a post about how responding to the Aurora and Wisconsin mass shootings with calls for gun control was understandable, but somewhat misguided.  That we needed to be talking about gun control all the time, because of the large number of people (31,000 in 2009) who die every year from gunshots, and few of them die at the hands of high-profile mass murderers.  Over half of those people are suicides.

I was going to say we needed gun control to make it harder for people to impulsively buy guns to kill themselves.  There are real studies that show that if you can make suicide harder, you have fewer suicides. There is also a study indicating that gun ownership results in an increased risk of suicide. So it stands to reason that longer waiting periods and other restrictions mean fewer suicides.

But I can’t write that.  Having looked at Google, it turns out that the studies on the effect of gun control laws on suicide rates are either inconclusive or show no decrease in suicides (except in one study, in individuals over 55).

There may be many reasons for this: it may be the studies were flawed.  It may be that people who used guns to kill themselves already had guns in their possession which they had legally obtained during times when they were not suicidal. It may — most probably — mean that I have insufficient Google-fu to find the best studies.

I still think there are reasonable gun controls that need to be in place in every state: minimum waiting periods for a purchases, including at gun shows; background checks; laws mandating that people have their guns secured in their houses.  A requirement to have guns unaccessible to children seems to me a no-brainer: a CAP (Child Access Prevention) Law, such as is in place in eighteen states, might well have saved an Indiana man who was shot to death by his toddler. (Indiana does not have a CAP law.)

My hunch is that gun controls will save lives.  I still think that if one decides on an impulse to commit suicide, having to wait for ten days before you an buy a gun increases the likelihood that someone else will intervene in the meantime.

But I can’t show that.  So I can’t write that.

Damn facts, getting in the way of emotions.

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