stockingfull wrote:But that's a lot different from hearing the sharp sound of handgun fire where it doesn't belong, like on a busy street, or in a neighborhood.
I agree. But you seem to be assuming that when you do hear this sound that it is automatically a "bad thing" (tm). Evidence suggests that it is far more likely to be a shot fired in justifiable self defense than that of a shooting of a legally owned handgun by its owner in a crime.
There are around 30,000 gun deaths a year in the US. Roughly 17,000 suicides (900 or so children), 12,000 homicides (2000 children), 300 defensive (10-20 children), 800 accidental deaths (300 children). Children here means 0-19 years old. This is out of a population of 300 million. (all rounded out 2005 data from the CDC). Also, these are numbers for all guns, licensed or unlicensed, handgun or long gun.
Criminal shootings with a licensed handgun by the licensed owner are vanishingly small in number. I'm all for getting the guns out of the hands of criminals and minimizing suicides and accidental gun deaths, but gun control laws have minimal impact on these events. Indeed the money for registration and buy back and other such programs would likely be better spent on depression treatment/counseling and drug law enforcement if saving lives is the goal.
Accidental deaths with licensed guns are tragic, but they are vanishingly small in number (on the order of 750-1000 or so a year) and fewer still are children being killed accidentally. This is not a gun control problem, it is a gun owner stupidity problem and should not be used as an excuse to regulate and mandate and denigrate all the millions of legal gun and handgun owners around the country that manage to get by year after year and use their firearms responsibly and to good end.
In my opinion, the negatives of legal handgun ownership is far outweighed by the good that a pistol can do in the hands of a licensed, responsible owner. There should be some barriers to getting a permit. Criminal history, history of mental or psychological impairment (perhaps including ongoing use of anti-depression medication?), I can even get down with a required safety course and an additional course for concealed carry covering defensive use. But the subjectivity that is applied in many states and counties (including here in NY) is asinine. Besides being against the 2nd amendment, in my opinion, it is also a violation of the equal protection clause I would think, especially when there are significant differences in permit practices from county to county in a state. Total bans, even on premises permits for the home or target shooting permits, fogeddaboudit.
More liberalized handgun permitting laws (so called "shall issue" laws) have been enacted in at least a couple dozen states over the past 20ish years. Where is this much talked about OK Corral shootout instigated by a legal handgun owner? Certainly some few such owners have used their weapons in criminal acts, but the number is vanishingly few compared to the number that use them effectively and righteously in self defense and defense of others. The fact is legally owned handguns in the hands of permit holders are used to save a great many more lives each year than they take, to the point that it is surprising that this is really even a matter of contentious discussion.
Such laws do not result in everyone going out and arming themselves. I believe where such laws were enacted typical permit rates are around 5-10%. These states have cities and suburbs and road rage and rush hour and cheating spouses and annoying neighbors and irresponsible people and all the rest just like the rest of the states. Why hasn't this wild west syndrome broken out already in these states? And why do gun control advocates so often refer to a fear of this occurring despite the utter lack of evidence that it occurs? Why do they insist upon people being docile in the face of criminals and intruders and relying on the under staffed, under paid police to somehow magically be there in time to save you? I don't get it. I've been around anti-gun people ever since going to college and I just don't get the thinking and mentality, particularly in the abject lack of evidence of net negative results when people are allowed to own handguns and defend themselves and others.