Robert H. Scales wrote a piece for The Atlantic entitled Gun Trouble, with the catchy subtitle as follows: The rifle that today's infantry uses is little changed since the 1960s—and it is badly flawed. Military lives depend on these cheap composites of metal and plastic. So why can't the richest country in the world give its soldiers better ones? Scales then proceeds to rehearse the history of flaws after the initial rollout of the M-16 in Vietnam, well known flaws (and failed to mention [read more]
He says he’s working on a full response to my earlier post, but he provides an “appetizer portion” here. He offers a new anecdote of a gun accident, the statistic that there are more than 600 fatal gun accidents per year in the U.S., and an assertion that guns are not regulated like other consumer products.
First of all, the anecdote is a little bizarre. According to the story released by the police department — and I called to confirm — an old man tossed his coat on top of a gun while it was on a dresser, and the gun went off. The sergeant I spoke with said he didn’t think the gun fell to floor; it just went off when the coat hit it. The sergeant said the gun was “not an antique,” but an older-style revolver. Older revolvers are often not designed to be dropped without firing, but they usually have pretty heavy trigger pulls. If this is the way events really unfolded, it’s a one-in-a-million occurrence.
Earlier this week on Twitter, Frum said that people who say guns are safer than cars must not know what a denominator is. So let’s do the math on these 600 fatal accidents. Somewhere between 35 percent and 47 percent of Americans have a gun in the home; to be generous let’s go with the low number and say 100 percent have a car. Back-of-the-envelope math indicates that 600 fatal gun accidents would be the equivalent of 1,700 car fatalities if we’re assessing the average risk of owning one versus the other. There have been more than 30,000 car fatalities almost every year since the mid-1930s.
This is becoming boring. So let’s grant the fact that older revolvers didn’t have something like the transfer bar in modern day Rugers. Fine. Still, unless the hammer was cocked, I don’t believe this story. It’s a tall tale. I don’t care that it was “confirmed” by a phone call. Without the hammer being cocked, there is no mechanism to make this happen.
However, let’s go ahead and set the framework for Frum. It is a gun. It is not safe. Got it? That’s why we have rules like knowing your backstop, observing muzzle discipline, observing trigger discipline, securring it from children, and so forth.
It is not safe similar to the fact that automobiles aren’t safe, operating power equipment isn’t safe, and any of a host of activities in which we engage daily aren’t safe. It isn’t safe to cross the street in my city on foot, even when you have the right-of-way.
Any activity can be made safer by observing the rules and having proper discipline. The fact that Frum keeps trotting out anecdotal evidence of people who do not observe these rules only means that he thinks we’re stupid. Rather, it is Frum who embarrasses himself because he can’t understand the ameliorative effects of good behavior. Or he doesn’t want to because of his long, dark experiment into progressive ideology.