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The tradeoffs of gun ownership

If you have a gun in your home it is 22 times more likely to be used to kill someone you know or love (suicide, accident, homicide in a heated argument) than a stranger in self-defense. Read More

I call bullcrap on this article.

Here is the truth about gun ownership and protecting innocent life. Study it:
'Pretend “Gun-free” School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction'

I did "study it." Indeed, I

I did "study it." Indeed, I read all 300+ peer-reviewed, scientific studies on the topic before I wrote this piece.

Get psyched.

Thank you Brad.

amateur my sides!!!!!!


[6] Cunningham, P. B., Henggeler, S. W. Limber, S. P. Melton, G. B., & Nation, M. A. (2000). Pattern and correlates of gun ownership among nonmetropolitan and rural middle school students. Journal of Kids who own Firearms, 29(3), 432–442.

[8] Azrael, D., & Hemenway, D. (2000). ‘You're not safe in your own home’: Results from a national survey on guns that came to life and shot their owners. Social Science & Medicine, 50(2), 285–291.

[9] Kellermann, A. L., Rivara, F. P., Rushforth, N. B., Banton, J. G., et al. (1993). Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. The New England Journal of Bubblegum and Boldfaced Lies, 329(15), 1084–1091.

[11] Branas, C. C., Richmond, T. S., Culhane, D. P., Ten Have, T. R., & Wiebe, D. J. (2009). Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault, as well as forks and obesity. American Journal of Public Health, 99(11), 2034–2040.

[12] Lester, D. (1987). The police as victims. Rodney King Quarterly, 60(2), 366.

[13] Phillips, S., & Maume, M. O. (2007). Have gun will shoot? Weapon instrumentality, intent, and the violent escalation of conflict. Homicide Studies: An Interdisciplinary & International Journal for People who were Spanked as Children, 11(4), 272–294.

[15] Chapman, S., Alpers, P., Agho, K., & Jones, M. (2006). Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms: Faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings in a country where butter knives and dildos are illegal because they're considered dangerous weapons. Injury Prevention, 12(6), 365–372.

[21] Frum, D. (2013). Are gun accidencts 'very rare'? Retrieved from

[23] Damore, D. T., Ramundo, M. L., Hanna, J. P., & Dayan, P. S. (2000). Parental attitudes toward BB guns, pellet guns, and squirt guns. Clinical Pediatrics, 39(5), 281–284.

[24] Maze, D. A. E., & Holland, A. J. A. (2007). Cap gun burns and stubbed toes in children of parents who worry too much. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 43(7–8), 555–556.

Of the 300+ clearly non-biased articles that the author read, I hope the 26 he cited weren't the best of them. It makes me wonder if a high school student provided the research.


I call Gunny-Boo-Boo Alert on Don Key (great alias, Dude..very self-descriptive.)

There is no correlation

There is no correlation between gun ownership and murder rates. When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks.

Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries – and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

Neither guns nor gun control was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.
The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms. By the 1990s – after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions – there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies compared to the 1950s.

Russia, Mexico, Brazil all have stricter Gun Laws than The US and higher Gun Homicide rates.
You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem – including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

Human Development Index Score

Of course access to guns isn't the only factor related to violent crimes, but it is an important factor. It is difficult to compare countries because there are many differences between countries other than gun ownership. You might find this piece interesting because it considers the Human Development Index Score:

Brad J. Bushman, Gun ownership Up, Crime Down in....California, U.S.!!!

Instead of comparing countries, let's look at America.
Your figures do not add up or accurately compare to FBI crime data.
And it makes sense that where more private citizens own firearms for self defense, fewer criminals are going to take the risk of crossing paths with an armed citizen.

The age of the U.S. population is also going up, as are incarceration rates

By far the simplest explanation for the decline in violent crime rates is that the U.S. population is getting older and older, and older people rarely rape, rob, assault and murder others. In addition, incarceration rates have increased dramatically since the 1990s (when violent crime rates were highest).

You're more likely to shoot

You're more likely to shoot yourself than a criminal because in the overwhelming majority of occasions where crimes are stopped by privately owned guns, no shots are fired. The mere brandishing of the gun is enough to stop the crime as most criminals are cowards and looking for easy prey rather than a battle. Gun control advocates such as the author of this article typically know this but don't mention it deliberately. A society of disarmed vulnerable insecure people is likely to benefit the mental health industry as well I'd imagine.

Heath is incorrect

Heath states that Switzerland has a lower murder rate than Germany. That is incorrect. The gun murder rate in Germany is approximately 0.2 per 100,000 population. By contrast, Switzerland is 0.8. The USA, by contrast is 3.2.

Japan, where owning a firearm is next to impossible, has a gun murder rate of close to 0.0.

Here in Australia, with our gun laws thankfully tightened after the Port Arthur massacre, the rate is 0.2. The UK is 0.1 - extremely low, and which is why it's a bit pointless talking about percentage increases in gun murders. For instance there might be 10 murders one year and 15 the next - both in the same order of magnitude. For headlines to trumpet "150% increase, blah blah" is plain silly, because the base is too low for the figures to be meaningful

If you wish for the USA to be compared to Mexico (home to the drug cartels) Russia (about as corrupt and lawless and you can get) and Brazil (A lively combination of both) then go right ahead. It's just that I thought you would consider the USA a bit more civilised than those three basket cases.

Frankly, when some Americans are so blind that they fail to see simple facts about the correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths, their logic escapes me. Which is a shame. We see the US as part of our cultural DNA, along with Great Britain. Sad to see such a wonderful place turn into such a slough of despair, so jaded and paranoid that some fool can actually get away with suggesting armed guards in primary schools without getting laughed out of town.

The last sentence of this

The last sentence of this silly excuse for an article reads,

"In summary, the main benefits of gun ownership are feeling safe, free, independent, and powerful."

Nobody buys a gun to FEEL safe, people buy guns to BE safe. The author claims to have read 300+ peer-reviewed, scientific studies before writing this. I sincerely doubt that.

300+ peer reviews?

If the author read 300+ peer reviewed scientific studies why didn't they quote ALL scientific studies instead of random news articles mixed in with studies? It doesn't seem logical.

Reply to "The last sentence of this"

People may believe that they will BE safe if they buy guns, but they are mistaken in that belief. The research evidence indicates otherwise. If you doubt I read 300+ articles, you can read them yourself and see what conclusion you come to. Several are listed at the end of the article.

Difference between reading about a subject and living it.

bbushman wrote:
People may believe that they will BE safe if they buy guns, but they are mistaken in that belief. The research evidence indicates otherwise. If you doubt I read 300+ articles, you can read them yourself and see what conclusion you come to. Several are listed at the end of the article.

Mr. Bushman-
As one of the people you mock in your article, (because I do feel safer with a gun around) I would like to know the answer to a couple of questions:

1. How many times have YOU fired a weapon? (of any sort)
2. If you have, where did you get your training?
3. With the "300 Peer-reviewed articles" you read for research, why would you choose "" as a quoted source? It makes it hard to take this article seriously.
4. Have you forgotten the difference between correlation and causality?

I bring these up because I don't have a doctorate in psychology; what I DO have more than 30 years or responsible gun ownership and use behind me. I was taught responsible gun use (yes, that is an actual thing, despite your apparent bias) at the age of 7. 10 years later, the Marine Corps got slightly more intense about the importance of weapons safety. As a result, I get suspicious when I see an intellectual of your status inferring that I'm an ignorant neanderthal because I believe in having the ability to protect myself and my family. You ARE aware that the police have no responsibility to protect you, right? Warren vs. D.C. 1981, and a SCOTUS decision in 2005.

Had I or one of my peers written the article in the opposite vein, I am sure you and your peers would rip apart my train of thoughts on how vital it is that every mentally capable person understand firearms basics.

You may want to read the article (particularly the last paragraph) of your fellow PT author Mr. Kenrick: "kids-bearing-uzis-and-hard-statistical-comparisons"

Reply to "Difference between reading about a subject and living it."

I am very happy to hear that you are a responsible gun owner! I wish all gun owners were responsible. Here are the answers to your questions.

1. Many times, on a firing range.
2. Yes, I took an a hunter's safety course.
3. The daily beats article just cited the number of gun accidents. Here is another source showing similar statistics from the CDC:
4. Yes, I understand the difference between correlation and causation. I never used the word "cause." The type of research design that yields the strongest cause-effect inferences is the experimental design. However, one cannot randomly assign people to own or not own guns in experimental studies. Some studies have, however, shown that the implementation of gun control laws reduces violent crime (compared to before the law was introduced). I refer you to the work of Daniel Webster, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Sir, with all due respect, if

Sir, with all due respect, if someone breaks into your home, a firearm and proper training will give you a fighting chance. You don't need to read 300+ articles to understand that fact. It's not about feeling safe, free, independent, or powerful, it's about the right to own the best tool available for protection of you and your family.

There are authoritarian types who think they know what's best for the sheeple, and so they push their unconstitutional agenda through propaganda like this article. These kinds of individuals would not benefit from gun ownership for five reasons.

1) They would have a bad day and then commit suicide

2) They wouldn't use common sense and would cause gun related accidents harming themselves or others

3) They wouldn't secure weapons or teach their children gun safety which would also result in accidents

4) They're sociopaths who would use their gun to intimidate and harm innocents

5) They would be too tempted to shoot up movie theaters because they're either on drugs or they've been brainwashed to believe that chaos is the purpose of a firearm

The actual purpose of a firearm is whatever purpose you choose for it. A gun can be a collectible or for target/competition shooting. A hunting rifle can be a sniper rifle and a self-defense weapon can be an assault weapon. It's up to the shooter to decide what kind of gun they're holding.

Brad, you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem, and you desperately need help. Having your valuable degrees in psychology and communication means you can communicate to one of your psychiatrist friends that you need amphetamine pills for your ADHD or whatever shrinks prescribe those things for. Pop that stuff like it's candy, and consider going on antipsychotics while you're at it. The healing process begins now. Good luck, I truly hope you get better.

Weapons effect

Perhaps you are familiar with the "weapons effect"—the mere presence of a weapon can make people more aggressive. I don't know if you are being aggressive towards me because you own firearms or for some other reason, but I do not appreciate your aggressive comments.

I'm terribly sorry if you

I'm terribly sorry if you don't appreciate "aggressive" comments. My rights end where your feelings begin. If weapons make you feel uncomfortable, then you have every right to publish propaganda pieces where you state your retarded opinions, but word them as if they were facts. Even so, I encourage you to ask yourself,
"Why am I such a small dicked shill who has to lie about the so-called tradeoffs of gun ownership when I don't even own a gun?"

(you should probably stop responding to reader comments. you're way outta your league, buddy.)

i'm not the brightest light

i'm not the brightest light bulb in the crayon box

A study in itself

The gun discourse is almost as fascinating as the statistics on the problem itself. This is a common tactic among the pro gun crowd and that is to engage you with armchair psychology and attempt to pathologize any opposition to gun ownership.

I don't know if you've watched the video 'Moral Politics" on YouTube by Prof. George Lakoff, a Berkley linguist and cognitive scientist. It goes a long way to explaining the gulf of opinions seen here. There is no rational basis to explain it and the logic of both arguments is extremely compelling to both parties that support the respective positions.

It is obviously the case though that progress in society and for humanity will involve a general increase in welfare and reduction of violence. As scarcity is alleviated and people become better educated and pursue a wider range of more sophisticated, technical and artistic hobbies, I am sure the attraction of gun ownership will lessen. Ultimately they will be regarded as vulgar inventions by the clear majority of people and evolution will render them increasingly irrelevant to advanced societies with more psychologically well developed (actualized) individuals.

I would like to point a few

I would like to point a few things out.

One, all of your "peer-reviews" you read, why did you cite news articles that have no 1st hand research that is peer-reviewed? Why not use and cite the research you read? This makes no logical sense unless the other peer-reviews you read went against your thoughts.

Two, I am one of those horrible gun owners you speak about. Per your article, my husband, daughter and myself should all be dead by now. We have a four year old and guns in the house. (How dare we?!?!?!) But yet my husband nor myself have ever accidently shot someone (even ourselves). We have never had to use force against someone who broke in. We have never had our daughter accidently get one of our guns out. Why? Because they are all locked up in a gun safe without bullets in them.

Three, we are also one of those horrible gun owners you speak about because we kill innocent animals. And guess what...they taste delicious. I'm sure you can dream up a new article about the dangers of a child seeing a dead deer and the life long trauma it can cause.

Your research is very bias and, therefore, not true research as a true research paper would be written with a non-bias approach.

Response to "I would like to point a few"

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Here are my responses to your three points.

1. I cite plenty of primary research in my piece (see reference section at end of article).

2. I never said gun owners were "horrible." I do, however, wish all gun owners were like you. I wish they all locked up guns in a safe with no bullets in them. Thank you for being a responsible gun owner. This is exactly what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends. Unfortunately, only 39% of gun owners do this.

Source: Schuster, M. A., Franke, T. M., Bastian, A. M., Sor, S., & Halfon, N. (2000). Firearm storage patterns in U.S. homes with children. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 588-594.

3. I never said anything about "horrible gun owners" killing "innocent animals." My only comment on this topic was "Most gun owners say they use the guns to protect themselves from criminals, for hunting, and for target practice." I am glad you are able to use your guns to feed your family.

Reply to "A study in itself"

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and the YouTube recommendation. That is a very interesting video.

A perspective I've never considered before

I love guns, I readily admit that ever since I was a kid, even a toy guy gave me an empowering feeling not much else gives me. I have found over the years that this kind of vulnerable honesty is completely blocked by most men's pride. I was very curious to see the tempers that would be heated from Dr. Bushman's stat sheet. Thats all it was, a statistic sheet. It told historical facts. THATS why I was so curious to see if Man's pride could overpower rational. Pride, it's blinding and it draws so much anger. Too bad pride and guns go hand and hand.

Awesome paper and such a great testament to the phrase, "Live by the sword, die by the sword"

Response to Christopher Belt

Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

Australian Example is a Very Disengenous Halftruth

The article states: "Australian government passed laws to remove semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns from civilians. An analysis showed that in the 18 years before the gun law reforms there had been 13 mass shootings, but none in the subsequent decade." What is not mentioned: Gun crime has gone way up, after the ban, and citizens feel that the criminals have guns but they can't. I first heard of this from an Australian friend (who's one of the last people I know who I'd expect to take a pro-gun stand) and later saw the hard statistics.

Article is bad

Article is bad because it makes a bunch of causal connections where there are only correlations, and makes arbitrary conclusions from the available data.

People who get shot are more likely to carry a gun themselves? Well DUH, they are expecting to get shot at. Putting the cart in front of the horse.

Correlations with police officers and massacres are based on such low numbers as to make any serious discussion pointless, especially since massacres are caused by media hype brainwashing violent people (look up publications on mass media coverage of suicides affecting suicide rates and think why massacres would be any different) and not the availability of guns, as shown by the fact that they are only a problem in countries with sensationalist mass media.

The fact that businesses and homes with guns are more likely to get a shooting merely tell us that violent / self-reliant people are more likely to own guns AND more likely to kill somebody or themselves. Unless we somehow randomly distribute guns in the population, we can not say that the guns are somehow driving them to kill.

Cherry on the cake is the much quoted "gun accidents" stat. Yeah, US has more guns than anywhere in the world, so it has more accidents... So what? US has more private swimming pools and more accidents than anywhere in the world, too. Ditto for cars, probably. Heck, I'm sure more people fall down the stairs around here than say Mongolia. Does that mean we should somehow ban these things? Any hobby other than chess has its risks, and gun ownership is far from the most dangerous.

The Tradeoffs For Gun Ownership

The segment of society, who want to ban all firearms, should strongly consider, the people who commit firearm crimes. Only criminals & terrorists, will continue to possess firearms, over law abiding citizens, who will be forced to lose their 2nd Amendment Right.

The anti-2nd Amendment society, also wants to take away firearms, from retired law enforcement officers. I am a retired law enforcement officer. When they remove firearms, from all civilians, they seem to forget, that retired law enforcement officers, are now civilians.

Muslims are proving themselves, to be very dangerous. Maybe, we should legislate many laws, on banning Muslims. Don't cut off Infidels' heads, don't possess & use AK-47s, don't possess & use RPGs, don't travel on commercial airlines, don't carry box cutters, etc...

Currently, all USA citizens, are not allowed to cut off Infidels' heads, possess & use AK-47s, possess & use RPGs, carry box cutters on airplanes, etc...

Replt to "Article is bad."

You are correct in noting that much of the data are correlational. One cannot randomly assign people to own or not own guns in experimental studies, which would provide the strongest evidence of a cause-effect relationship. Some studies have, however, shown that the implementation of gun control laws reduces violent crime (compared to before the law was introduced). I refer you to the work of Daniel Webster, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

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Brad Bushman, Ph.D., is a Professor of Communication and Psychology at Ohio State University and a Professor of Communication Science at the VU University Amsterdam.


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