Gun Spotting

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You're on a dark street. Four people are walking toward you; a black guy in a hoodie, a woman carrying groceries, a 12-year-old, and an old lady.

Which one of the group is most likely to own a gun? Answer: none of them. Quit shaking in your stupid shoes.

If you want to avoid guns, the guys to look out for are older, white, married men who are Republicans.

There's a slight bias toward gun ownership if you're from a western or southern region, according to Gallup polls. Also if you go to church, and have less education. But if you want to evade people with guns, old, politically conservative white guys are the guys to look out for on the street.

Critics will say, "well maybe those guys have the most guns, but maybe they're not the most likely to shoot guns inappropriately, or at least at me."


Good point. Maybe they're responsible, trained gun owners using guns safely for protection. Who's the person with the gun most likely to kill? Answer: not a robber. Not a burglar. Not a rapist.

The person the person who owns a gun is most likely to shoot -- is himself. Of the 85 Americans shot dead every day, 62 percent are suicides. The person your shiny new gun is most likely to kill is you.

Gun ownership's link to gun violence is quirky, but gun ownership's link to suicide is stunning. Adolescents' and veteran's suicides are most likely to happen with the family gun.

Without dismissing the very real issue of gun violence we face as a community, one might suggest that avoiding gun violence starts with not owning a gun, and discouraging gun ownership in one's family and friends. The facts suggest that we're all a little too crazy, from time to time, for something so final.

With a Perspective, I'm Carol Denney.

Carol Denney is a writer, activist and musician. She lives in Berkeley.