Celebrating Three Years

Three years ago I started this blog to coincide with the publication of my first novel, The Knight and the Serpent: A Legend of Medieval Normandy (free on Kindle through 12/26/14 – a Christmas promotion). It did not take long for the blog to take on a life of its own and it has proven to be a rewarding experience. It has been fascinating to see what readers are and are not interested in! The following three articles are the most viewed of the more than fifty posts since December, 2011.

In an Ethical Lapse, New York Times Journalist, Sabrina Tavernise, Falsely Reports That Guns Cause Suicides

Valley Catholic Girls Win OSAA 3A Basketball Championship

Vote No On Oregon Measure 91: The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act

The next three articles are the least viewed in that same time period.

Taking Off The Training Wheels – first published in Goal Lines Magazine April, 2008

Oregon’s Democratic Congressmen Attempt to Deny all of America the Benefit of the Rule of Law

THE DEATH OF RULE OF LAW – Part I of VI: The Balance of Power

It is very interesting as to what strikes a chord in people and what does not.

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NYT Journalist, Sabrina Tavernise, Misses the Boat on Looming Narcotic Restrictions by the DEA

In Move to Curb Drug Abuse, D.E.A. Tightens Rule on Widely Prescribed Painkiller – NYTimes.com.

Sabrina Tavernise has missed the boat so many times I am surprised she has not fallen off the pier and ruined her pantsuit. In her recent article documenting the upcoming change in schedule for the narcotic hydrocodone, Tavernise notes that since the late 1990s “the number of Americans who die from prescription drug overdose have more than tripled,” without stopping to ask, “Why?” After all, the heart of the issue is the question, “Why?” What happened in the late 1990s that set off this rapid rise in the abuse of prescription controlled substances? It is not just narcotics, either. There has also been a rapid rise in the use and abuse of prescription amphetamines over the last 20 years, as well as a massive increase in our country’s dependence on psychotropic drugs for conditions like depression, anxiety and insomnia. There is a pill for everything in America, and Americans are lining up around the block to get a piece of that action.

The answer lies largely in specific government actions. There was a time when it was illegal for drug manufacturers to advertise directly to the common man. It was a sensible law, because the common man simply does not have the level of education to know when and what drug therapies are appropriate. Unfortunately, along came the lobbyists, PACs and campaign donors who threw a lot of money at politicians to change the rules. Now drug manufacturers can go directly to the people with the magical thinking of advertising, convincing America it needs more drugs. Now Joe Citizen walks into the doctor’s office and demands that new drug for insomnia he saw on a 2AM advertisement. Joe gets his wish, and then gets hooked on an addictive sedative. Here is an interesting tidbit. Despite the massive increase in people on anti-depressive drugs over the last twenty-five years, America’s suicide rate has hardly budged. We are spending our money and taking the drugs, yet are no better off than we were before.

As for the massive increase in narcotic use since the late 1990s, you can get that story of specific, targeted government action right here.

More Middle-Aged Adults Hospitalized for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts

More Middle-Aged Adults Hospitalized for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts.

It looks like, despite what Sabrina Tavernise and Maxine Bernstein preach, that suicide is really a mental health issue and does not have anything to do with firearms.

In an Ethical Lapse, New York Times Journalist, Sabrina Tavernise, Falsely Reports That Guns Cause Suicides

With her employer’s journalistic reputation on the line, New York Times journalist Sabrina Tavernise researched and wrote an article blaming America’s gun culture for the majority of suicides in the United States. Using classic combination of anecdotes, testimonials, hand-picked statistics, Tavernise presented her case to her American readers, hoping, perhaps even praying, no one would check her work. Sorry, Sabrina, you’re busted.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/us/to-lower-suicide-rates-new-focus-turns-to-guns.html

THE ANECDOTE

Tavernise tells a truly heart-wrenching story of a father who found his son dead on the floor, cradling his great-uncle’s pistol. She then presents some suicide facts. In 2010 nearly 20,000 despondent Americans died from self-inflicted gunshots and over 10,000 Americans were murdered with a firearm. In America, these numbers dwarf all other means of suicide and murder. It is a natural gut reaction to blame the method (guns) for the problem (suicide and murder), and Tavernise has unconditionally thrown her lot in with that camp.

Before we follow Tavernise’s lead, let’s back up a step or two and look at the world stage. The global average suicide rate for all countries is about 9.5 deaths per 100,000 in population, the average rate among countries with a per capita GDP above $23,000 is about 8.9, and the U.S. is about 10.3. Globally, self-strangulation by hanging is far-and-away the most popular means of successful suicide. America is the only country where guns dominate suicide statistics. According to the World Health Organization (World Report on Violence and Health, pg 196) the method chosen for suicide is simply a gauge of determination. Hanging, jumping, and firearms are the quickest, most effective methods. If someone is really bent on suicide they will pick one of these three. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Monaco all have suicide rates well above the U.S., yet private ownership of firearms is virtually banned in those countries. This theory that Tavernise is promoting, that firearms literally sing a Siren’s song to despondent Americans telling them to kill themselves, is nothing more than a crafty bit of mythology. If we manage to take away guns from the suicidal, they will just go and purchase a good piece of rope.Method and Rate of Suicides in Rich Countries

ATTACKING GUN NUTS

Tavernise cleverly links rates of gun ownership in the U.S. to rates of suicide. Coincidentally, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana have both the nation’s highest firearm ownerships rates and the nation’s highest suicide rates. This trend generally holds true for all fifty states and Washington D.C. Superficially, it looks like a done deal. People plus guns equals suicides. Tavernise seals the deal with some expert testimony from epidemiologist, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who expertly concludes that guns are like time-bombs in the home.

Before we take them at their word, we need to look deeper at other factors in the data. First, Tavernise omits the fact, that while suicide rates rise as gun ownership rises, murder rates actually fall. Washington D.C. owns both the nation’s lowest gun ownership rate and highest murder rate.Population Density Effect on Guns Suicide Murder

Next, according to the World Health Organization (World Report on Violence and Health, pg 196), global suicide rates tend to rise as population density decreases. They attribute this to the social isolation, lower education levels, and limited medical care that are endemic to rural areas. If we apply this theory to population densities in the U.S. it holds water. Alaska has only one person per square mile. Washington D.C. has over 10,000 per square mile. As population density increases, suicide rates decrease.

Suddenly we have an alternate data set that confounds Taverinse’s conclusion. So which is right? Here is my argument that it is isolation, not firearms, that leads to despair and suicide. First, it makes good, clinical sense. Second, one of the biggest reasons Americans who live in rural areas have guns is for recreational purposes. There is a direct correlation between a state’s rate of private gun ownership and the number of hunting licenses issued. It is not that people who like guns are more prone to suicide. Rather, people who like guns usually like to hunt. Alaska, Montana and Wyoming are the wonderlands of the outdoorsmen. There ain’t nothin’ to hunt in D.C.Hunting Licenses and Gun Ownership

THE NIGHTMARE INSIDE THE DREAM

According to Tavernise, if we could only block access to guns, get rid of them, we could dramatically reduce suicide and murder. It is a tempting piece of fruit, this simple theory. Gut the Second Amendment in exchange for up to 30,000 lives saved each year. If only the gun nuts could put aside their wrongheaded ways and come to the table to discuss the problem. Unfortunately, as another Tavernise expert, suicide prevention specialist B.J. Ayers, puts it, gun owners are just too defensive and refuse to listen to reason… and it is costing tens of thousands of Americans lives every year!

But is it? Let’s examine Tavernise’s utopia where law-abiding citizens voluntarily give up all of their firearms on the promise it will save lives. I realize it is an impossible scenario, but let’s examine it anyway. Further, in our impossible scenario, I will allow that 100% of suicides and 100% of murders that involve a lawfully owned firearm will be prevented and nearly 30,000 American lives will be saved.Global Polynomial Averages

There is a statistical category of gun use called ‘Defensive Gun Use’ or DGU. DGU occurs when a law-abiding citizen uses his or her lawfully owned firearm to defend him or herself against a criminal. In most cases of DGU the weapon is not fired, for its mere presence dissuades the criminal and causes them to flee. Sometimes, however, the criminal ends up at the morgue with a toe-tag. Although there are no accurate statistics on DGU, even Harvard University’s David Hemenway, a man who considers violence a disease and firearms the contagion, admits that Americans use firearms to lawfully defend themselves a minimum of 100,000 times a year. Florida State University criminologist, Gary Kleck, who Tavernise also uses as an expert source, published a study on DGU that concluded that guns are used defensively up to 2.5 million times a year in the United States. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that in 5% of DGU cases, the citizen prevents their own murder. That means by giving up all of our guns, somewhere between 5,000 and 125,000 Americans will get murdered every year by criminals who will never, ever give up their guns peacefully. At best we would be killing Peter to save Paul. At worst Peter and Paul are both dead and the bad guy is coming for us next. Who won’t come to the table and listen to reason now?

PICKING ON ALASKA

What do Alaska, Russia, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Finland all have in common? If you said high suicide rates, you’d be right. Do you know what else? The 66th Parallel runs right through the middle of each one of them. Not enough sun in the winter and too much sun in the summer. This is just another factor Tavernise conveniently did not take into account when attacking Alaska’s gun owners. It is as though, in Tavernise’s world, social isolation and seasonal affective disorder have absolutely nothing to do with depression. I can’t believe she is still employed.Above the 66th Parallel

ASSESSING NATIONAL AND GLOBAL STATISTICS

Within the United States, people in rural areas hunt, fish and own guns. They also have less education, less access to medical care and suffer from social isolation. They commit suicide at a higher rate than those in urban areas. People living in urban areas own far fewer guns, are less likely to be sportsmen, but suffer from social crowding. They engage in violent crimes at a higher rate than those living in rural areas. Globally, nations where citizens have the right to bear arms are at a slightly lower risk for suicide and a much lower risk for a violent death than those nations where firearms are not readily available to law-abiding citizens. When journalists, such as Sabrina Tavernise, deny these facts in favor of their personal agenda, they not only destroy their reputation, they do extreme harm to our country.Suicide and Guns Among Wealthy Nations

I am not an expert when it comes to suicide and murder, but being human and in healthcare, I have an empathetic sense for the human condition. People often dislike being alone, yet can become equally frustrated being around their fellow man. Placing the blame on inanimate objects, such as guns, knives, rope, tall buildings, household poisons, etc., for the nature of the human condition is not rational thinking. Violence and suicide existed before firearms. Violence and suicide existed before swords. Violence and suicide are simply a sad part of human nature, and something every man, woman, and child in all of history has struggled with. Everyone gets angry from time to time. Everyone experiences despair. A few of us are quite mad. We kill each other and we kill ourselves. We always have and we always will, guns or no guns.