The Breakfast Table

Guns Don’t Kill Children–Mothers Do

It’s nice to be back at my desk instead of typing this on my lap in an airport lounge. I notice that while I was away literate mice invaded my study. They left quite a mess on the top of my desk: There are scrawled notes of addresses for the Archie Comics fan club, snack crumbs, bits of paper with doodles on them, empty cases of CD games strewn about, and yet another one of our daughter’s “works-in-progress”–this time a half-finished storybook for children entitled The Ladybugs. It is discouraging when your children are more prolific than you are. How many books did she manage to write (and illustrate!) in the space of time it took you and me to produce just one?

Also managed to have a nice leisurely read of the papers this morning. I truly miss the Washington Times when I’m away. Where else would you read a lead like this: “Sunday’s Million Mom March, billed as a grassroots gathering of soccer moms, is being denounced by critics as a slickly produced media event bankrolled by Democrats and organized by Dan Rather’s ex-publicist.” The story goes on to note that the March’s founder, Donna Dees-Thomases, is on leave from CBS news and is the sister-in-law of Hillary’s great pal Susan Thomases. Quite a different story from the report in yesterday’s New York Times, which made the organizers seem positively homespun.

Which brings me to my promise of yesterday, to post the statistics that show loving mothers ought to march against gun control. Most of these are courtesy of professor John R. Lott, of the Yale Law School. He is the author of the 1998 study that showed states that adopted concealed-weapons laws underwent significant decreases in crime. He has also written a book, More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press), and has recently completed an explosive study on the effect of affirmative action upon police efficiency. It’s the first exhaustive study of its kind but has received (for I’m sure the usual political reasons) scant publicity. Jonathan Rauch published an excellent column about it recently in the National Journal, and I wrote about it for the New York Post, but that’s about it. (Interested Slate readers might also wish to visit the Web site of the Independent Women’s Forum, which is today posting more “women and guns” facts.)

So here is what Prof. Lott found. I’ll quote directly:

  • “For women, by far the safest course of action [when confronted by a criminal] is to have a gun. A woman who behaves passively is 2.5 times as likely to end up being seriously injured as a woman who has a gun.”
  • “Guns also appear to be the great equalizer among the sexes. Murder rates decline when either more women or more men carry concealed handguns, but the effect is especially pronounced for women. One additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3-4 times more than one additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men.”
  • “The number of rapes in states with nondiscretionary concealed handgun laws is 25 percent lower than in states that restrict or forbid women to carry concealed handguns.” The city of Orlando, Fla., offered a gun-training program for women, and the result was a 76 percent decrease in rapes. This was reported in the March 31 edition of the Washington Times (natch).

As for the incidence of young children killing themselves accidentally by guns left around the house–the point of this weekend’s protest–Lott notes that “very few children under 10” are involved in gun deaths. Seventy percent of gun deaths among what are euphemistically called “children” “involve 17-19 year olds, primarily in gang fights.”

Indeed, I wonder if children (statistically) aren’t in more danger of being killed by their mothers than randomly by guns?

Also darling, please add this to your Clinton Shameless Watch file: He told NPR interviewer Diane Rehm that he felt his years in the White House “improved” his marriage!! Could someone please get a large cane and pull this man off the stage!

P.S.: I hadn’t noticed until this morning Eric Alterman-not-Jonathan Alter’s peevish letter underneath our exchange. The columnist from The Nation wonders if I am not a pot calling the kettle black by poking fun at Hillary Rodham-not-Clinton and Donna Hanover-not-Giuliani for aggressively using their maiden names. He couldn’t know, of course, that to everyone who knows me I am Danielle Frum-not-Crittenden. I would be Danielle Frum in print too, but for the need of a pen name to avoid the confusion of two right-wing D. Frums writing for the same publications. I don’t want your hate mail from angry World Bank protestors nor do you want mine from frothing feminists. In any case, I am surprised that this would be a social concern of Mr. Alterman’s. Doesn’t he address everyone as “Comrade”?