Posted by: cornvillenutmeg | January 18, 2013

Did You Know?

The Centers for Disease Control publishes each year the “National Vital Statistics Reports.  All data below is taken from Volume 61,  Number 6:  “Deaths:  Preliminary Data for 2011.”


     Did you know that in addition to the 34,677 people who died in automobile accidents, an additional 952 died in other land transport accidents?  And 1,647 died from water, air, and space, and “other unspecified transport accidents and their sequelae?”  That would be 37,276 people who died as the result of accidents with things on average under less restriction than the purchase and ownership of firearms.

Did you know that accidental discharge of firearms killed 861 people;  but 3,555 died from accidental drowning and submersion, 2,621 from accidental exposure to smoke, fire and flames, and 33,554 from accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances?

     Alcoholic liver disease killed 16,634 people.

     Malnutrition and other nutritional deficiencies were responsible for the deaths of 6,170 people.  Salmonella, shigellosis (dysentery caused by any of various species of shigellae, occurring most frequently in areas where poor sanitation and malnutrition are prevalent and commonly affecting children and infants), and certain other intestinal infections carried off 11,022.

     38,285 people committed suicide;  Of those, 19,766 shot themselves, and 18,519 found other means of carrying themselves off.  There were 11,101 homicides caused by discharge of firearms, and 4,852 people were murdered by “other and unspecified means and their sequelae.”  2,580 people lost their lives as the result of complications of medical and surgical care.

     40,239 people died from drug induced deaths, and alcohol took care of another 26,256.  Enterocolitis due to Clostridium difficile, a nasty bacteria that causes severe diarrhea in people whose native population of gut flora has been eradicated by antibiotics, killed 7,994.


The following information pertains to Wisconsin.  I did not specifically select Wisconsin.  It was simply the first state to come up on an internet search of laws concerning the sale of alcohol.  For gun laws, I stayed with Wisconsin.


     Top obtain a license to sell alcohol in Wisconsin, you have to be twenty-one and have lived in Wisconsin for at least 90 days.  You need to have a seller’s permit issued by the Department of Revenue and have completed a responsible beverage server training course.  It’s probably better if you do not have a criminal record, but in the end, whether to issue an ex-con a license or not is up to the given municipality.  The municipality will look at your record carefully.  If you have been convicted of, say, selling liquor without a license or tax evasion, the relevant officials may have some trouble with that.  On the other hand, a conviction for auto theft won’t automatically deep six your chances.  They will look closely at the nature of your violation and take into consideration your overall record in the community (

     Wisconsin apparently has some of the most liberal gun laws in the United States.  Nevertheless, it does seem to pay more attention to who may and may not own a gun than it does to who may or may not sell alcohol.

     Felons are prohibited from possessing firearms.  Now it is true that federal law and some individual states may restore to felons their civil rights, which would include being able to own a gun, but Wisconsin only does that if a felon receives a pardon from the governor.

     Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms, but it does make exceptions for long guns used for hunting or firearms used during adult supervised activities such as target shooting.  But, minors judged delinquent based on a felony may not own any type of gun.  Not only that, school districts must suspend pupils found in possession of a firearm either on school property or while under the supervision of a school, which of course would not really have applied to Adam Lanza. 

     Nor would the restrictions imposed on the mentally ill have applied.  The mentally ill may not possess firearms, under certain fairly particular circumstances.  If a person was charged with a felony but found not guilty or not responsible due to mental illness, that person may not possess firearms. Also a person who has been involuntarily committed for treatment of mental illness, drug dependency, or developmental disability, should the court deem the person to be a threat to self or others, such a person may not possess firearms.  In addition, when a person is involuntarily committed as delineated above, that person’s firearms are to be seized or stored until the person is judged no longer to suffer from the mental illness and no longer likely to be a danger to himself or others. 

     If you have a restraining order on you, you may not possess firearms and you are required to surrender your firearms to the county sheriff or a third party approved by the court. 

     In addition, even if you are not one of those classes of people prohibited from possessing firearms, you may not anyway possess machine guns (not to be confused with what some call assault rifles;  a machine gun is fully automatic such  that depressing and holding down the trigger causes the machine gun to fire non-stop until its magazine is empty or it jams.  A machine gun is difficult to control as the uninterrupted firing tends to cause the barrel to rise unless it is held down firmly.  Typically, a fully automatic weapon specialist – think military or SWAT – becomes expert at firing bursts of three to four rounds at a time rather than emptying the magazine in seconds).

     One may not own a sawed–off shotgun or similarly modified rifle. Armor-piercing ammunition is banned by federal law, as are plastic firearms that cannot be sensed by metal detectors.

     It is illegal to use firearms in armed robbery, burglary, or carjacking.  (What might a law abiding robber be able to use other than a firearm in an armed robbery, do you think?)  Discharging a firearm from a vehicle is prohibited as also are drive-by shootings which you might have thought would have been covered by the previously mentioned prohibition, but I guess Wisconsin is just leaving nothing to chance.  You may also not shoot into a vehicle or building.  You may not provide a firearm to a prisoner.  You may not steal a firearm.  You may not use a firearm negligently or while intoxicated.  Furthermore, discharging a firearm near a residence, a public park, at trains or near highways and roads all are prohibited.

     Carrying or displaying facsimile firearms is prohibited.  Imitation firearms are prohibited.  And to avoid any confusion, using those prohibited armor piercing bullets is also prohibited.

     It is illegal to sell, lend, or give a firearm to a child, and if you do that and the child shoots someone, the punishment for that will be greater than it might have been, except for that particular prohibition doesn’t apply to rifles and shotguns used for hunting or target practice under adult supervision.  If you leave or store a loaded firearm “recklessly,” and a child under the age of fourteen gets her hands on it, displays it in a public place or uses it to injure or kill someone, you will be considered guilty of a misdemeanor. 

     Wisconsin law, as do the laws of pretty much every state including Connecticut,  prohibits the possession or shooting of a firearm within a school zone.  Such zones are called Gun Free School Zones.  And everybody who is disposed to be law-abiding obeys that law with perfectly predictable results when someone not so inclined and in possession of one or more firearms invades such a zone.

     Wisconsin requires anyone born after January 1, 1973, to complete a Hunter Education Program before being issued a hunting license.  The program includes instruction in the commonly accepted safety principles for handling hunting firearms. 

     Recall that Wisconsin’s gun laws are considered liberal, in the sense of not strict.  Do you think it’s fair to say that getting a license to sell alcohol which accounted for the premature deaths of 42,890 people in 2011 is easier than buying and keeping guns, which can be said to have been the second-hand cause of death (you know the saying, guns don’t kill people, people do) of 31, 728?


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