My take on statistics, guns and the Constitution
Gene, you wrote that "There were a total of 9,900 gun deaths in 2009 - out of over 270 MILLION guns owned in U.S. That's 0.00004%."
(Your stat was off: it's not 0.00004% - it's 100 times greater: 0.004%. It's still a pretty small number, so your point is taken.)
Here's where statistics can mislead. If (and that's a big "if") the reason for citing the statistic was to show that guns are specifically obtained with the intent of killing people, a very, very low percentage like that would serve to disprove the point.
I'm not aware of anyone, pro or con, who's making the argument that one gun automatically equals one gun death.
What might be more illustrative is comparing the total number of murders with the number of gun murders.
If we look at 2010 (source), there were 12,996 murders in the US. At least 8,775 of those murders were caused by firearms: the number could be higher because Florida doesn't track this statistic, and Illinois' data was incomplete.
8,775 out of 12,996 - that's 67.52%
More than two thirds of all the murders committed in the US in 2010 were committed with a gun.
That's an improvement over past years: according the to Department of Justice, firearms were used in 70% of the homicides committed from 1993 to 2001. (source (PDF))
We often hear the expression "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." That's both true, and meaningless. A gun is a passive object - a weapon. More than two out of three times, when one person kills another in the US, they use a gun.
Gun advocates, quite rightly, make the case that owning a gun is a Constitutionally-protected right. They're correct to say so. What I don't hear many gun advocates say, though, is that this right comes at a price. And it's not a price the advocates have to pay themselves: other people bear the price on their behalf.
The self-evident truths identified in the Declaration of Independence are: all men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Life was listed first because without life, liberty is impossible. Without life, the pursuit of happiness is impossible. Without life, each of the rights contained within the Bill of Rights (including the right to bear arms) is impossible.
Insofar as any of our unalienable and Constitutionally-protected rights comes into conflict with life, that right must give way. The right to bear arms is not a Constitutional right to kill.
Let's go back to the original argument about very, very small percentages.
The US population on Census Day, 2010 was 308,745,538. 12,996 of that populace were killed in an act of homicide. That's 0.00421%.
We prosecute homicides. The miniscule number in comparison to the hundreds of millions of Americans is irrelevant. Why should the number of firearm homicides be rendered irrelevant?
One more thing: in addition to the 9,900 homicides, there were 36,909 reported suicide deaths in 2009. Half involved a firearm. (source)