Facts defy gun crimes perception

May 22, 2013

Th-19By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold – 


An interesting survey by the Pew Foundation shows that gun crimes, including homicide, have been steadily decreasing irregardless of an increasing number of guns owned by citizens. Despite the recent headlines, homicides in schools have dropped at a similar rate, and are the lowest level in recent history.

But despite this decrease, most people think gun crimes are increasing, largely because of what they hear from main stream media and anti-gun politicians. According to a Rasmussen poll released on Friday, May 10, while gun killings have plunged 39 percent since 1993, and non-fatal gun crimes have dropped 69 percent in the same period, those who want gun control think that gun crime is up. Rasmussen reports that only 7 percent of adults believe there are fewer gun owners in the country than there were 20 years ago — and more importantly, 64 percent of those who want more gun control think that gun crime has escalated.

How can this be?

Ever since the Justice Department released its study on Tuesday, May 7th showing that firearms-related homicides in the U.S. annually declined 19 percent from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, anti-gun proponents have been silent.  There has not been a peep out of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg since the report was issued. The President has ignored it.  Both are doing what they do best to avoid sabotaging their agenda by keeping the report secret from the American people so restrictions can be passed on Second Amendment rights. As for the mainstream media with its natural anti-gun bias, coupled with the adage about TV news — “if it bleeds, it leads” — it is a given that hyper-coverage will follow any gun-related death compared to other news events.

Gun control supporters, including Nancy Pelosi, credit the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban for this decrease.  Homicides in the US peaked in 1993-1994 and have decreased steadily since that time. However, the rate of decrease did not change when the AWB lapsed in 2004. There is no credible evidence that the 1994 law had any effect whatsoever, in part because it limited the importation of these weapons but not domestic manufacturing. At best, the law focused on cosmetic features like pistol grips and flash suppressors which have no effect on lethality. Semi-automatic versions of military assault weapons remain a popular form of firearms being purchased, accounting for about 10% of all sales. If we include semi-automatic handguns, included in the 2013 ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the percent is closer to 80%.

There also remains confusion in the minds of the American people over the role of so-called assault weapons in gun-related crimes.  Might the anti-gun people being going after the wrong guns by design, when handguns, not rifles, are used to commit most gun crimes?   According to FBI data, approximately 90 percent of firearms homicides and two-thirds of firearms suicides are committed with handguns.  In homicides, the contrast between handguns and assault weapons is stark, yet it is only assault weapons that capture the headlines and elicit reform measures.

The recent defeat of Senator Feinstein’s 2013 gun legislation is but a temporary lapse in the gun control agenda. Anti-gun politicians, including Dianne Feinstein, have stated that they would like to confiscate all guns but don’t think it’s politically feasible. Gun registration would be the innocuous first step toward that goal and has been used to that end in California, New York and several other states.

Registration was proposed overtly in the Feinstein 2013 Assault Weapons bill, wherein most semi-automatic rifles and handguns would be classified as “NFA” items (National Firearms Act of 1936), the same as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. NFA classification requires extensive background checks, approval from local law enforcement, mountains of paperwork and months of delay, not to mention a $200 tax stamp. Most important, ownership of the weapon cannot be transferred, but must be surrendered to the Government upon death of the owner.

Assuredly this was a bit much for the public and Congress to digest. However, registration is a necessary part of the so-called “Universal Background Check” law proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and a watered-down version by Sen Manchin (D-VA) and Sen.Toomey (R-PA). Records of all private sales would be retained by the Federal government, including serial numbers and the names and addresses of the parties involved. Any loss, theft or destruction of a firearm would be reported to the Attorney General, within 24 hours, under penalty of law.

Gun control advocates like to point to “civilized western countries” like Great Britain, which ban or severely limit private gun ownership. The homicide rate due to firearms in Great Britain is 1.2 per 100k, compared to 4.2 for the United States. Perhaps it is surprising that the figure is not zero, considering the comprehensive firearm ban in that country. In the US, the state of Utah has a homicide rate of 1.5, yet residents of Utah own firearms at a higher rate than other states, and can carry them freely (when licensed), even on school property, and licenses to carry are readily available. The rate in NYC is 4.7, despite the strict firearm laws and stop-and-frisk police tactics. In Chicago, which has adefacto ban on firearms, the homicide rate is an abysmal 17. (From the rants by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, you would think white suburbanites were creeping into the city, murdering its residents.)

More telling is the demographic factor. Non-whites account for 84% of gun-related homicides in the US, which places the homicide rate for whites at less than 0.7. By this measure, the US places well below that of Great Britain and Australia (0.92). Switzerland is cited as a country with a lot of guns and few homicides, about 85/year. With only 6 million people and extremely low diversity, this is still 1.4 /100K. As we see, the US doesn’t come off so badly after all.

Statistics clearly illustrate that gun control does not reduce crime.  It has just the opposite effect.  While over the last 40 years the number of guns per 1000 people has increased, serious violent crimes have decreased. Among the top ten killers in the U.S. homicide by firearms is at the bottom of the list.  Almost 20 times more people die in the United States from medical errors than they do from firearm homicides.  In addition, the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs routinely outpaces the number of homicides committed using a rifle. Now consider Chicago, which in 1982 passed a ban on all handguns except for those registered with the city before the ban was enacted:

Since the handgun ban took effect, the number of murders in Chicago committed using handguns has been 40% higher than before the ban, and has spiked even high in recent years, proving that the gun ban actually served to cause an increase in violent crime.  

Ten myths have been exploited for years to generate fear and mistrust of the 60-65 million decent and responsible Americans who own firearms. Yet, as this document proves, none of these myths will stand up under the cold light of fact.

For those who maintain that the US is more dangerous than any other “wealthy” country, it might be educational to move to Europe, but keep your doors locked and the lights on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 09:07 AM | Permalink


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