San Diego — The FBI has released their 2007-2011 report on homocides by weapon used. Please note these are not statistics created by the NRA or any of the other gun-rights advocating groups. They are from the FBI who annually publishes crime statistics sorted just about every possible way you can imagine.
Unlike the utter nonsense I’ve seen passing for data on Facebook, fabricated by true believers on all sides of this issue, these are numbers gathered by the government agency we made responsible for such data… the FBI. And if you think I am cherry picking data or, worse, making it up myself then all you have to do is do a Google or Yahoo search on “FBI Crime Statistics” and there will be the links to the FBI’s own site and the various tables containing the data from numerous perspectives.
But when you do that, I mean when you actually look at real numbers, there is an inescapable conclusion that not even the most close-minded can ignore if they believe real numbers mean anything. The results are completely opposite of what you would expect if you bought into the anti-gun crowd now claiming that not reinstating the ban on assault weapons will cause more crime. After reading the report with figures gathered from law enforcement agencies across the country, to conclude otherwise means you have to take as evidence something other than the actual data on crimes, in this case homocides.
The report indicates, among other things that you are more likely to be killed by knives, hammers, even hands or feet than by a rifle or shotgun which does not play into the hands of those seeking a ban on scary looking guns. They call these fearful looking guns “Assault Rifles” but the facts are a true “Assault Rifle” is, by definition, capable of fully automatic as well as “burst” (usually three shot) fire and are tightly controlled by BATF regulations and special licensing requirements. They say it does not take 10 bullets to kill a deer and that is true. But on more than one occasion it has taken more than that, even in the hands of police, to stop a drug soaked felon.
Here is a really inconvenient truth. While gun ownership has dramatically increased since 2007, murders for both the shotgun and rifle categories have seen declines faster than the rate of personal weapons (knives, hammers, bats, hands and feet, etc.) related homocides.
The rates of decline for the shotgun and rifle categories are 22.1% and 28.7% respectively. In 2011 there were 356 shotgun murders and 323 rifle murders for a total of 679 murders by “long guns.” Don’t misunderstand me, I think that number, indeed ANY number, is unacceptable in a civilized society and I have already set in writing my proposals for regulations addressing it. But it does indicate that long guns of all types are not used that often to murder someone and if eliminated entirely from the face of the earth would make a very small dent in the overall murder rates.
Lets take a closer look at the 2011 stats. As of this writing 2012 stats are only compiled from Jan to June so those tallies are not good numbers for annual comparisons although the trend, as noted above, indicates further decline in murder rates from all types of weapons (poisonings are not counted in this particular set of tables since it is not, strictly speaking, a “weapon”).
So far, homicides in all categories are down. Here are some of the specific numbers by states where there is either massive onerous gun control or very lax control. I’ve selected these so that we can compare them and see how well the controls now in place are working in the real, not the fantasy, world.
|State||Population||Firearms Total||Hand guns||Long Guns||Other (knives, hammers, etc.||Personal (hands/ Feet)|
|New York||19 Million||445||399||85||309||85|
So what does this data tell us… really?
Well for one thing it tells us that the states with the strictest gun control laws (New York, Illinois, California) have higher per capita firearms related homicides than those with more relaxed gun laws such as Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.
It also tells us that firearm homicides using long guns (rifles and shot guns, including scary looking guns) account for a tiny fraction of firearms homicides so the assault weapons ban is essentially worthless.
It tells us, as noted above, non-firearms related homicides per capita are no lower in states with strict gun control laws than in states with loose gun control laws and in some cases are higher. For example, in California and Texas the percentage of firearms homicides is about the same per capita but California, with very tough gun laws, has more per capita non-firearm homicides.
Now these statistics make absolutely zero sense to those who believe it is the access to guns that causes violent homicides. But there are more guns in civilian hands now than ever before in our history yet the whole list of violent crimes is declining in occurrences. How is that possible? For those who believe people don’t kill people, it is guns that kill people, it is not possible. Without access to weapons we would all, they seem to believe, play nice in the communal sand box.
But that is not what real statistics seem to tell us. In New York with the strictest of all laws except D.C., there are as many non-firearms homicides as those with firearms. The comparisons of Texas and California show that a person desiring to kill another will find a way even if firearms are not readily available.
So I repeat my conclusion of a number of posts ago when writing about the 2nd Amendment and gun control laws: we do not have a gun problem; what we have is a morals and ethics problem.
Ethical people with high morals, including gun owners, do not normally murder others. People without ethics and low morals murder others by any means they can do it. We have a morals and ethical problem and it is a very big one.
Until we address those issues, all this madness over blaming a tool for the owners use of it, will go on and on but not solve a single thing because we are looking in the wrong direction. So long as we continue to support situational ethics and moral relativism, this problem will not ever go away. Until we stop passing laws that favor the perpetrators and place the onus on real victims, until we stop passing laws that remove the consequences for bad behavior and bad choices, until we as a society are once again willing to assert values into the political equation, demand those same values of our politicians AND of our citizenry, then we will have people who believe it is OK to settle disputes by killing their rivals. These statistics shout out that we can take away all the guns and the bad actors will still find a way to do harm to others.
This is not about party affiliation. There are as many murders per capita in the ultra liberal states as in the ultra conservative ones. It is about having and instilling values and an internally consistent standard of behavior and until we regain those, then except to erode liberty even further, any effect of enhanced gun restriction by itself will be as effective as spitting into a hurricane.
And if you REALLY want to tackle some behavior dangerous to society then I would look first to driving under ANY influence. Every two years we kill as many people on the roads as in ten years of the Vietnam war. Of course that is a problem of values, ethics, and morals so we will not seriously look at it. But if we are determined to look at and ban tools that are responsible for human suffering and deaths then I would also look at the item most responsible for accidental death: ladders. Not guns or knives or other weapons… ladders.
But are you going to believe the government’s own numbers when they go against your ideology? I doubt it. You would not believe the GAO (Government Accounting Office) when they published their own estimations of the true costs of your messiah’s economic plans especially as it pertains to health care so why believe these?
February 22, 2013 at 8:56 am
Well said David. Unfortunately facts have little sway on emotions, thus the current political divide.