Gun deaths in the United States by the stats

“Something must be done!” we are told. “Ban assault rifles!” the crowd cries.

“Do you know how many people are murdered with guns each year in America?” I am asked.

Actually I do and while this may be cold comfort to those reeling from the loss of family members in the Parkland shooting, banning the AR-15 and every other rifle in America would not do much to bring down the total gun deaths in America. Nor, as the Virginia Tech shooting proves, would it stop school shootings. The Virginia Tech shooting in April of 2007 was carried out with a pair of pistols and killed 32 people, not counting the coward that carried out the massacre.

Most murders in America are also carried out with handguns.

Not “assault weapons” just regular old handguns.

In 2016, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report¬†, their breakdown of murder by weapon type tallied 15,070 murders* where there was a weapon used. Of that total where a weapon was used, 11,004 were committed with some type of firearm and 7,105 were committed by handgun.

Think about that, a staggering 47% of all murders tallied by the FBI and 64% of all murders with firearms were committed with a handgun.

Now let me be upfront with a problem in the FBI report, when reporting murder by weapon type it does not include the State of Florida because officials there do not, and have not for some time, submitted that date according to FBI standards. Yet we can extrapolate that like every other state rifle murders are far lower than handgun murders.

So how and why does this matter in relation to the Parkland school shooting?

Well, even when counting for mass shootings, rifles are a minute proportion of the total murders and 2016 is not an unusual year.

In 2016 there were just 374 murders with rifles reported by the FBI and another 262 with shotguns. There were another 3,263 murders with firearms where the type of firearm was not known. Any basic knowledge of statistics would say that the vast majority of the unknown firearms type would have to be apportioned to handguns and anyone with a basic knowledge of firearms would know that if you can’t tell it was a shotgun then it was a rifle or handgun. Likely a handgun.

So if handguns are the problem, why do politicians keep pointing to so-called “assault weapons?”

Well because they can sell an “assault weapons ban” but not a handgun ban. Let’s set aside that the 1994 “assault weapons ban” was based on cosmetic features of the firearm and thus my use of quotes around this political but ill-defined term. Accept that there is something called an “assault weapon” and accept that is a black rifle with a pistol grip.

Polling shows that people would support that but not a handgun ban.

A Quinnipiac poll taken just after the Parkland shooting shows 67% saying they would back an assault weapons ban.

A more reliable Gallup poll not taken just after¬† mass shooting still shows a majority of Americans would support a ban on “assault weapons” but 71% say they would oppose a handgun ban.

Gallup has been asking the same question for more than a decade in the fall of each year. It’s quite simple and the results are pretty consistent.

Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?

In the last 10 polls the opposition to a handgun ban has only dipped below 70% twice and not by much.

So politicians on both sides of the aisle leave handguns alone, they don’t push for banning what many Americans view as a basic self-defence tool.

School shootings, mass shootings, get the attention because they are shocking and horrific. They touch on the worst nightmare of any parent.

But if America wants to deal with their overall gun crime problem, banning the AR-15 won’t help. It’s a harsh fact in the wake of Parkland but it is a fact none the less.

 

5 Comments

  1. I think it would be good, Brian, if you actually referred to these polls by name, so we could be able to see how accurate they are, and if there are any other polls that might indicate otherwise. Maybe it won’t stop all gun-related fatalities in the US, but a ban on assault weapons is a good start. Also, we don’t have to ban all guns, just put in place a proper licencing, registration and safety apparatus that prevents people with histories of violent criminality and mental instability from accessing guns of any kind. It worked wonders in Japan. In the past, polls have indicated that the American public wouldn’t support women in the workplace, equal rights for minorities, gay marriage, etc., but the American public changed their mind. How about we work on some legislation aimed at hearts and minds, ending America’s love affair with guns and gun violence? All kinds of morality codes have been imposed on Hollywood – why not one limiting the amount of gun violence that can be shown, or addressing the context in which said violence can be depicted i.e. the marriage of gun violence with American ideals such as patriotism and moral superiority? The world’s current favourite action film, Black Panther, features a cast of heroes who do not use guns in any of their aresenals, and the use of bullets is limited to a handful of bad guys. I think that sets a better example, while still being one of the most thrilling action films I’ve seen in a long time. Don’t be one of those voices that advocates doing nothing, though, because as you can see, people are fed up with that.

    • Maybe it won’t stop all gun-related fatalities in the US, but a ban on assault weapons is a good start. Also, we don’t have to ban all guns, just put in place a proper licencing, registration and safety apparatus that prevents people with histories of violent criminality and mental instability from accessing guns of any kind. It worked wonders in Japan. In the past, polls have indicated that the American public wouldn’t support women in the workplace, equal rights for minorities, gay marriage, etc., but the American public changed their mind. How about we work on some legislation aimed at hearts and minds, ending America’s love affair with guns and gun violence? All kinds of morality codes have been imposed on Hollywood – why not one limiting the amount of gun violence that can be shown, or addressing the context in which said violence can be depicted i.e. the marriage of gun violence with American ideals such as patriotism and moral superiority? The world’s current favourite action film, Black Panther, features a cast of heroes who do not use guns in any of their arsenals, and the use of bullets is limited to a handful of bad guys. I think that sets a better example, while still being one of the most thrilling action films I’ve seen in a long time. Don’t be one of those voices that advocates doing nothing, though, because as you can see, people are fed up with that.

  2. hi Brian, miss SUN NEWS!
    Regarding guns. A number of years ago, and after the only school shooting in Scotland, I visited my home village, Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire. My old school had been mothballed so I paid a visit to the new school. It was on permanent lockdown, and to get in for a look I had to show photo I.D. and take off my jacket and hand over my shoulder bag. No guards or police, just a bullet proof and locked door. Not foolproof, but effective. Just saying, keep up the good work.

  3. The US is number 3 in firearms deaths. Now remove Chicago, LA, New Orleans and NJ and it falls to 3rd from the bottom. It is instructive to note that those are the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control.

    proving Figures Don’t Lie but Liars Figure

    • That is very revealing! Thanks!
      And these cities run by Democrats. Am I correct?
      I am assuming that that 3rd from the top or bottom, you are referring to countries?

      Thanks,
      Kaaroy

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