When It Comes to Gun Violence, Let’s Get Our Facts Straight

1. THE SCARIEST GUNS KILL THE LEAST AMOUNT OF PEOPLE

Despite the extensive coverage dedicated to “assault weapons” by the media following mass shootings, it appears as though such coverage excludes a few important details. For one, “assault weapons” are functionally no different from any other firearm. As one study has noted of the 1994-2004 “assault weapons” ban:

“The AW [assault weapon] provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on features that have little to do with the weapons operation, and removing those features is sufficient to make the weapons legal.homicides-committed-with-chart

That’s right, the difference between an assault weapon and any other firearm are purely superficial, one is far more disturbing than the other, but they are both the same on the inside.

2. BANNING HIGH CAPACITY MAGAZINES DOESN’T WORK Banning magazines over a certain size is a popularly accepted gun control measure. The logic behind it is simple; if criminals have less bullets to fire, than they will kill less people. The problem is that most gun crime doesn’t even involve more than a few bullets being fired. According to a study analyzing the effect of the 1994 “assault weapons” ban on gun violence reported to the Department of Justice in 2004: “[A]vailable studies on shots fired show that assailants fire less than four shots on average, a number well within [a] 10-round magazine limit.” However, this information didn’t stop the US government from banning magazines which held over 10 bullets between 1994-2004. Despite this ban the DOJ report noted earlier found that: “Criminal use of [large capacity magazines] was rising or steady through at least the latter 1990s, based on police recovery data… Post-2000 data… suggest that [large capacity magazine] use may be dropping from peak levels of the late 1990s but provide no definitive evidence of a drop below pre-ban levels.” So the ban on high capacity magazines didn’t stop or even cause a decline in their use, and even if it did, most crimes don’t involve more than 4 shots being fired and thus wouldn’t be affected by the ban anyway.

3. THE MAJORITY OF GUN DEATHS ARE VOLUNTARY Gun control advocates often cite the statistic that there are 30,000 gun deaths per year. While this is true, it is misleading because the majority of those gun deaths are completely voluntary. In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, the CDC documents 19,392 suicides by firearm.Additionally, the FBI reports that there were 8,874 homicides committed with firearms that same year. That means that 69% of firearm deaths in 2010 were suicides. However, even with the 69% of gun deaths being attributed to suicide, a few hundred more gun deaths are considered justifiable (e.g self-defense). In 2010 there were 617 justifiable homicides using firearms by policeand private citizens. This brings the true number of unjustifiable homicides committed with firearms to 8,257. However, many gun control advocates will argue that restricting gun ownership is a good thing since it could reduce the number of suicides. While it is true that gun ownership is positively correlated with overall suicide rates in individual states in the US, a Harvard study found that there is no correlation between international suicide rates and firearm ownership. For example, Japan has a suicide rate double that of the US despite having near zero gun ownership. Many things correlate with suicide, that doesn’t mean that they cause it. Take for example a study which found that the amount of country music radio stations play is strongly related to the suicide rate, even when controlling for other variables like gun availability and poverty. Should we believe that country music causes people to off themselves? Maybe, or maybe there is another unrecognized variable driving the relationship. Regardless, if one believes the government should restrict gun ownership to protect people from their own choices, than stopping people from listening to country music, as well as forcing people to have healthy diets would also seem like legitimate government interventions into a person’s life. Such draconian and authoritative interventions could not possibly be supported by any believer in human free will.

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