The Declining Culture of Guns and Violence in the United States

by John Sides on July 21, 2012 · 179 comments

in Public opinion,Violence

This is a guest post by political scientist Patrick Egan.

*****

The massacre unleashed by James Holmes in Aurora, Colo. shortly after midnight on Friday is a tragedy of national proportions.  Like other mass shootings before it—Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007 come to mind—it leaves us desperate for explanations in its wake.  There are those who blame our nation’s relative paucity of gun control laws and others decrying the power of the gun lobby.  Cultural explanations abound, too.  On the right, one Congressman has pinned the blame on long-term national cultural decline.  On the left, fingers are pointed at America’s “gun-crazy” culture.

But as pundits and politicians react, they would do well to keep in mind two fundamental trends about violence and guns in America that are going unmentioned in the reporting on Aurora.

First, we are a less violent nation now than we’ve been in over forty years.  In 2010, violent crime rates hit a low not seen since 1972; murder rates sunk to levels last experienced during the Kennedy Administration.  Our perceptions of our own safety have shifted, as well.  In the early 1980s, almost half of Americans told the General Social Survey (GSS) they were “afraid to walk alone at night” in their own neighborhoods; now only one-third feel this way.

Second, for all the attention given to America’s culture of guns, ownership of firearms is at or near all-time lows.  Since 1973, the GSS has been asking Americans whether they keep a gun in their home.  In the 1970s, about half of the nation said yes; today only about one-third do.  Driving the decline: a dramatic drop in ownership of pistols and shotguns, the very weapons most likely to be used in violent crimes.


Gallup has been asking a similar question since 1959 and has found a less dramatic, but still unmistakable decline.  The erratic behavior of the Gallup series may be driven a bit by politics; unlike the GSS its questions about gun ownership are asked directly after questions about gun control.  (Not shown on the figure is Gallup’s October 2011 finding that 47 percent of Americans reported owning a gun when asked if they kept a gun “anywhere else on your property;” this time series unfortunately only extends to 1991.)


Thus long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States.  This is undoubtedly helping to dampen the public’s support for both gun control and the death penalty.  There are growing partisan gaps on attitudes regarding the two policies, but enthusiasm for both has declined recently in lockstep with the drop in crime and violence.  The total effects of these trends on opinion and policy remain to be seen, but one thing is clear: they defy easy ideological explanation.

{ 179 comments }

Emily Kennedy July 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

That’s really useful information. Thank you for the post.

NoDeuces July 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm

How does the study account for the liars? The growing distrust of the govt fueled by those stand to benefit from increased gun and ammo sales due to hysteria should not be overlooked.

tom July 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Gun ownership stats are based on registered gun owners, not anonymous polls.

Danny July 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Not the stats in this post. As described in the post, the stats on gun ownership come from polls in which people were asked whether or not they kept a gun on their property.

Anthony Dewar July 23, 2012 at 2:04 am

That was ONLY the Gallus Poll. If you actually looked at the graphs you would have noticed the TWO GSS polls right along with it.

Excellent post by the way.

Anthony Dewar July 23, 2012 at 2:05 am

Gallup I mean. I hate iPhone autocorrect.

tyler s. December 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm

you can turn it off.

Doug Barnes December 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

What’s the supposed difference between the Gallup poll and the General Social Surveys on this point?

Darrell December 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

The GSS is a poll also

John December 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

These numbers are statistics generated from polls.

Here’s a statistic for you, 100% of the people I know who own guns hung up on pollsters 45% of the time and say they don’t own guns the other 55%.

In this day and age of scams and such you would have to be daft to tell some random person on the phones that you have something of value (i.e., something someone might want to steal) in your home.

Besides if you look at the statistics there does not seem to be *any* correlation between gun ownership and people getting killed with guns. I just wen over the last 14 years of CDC data and for the most part the gun homicide rate has been going down at the same rate as the over-all homicide rate. This in spite of the fact that there are more and more guns in the US.

McKenna J January 2, 2013 at 12:45 am

What’s a Gallus Poll?

Alden July 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I was puzzled by the statement about a ” a dramatic drop in ownership of pistols and shotguns.” Has anybody actually looked at the firearms industry reports? NCIS background checks (not the TV show) have been going up almost continuously for the last 10 years and manufacturers are booking record orders.

Somethings not matching up.

Scott December 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

people can own more than one gun

RDS December 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, not NCIS

Joe E. Hudson December 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

These polls are nothing but made up lies. The gun sales have been off the charts on nearly every site. In fact, registration has never been higher for those people wanting to buy guns.

Fred Jackson January 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

A very small percentage of Americans, probably something on the order of 10%, owns the vast majority of firearms, 70-75% of the total. The overwhelming majority of firearm owners own ONE. A small number of paranoid nutjobs are buying whole arsenals.

Hiram Maxim July 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm

What is a “registered” gun owner?

KR July 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

In many states, such as Texas, there is no gun registration, therefore there are no stats available on “registered” gun owners – and most gun owners here are not going to tell a random pollster if they own guns or not… if they bother to answer their phone at all, since most people screen calls with caller ID and many no longer have land lines, and pollsters aren’t calling cell numbers.

Kirby December 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

You are mistaken in your last point. Gallup, at least, has been calling cell phones since 2008.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/110383/does-gallup-call-cell-phones.aspx

Rusty August 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

…except that in most states, counting “registered gun owners” would severely undercount gun ownership, as registration doesn’t exist. Bad data…”garbage in/garbage out”.

redc1c4 December 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

in most states, gun owners aren’t registered.

after all, why would i need to register myself to exercise a freedom?

Ray December 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

Are you registered to vote?

Ed December 17, 2012 at 3:46 am

Voting is a privilege, not a right. You have to qualify to vote.

Leslie MacKenzie December 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

OMG, voting is a RIGHT of American citizens, not a privilege. Where in the world are you getting such information? You do not need to qualify.

David December 24, 2012 at 9:59 am

Actually voting is a privilege, felons cannot vote. If it was a “right” and felons couldn’t vote, that would be unconstitutional…

Anonymous December 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

Of course, thats why the constitutions was amended to ensure universal suffrage, voting for 18 year olds and the law enforcing is called the Voting Rights Act.

All this time it should have been called the Voting Privaliages Act.

Just because government is stupid and infringes up the right of someone that has severed their time, be it the right to vote and the right to bear arms, does not change that the right exists.

Calamity December 28, 2012 at 2:28 am

The Constitution mentions the “right to vote” five times in its text — more than any other right in the Constitution. It is singled out in the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments. The text doesn’t specifically say “all people have the right to vote;” instead the Constitution is worded throughout its text using rights-preserving statements rather than affirmative proclamations. In other words, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment imposes a penalty upon states that deny or abridge “the right to vote at any [federal or state] election . . . .” The right to vote continues to be mentioned the other four times in relation to the context of the amendment being addressed. See: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/09/voting-right-or-privilege/262511/#

Calamity December 28, 2012 at 2:32 am

Sorry, David, it’s a right and apparently one that can be revoked under a practice known as “felony disenfranchisement.” The fact that felons do not have the right to vote is controversial and varies state by state. What makes this right able to be revoked is a matter of judicial interpretation of the Constitution, based on a passage from the 14th Amendment (one of the five Amendments preserving our right to vote), which “proclaims that States which deny the vote to male citizens, except on the basis of “participation of rebellion, or other crime,” will suffer a reduction in representation. So the legal interpretation has been felon = criminal.

John Caile December 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

Uhhh, thankfully (and contrary to TV-land where the officials invariably ask who the gun was “registered” to) only a tiny handful of states require that guns we registered. And a substantial percentage of people who answer poll calls from some unknown organization will NOT admit to owning any guns all. I wouldn’t either. Registration has never solved, let alone prevented, any significant number of crimes.

Gun purchases are estimated based on the number of NICS (background checks) calls received.

James January 5, 2013 at 1:16 am

Ever bought a gun? You know that form that you have to fill out, the one that says ATF on it? That’s the registration. Some states want a separate registration too, but most leave it to ATF.

The NICS is just a lobbying bargain that allows gun retailers to hand the product over to the customer immediately. ATF has a database of every owner of every new gun bought since 1985, serial number matched with social security number. Even if you sell the gun, it’s listed under your SSN until you have a licensed dealer transfer it to another party.

scot January 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

The form that you fill out when you purchase a firearm is NOT registration, it isn’t maintained by the BATFE (unless the dealer goes out of business). The FBI is required to NOT maintain a data base of the NICS data.
Some states, California for example, do have separate ‘registration’ requirements for some firearms, but their records are notoriously inaccurate.

Ryan February 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Sorry, but most States and the Federal Government do not register guns or gun owners.

There aren’t enough registered to come up with any stats.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:27 am

Thanks to your comment I am going to order a new gun for my collection tomorrow.
You are so inspiring.

isaac January 17, 2013 at 2:09 am

Nodeuces hey man when your talking about research in controlled studies the liars and stuff are calculated and the error is set in plus or minus terms like you see in most polls. Also though arms dealers really make their money during times like this when the govts want to ban weapons because they can jack up pricing because demand sky rockets. So I doubt lying really played a part in that. However it very true that those states that have concealed or open carry weapons laws have much lower violent crime rates than their counterparts.

Anders July 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm

There’s relative and there’s absolute – gun violence in the United States dwarfs that of every other rich country. There were 188 gun murders in Canada in 2007, and the overall murder rate is around 2/100,000.

tom July 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Canada’s population is also one tenth of America’s.

tom July 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm

And Canada has had two large public shootings in the past week.

giantslor July 22, 2012 at 1:44 am

You must have missed where it said “the overall murder rate is around 2/100,000.” You understand what murder rate means, don’t you?

kevin July 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Yes, Canada’s population is about 1/10th of ours (I think). Our death by gun count, however, isn’t ten times Canada’s; it’s closer to 90 times as many. So that argument is basically so much horseshit.

Jimmy July 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

Sorry Kevin, you’re wrong on this one. No matter the total population or the total murders, the ratio of murders per 100K is the significant number in Anders statement. THe violence of a nation can be measured in how many murders per 100K and then compare that to any other nation using the same metric. Canada has about 34Million and the US has about 320Million. But the murder per 100K is the telling number as to which is the more violent nation. Yea! We are number one in the world something still besides arms exporter. Sort sucks….

sean October 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Actually, it isn’t even two times that of canada. There were approximately 314 million people in the US last year, and there were 8775 gun homicides. That’s 2.79/100,000 for the US. If Canada’s rate is 2/100,000, how is that 90 times? Canada in 2011 had 556 murders, with a population of about 34 million. That’s roughly 1.63/100,000. Lower, but still not “90 times” or even “10 times”.

Kev November 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

One thing that everyone is missing is that out of all of the gun homicides in the US last year, a huge percentage of the victims deserved it and got what was coming to them……

Leslie MacKenzie December 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm

That is extraordinarily offensive. Shoppers, movie attenders, school children – the 2 year old child in my city who was killed by his 4-year old brother – battered women seeking escape, none of these people deserve to die. Even a thief does not deserve to die. In no country I know of, does the death penalty apply to one who committed a property crime.

John December 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Leslie,
What Kev was trying to point at the when you look at the homicide rate in the US it includes a bunch of things that would surprise a lot of people.
* Policeman shoots a guy holding a knife to a 4 year old.
* Man breaks into your house and tries to rape you 17 year old you shoot him in the process.
etc.
The numbers include *all* homicides (where one person kills another for any reason.) Based on the definition that is used I thing that *any* reasonable person would admit that not all of these homicides are a bad thing.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:29 am

And Canada is much more homogeneous. Guess what that means?

Kenneth K November 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Wrong. Canada has more lax immigration policies than the US and has a very high proportion of Asian, East Indians, Carribeans, essentially people from everywhere. Toronto was rated one of the most multicultural cities in the world

Hiram Maxim July 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Canada doesn’t have two violent underclasses like the US. Luckily for them they’re importing various violent underclasses from all corners of the globe as fast as humanly possible, so expect the violence in that country to rise.

goethean July 23, 2012 at 12:03 am

> Canada doesn’t have two violent underclasses like the US.

hmmm…does one of these violent underclasses include neuroscience PhDs?

Jimmy July 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

Um PhD CANDIDATE!

It would really suck if this were his thesis study to see how he reacts and others react to a violent killing of many people in the US or how republicans/Conservatives will spin this to justify no new gun regulations or to see if Democrats/liberals will grow a pair and promote new gun control legislation.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

What are the stats on PhD’s committing murder and assaults? Tell us goethean. We would all love to hear know…

BT July 25, 2012 at 10:30 am

Expect violence in Canada to rise?

Canadian 2011 crime stats:

Overall crime rate lowest since 1972, and has dropped for the 8th year in a row and 19 times in 20 years.

Violent crime rate lowest since 1986, and has dropped 5 years in a row and 9 times in 10 years.

Homicide rates were up in 2011 from 2010, but are still at the 2nd lowest rate in the past 30 years. Attempted homicides were down by an equal amount though, so the attempted + successful homicide rate stayed even – a 30 year low.

So sorry, despite your expectations our violent crime rates are falling.

Kenneth K November 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Canada recently loosened restrictions on firearms, so yes, maybe we will see an increase

Steve July 23, 2012 at 1:19 am

Canada does not have over 1,000,000 gang members-

kevin_ottawa August 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

um, we also don’t have over 300 million people in our country. Some people STILL don’t understate what a ratio is. *sighs* Do you think we don’t have gang problems in urban areas? Think again!

RW December 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm

“Rich” countries are the only ones that count ’cause nobody cares about murders in ‘poor’ countries? Rich enough to afford guns … Besides UN data shows 28 countries with higher homicide rates than the US despite our (estimated) rates of gun ownership.

Except data for China and most of the ex-Soviet Union are not available – nobody gets shot over there – right?

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/statistics/data.html

Katelyn Sack July 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Point 1 compares apples (violent crime) and oranges (mass shootings). See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/21/colorado-shooting-james-holmes-history.

Agreed with NoDeuces on Point 2. Self-reported gun ownership could have declined since mid-century due to a number of factors unrelated to actual gun ownership. E.g., declining trust in government.

David Knickmeyer July 22, 2012 at 12:29 am

Point 1 is not comparing anything to anything. It is reporting crime rates and a survey result.

Re point 2: It’s not scientific, but the people I know who claim not to trust the government let everyone know they proudly own a gun. Frequently. Don’t think they’d be scared by a poll question. And if you are assuming that gun ownership is actually constant then the most false answers occurred during the W administration. That doesn’t quite fit the concept.

giantslor July 22, 2012 at 1:48 am

My dad is a gun nut but he doesn’t tell many people he has lots of guns, for fear of getting them stolen. I think he’d be reluctant to divulge the info to a pollster.

Katelyn Sack July 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

David, I respectfully disagree. Point 1 is “we are a less violent nation now than we’ve been in over forty years.” This is relevant to discussion of Aurora because it suggests violence like what happened in Aurora is declining too.

But it’s not. Enten and others note a significant disconnect between violent crime and mass killing trends.

Mass killings are more common now than at any point after 1960 and since 2000.

John December 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

And that would have nothing to do with the fact that with our 24/7 news cycles some loser can easily find a “gun free zone” and become the most famous person of the month in matter of minutes, does it.

If we would stop glorifying these losers and making them famous I think the number would go down.

Also, if you look at the stats, most of these losers eat their gun as soon as they are confronted.

Fred July 22, 2012 at 3:00 am

I don’t get the relationship between less gun ownership and less support for gun control. How is that supposed to follow?

Scott Monje July 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

Presumably, less gun ownership and/or less violent crime leads to less fear of getting shot, which leads to less pressure to control guns.

Erik Voeten July 22, 2012 at 3:25 am
David July 22, 2012 at 4:39 am

Any analyst knows that to use understand a metric properly one needs to look at changes in a time series for the entity in question and also its comparables. Like healthcare costs, the US is a negative outlier with many gun statistics within the OECD. A company that halves its losses in a industry of profitable competitors is probably still doing something wrong.

Cornelius July 22, 2012 at 5:46 am

Question: could the decline in overall violence be partly accounted for by the decline in gun ownership? The 90s has a particularly stark drop in the murder rate, while the decades preceding it had a rapid decline in shotgun/pistol ownership.

Cornelius July 22, 2012 at 8:11 am

If this is the case, it may mean that gun control advocates have a point.

Jimmy July 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

Or it could mean that there are more police around and better control of illegal weapons used by criminal elements that commit most crimes using unregistered weapons.

Cornelius July 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I am not sure I understand: in many states, you do not need to register to legally own firearms, right?

Rusty August 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Correct. In fact, you only must register in a very few states.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:33 am

Registered weapon? That’s an alien concept son. Yankeeland?

mama kitty December 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Thank you, East Texan, for making ALL of Texas look like a giant can of crazy. Rick Perry does a great a job at that without your help. Thanks, though!

John December 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm

So now we have the standard. If you express an opinion that mama kitty does not agree with then you are “a giant can of crazy”.

Lorenzo from Oz July 22, 2012 at 6:20 am

Gun rampages are also not remotely an American-only thing. Eyeballing the global lists, the US does not even seem to be particularly prone to them.

Brian Phillips July 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

Much more common in US than other developed countries. On this list, more than half occur in US:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/some-of-the-deadliest-mass-shootings-around-the-world/2012/07/20/gJQAPqKixW_story.html?hpid=z1

This story has a nice graphic of how many occur in US each decade:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Horrifying+rare/6967082/story.html

Karl July 22, 2012 at 7:06 am

I don’t understand the percent axis in the first graph. Percent of what?

Cornelius July 22, 2012 at 8:07 am

Percent afraid to walk home alone at night.

Scott Monje July 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

Percent of respondents.

Leejay November 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

WHatever u people too smart

Daniel Weir July 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

For once, a clear-eye pundit sees that it’s not TEOTWAWKI, The End Of The World As We Know It.
Yes, the Aurora mass shooting was a horrible tragedy; our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims, as President Obama and Mitt Romney so eloquently stated on Friday.
But again, we are hearing the hysterical rantings from some in the media, ranging for calls for more gun control to those who think of this tragedy as a harbinger of things to come.
I remember when 2,250 people were murdered in New York City in 1990. This year, 214 people have been slain. In 1992, Los Angeles had 1,075 murders compared to 155 so far this year.
Washington, D.C. had 490 homicides in 1991. This year, the number is 49.
Atlanta had 250 slayings in 1989, but only 38 so far this year.
I could go on and on and on, but you see my point.
Let’s put all this in perspective, and apply some critical thinking here, like the author of this excellent essay.
As horrific and senseless as this tragedy was, it is not the end of the world, or of America.
Why so many — especially in the media — seem to wish for the Apocalypse is beyond me. Perhaps it’s the rotten economy, but that can’t be the entire explanation.
Well, these doomsayers are wrong, wrong, wrong. Everything will be all right.

storrente July 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I see. In the aggregate, losses were lower than expected. There’s no significant departure from the steadily-improving trajectory. But it sure as heck was the end of *someone’s* world. This kid failed his comps and bought about $2000 worth of guns. Did he think everything was going to be all right? And now, for the families of the victims: what solace does the improving aggregate level of violence hold for them?

Sam Netherly July 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

The declining culture of violence in the US is demonstrably true, as proven by John R. Lott in study after study with tons of hard data. And it’s pretty simple to understand: If you’re a violent criminal in a state where 100,000 people have a permit to carry a gun, your odds of getting shot by your victim are much, much higher than if gun carrying was not permitted. The legal system can construct all the dire penalties and death sentences it wants to try and control crime, but that takes years and years for the consequences to fully catch up with any given felon, and they are fully aware of that fact. Getting shot during the commission of a violent crime is immediate and potentially fatal, and this a consequence that any felon will understand and fear, and this will prevent some crimes from ever happening.

The decline in gun ownership is a totally bogus finding, and as noted in the article, the questions about gun ownership were sometimes asked right after the questions about gun control. Considering these questions are being asked by a total stranger with unknown motives and affiliations, anybody with a brain would be well advised not to give an accurate answer. This is the same result you would get if citizens were asked about the presence of valuable jewelry, coin or stamp collections, or any other possession of high monetary value in their home.

The fact of the matter is that the gun and ammunition market has gone through the roof since November of 2008 when Obama was elected, and it has yet to subside. Carry permit classes have increased greatly, gun sales have increased greatly, there has been an actual ammunition and reloading component famine which greatly raised prices, and still to this day has not subsided. As a matter of fact, with a 2nd term for Obama looking very probable, and 2nd wave of gun buying has already started in the U.S. As demonstrable proof of this, the gun manufacturer Sturm Ruger announced in June that it was taking no more new orders for guns FOR THE REST OF 2012, because they already had orders in hand for all of their production for everything for the rest of the year. Unless all these people buying and ordering guns are keeping them in chicken coops, outhouses, and buried in the back yard, it is a total impossibility that the number of guns in homes has been declining, particularly in the last 4 years.

Walt French July 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm

The discrepancies you note don’t require bad surveys: it may well be that gun ownership is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, with those who buy guys owning many, and thousands of rounds of ammo, versus individuals who might keep a pistol by the bedside to protect themselves from single intruders.

That would align with the intensifying polarization we see in many aspects of our society. And it’s a bit frightening, that we are building an alienated, heavily armed and disorderly militia in our midst.

kevin July 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm

You’re correct, Walt. A growing number of homes have NO guns, while an increasingly smaller number have more and more and more.

Bobby Goren August 6, 2012 at 6:06 am

Great point Walt. It’s like the difference between casual drug users and an addicts. Drug addiction can still be a societal problem even if the overall number of users is declining.

Roger March 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Old thread but review the issue of “number of household, by percentage, owning firearm is decreasing” WITH the number of households ‘experiencing’ a divorce. The correlation will surprise you. Example, 10 households exist Ten years ago the percentage of gun ownership was about 49% (say 50%)… in the ensuing ten years 40% experience a divorce (stats seem to support that number or a bit higher)… so four out of ten experience a divorce. So to remain simple we had five households owning a gun… out of ten… now because four families have split we have 14 households… and five of the fourteen still own a firearm. But the % went from 5/10 or 50% to 5 /14 or 36% – but sometimes a couple of firearms are divided between wife and husband and that accounts for the current levels of about 37-39% – lower than previously but with more households the issue is not ‘less’ guns but more ‘single person’ households.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:36 am

I am literally surrounded with highly armed and stocked common citizens here in East Texas where I live. And I sleep very soundly at night and feel totally at ease when out and about. (I am also armed at all times.) Law-abiding citizens with plenty of firearms is a good thing.

Hap Holiday December 26, 2012 at 2:25 am

“Law-abiding citizens with plenty of firearms is a good thing.”

But not nearly as good as citizens with no firearms at all.

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Actually, neighborhoods, cities, and even nations in which inhabitants are armed, and are KNOWN to be armed, are much safer as they are more feared by those who would intrude and endanger. I believe that all citizens in Switzerland are armed and know how to use their arms, and we don’t hear of deadly massacres there.

As for the ridiculous “Gun Free Zones”, those are open invitations to any and every looney looking to wreak havoc and yes, Terrorism, on the unprotected.

Further, the Second Amendment was not about hunting or target shooting. It was about we the people keeping and bearing arms in protection, against a government which becomes tyrannical. That is what the Founding Fathers went through. They knew that if the People were not armed, the People would not be able to protect themselves against the ravages of a powerful Government…. which is what we have today. A Government becoming more intrusive and powerful, and is threatening our second amendment rights if Susan Rice signs the UN treaty in March 2013 and our Congress/Senate votes in favor of the resolution. This would be a treasonous act, as it would subvert our constitution and have we the People fall under an Un-American agency.

Lynn January 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I can’t take much more of this! Most of you are not quoting facts, you are giving opinions. Secondly, what we are talking about is the mass shootings are assault weapons and the magazines or whatever that are used in these types of killings. When this post was first shared we did not have the killings at Sandy Hook School to add to the list. How many more people have to die for you fools who think you need these guns? When are we going to start to argue people’s right to their life over your right to have a gun? Let’s face it, if the founders thought people needed guns to protect themselves they did not have what goes on now in mind. We must start to face the music here. Did you know at one time cocaine was legal. But over time we learned that was a bad idea. We must be willing to say it is time for change. We must consider all Americans, not just one group, a small one at that and say their rights are more important than everyone else. We need to put our children’ s safety first, they are innocent in this and yet they are many times the victims here. What else do gun owners need on their heads? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Protect our children not with armed guards, that just hurts them more, but with removing some of these hazards.
Also, to they guy who said voting isn’t a right so it isn’t protected and can be taken away. Felons can’t own guns either, so your argument does not hold any water on either point. As a society we decided that felons get limited rights as part of their punishment.

scot January 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

Mass killings don’t require guns. Bath School Massacre, Happyland Dance Club fire, Oklahoma City, etc. There are more than enough ways for nutters to kill people in job lots, they don’t need guns.
Not to mention that no legal restriction on firearms ownership has ever been shown (100 years of data world wide) to prevent a criminal, or a criminally inclined individual, from obtaining a firearm.
Gun control does not result in a safer society (someone earlier mentioned time series analysis, that’s the only way to validly check to see what impact implementation of new laws has).

Scolwell February 15, 2013 at 4:56 am

In the best published study of mass shootings, it was found that 99 had occurred between 1980 and 2010. We know that a number of mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. All but one of the “successful” mass shootings occurred in areas where armed citizens are banned. A comparison of mass shootings stopped by 911 response vs mass shootings stopped by citizens indicates that when citizens are able to stop the killing, they prevent 84 percent of the deaths.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2969594/posts
A gun in the hands of the principle or a security guard, especially if they knew how to use it, might have prevented the tragedy. As it is the principle died trying to take on an armed attacker without any effective weapon.

Kirsten January 8, 2013 at 1:46 am

Just FYI- True- most men in Switzerland own a gun. They do not have an army to defend their homeland. They are their own militia. The reason there aren’t homicide rates there like we see here is that they are not allowed to own ammunition. Only about 2,000 of the highest ranking are allowed bullets. If there is ever an attack, they have to acquire ammunition at an armory. Their guns are as useful as a big stick.

Tomster January 9, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Actually the Swiss are indeed allowed to keep ammunition at home, but they are given a supply of ammo specifically for their combat weapon that must be kept accounted for. Shooting sports are very popular as is target shooting, although I believe the sale of ammo is regulated more than here. The older service weapons are also sold off after a certain service life, so many homes have not only their govt issues combat rifle but also have several older combat rifles that can be acquired as surplus.

Xavier Hays July 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I’m surprised a political scientist would supply polling data as evidence for the assertion, “ownership of firearms is at or near all-time lows.” The polling data measures responses to a question about gun ownership, not gun ownership itself. I understand this is simply a blog post, but given the venue, shouldn’t there be a little justification (hey, maybe with data) for using the one as a surrogate for the other?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest pedophilia is at or near all-time lows, and assume polling data would supply supporting evidence for that assertion.

GMIller December 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm

A more meaningful statistic might be the number of gun background checks made, Still wouldn’t cover all purchases though. My understanding is that this is at a record high.

Joe July 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Brady gun control bill went into effect in 1993. That correlates to declines seen here.

DrMorbius July 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

So does the leap in the number of states that liberalized their CCW permit process (i.e. legal concealed carry) in emulation of Florida, along with a decline in the percentage of the population who are in the ‘crime prone’ age group (generally accepted to be 18-35yo…).

scot January 6, 2013 at 11:43 am

Correlation is not causation.
Brady removed no guns from society.

Tomster January 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm

The Gun ban expired in 2004 and gun crime continued to drop. Also number of victims of rifles has also declined, despite the bans expiration. If there was a fire t causation that would not be likely to occur.

Josiah July 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

The problem with the first point is its venture into cultural psychology, where they claim to measure some aspect of the national character. Questions of personality and motivation are too complex for this kind of analysis, especially when applied to populations, rather than individuals. I believe that the authors would spend their time more usefully if they leave perceptions of the national psyche to the belly-button gazers, and instead, try to find correlations between things that we can be fairly sure of. For instance, they might compare crime rates and incarceration rates, but i don’t know what such a comparison might indicate, because each of these affects the other.

kathryn Daly July 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Mr. Egan’s conclusion states: “the public’s enthusiasm for (gun control and the death penalty) has declined recently, in lockstep with the drop in crime and violence.” From what information is he deducing this? There are no statistics or opinion polls cited about gun control. He mentions gun ownership stats, but that is entirely different to gun control. Thus, his conclusion is overbroad and simplistic and frankly, useless.

Andreas Moser July 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I have just two quick questions for the proponents of gun rights: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/aurora-questions-gun-lobby/

Katelyn Sack July 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm

The National Academy of Sciences report on Firearms and Violence is great. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10881&page=272

Something that makes it remarkable even among NAS reports is the dissenting appendix and responding appendix, centering on the question of whether right-to-carry laws cause a decline in homicides. The bottom line is that we do not know what causal effects these laws have on violent crime, including murder.

Therefore it is wrong to equate guns with violence. Higher rates of armed citizenry may decrease (successful) violent crime and/or mass murder. Or they may increase these outcomes. NAS couldn’t say from the available evidence. Perhaps we can’t either.

Jeff Horsager July 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Great read. I disagree with your conclusions about gun ownership trends though. Everything I’ve read and all the data I’ve seen show gun ownership and application for concealed carry permits is on the rise.

Part of the problem is your data ends in 2010, giving inadequate time to account for all those who are worried that “Obama is coming for yer guns”.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Gun-ownership-grows-following-national-trend-1303350.php

Lawrence Waters July 23, 2012 at 2:29 am

Exactly. Assuming those stats are valid, people are less afraid to walk home alone because they are carrying a handgun.

Secondly, what are “registered gun owners”? Most States do not record the names or amount of weapons their citizens own. Even background checks for gun purchasers are only kept for a limited time before being deleted….intentionally. It prevents the Government from knowing who to confiscate firearms from. The Courts have upheld this time after time.

Firearms sales are at an all-time high today. While the economy continues to stagnate, firearm manufacturing was up 33% in 2011 and continues to rise.

Ammunition prices for many calibers are twice what they were 3 years ago. During 2011, many popular types of ammunition were unable to be found because the manufacturers couldn’t fill the orders quickly enough.

Gun prices are also at an all-time high; double in many cases, especially for AR-15 and AK-47 variants. Handgun prices have also increased significantly over the last 3 years.

It’s not rocket science except maybe to the author of this ridiculous post. People are worried about the economy and life as we know it collapsing. When people are afraid, they arm themselves for the worst.

As Jeff said, every single media story, study, business, and industry report states exactly the opposite of what Mr. Sides proudly publishes. It would be a very large stretch to think Mr. Sides is the only one in America who is correct on this.

This type of inaccurate fantasy blogging is what has given bloggers a bad name over the years.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:38 am

Obama is a known gun-controller. Wake up.

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm

East Texan,
You are on the right track.
Obama maintains Marxist ideology. If people just researched this stuff, they would come to see this, but they must rely too much on MSM and the fools at CNN, MSNBC, and so on, to really ‘know’ anything.

So, in all of the dictatorships in the 20th century, one of the first things done was the confiscation of weapons. Followed by the slaughter of nearly 55 million of their own people.

It is not difficult to see that Americans, long steeped in our Freedoms, would react in such a way (buying weaponry for safety) when reading what our “president” said to Russian President Medvedev (when he didn’t know the mic was on)

President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…”

President Obama: (reaching over and putting his hand on Mr. Medvedev’s knee): “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

President Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir. ”

Why should we trust this administration? Why should we allow them to sell us out to the UN, which is good for nothing? Why shouldn’t we at least fight for our freedoms, the way the founders did over 200 years ago. Will we just lay down and let someone else take everything from us?

Michael Chase Walker July 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Gun control issues polarize the nation between rural v urban. How can we enact policies that are natural to one and catastrophic for the other?

Erik Snowberg July 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Very interesting. I’m particularly interested that although murder rates are down to 1960s level, violent crimes are closer to the not-so-low 1980s level. I’m at a bit of a loss to explain this, but a couple hypotheses come to mind: improving medical technologies could make once-deadly attacks now survivable, or possible even a reclassifying of violent crimes due to an overtaxed justice system. Still, given the differences in the denominator, it seems unlikely to be a spillover from murders to other violent crimes. Maybe greater reporting of violent rape could account for this?

Either way, it seems that the violent crime rate is a better measure to use when assessing our cultures level of violence.

Finally, declining levels of gun ownership doesn’t tell us much about the intensity of gun use, for any use, or for gun crime. Indeed, given a fixed distribution of intensity of preferences for guns, and a rising cost of gun ownership, we’d be left with only those who have a more intense interest in using guns left with them. (To be clear, intensity could just be for hunting, or for other purposes.)

Rich July 23, 2012 at 12:14 am

I am curious if the average number of guns per gun owner has changed over this same period. If I’m reading the data correctly, there could well be more guns despite declining guns per capita, and maybe separating multiple gun owners from single gun owners could provide some contrasts.

Or not, it’s late and I’m punchy. But we can all agree Bill Clinton’s midnight basketball worked!

Greatest. President. Ever.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:39 am

BJ Clinton. Greatest sex-freak ever. Couldn’t keep it in his pants. Embarassed America to the whole world…

Hap Holiday December 26, 2012 at 2:34 am

The embarrassment to the country was the absurd reaction by Republicans in congress to Clinton’s escapades. I lived in Europe at the time and the overwhelming sentiment—by far—was bemused puzzlement to the childish behavior of the Republicans and their spending $80 million trying to barbecue Clinton for merely having a blow job.

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

No – but Clinton LIED – he PURJURED himself. That is breaking the LAW. Only because you either 1) are a Liberal Dem, or 2) cheat on your wife would you put up with Clinton’s behavior.

It wasn’t about him “merely having a blow job.” He had someone in that office who did not belong there. He lied to the American people with that sh*t-eating grin on his face. He should have been pulled out of that office.

Hyperbole July 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

2011-2012 general fatality statistics for the US:

Gun Violence = 9.1 per 100,000 (Ban Guns!)
Suicides 15-24 = 13.7 per 100,000 (Ban Youth!)
Suicides 25-34 = 15.3 per 100,000 (Ban Middle-Age!)
Prisoners = 715 per 100,000 people (Ban Prisons!)
Cancer = 321.9 deaths per 100,000 (Ban Cancer!)
Heart Disease = 106.5 per 100,000 (Ban Hearts!)
Motor Vehicles = 15.5 deaths per 100,000 (Ban Cars!)
Circulatory Disease = 265 deaths per 100,000 (Ban Circulatory Systems!)
Digestive Disease = 20.5 per 100,000 (Ban Digestion!)
Maternal Mortality = 8 per 100,000 (Ban Childbirth!)
Respiratory Disease = 51.6 per 100,000 (Ban Breathing!)

Flippant? Yes. Not entirely on target? Yes. Gives some perspective? YES!

zaoem July 23, 2012 at 8:04 am

I assume that perspective is that of all the things you list, guns are the only thing you can restrict with very small, if any, externalities.

Hap Holiday December 26, 2012 at 2:39 am

Bingo. Ask yourself, of the causes of death in Hyperbole’s list, which would you least like to have to defend yourself against?

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Let’s ban alcohol, for it accounts for tens of thousands of deaths while in cars every year, and by liver-poisoning as well.

Let’s do that – BAN ALCOHOL and see how that goes.
And yes, ban guns. Think of what happened when alcohol WAS banned – more criminals fighting with guns.

Most of the “poor children” who are killed by guns are actually teenage drug dealers and “gangsters” who are living that lifestyle, and shooting into houses where other, innocent children are sleeping.

Why not stop the gang and drug violence? Why go after law-abiding LTC gun owners? GO bother the real problem – the bad guys.

oz July 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

Golly gee from what I understand in places like Chicago the way they report crimes the FBI will not even accept their UCR code data. You may want to check the source info and footnotes for those graphs maybe there’s other places that are not counted too..

Furthermore homicides for Chicago are up over 35% this year vs last. Kind of interesting when you consider that Chicago has some of the toughest laws on handguns in the country..

For those in the let’s band guns camp there’s one question I think you should ask yourself. Do bans work? We have bans on many drugs for example.. Controlled substances are kept under lock and key or are in a safe — yet you’ll still find heroin, cocaine, weed, and other banned drugs readily available on the streets. What makes people think that we can pass a gun ban law and all the guns will magically disappear? Banned drugs did not disappear in spite of the laws. How long has the war on drugs been going on for now. This shooter in Colo. had 30 artillery shells in his apartment, how did the ban on those work?

I don’t think we have neither the will or the money to enforce a gun ban if one was ever to be passed.

Finally I have to wonder with the economy in the shape that its in and the fact that in places like Illinois it cost the taxpayers $145/day to keep someone in prison if there is a financial incentive to reduce the violent crime charges down to misdemeanors because if your state happens to be on the verge of bankruptcy you just cant afford to lock people up! Think about it.

——————————
By James Kelleher

CHICAGO, Jan 4 (Reuters) – The FBI performed a record number of instant background checks on would-be firearm buyers in 2011 as Americans went on an apparent gun-buying spree, according to new government data.

The FBI said it fielded nearly 16.5 million queries from firearms sellers last year, checking that customers buying guns did not have criminal records or other red flags that made them ineligible to purchase weapons.

That was up 15 percent from 2010, when the FBI performed 14.4 million screenings using its so-called National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and the highest number of annual screenings performed since 1998, when the checks went into effect.

The FBI cautioned that each background check did not necessarily represent an individual firearm sale, in part because some would-be buyers fail to pass the screening.

But FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said the background checks are correlated with weapon purchases. So the uptick in screenings last year suggests that an increase in gun sales the agency has been tracking for several years was continuing.
BUYING SURGE SINCE 2006

Purchases of handguns and rifles, which had held steady throughout the early part of the decade, began to surge in 2006 and have nearly doubled since then, FBI data showed.

more >> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/gun-purchases-2011_n_1185282.html

James July 23, 2012 at 8:43 am

The beginning of one graph has the lowest crime rate and the beginning of the other graph has the highest confirmed gun ownership.

In the 90s we saw the highest spike of violent crime rate. Also, in the same period of time on the other graph we see the sharpest decline in confirmed gun ownership as reported by the General Social Survey.

The Gallup poll shows a relatively flat “decline.”

Conclusion: The writers of this article know very little about statistics.

Hilarious quote: “Thus long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States.” The violent crime rate in America more than tripling from 1960 to the mid 1990s is showing a “long-term trend” of a waning culture of violence? Sure the past 17 years has seen a steady decline in violent crime… but damn, the author of this article wants to make his “point” so badly that he is either completely blind to the reality of the statistics, or he’s a complete idiot.

Cornelius July 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

Agreed. This is the point I was trying to question above.

Brad July 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

“Second, for all the attention given to America’s culture of guns, ownership of firearms is at or near all-time lows.”

This is based on stats from 1959-2010. But there was a huge spike in US gun sales in 2011, as found in this Gallup poll, up 41% from 2010. This seems like an awfully significant omission here, no?

http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx

Lynn Jaeger July 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

A smaller percentage of households own guns than before, yes. But the average number of guns in gun-owning households has gone ‘way up. Handguns and shotguns are not selling as well as they used to – but semi-automatic and assault weapons – since the ban on them was lifted – are going like hotcakes. People no longer feel a need for a single self-defence weapon — if they want a gun, they want an arsenal. And if you don’t believe police depts have been told to “low-ball” crime stats, you need to do a bit of investigative reporting… and talk to the Commissioners who have been told by their local and state politicians to “shut up or get out of town” for attempting to enforce the (few) laws we have, or to lobby for better ones.

Some of us have become revolted by the cost of guns in lives broken and communities shattered. Others are still in love with the illusion of respect, and the temporary control and power a big bang-bang can give them … or they feel compelled to own multiple guns to protect themselves from others with guns, or from a government that they believe will strip them of all guns. This shift – along with a thriving trade in gun-running to fuel wars both declared and undeclared – offers manufacturers and dealers huge profits. Hence the NRA doesn’t want ANY teeth in gun laws — and they have so much $ they have cowed the pols into submission – even tho polls have shown their membership actually is in favor of some simple, reasonable limits on access to such weapons.

How any of them – profiteers or politicians – can avoid seeing the blood on their hands is beyond me…

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:42 am

Assault weapons are highly restricted and have been since the days of Al Capone. Do not confuse those with the purposely mislabeled semi-automatic versions not capable of select-fire operation. That’s a big lie promoted by the ignorant and the liberal media.

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Hey Lynn, the only ones with blood on their hands are the actual criminals who are committing the crimes. A gun is an inanimate object. I know someone who has one in his sock drawer. He hasn’t seen it move, and it hasn’t attacked him or anyone else. Even while he’s sleeping!

And Lynn, there are THOUSANDS of gun laws on the books already. Just as there are laws for driving cars. Law-abiding folk follow these laws. They don’t speed, zip in and out of traffic, pass on the wrong side, or follow another car too closely. They get their cars inspected, if required, and they have insurance, if required. They drive responsibly and keep their car safe. They may even own MORE THAN ONE car!! Maybe a yard full of them!

Now, substitute gun for car….

Law-abiding folk follow these laws. They don’t wave their firearm around, threaten anyone with it, or use it where they are not allowed to. They take training classes and learn how to properly take care of their firearm. They are licensed, and have their firearm registered, if required, and they lock it up at home, away from ammunition. They shoot responsibly at the range and keep their firearm safe, so children cannot get to it. They may even own MORE THAN ONE firearm!! Maybe a house full of them!

Law-abiding firearms owners do NOT want to hurt their own 2nd amendment rights.

scot January 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

Semi-automatic rifles were never banned. Even during the Ugly Gun Ban you could still buy a new semiautomatic rifle even in states like CA or CT where they have their own bans.
The ban only covered certain features.
‘Assault weapon’ is a meaningless term. ‘Assault rifle’ technically refers to an intermediate power, fully automatic or select fire long arm. Those are covered under the NFA ’34, and the number available for public ownership was capped in ’86.
The NRA is a shooters’ organization, not a manufacturers’ lobbying group. The manufacturers have their own organization[s]

CapitalistPig July 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm

It would be wonderful if the author could provide supporting evidence for this claim: “Driving the decline: a dramatic drop in ownership of pistols and shotguns, the very weapons most likely to be used in violent crimes.”

Perhaps he sourced it from ‘cinematic research’?

Kevin July 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

So what if gun violence is trending down — is that supposed to make me feel okay about the gun violence that persists? We still need better laws.

Onepoint July 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

If murder being a capital offense is not enough to stop it from happening, tougher guns laws won’t either. What needs to happen is the crime being stopped at the point of commission, and that does not happen with good intentions and thoughtful expression. Crime is force, it must be countered with like or superior force, and that means weapons.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:44 am

Yeah right Kevin. Criminals traditionally obey laws and if you pass a new one they will immediately cease n’ desist any undesirable and outlawed activity. What about the 22,500 + gun-control laws already on the books in this country on the federal, state, county, city & local municipality levels? Get real…

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Kevin, you must be a Lib, cause Liberals always “Feel” .
You don’t ‘feel’ ok about gun violence that persists?
I don’t ‘believe’ that the gun violence that persists is ok.
HOWEVER, I can recognize that the perpetrators of gun violence are criminals, as are those who rape, steal, burglarize, and so on. Can you not SEE THIS?

Nick July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I’d be curious to know what spiked violent crime and murder rates starting in 1965.

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:45 am

Nick July 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm
I’d be curious to know what spiked violent crime and murder rates starting in 1965.

—–
Democrats….

Calamity December 28, 2012 at 2:41 am

East Texan, I found you amusing for awhile but I’ve stopped listening now.

Dan December 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

President Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act, closing psychiatric hospitals nationwide, in 1963. With that legislation those with mental health issues were now treated within the criminal justice system and not the medical health system. The signing of the act gave no provision to being able to care for these folks in a community setting so they’ve become our homeless etc. ever since. About 80% of those who instigated the mass shootings since that time have had mental health issues that current laws should have prevented from ever owning firearms.

scot January 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

Some thoughts:
Social unrest. (Vietnam, racial tensions)
A spike in the number of young males from the baby boom.
Lesser ability to involuntarily commit people to mental institutions.

Jon July 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Gun ownership is on an upward trend, not downward. It was downward until about 1998, but since then has been on an upward trend, according to gallup.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/Guns.aspx

Also NICS checks, which are required every time a gun is purchased from an FFL dealer, are at record highs, and have more than doubled in the last decade. (16.4 million in 2011)

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:45 am

God-Bless Texas, Miss Lillie & the N.R.A..

Katelyn Sack July 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Enten has a nice new Guardian post up now, complimenting this blog post. He reaches a different conclusion about the same data: “There are still many guns in America, and the rate is not dropping any more.”

Enjoy: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/25/gun-ownership-us-data.

Ted July 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Does anyone have statistics on gun related crimes which were thwarted by a gun toting civilian? It would be particularly interesting if that was broken out by state with “shall issue” concealed carry permit regulations vs more restrictive states.
I remember an Air Marshall friend of mine from back in the ’70s saying: “I would be out of a job if they just issued a handgun to everyone boarding a plane”. I have no idea if he was right, but I certainly would be worried about the folks with no clue…
Back in the old west there seemed to be plenty of gun violence, and everyone carried.
Anyone?

Jon July 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

According to the US DOJ, it equates to anywhere between 500,000 crimes stopped per year by defensive use of a gun, to as high as 2.5 million per year. This is per the crime victimization survey, so you have to extrapolate based on percentage, which is why I gave you both the low and the high.

JPA August 6, 2012 at 12:48 am

The thing to keep in mind regarding “crimes stopped by gun owners” is that when those who carry a gun ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE legal (as I do in AZ), are not simply dropping by the gun store, picking out a gun and strapping it on. We train with it and also become more aware of our surroundings. We are. OT out looking for a gunfight. We are looking to avoid harm to ourselves and loved ones. It is not the act of drawing a fun that reduces the likelihood of criminal violence against me, it is paying attention to what is going on around me and removing myself or avaoiding those circumstances. It has a cumulative effect on safety.
There are obvious circumstances where that does not work (like Aurora or any other number of mass shootings). I hate to say it, but those cannot be prevented by any law. Someone who wants to commit a gun crime will find a way to acquire guns illegally, and in doing so will put money in another criminals pocket who will go on to commit more crimes.
Since Aurora is an extreme case, take gun ownership to the extreme in the same context. If every patron in that movie theater was carrying, don’t you think the result would have been a little different?
What if there were 5 people carrying? How do we know there were not? A concealed carry gun owner in the theater may have ushered their own family out of the theater to safety.
As far as number of guns per household going up and overall gun ownership decreasing? Who knows. If people ask me if I own guns I tell them I have a hunting rifle. If they ask how much ammo I have “a few rounds”. Reality? Oh around a dozen firearms between my wife and I and over 10K in ammo. No I am not preparing for a war, nor do I feel safer with that many guns or that much ammo. It is cheaper to buy in bulk and each gun has a specific use. (hunting, sporting clays, self defense, practice, some because they are works of fine craftsmanship) If a non gun owner saw my collection they may be flabberghasted and assume Im preparing to fend off a horde of zombies.
Another thing: when people want to pass laws to restrict magazine capacity, etc. would that have made a difference in Aurora or the Gifford shooting in Tucson? Nope. The sickos would have just reloaded more. I’d hate to be the guy in the theater with my family stuck in the front row and pull a gun to defend them and only have 6 rounds to stop a guy through tear gas wearing body armor. I’d rather have my Sig with 16 rounds.

JPA August 6, 2012 at 12:50 am

Auto correct made my statement above say we are out looking for a gunfight. That should read NOT out looking for a gunfight.

JPA August 6, 2012 at 12:51 am

Also the various substitutions of “gun” with “fun”.

Calamity December 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

JPA, I liked your argument but you illustrate successfully an earlier argument made by someone that people taking the survey would not have answered entirely truthfully regarding the numbers of guns and ammo they own. This calls into question the entire survey’s credibility. . . And while I appreciate your point about people having possibly avoided harm in the theater if everyone were armed, especially with a higher-capacity weapon, the prerequisite for such a circumstance would be that everyone would be carrying ALL the time (or at least while out in society); given these circumstances, we will never know how many more accidental injuries or deaths may have resulted through the mishandling or misuse of those weapons. From what I can discern, I would place you in an above-average bracket of such gun owners in terms of gun safety, preparedness and training. Therefore I don’t equate everyone being armed with a safer society. I back this assertion by reminding you that average IQ is around 100 (actually “average” can be as low a 68).

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Calamity,
Most law-abiding firearm owners are trained and aware, as is JPA. We just don’t run around and tell everyone, because the media is working really hard to make sure that anyone who carries is A GUN NUT.
You would be surprised at who carries, and where.
Also, to JPA’s point, actually, if it wasn’t such a big deal to have an LTC, and people were known to carry concealed, there would be many fewer attempts by loonies and criminals to attack, since they would never know who could fight back and stop them.

To me, that is a great reason for more law-abiding folk to carry.

Calamity January 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Where is your evidence, other than your opinion, that most law-abiding gun owners are well-trained? There are good drivers and bad drivers on the road. You can be law-abiding and still not exhibit good judgment. Gun training depends on what geographical part of the country you live, whether you live in an urban or rural area, whether you have been raised in a household familiar with gun use, and whether you have the opportunity/money/impetus to practice using them. Where there are no requirements to train in the use of firearms, people tend to dodge responsibility. Beyond that, I would address the term “law-abiding.” Who is to determine who will remain law-abiding in a society where, when everyone is armed all the time, the norm becomes ‘I won’t use my gun if you won’t use yours’. Once someone breaks that unspoken rule, then what? Humans react. To quote Joshua Tucker from his article in this blog, Access to Assault Weapons Amplifies Pre-existing Risks of Violence: “The general lesson is that access to arms amplifies underlying risk factors in translating guns into violence.” Therefore, I don’t equate everyone being armed with a safer society.

Scolwell February 15, 2013 at 5:22 am

Typical permit requirements include attending a certified handgun/firearm safety class, passing a practical qualification, and demonstrating handgun proficiency.

william July 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

If gun related crime is at an all time low, does this stat exclude 10-50 murders by gun EACH WEEK in Chicago? What is it, 1000+ already this year? All with illegally obtained guns? Maybe that’s why it’s not publicized much, it doesn’t promote gun control laws. Where’s the vigils and mass coverage of these crimes WEEKLY?

Stranger July 29, 2012 at 10:55 am

In Never-Never Land, perhaps these people are correct. Here in the real world, more than 150 million NEW guns have been purchased in the United States since Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill in 1993.

In an America where more than one third of those known to own guns will deny the fact when polled, Gallup says almost half of all American homes have at least one gun. And the true percentage of homes with guns is not Gallup’s 48 percent, but 77.5%. Compared with 58% in 1968.

There are nine million Americans who are licensed to carry, plus millions more who do carry a gun without a permit. And now crime is down – and people are less afraid to walk alone at night. And America’s gun culture is DYING?

Whatever you are drinking, I would like a tot myself.

Stranger

East Texan October 15, 2012 at 12:49 am

I don’t own any guns at all. ROFLMAO!!!!!

Jason July 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm

“For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9715182

If there is a different study out there that proves the opposite or even mitigates this finding, I would like to see it (as long as it wasn’t commissioned by the NRA).

JPA August 6, 2012 at 12:58 am

Again, it is difficult to put into stats the number crimes avoided by people who don’t just carry guns but take security seriously. How many times were home invasions thwarted because people remembered to lock their doors and didnt brag to everyone about how much cash or jewelry they have?

Dmcguire August 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

So you claim that the ownership of guns has declined, per HOUSEHOLD, so less than half of households have guns, so in violent home invasions, which homes (guns or no guns) result in murders, robberies, rapes and other violent outcomes and which ones result in the invader being killed or detered. What is the crime rate like in cities with a shall issue policy vs no CC permit issue.
Also, gun control propaganda has been on a steady rise, and the roar from the anti-gun pundits on every front is deafening. Our kids, and young adults are inundated with anti gun messages. So if in fact, hypotheitically, gun ownership has declined, why would you be confused as to why.

me October 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Nice.

You link criminality and gun ownership in the TITLE, no point in reading the article.

I am certain a study correlating Jews to hoarding of wealth would be equally unbiased.

MJ December 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Or how about the fact that over half of the people in this country distrust the government and say they do not own a gun when they own two or more. Call your local law enforcement and get those stats to much science can be manipulated.

Josh December 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Yes MARIAR56, lets start undermining the founding fathers and the 2nd Amendment at a young age… There is a reason the 2nd Amendment was THE SECOND ITEM COVERED IN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES! Because it is important that the states be able to defend themselves from a tyrannical government, and by restricting the general public (who make up the state militias) from arming themselves, you take the states ability to DEFEND FROM A TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT… So besides the fact that guns in the hands of responsible gun owners stop more than twice the amount of violent gun crimes actually committed (the liberal media will never report those “incidents”), the actual reason why we MUST alow the sale of assault/semi auto weapons, is that if you take that right away, you take away the right of the men who form the state militias from defending you from a government that becomes tyrannical… Yes you enjoy a stable life now, but think of the history of Governments, we are quite young, and the reality now, might not be the reality 50 or 100 years from now, and if you take the peoples right to defend themselves from the government away, you take what the the our ancestors did in the revolutionary war, and you throw it in the garbage, and what they did was found the greatest nation on earth to date…

Amendment II – Right to bear arms. Ratified 12/15/1791.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Diane December 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Actually, Josh, yes, we the people have the right to keep (own and have) and bear (carry around) arms for the purpose of defending ourselves from a tyrannical government.

Hence, the push by this administration, with the help of the UN (in March), the media, the idiot commentators and opinionists, and every left-wing org imaginable, using every horrific crisis (as Rahm Immanual said, Never waste a good crisis) to somehow, in some way, dismantle the Second Amendment and remove this most important freedom from us. I think the US is like the only nation which has this built-in freedom to keep and bear arms.
Please help fight to keep it.

Andrea December 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Having gron up in downstate NY (one hour north of NYC), lived in Nc for 12 years, Buffalo NY 1 year and now Toronto Canada, I can say I have felt safest in Toronto than any of the smaller areas I have lived in. In Nc, I lived in a town of 90,000 but there was a huge gang problem, shootings, muggings, car/home breakins were common due to the economy and low wages. I used to be scared to walk my dog at night in the safest part of the city due to sketchy people always roaming about (day and night). In Toronto, I live in a neighborhood where people leave their doors unlocked/doors open in the warmer months. I have never seen one sketchy person in my 4 months living here. I have never felt afraid taking my dog out at midnight. In the US, I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder, always afraid, especially since I am a woman. The poor sadly turn to a life of crime in the US I believe and thus, since the poor have literally no choice, this will continue to be a problem IMO. Its sad I had to move to a city of 2.6 million people in another country to feel safe. (Yes, there are occasional shootings here, but in NC I heard gunshots on a near nightly basis. I barely hear sirens up here).

So wow December 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Amazing. Over a hundred posts on a issue that’s simple but has really interesting interactions. A culture of violence is a great subject! Still look and be Welcome to a wonderful example of popular bias, propaganda, and a party politics. A hundred posts and almost none of them are by people who know a single thing about anything. This is why academics should stay away from issues like this, Israel – Palestine, and aids.

Why deal with the hassle? Who wants to get yelled at by zealots (on both sides…)? Do you really want some crazy person on AM radio calling you unamerican or some crazy web site?

Sheba Lewis-Hall December 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

I’m surprised noone has mentioned the clear and direct correlation between popation and violent crime. At the peak of our violence curve, late 1980′s-early 1990′s ,we also see, the peak of the baby boom genetation. When the population of adolescent and young adult males is highest, violent crime is highest. Get it? Not guns, not cops , not harsh laws but the highest demographic of potential offenders.The other theories are just political wishful thinking.

Calamity January 7, 2013 at 12:42 am

In response to “when the population of adolescent and young adult males is highest, violent crime is highest.” . . . . Not so. Political scientist John DiIulio warned that the echo of the baby boom would soon produce a demographic bulge of millions of young males that he famously dubbed “juvenile super-predators.” Other criminologists nodded along. But even though the demographic bulge came right on schedule, crime continued to drop. And drop. And drop. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early ’90s. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

So wow December 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

That’s actually a good point. I’m not sure the demographical transition would have hit fast enough for that level of drop. We’re nearing a 50 year low in the murder rate and although we’re clearly aging its not that dramatic a change.

The cohort effects needed to be looked at. Would be interesting.

GMIller December 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Total FBI firearms checks. Not all sales are checked, nor do all checks result in sales, but most do. But, this is a good trend indicator. Up dramatically, in contrast with the conclusions of this article.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/20121203_1998_2012_monthly_yearly_totals.pdf

Duncan December 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm

What is the excuse then for lower violent crime rate and murder in the 50′s and 60′s when supposedly a greater percentage of homes had guns? Could the explosion in crime simply be a reflection of the failed war on drugs and the declining morality of America? Not to mention periods of bad economies drive crime up as well that is why things spiked in the 70′s. Restricting and banning guns will do nothing to solve the issues that cause violence in all forms to rise. For one banning guns will not remove guns from criminals just like the war on drugs has not stopped people from getting or doing drugs. All it does is create a black market for criminal cartels to exploit which causes more crime. A commonality in all of these multiple shootings/massacres is prescription psychotropic drugs. Research into mass killing in Asia and UK from people going nutty and driving their vehicles into crowds and also knife and sword attacks. People intent on killing multiple people will always find a way to do it know matter if they have to use clubs. To live in a free society you have to be willing to live with the remote possibility something bad might happen to you. Government can not and will not keep you safe just look at China which is a police state where a teenager killed 8 people with a knife. Do you want to ban or restrict knives and cars? What then when people resort to clubs and rocks you somehow going to try banning clubs and rocks?

Google and DARPA are already working towards taking humans out of driving with their smart car. Do you want to live in a Nanny State where the government says everything is too dangerous for you so you can not have any responsibility so they will make all decisions for you?

It is time we find that Pioneer spirit our ancestors had and take personal responsibility for our own well being and protection

Duncan December 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Too bad there is not an edit feature. I guess I should have done a little proof reading. ;-)

Rocky January 13, 2013 at 2:49 am

Actually hands, fist, and feet, including pushing kills more people annually than Rifles do, according to FBI Stats. As do blunt objects, and sharp objects. And, that is ALL RIFLES, so called ‘Assault Rifles’ only comprise about 2% of all rifles, and are found to be involved in less than 0.2% of Gun Deaths. So realistically, cars, golf clubs, hammers, baseball bats (#1 on the blunt object list), 2x4s and all sorts of pointy objects to include knives, should be on the current ban list well before so called Assault Rifles.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls

Doug Barnes December 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

The problem with Egan’s piece is that the premise is not supported. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out just over a week ago, the incidence of gunshot wounds in the U.S. has increased by almost 50% in the past decade (In Medical Triumph, Homicides Fall Despite Soaring Gun Violence, Dec. 8), outstripping population. The other marker cited by the author, “violent crime,” is a catch-all category that arguably is of little significance in this context, since a great many violent crimes don’t involve any weapons whatever, let alone guns. Nor are survey results on guns in the home going to be illuminating when sales of firearms through unregulated “gun shows” — for all practical purposes a legal black market — have increased to the point where such shows now account for as much as 40% of guns sold in the U.S.

So perhaps we’re gradually becoming less violent as a society. That is arguably true of almost every society, over the long haul. But when it comes to guns, it is simply wrong to say that large pattern governs what is happening in the U.S.

Not to belabor the point, but isn’t this the sort of basic factual stuff that the people who run this site — i.e. professional social scientists — are supposed to be careful about?

scot January 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The laws that apply to firearms dealers apply at gun shows the same as they do in the dealers store. The only legal firearms transfers that are ‘unregulated’ are transfers between private parties in states that don’t require that all transfers go through a dealer and be subject to the background check. California has legally banned private party transfers that do not go through a dealer, with no impact on the crime rates.

Chuck Lavazzi December 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Interesting, especially the disconnect between actual crime and the fear of it, but what I’d really like to see is a correlation between gun ownership and gun homicides over time. Does anyone know where that kind of data might be found and/or whether anyone has run those numbers?

Calamity December 28, 2012 at 3:04 am

Don’t know for sure if this is what you are looking for, but the following data regarding “gun availability,” rather than “gun ownership” is available through the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, a joint venture forged in 1913 between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html
Findings:
1. Where there are more guns there is more homicide.
2. Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.
3. Across states, more guns = more homicide.
4. Across states, more guns = more homicide (2).

One of the sources for that study may prove more helpful as it specifies “firearm ownership”:
Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64.

Rocky January 13, 2013 at 1:42 am

Actually that study wouldn’t appear to be real factual. Most homicides occur in large cities…

CRIME AND GUNS
Basic to the debates on gun control is the fact that most violent crime is committed by repeat offenders. Dealing with recidivism is key to solving violence.
• 71% of gunshot victims had previous arrest records.
• 64% had been convicted of a crime.
• Each had an average of 11 prior arrests.62,63
• 63% of victims have criminal histories and 73% of the time they know
their assailant (twice as often as victims without criminal histories).
Most gun violence is between criminals. This should be the public policy focus.
Fact: 94.4% of gun murders are gang related.
The numbers also support that 4 out of 5 gun related crimes occur in inner cities.

Mary Moskal January 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I believe that on this site I also saw a very enlightening graph on shootings at schools over the past twenty years or more. Nothing can erase the fact that one of the ways to control violent shootings in this country is to restrict access to assault-type weapons and easy access to mega-magazine ammunition clips. Period. It is difficult to imagine the damage inflicted on those small little bodies…some absorbed as many as eleven bullets. I understand the parents identified their children from photos and were not allowed to see the damage.
Where is the outrage over these incidents??

Calamity January 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Mary, I couldn’t agree with you more.

Rocky January 13, 2013 at 2:15 am

Where is the outrage over assaulting everyone’s second amendment rights?

What about our Fifth Amendment Rights? Are you even aware of what the Fifth Amendment of US Constitution states?

Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I wasn’t in Newtown, my guns weren’t in Newtown, yet you suggest that I should be denied my Second Amendment Right to own a so called “Assault Rifle”. A rifle that I legally purchased and use to hunt, and yes since I am hunting non-game species with it, I do use a 30 round magazine where allowed by law. I’m sorry, I haven’t commited any crime; so no they are not taking my weapons. If you want to give them your car, because a drunk driver half way across the country killed someone, feel free to, but I am not going to allow the government to violate my constitutional rights.

Since all you anti-gun freaks think all gun owners are criminal for merely possessing a weapon, how about our Sixth Amendment Rights?

You all have us tried and convicted, and are simply waiting on Obama to sentence us, to loss of whatever. Simply ban Assault Rifles and confiscate them all!!

Uhmmm…. OK but…

Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Where was my case tried, since you folks want to prosecute me and force me to give up my legally purchased weapons, that have never committed a crime by themselves, nor have they ever been used in the commission of a felony.

How about the ninth Amendment? Do you know that one??

Ninth Amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Basically, while you have the right to Free Speech, under the first, that doesn’t mean you can spread lies and propoganda to deny me my second, fifth and sixth amendment rights.

You see, we aren’t simply talking about rewriting a little bit of the Second Amendment, we’re trashing half the bill of rights here, my half to be precise, over a crime that I didn’t commit.

I could be wrong, but I’d bet if the local law showed up at your door tomorrow demanding you spend 10 days in jail for a crime someone else committed, you would have a whole different perspective on denying someone else their constitutional rights over the crimes of another.

And, before you assume me to be indignant, callous, and uncaring… My sister teaches school, her daughter teaches school, my daughter teaches school, my sister-in-law is a school administrator. I have a son in college, and 2 grandchildren that will be entering school in the near future. So yes I do understand, but I understand that it’s not the guns at fault, it is the shooter. And, denied the access to firearms, they will simply find other methods. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City, 19 of them children under the age of 5, injured 800 more. To date, no one has insisted on banning U-Haul Trucks or Diesel Fuel.

Erin January 15, 2013 at 4:44 am

Great points

Rocky January 13, 2013 at 1:27 am

Actually most of that information is propogandist drivel. The gun industry in the US has seen an astronomical boost under the Obama Administration. Every time he threatens to implement a gun ban, 3 – 4 million more guns are sold. Every time he suggests increased taxes on ammunition, he creates a 5 – 6 month backlog on ammunition supplies. Since Obama took office NCIS logged over 2.7 million background checks in December alone.

There are more guns, and more gun owners today, than there ever has been in the history of the US. Dependent upon whose statistics you believe, somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 – 100 million of us to be precise, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million guns floating around the US.

I don’t know why writers can’t find all of these facts, either they don’t look very hard, or maybe they just want you to believe their dismal opinion of the way they believe things should be.

Erin January 15, 2013 at 4:39 am

Perhaps instead if arguing about whether guns are the issue, we should focus our energy on creating a better society. Drugs are illegal and they are practically an epidemic. Clearly making something illegal will not solve our problems. We have to find the root cause of violence, be it how we raise our children (abuse or trauma), how we interact with one another (bullying and violent crime) or even how we view material possessions (valuing money over people). Whatever the underlying issue is, we need to solve that rather before any real progress is made.

Terry January 22, 2013 at 3:39 am

The studies indicating that gun violence goes up with general gun ownership, are agenda-driven and have been repeatedly debunked as poorly designed, with internal and external inconsistencies and questionable methods of statistical analysis – as they say, torture the data long enough and it will tell you anything you want to hear.

The facts are that gun ownership is clearly going up significantly, while violent crime and gun crime drops.

At this point in our society’s history, gun violence goes up with gun ownership in only a very small subset of our population, in high crime and gang areas . As other posters have noted, gun laws will not prevent access to guns in this subset. In the case of the mentally ill who perpetrate horrors like Aurora and Sandy Hook, it appears that these mass attack events might be reduced with better background checks, which would require more cooperation by the mental health community than we have been able to obtain. Also, as other posters have noted, the decision to throw the truly mentally ill and dangerous out into the street in the ’60′s, was a very poorly conceived Mental Health, and Public Health policy – and has increased our risk of some types of violent crime – including mass attacks, and single person attacks, such as being pushed onto subway train tracks. Unfortunately this policy goes along with a now well-entrenched policy in the courts and in the Mental Health community that prevents us from protecting potentially dangerous individuals from themselves and protecting the broader community from them.

In contrast to these two cases – namely, the small subset of high crime communities, and the access to arms by those unfit to bear them – gun ownership by responsible citizens saves a huge number of lives and prevents a huge number of violent injuries every year. The only studies that don’t show this, have used irregular study designs, and/or have refused to use the very same methods of analysis that we use everyday in assessing lives saved and injuries prevented by highway traffic safety interventions (such as airbags), aircraft safety interventions, and industrial safety interventions.

At least one study has indicated that increasing Concealed Carry is afactor that would have a chance of reducing the carnage in episodes like Aurora and Sandy Hook. Posters above have pointed out the common sense aspects of this – only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun, if you can’t get out of harm’s way. But the problem even with this analysis is that gun-related mass attacks like Aurora and Sandy Hook, are only a fraction of total annual gun-related murders and violent injuries. And even a smaller fraction is related to semi-automatic rifle use of the kind that was said to be used at Sandy Hook. Fists, and many other weapons, are much higher on the list as causes of deaths, and cause the deaths of more young children than episodes like Sandy Hook. So, trying to stop another Sandy Hook, by passing more restrictive gun laws against responsible gun owners, particularly focusing on “assault weapons”, has essentially NO possibility of success.

So why would any sane, responsible individual suggest that we reduce gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, and thus subject ourselves to many more violent deaths of innocent people and violent injuries to innocent people?

On the gun control issue in general, the UK now has a much higher violent crime rate than the US, and it has long outlawed almost all gun ownership by the law-abiding citizen Although the gun crime rate in the UK is lower than in the US, there are indications that criminal elements are gaining access to guns there, and clearly, many other weapons can substitute for a gun, when no one has a gun to protect himself or herself from violence.

The Swiss, on the other hand, have almost universal gun ownership, and have a very low violent crime rate and very low gun crime rate. Some other countries have low gun ownership AND low violent crime and gun crime rates; and some other countries have low legal gun ownership and have high GUN-related violent crime rates – so there isn’t any clear, substantial relationship between gun ownership and high gun violent crime rates.

Other problems in societies are the causes of violent crime and, gun-related crime. The cause, per se, is not gun-ownership.

Responsible gun owners in the US, don’t want guns to be accessed by the mentally ill. On a regular basis, gun owners stand amongst people who have loaded guns while hunting, while sport shooting (targets, trap, skeet) and while practicing on gun ranges. Gun owners aren’t too interested in having an unstable person standing next to them with a loaded weapon. Most legal gun owners would prefer more effective background checks, with full cooperation of the Mental Health community. And, responsible gun owners have nothing to do with the illegal possession of guns by criminals. Responsible gun owners have nothing to do with the use of crime guns (only about 1% of guns in total) to kill adults and children in high crime areas.

Attacks on the 2nd Amendment right for responsible citizens to bear arms will not solve any of the problems of violent deaths in places like Aurora, Sandy Hook, or Chicago. Attacks on the right to bear arms will make many other violent crime problems worse in the US, and will weaken all of our Constitutional protections, as they weaken the 2nd part of the Bill of Rights – our rights. This will bode ill for all of our individual safety and security – people without the right to bear arms are subjects, not citizens.

Patrick June 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Here is the problem with this report…. They do not take into account the speed at which the number of households has grown…

(This is hypothetical) In one town in 2005 they reported that there were 1,000 households within the town limits, and only 100 people claimed to have had a firearm in the house. That puts the percentage of households with a firearm at 10%. Now we go back to that town 5 years later (2010) and they might report 5,000 households with 450 people claiming to have a firearm in the house. The percent of households with a firearm is now %9.. but the actual number of households with a firearm has gone up by 350 in five years…

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