You or someone you know may see guns as deadly killing machines that are simply to blame for a large volume of homicides across the nation, but a brief look at the history of gun control actually offers a new perspective into the application of guns on an entirely new level. While normalcy bias (a thinking pattern that causes an individual to underestimate the potential of any event or situation due to currently enjoying a normal and cushy lifestyle) can oftentimes lead individuals away from the reality of history, countless citizens around the world have been highlighting the repetitive history that follows gun control.
In this breakdown, we will be examining a lot of numbers and extracting them to get some real answers. Then, we’ll see the source of these numbers and whether or not gun control regulations are reducing or increasing overall crime rates in heavily controlled areas.
The first thing to touch upon, and perhaps most relevant to our modern society, is how deadly firearms really are. First of all, let us examine the factors that are responsible for deaths within the United States. This will put death counts into perspective and allow us to go deeper into the firearm-related deaths themselves later. Examining data from the CDC for the leading causes of death and including death statistics from the FBI regarding homicides, we find the following numbers:
Leading US Killers
- Annual deaths from heart disease based on CDC data: 597,689
- Cancer deaths from CDC data: 574,743
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases (CDC): 138,080
- Stroke deaths (CDC): 129,476
- Deaths from accidents, unintentional injuries (CDC): 120,859
- Alzheimer’s disease deaths per year (CDC): 83,494
- Diabetes (CDC): 69,071
- Influenza deaths each year (CDC): 50,097
- Suicide deaths (CDC): 38,364
- Overall weapons deaths (2009 FBI): 13,636
- Overall firearm deaths (2009 FBI): 9,146
So there we have the overall death data that comes compiled from the CDC website mixed with the FBI website table that goes as far as 2009. As you can see, the overall firearm deaths are 9,000 per year. If you’ve been following some of the mainstream media rhetoric surrounding guns, you might have thought the number would be at least over 100,000 — perhaps even higher than diabetes or suicide. The reality is that it is quite low overall, despite what you may have been told. But it’s still 9,146, so let’s now break down this figure to get the specific factors.
Of the 9,146 firearm deaths:
- 6,452 were from hanguns
- 348 from rifles
- 418 from shotguns
- 94 from other guns
- 1,834 from unknown guns
This is where the numbers cut through even more false information sent forth by the mainstream media. Rifles have been demonized as powerful tools of homicide that are to blame for a large number of yearly deaths, but as it turns out only 348 per year are actually killed using rifles. Now of that number we must ask “how many are using legal weapons and non-gang related?” And furthermore, how many of these murders occur in ‘gun free’ cities? We’ll get to what we know on that shortly.
First, I want to utilize some further statistics from the overall weapons deaths provided by the FBI for 2009. The number, which totals 13,636, also breaks down into several components that will likely be highly shocking when compared to the broken down gun data. Especially when considering that the apparent ‘epidemic’ levels of rifle deaths actually don’t even compare to stabbings, blunt objects like hammers, or even bare hands and feet.
Knives, Hammers, Hands Kill More than Rifles & Shotguns
These FBI statistics really deflate the argument that rifles are ultimate killing machines when you look at how human hands are actually much more dangerous in terms of the sheer numbers. In fact, the digits really deflate the entire movement to ban rifles by realizing that by the same logic bats, hammers, knives, and even hands should therefore be heavily regulated. Going by the numbers alone, all hands should be considered lethal weapons. Of course we know that all hands are not used to kill innocents, just as all guns are not used to kill innocents.
Let’s take a look at the FBI data for the homicides committed via non-firearm sources to get an idea of how it compares to the death toll of key firearms like rifles and shotguns:
- Knives and cutting tools accounted for 1,825 deaths in 2009, 1,477 more than rifles
- Clubs, hammers, and other blunt objects totaled 611 in 2009, 263 more than rifles
- Hands, fists, and feet killed 801 in 2009, 453 more than rifles
At this point one must ask why banning clubs, hammers, and knives is any different than gun control. Beyond that, it would actually be statistically more reasonable when considering the death toll. Even hands and feet would be considered lethal weapons that would require regulation when examining the 801 death count each year. Instead of enacting extreme legislation to regulate these items, however, we generally discount them as irregular incidents that are more to be blamed on the wielder rather than the item itself.
A hammer is usually seen as a tool used in construction, home improvement, or other constructive tasks. A knife is seen mainly as a kitchen instrument. A gun, on the other hand, is oftentimes portrayed as a weapon of non-defense murder as a opposed to a weapon used in the defense of self, family, and innocents. Notice that both purposes are utilized with all of these ‘tools’, it is simply in the perception of what they are that changes. The perception that is created through hysterical mainstream media reports that highlight isolated cases of mass shootings and other events.
Many such shootings are also occurring in ‘gun-free’ areas or strict gun control regions, where access to a gun is supposed to be extremely challenging or impossible. Nevertheless, law abiding citizens are the ones affected while unscrupulous shooters and criminals can access illegal guns with ease.
The Reality Behind ‘Gun Free Zones’ and Gun Bans
Yet another example of rhetoric verses reality, gun free zones and city-wide gun bans actually do not deflate violent crime as you will see below. Notice that below we are examining the statistics, not the emotional ties or opinions relating to gun control. The media uses shooting sprees to prop up the concept that gun bans and gun free zones will somehow stop a deranged killer who has zero regard for the law, when in reality we know this is not a real solution.
Painted signs reading ‘gun free zone’ and gun control legislation that really only affects law-abiding citizens does not prevent mass shootings, as we have seen evidenced by more than one shooting incident. Both the Aurora shooting at the Colorado movie theater dubbed the ‘Batman shooting’ and the most recent Sandy Hook incident in Connecticut both occurred in areas with heavy gun regulation. Amazingly, the Batman shooter actually traveled to the one movie theater in the area that actually did not permit lawful citizens to carry a concealed weapon. According to Dr. John R. Lott in an interview with Newsmax,
“…the one he picked was the only one of those movie theaters that banned people taking permit-concealed handguns into that theater.”
In both of these incidents law-abiding citizens were not properly armed to protect themselves against a criminal with a gun, and law enforcement (which actually is being shorted on ammunition and weapons themselves due to heavy demand among looming gun bans) can only respond so quickly.
Perhaps one of the most saddening examples of a gun free zone turned bloody, however, is the Fort Hood massacre. Covered extensively years ago, Islamic extremist Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 12 United States soldiers, 1 Army civilian employee, and wounded around 30-38 others in a ‘gun free zone’. This was, of course, inside a United States military base — where guns are not allowed to be carried by soldiers. These soldiers, who could at any instant be shipped off to another nation to wage war against other troops with automatic weapons, tanks, and aircraft, were gunned down by a single lunatic amid a failed unarmed defense.
More soldiers would have died if it were not for an armed security guard.
But what about the overall national implications of gun free zones and heavily regulated areas? Also what about the international implications, as some countries have installed large scale gun bans that are similar to many US cities on a grand scale. Well, first it’s important for us to establish the general trend of US crime to begin with. This includes the overall number of violent crime offenses that we can observe using violent crime data supplied by the FBI statistics available on the FBI website.
Let us take a look at the graph below which shows the general trend of overall violent crime offense figures from 2007 to 2011 (the years in which such stats are available):
What these stats tell us is that violent crime has been in rapid decline over the past several years by a considerable amount. In other words, despite much of a fuss being made over the apparent necessity to ban guns due to violent crime, the statistics show that it has actually been on the massive decline.
Now in order to compare this to the resulting crime stats that follow the implementation of gun control laws, we need to examine a chart that demonstrates this relationship. For this, we turn to the Department of Justice (Justice.gov), which offers a graph containing figures that help us to understand the link between gun ownership and crime stat fluctuations. As you can see from the chart below, the increased amount of gun ownership throughout the years (which has been quite dramatic) is known to lead to a sharp decline in violent crime (as can be seen between 1995 and 2003):
The DOJ chart, as you can see for yourself, spans 40 years and shows that violent crime has plummeted as the number of guns in the United States per 1,000 citizens has gone up exponentially. It would seem quite the opposite would be true if guns were truly dangerous in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
We can even narrow down this area further by examining areas in which gun bans have gone into effect and taking a look at the results. We have established that firearm homicides are much lower than many think, that more guns actually statistically suggests less crime, and now it is time to figure out where the concentration of many gun murders are and why. This is how we take a real approach to the issue and determining a solution.
Chicago is a perfect example of a city that has enacted a ban on all handguns with the minor exception of those who had previous gun registrations before that time. Going into law in 1982, we can see how Chicago’s murder rate spun out of control following the extreme regulations, while the rest of the United States (as we documented in the previous graph) saw a decline in murder rates as guns surged:
Following the handgun ban in Chicago, crime increased by 40%. This trend continued for decades, with police revealing that 96% of firearm murders in Chicago were actually committed by handguns. Handguns, of course, had been banned for decades. As it turns out, criminals were getting a hold of firearms with intent to commit crime while normal citizens were not able to carry a firearm to defend themselves. The criminal, in this scenario, has a distinct advantage as they know that their law-abiding targets cannot carry a weapon in self defense.
Below you can also see very similar statistics in Washington, D.C. following an extreme gun ban and a severe change following the 2008 ruling that the control measures were not Constitutional. During the ban, the murder rate in D.C. was 73% higher than it was at the outset of the law. Notice the comparison to overall United States statistics:
We also find that the allowance of legal citizens to carry concealed more freely reduces crime and coincides with the nationwide trends. In Texas we see a statistical change with the enactment of the right-to-carry law, which allows individuals who are 21 years of age (18 for active duty military), have a clean mental health record, and have completed the required training courses, to carry concealed. Since the beginning of this law, which is clearly marked on the graph below, crime fell 30% in Texas and the United States murder rate averaged 28% lower overall:
Another example of this can be found when looking in-depth at Britain’s crime stats. It’s important that we look into the violent crime rates with the understanding that it is nearly impossible for a legal citizen in Britain to obtain a gun. When comparing the violent crime rates in the United Kingdom, we find that it’s not only higher per capita than the United States (which again has declined amid growing gun numbers), but it in fact is actually the highest when it comes to first world wealthy nations — outside of Australia, where similar legislation was passed.
The famous Dunblane school massacre that triggered sweeping confiscation can also be factored into these statistics. Following the shooting at the school, not much unlike Sandy Hook, law-abiding citizens turned in their guns. The result, of course, was that crime virtually doubled throughout the following decade. Wall Street Journal even reported:
“Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres.”
Once again here we also see that since non-criminal citizens cannot carry a weapon to defend themselves, criminals are aware that they are defenseless. As a result, we see a startling number of knife deaths that have bumped the risk of stabbing up to being twice as likely in the UK verses the US.
The pattern we see here is that gun confiscations, city-wide gun bans, and ‘gun-free’ zones are actually magnets for violent crime — the very opposite of what many individuals are saying right now in the media. We’ve examined the statistics and the research, however, and the answer is quite clear.
But I will take it a step further. We know that cities with gun bans ultimately find an increase in crime and are to blame for a lot of the death figures, but let’s also take a look at the self defense numbers that surround firearms. After all, it’s important to know how many of the homicide numbers are as a result of self defense, which is a perfectly legal and moral action.
Firearms and Self Defense
When citizens are armed with firearms and criminals are aware of this fact, we see some amazing things happen with the statistics. First, let’s see how prevalent self defense using firearms is within the United States. To do this, we can cite a number of sources ranging from the United States Department of Defense to the Journal of Quantitative Criminology.
Taking a look back to a 1993 survey establishes a basic foundation to build upon. This was a survey involving 4,977 different households and gives us a general understanding of how frequently firearms are used in a defense situation severe enough to which individuals stated that if they had not used the firearm, they reported that they or someone else in the home would have certainly be killed. So in other words, the firearm saved the lives of one or more individuals from a hostile criminal. This excluded military, police, and security guards.
Applying the results of the 1993 survey to the United States population, we find that around 162,000 people are saved per year using a firearm. To put that into perspective, that’s 152,854 more people saved per year than killed — and that’s not discriminating against the 9,146 death toll that includes many self defense cases and so on.
But what about a potentially life threatening scenario diffused by a firearm? Based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, United States citizens defend against these situations an astounding 989,883 times per year. As these situations are diffused before they become lethal, there’s no telling how many would have resulted in homicides on behalf of the criminal. Even if it were a fraction, it would still be hundreds of thousands more lives saved than lost each year.
But there’s more, so let’s break it down:
- Criminals with ill intent and potential homicidal incentives are fended off by firearms around 498,000 times per year.
- A major survey of felons imprisoned across the United States found that 34% of the inmates had been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim at least once. An even greater 40% actually did not commit a crime due to the fear that the victim was carrying a gun, thus showing how an armed public actually stops crime.
- The United States Centers for Disease Control has found that firearms prevent home break-ins over 490,000 times per year.
Hundreds of thousands of serious crimes are prevented each year through the use and possession of a firearm, far more than they create in yearly homicides — many of which are in defense or centered in ‘gun-free’ zones through illegal use.
It is for this reason that throughout history those who wish to do harm have feared guns and the ability of firearms to prevent crime, excess power, and even takeover. The reality is that a well-armed populace of law-abiding citizens has a very great defense against criminals, gangs, and those who wish to do harm to the citizen base. An unarmed public, on the other hand, can do virtually nothing to defend themselves.
The major push within the media to unleash extreme gun control legislation across the nation needs to be met with evidence from all sides of the spectrum. A large amount of information examined within this brief history of gun control statistics will be new to more than 90 percent of readers, which is concerning when considering the importance of sharing both sides of the argument in order for citizens to make their own informed opinions.
Ultimately, it comes down to securing the rights provided by the Second Amendment of the Constitution which allow for an armed populace in order for protection against all who wish to do harm. Currently, this right is being challenged on a daily basis through using emotional directive and opinion. We must focus the debate on not only data and reality, but also the fact that the Constitution is not to be altered and remains the law of the land.
You can view an infographic (information meets graphic) image I created which breaks down many of these facts to be shared below: