And the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council deliver.
Slate offers some insight into the results, and notes that the study does not line up perfectly with either the pro or anti gun agenda.
-UBC's would be effective.
-AWB/Magazine bans are ineffective and merely symbolic.
-Most gun crime is handgun crime.
-Suicide is a bigger problem them homicide RE: firearms.
-A lot of people actually do use firearms successfully in self defense each year.
-"Sandy Hook" isn't the problem "Chicago" is.
A review of the findings is in order:
1). We have a firearm violence rate about 20 times higher then other wealthy countries.
To put this in better perspective, we also lead the civilized world in crime in general. We have more poverty then other wealthy countries too. Blaming the gun is the easy way out. Why notblame our primary education system, especially our sorry state of inner city schools Which leaves generation after generation ill-prepared to compete in an increasingly skills-intensive labor market? Our increasingly widening gap between the have and have nots? Yes, we have a crime problem which dovetails nicely with our income and education problem, and as Democrats we have our work cut out for us because God knows, the other side clearly isn't any help.
2. Crime, including gun violence is getting better, not worse.
Slate and the underlying report make this clear:
“Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.” Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”In 2010, the CDC lists a total of 180,811 deaths, so about 1808 of those were unintentional firearms deaths. With 300 million or so firearms out there legally and illegally, this puts the realtively tiny number into better perspective.
3. Out of 300 million or so firearms, 100 million are handguns.
100 million are assorted rifles, and the rest are shotguns. there's not much to add here, we've all seen this figure thrown about.
4. Its the handguns, stupid!
Despite representing about 1/3rd of the total number of guns, handguns are responsible for 87% of of violent crimes and 72% of murder/manslaughter. As an aside, Time Magazine does a nice breakdown of the 10 firearms most used in crime:
1. Smith and Wesson .38 revolverOf those ten, number 5 on the list is the Mossberg 500, a widely popular and inexpensive pump shotgun. Number 2 on the list is the relatively expensive Ruger, clocking in at about 500 bucks. It's a popular carry gun, tiny, compact, with a 10 round magazine. Everything else on the list is either a cheap low-capacity semi-auto (6-10 rounds) or a small revolver.
2. Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic
3. Lorcin Engineering .380 semiautomatic
4. Raven Arms .25 semiautomatic
5. Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun
6. Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic
7. Smith and Wesson .357 revolver
8. Bryco Arms 9mm semiautomatic
9. Bryco Arms .380 semiautomatic
10. Davis Industries .380 semiautomatic
Where on the list of these weapons most likely to be used in a crime, is a weapon capable of using a high-capacity magazine? Thats right. nowhere. Criminals like cheap, easy-to-conceal firearms.
5. mass shootings aren't the problem.
“The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,” says the report. “Since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons.” Compare that with the 335,000 gun deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone.I really have nothing to add here. The 3-4 gang/drug-related shootings a day in cities like Chicago are the real killer. Want to save lives? End the war on drugs to both empty the prisons of nonviolent offenders and cut gangs down at the knees by eliminating their profit centers. This also makes more room in prisons for real criminals, like, murderers! Letting gang bangers with shooting charges plead down to misdomeanors and essentially walk back to their blocks is not helping Chicago.
6. Gun suicide kills more then homicide.
From 2000 to 2010, “firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States,” says the report. Firearm sales are often a warning: Two studies found that “a small but significant fraction of gun suicides are committed within days to weeks after the purchase of a handgun, and both also indicate that gun purchasers have an elevated risk of suicide for many years after the purchase of the gun.”This tells us what we already knew. Whats interesting though, is that a measurable amount of folks are taking their own lives shortly after buying a gun. Perhaps we need better mental health screening, or better ways to identify people buying a gun who have some intent to kill themselves?
Or maybe not? Is the right to end one's life at the time and manner of their own choosing something Democrats should be for or against?
7. Guns are used successfully in self defense more often then you'd think.
“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was 'used' by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”To add to the conjecture, the 3 million high-limit might have some merit. A lot of times, a firearm doesn't actually get discharged to stop a crime, as anecdotal stories you hear/read often point out. There's no FBI statistic for crimes not commited because a potential offender saw that their intended victim was armed, so it's atleast plausible, but really hard to be sure.
The more interesting aspect IMO is the part where defenders armed with a firearm constantly had a lower rate of injury, taking the wind right out of the old argument that having a gun made you more likely to be hurt/killed then not resisting, or resisting without a gun.
8. More people are buying firearms for self defense.
Considering that crime in general is in decline, why are more people arming up to defend themselves? Personally, I blame the media with it's 24hour news cycle and "if-it-bleeds-it-leads" sensationalism. Personally, none of the weapons I purchased were for self defense. All of them can be re-purposed for that if needed, as needed, but a full-sized 1911, while easy to carry all day without printing even in a pair of jeans and a polo shirt, is typically a bit big for what folks would choose as a dedicated carry pistol.
9. Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives.
“Two-thirds of homicides of ex- and current spouses were committed [with] firearms,” the report observes. “In locations where individuals under restraining orders to stay away from current or ex-partners are prohibited from access to firearms, female partner homicide is reduced by 7 percent.”No more perfect argument for UBC's (and a national foid card, like Illinois has) can be made, if you ask me.
10. It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers.
The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.” However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.So, the biggest retailers are selling the most merchandise. And the number of 'dirty' guns traced back to them is proportional to their share of the totals. Maybe it's not the dealer afterall? Maybe we need better background checks? Or an easier-to-use system? Maybe criminals will just be criminals? I dont' have any answers for this one.