Some Actual FACTS on Gun Violence

 

Gary Horton seems to have gone on a rampage recently against private gun ownership, as exemplified by his most recent column on the subject, which ran on 28 August and was entitled “Did America Want to Go This Far Out on Guns?” (Link)

Here’s a sample of his histrionics: “Over a decade, American has lost 360,000 people to gun deaths. By comparison, we’ve lost some 3,100 to terror attacks. Gun deaths are 116 times greater than terror-related deaths. That’s 11,600%!”

Well, it’s undeniable that so many deaths are tragic, but why don’t we take a look at another number, since we’re comparing different manners of people dying?

During that same period of time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 355,429 traffic accident fatalities (NHTSA Report), making them every bit as dangerous as those e-e-e-e-vil guns, again 116 times greater than terror-related deaths.

Well, what’s to be done about all this mayhem? In this particular column Horton doesn’t say, as it’s pretty much an orgy of hand-wringing. But judging from the totality of his columns on the topic I suppose he’d like to wave a magic wand and make all the privately-owned guns in the country vanish. The only thing standing in his way – other than the lack of that wand – is that pesky and “grossly contorted interpretation of a Second Amendment”.

But there is no Second Amendment equivalent when it comes to cars. Thus they can be regulated to any degree. So, if we want to save a boatload of lives, why don’t we mandate breathalyzer/ignition interlock devices on all cars, as well as speed governors that prevent them from going any faster than, say, 20 MPH? That would probably eliminate at least 90% of traffic fatalities since drunk driving is one major factor, and it’s pretty hard for an accident to be fatal at such low speeds. Maybe even eliminate private car ownership altogether, and mandate that everyone use public transportation! How about that? Everyone has to ride the bus!

We don’t do that because as a society we accept the fact that liberty – freedom of choice and action – sometimes has a cost in human life, a sad and harsh reality.

Horton also tries to peddle the clichéd trope that the Second Amendment only applies to “well-organized state militias”. I will very kindly label that statement as “misguided”. In fact US Code Title 10 § 246 defines the militia as having two components: the “organized militia”, which is the National Guard (Horton’s organized state militias); and the “unorganized militia”, which is all other law-abiding adults in the country who are, or who have applied to be, citizens. (US Code)

Of course, Horton indulges himself in the demonization of the semi-auto AR-15, the most popular rifle in this country, calling them “mass killing machines”. Interestingly enough, in Switzerland, members of their militia – which is all males of military age, as they have universal conscription – are allowed to keep their issued weapons at home, including full-auto guns. You’d think their streets should be awash in blood, wouldn’t you? But no…

I think there’s one more issue to address, and I think it’s pretty important. As I quoted him, Horton claims 360,000 gun deaths over a ten year period, so about 36,000 per year on average. However, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2017, the last year for which data are available (FBI UCR), there were 10,982 homicides in which firearms were used, and only 403 of those were with rifles of any kind. If you average out the number of gun homicides covered by the five years of that report you get 9,733 per year. Multiply that by 10 and you get 97,333 for ten years, a far cry from that 360,000 Horton so freely bandies about.

In 2017, rifles – of which the AR-15 type is a variant – were used 403 times, and averaged 316 times per year over the five years covered by the UCR, for a ten year averaged total of 3,160. That means that rifles of all kinds, NOT just AR-15s, were used in only three percent of gun-related homicides. Not exactly an epidemic, is it?

I have no idea where Horton got his 360,000 number, and frankly don’t care. No matter how you slice it, that number doesn’t represent gun use in homicides in this country, as the real data clearly show.

Horton’s column is a very clear illustration of the hyperbolic scare tactics used by those who’d deprive law-abiding people of their gun rights, full of blatant misrepresentations and over-the-top rhetoric and demagoguery.

Don’t fall for it.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Published 4 Sep 2019 on my blog and in The Signal)

 

 

Sometimes Crazy Is Just Crazy

In the wake of the recent horrific Las Vegas massacre the leftist anti-gun coven has kicked their hair-on-fire hysteria into overdrive. In the immortal words of former Obama chief-of-staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

Contrary to their hysterical assertions, gun violence and deaths are in fact at historical lows. For the last 30 years violent crime rates, including murder, have been decreasing at a rate in direct correlation to the easing of restrictive gun laws, particularly for concealed carry, in those jurisdictions that have enacted such policies. In contrast, where gun laws are the most restrictive, those jurisdictions suffer disproportionate violent crime rates, including murder. Chicago, DC, and many other urban areas illustrate that fact.

The actions of this madman are no different from those who have driven their cars into crowds and committed mass murder, including recently in Las Vegas, but I don’t see anyone talking about banning cars. Why is that? Cars are at least as “dangerous” as guns, with a higher death toll.

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question: it’s because we don’t discuss abridging the rights of the vast mass of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of some lone nut job…. EXCEPT when it comes to guns.

Is there an unfortunate price to be paid for people to enjoy those rights? Yes, sadly there is. But that’s unavoidable in a free society, and the only way to avoid it is to eliminate the freedoms themselves.

That’s an unacceptable price. If we’re not willing to do it with cars, why should we do so with guns? Just because leftists don’t use or like them?

But there’s an even more important underlying issue, too. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s there to assure that citizens have the ability to protect themselves if the government fails to do so, either by failing to respond in a crisis, or by trying to impose tyranny.

We saw this illustrated most vividly during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in 1992, when the Korean shop owners protected their businesses, and themselves, with their own weapons – including semi-automatic “assault rifles” – when the cops and National Guard refused to enter the area for several days. The Koreans were on their own, and if you’re stuck in what is essentially a war zone, you want to be able to bring the most firepower to bear that you can if you have to.

But the Founders’ ultimate purpose in the Second Amendment was to make sure that the citizens had the ability to prevent their own government from trying to impose tyranny, and the only way to do that was to make sure that said government couldn’t outgun them. Never forget that they’d just fought a successful revolt against their own previous legitimate government, and they weren’t foolish enough to think it couldn’t happen again, right here at home.

In order to realize that potential, it’s important that the citizens have the same firepower as the average grunt they could be facing across the firing line. And that’s not some scoped bolt-action hunting rifle.

The “militia” to which the Second Amendment refers is not the active duty military, what our Founders called the “standing army”, of which they were very leery. In fact, as defined under 10 U.S. Code Section 311 (Link) the “militia” is composed of the National Guard (as anti-gunners dutifully note) as well as the “unorganized militia” which is composed of all law-abiding people of military age “who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States” (which the anti-gunners always manage to conveniently forget). That’s all of us, folks: you, me, and Joe Sixpack.

The AR-15s used by the Vegas madman, contrary to the hoplophobes’ characterizations, aren’t “weapons of mass destruction” or any of the other hyperbolic descriptions. In fact, they’re no different from any other semi-automatic firearm, in that they only fire one round per trigger pull. Further, as they’re the most commonly-owned rifle in general circulation, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case of “D.C. v. Heller” assures their legitimacy.

Calling these guns a “full-on grade military arsenal”, as Gary Horton did earlier this week in his rant column against guns, is like calling Johnny Depp a real pirate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, if you ever found yourself on an actual battlefield and all you had was an AR-15, your life expectancy could be measured in minutes.

In Vegas, the killer used a “bump stock”, an after-market device that attaches to the rifle, to increase the rate of fire of his guns. Frankly, I’d never heard of this device before, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about guns. Whether or not this is an illegal modification of the guns is, I believe, a legitimate topic for discussion. But other than that, the jihad against AR-15s is a cynical exploitation of this tragic event to piecemeal advance the anti-gunners’ ultimate objective of trying to completely outlaw gun ownership in this country.

To that end, I want to acknowledge and thank Representative Steve Knight for his courage and conviction in standing firm for the rights of gun ownership. It’s thanks to people like him that we have any rights left at all.

The reality is that there isn’t any law at all that would have prevented that maniac from committing his insane act. None. We don’t know why he did it. We probably never will. I don’t think it matters. Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

He wanted to kill a bunch of people. He rented a hotel room and used guns. He could have rented a van and mowed them down. Timothy McVeigh rented a van and used fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadis bought airline tickets and hijacked jet aircraft.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(This column was published today in the print edition of my local newspaper, The Signal, as part of a pro/con debate on the issue of gun control in light of the Las Vegas massacre)