According to FBI statistics there are 9,000 Gun Homicides per year (1999-2011) and in the U.S. there are approximately 80 million legal gun owners (a 100 percent accurate count is, at this time, impossible, but 80 million is the most common estimate.)
Now, let’s be silly and assume that each homicide was committed by one (1) corresponding gun owner. Meaning that: 9,000 legal gun owners killed 9,000 people. [NOTE: we know for a FACT that this is not true because 1) things like mass shootings and other incidents of more than 1 person killed by a single shooter and 2) only approximately 2% of homicides (180 out of the previously mentioned 9,000) are committed with legally owned firearms.]
So, if we make that assumption that equates to only .011% of legal gun owners being evil/bad/criminals etc.
However, a study done by Florida criminologist Gary Kleck found that guns are used by private citizens (not police/military/private security or other forms of law enforcement) up to 2.5 Million times per year to prevent crime and the vast majority of those cases never involved a shot being fired.
So, with 9,000 homicides per year by guns and 2.5 million crimes prevented, that means that guns in the hands of private citizens are 27,800% more likely to prevent a crime than to be used in a homicide. To give that a bit more context for every homicide committed with a fire arm, 278 crimes are prevented with one.
You see mass shootings like the Aurora, CO Movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary splashed over the news for weeks but you do not see the massive number of cases per year of situations where a home owner chases off a robber (or potentially worse). You also do not hear of cases where a private gun owner prevented or stopped (probable) mass shootings like the following:
Mass shootings (while tragic and horrible) are the anomaly, they make big splashes in headlines but are very rare. Guns being used to stop/prevent crime is far and away the majority.
Let me repeat myself: Gun homicide in general is not common, mass shootings are even rarer, and both mass shootings and homicides are almost never (statistically) committed by legal gun owners.
In fact, guns in the hands of private citizens are overwhelmingly a force for good.
We hear so much about “High Powered Assault Rifles”, but we have never seen any sort of logical definition for this phrase. It seems that it only applies to AR-15 style weapons, but what defines “High powered”?
The standard unit of measurement for a bullets “power” is Foot Pounds. This defines how hard a bullet impacts its target.
Facts:1) AR-15 rifles fire a .223 caliber bullet.
2) A .223 round impacts with approximately 1,124 foot pounds of pressure.
Let’s compare that “high powered” 1,124 to 5 of the most common rifle rounds in America:
.30-30 = 1,760 pounds
.308 = 2,648
.30-06 = 2,820
.300 Win Mag = 3,893
(Note: foot pound calculations are averages. You will find variances by manufacturer, bullet grain etc. Also, all of those rounds (except the .30-30) can be fired from semi auto rifles)
So with all five of the most common rifle rounds in America generating more force than the .223, how is the term “High Powered” being applied?
As for the guns/weapons that are actually used in homicides, here is the FBI breakdown for 1999-2011 (these are averages of per year totals with an average of 14,009 murders/year and an average of 9,289 committed with firearms.)
Handguns – 6,952 Murders
Misc weapons (arson, poison etc) – 1,968
Knives/cutting tools- 1,796
Unknown gun type – 1,477
Beating (hands/feet) – 865
Shotguns – 459
Rifles – 400
So here we see that out of all murders committed, rifles of any kind are used in less than 3 percent of murders. The FBI does not give a breakdown of the various sub groups of guns used (semi auto, revolver, bolt action etc…) so we cannot pin down the use of semi-automatic rifles.
However, given that they rank last on the list of murder weapons and account for less than 3 percent of murder, it is clear that they cannot even be laughably called a leading cause of death.
Although for a bit of a hint we can look at a 2000 study done by the ATF of the 10 guns used most often in crimes (not just murder).
The study shows not 1 rifle (semi auto or otherwise) on the list. They are all hand guns with the exception of the Mossberg shotgun.
Recently the AR-15 has become the flag ship for “assault weapons.” No one can tell how many “assault rifles” there are in America since the definition of “assault rifle” changes with the stroke of a pen. However, it seems most people can agree that the AR-15 is an “assault rifle” even though they do not know what an “assault rifle” is.
Using some rough numbers we can ball park the number of AR-15s in America at 3.5 million. If I may be indulged another silly example, let’s assume that AR-15s are the ONLY rifles being used in murders and are the ONLY “assault rifles” in America. That would mean .011 percent of them are being used in murders. (Please remember, the 3.5 million number is hard to substantiate. But we know the AR-15 is one of, if not the, most popular rifles in America. So as the 3.5 million numbers goes up, the .011 percent goes down)
So can we please start to hear some logical and fact based reasons for the hue and cry over “assault” weapons?
*All statistics for yearly homicide rates and weapon types were taken directly from table 20 of the FBI Uniform Crime reports
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