Isaiah Minter | United States
As millions of Americans across the country prepare for the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th, I expect the event to be little more than mass virtue signaling masquerading as youth activism. The truth is, millions of individuals carrying colorful signs and slandering those who agree with them does not make gun control good policy. Rather, it shows the foundation of gun control argumentation: emotion. Not facts, but feelings. And when discussing an issue as serious as the safety of our children, this approach does absolutely more harm than good.
If we are serious about improving the safety of our children and reducing gun violence, it is imperative that we pursue truth and evidence, not emotions and foolishness.
Therefore, I hope that this piece, in addressing common myths on the matter, functions as a resource for all Americans to understand the good intentions behind gun control are no substitute for its inability to yield positive results.
All in all, the American people have a right to facts. So here they are.
No, there have not been 18 school shootings this year.
When we think of school shootings, we usually think of students and teachers being killed by a shooter. We picture Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland, not a simple firearm being discharged on school grounds. By rejecting the sensationalized media view of the definition of school shooting, this statistic clearly is fake news.
America does not have a mass shooting problem.
Despite all the media hysteria, America isn’t even in the top ten of countries with the greatest frequency of mass public shootings and the annual death rate from them.
From 2009 to 2015, there were roughly 25% more per capita casualties from mass public shootings throughout Europe than the US.
Moreover, one study done in early 2017 found that all of the worst public mass shootings since 1970 have occurred outside the US. Of the worst 44, 40 have occurred outside the US and of the worst 67, 59 have occurred outside the US. Looking at the US specifically, from 1982 to early 2018 there were 98 mass shootings that resulted in 816 total deaths, or 23 deaths a year. While there has been a slight uptake in the frequency of mass public shootings, mass shootings account for just 12% of mass killings, which account for less than 1% of annual homicides.
Even when looking at homicide rates between US states and the rest of the world, America is not a haven of unimaginable violence.
In comparison to the rest of the world, the US does not stand out. There are clearly some state outliers, mainly Washington D.C., but keep in mind that the nation’s capital has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
We can all agree that homicides and mass public shootings are tragic, but the notion that a country ranked 28th in international homicide has a gun crime epidemic that can only be solved by swift gun confiscation is clearly false.
More guns do not equal more crime.
Because guns are killing machines, more guns mean more crime. Unfortunately, the claim runs contrary to the evidence.
The plain fact is, gun crime, and violent crime, in general, has been falling for decades in America despite increases in gun ownership of roughly 10 million per year. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics:
“U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.”
Even if we compare rates of gun ownership and homicide state by state, the claim is not supported by data. Moreover, with respect to homicide and firearm ownership rates outside the US, a positive correlation remains to be seen.
In the event that a country, we’ll call it Nation A, has a high gun ownership rate and a high level of crime, it does not logically follow the high level of crime must, or even can, be explained by the high level of gun ownership. It may even be the case that the level of high crime exists in spite of the high level of gun ownership.
For instance, the nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate three times that of the nine European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. It may very well be the case that firearm ownership explains very little of the disparity in murder between the two groups.
In any event, because crime is influenced by many factors independent of firearm ownership levels, the gun control side remains unfazed by hard evidence. For if they had any concern for the evidence, they would find that gun control has saved more egos in the last month than it has human lives in the last century.
Guns save lives.
As gun control pundits lament over the lives taken by guns, they ignore the massive disparity between the lives taken by firearms and the lives saved by them.
In 2016, some 16,459 murders were committed, with roughly 11,961 of them committed by firearms. Now, based on a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, US citizens use guns in defense over 989,883 times a year.
If in one year, 11,961 people were killed by guns – we’ll round up to 12,000 – and 989,883 people had their lives saved by guns – we’ll round up to 990,000 – that means each year in the United States firearms are used to save lives at least 80 times more often than they are used to take them.
The CDC offers a lower figure, finding that Americans use guns in defense of the home roughly 500,000 times a year.
Ultimately, estimates of defensive gun usage range from 500,000 cases a year to 3 million. In any case, guns are used significantly more often to defend a life than to take one.
Years after Columbine, the state of Colorado passed the 2003 Concealed Carry Act, allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms. According to the CATO Institute, this law helped halt a massacre in December 2007 when an attacker who opened fire in the New Life Mega Church was shot by a volunteer security guard with a concealed handgun.
Elsewhere, three school shootings were thwarted by adults with firearms. In 2015, a 62-year-old man who had fired at several people was shot and wounded by an armed civilian. In the same year, an Uber driver shot a gunman who had opened fire in Logan Square. On the whole, armed citizens kill roughly twice as many criminals as police do, but one would never know this from the media.
The NRA does not bribe politicians.
When it comes to campaign contributions and lobbying, the NRA is not that influential. In 2012, the top 20 lobbying spenders were as follows:
- US Chamber of Commerce: $136,300,000
- National Assn of Realtors: $41,464,580
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $22,569,532
- American Hospital Assn: $20,123,200
- Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America: $19,260,000
- General Electric: $18,970,000
- National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: $18,890,000
- Google Inc: $18,220,000
- Northrop Grumman: $17,540,000
- AT&T Inc: $17,460,000
- American Medical Assn: $16,505,000
- Boeing Co: $15,640,000
- Southern Co: $15,580,000
- Lockheed Martin: $15,347,350
- Verizon Communications: $15,020,000
- Comcast Corp: $14,750,000
- National Assn of Broadcasters: $14,510,000
- Royal Dutch Shell: $14,480,000
- United Technologies: $14,454,750
- Business Roundtable: $13,890,000
*The NRA spent $2,980,000 in comparison*
The truth is, the NRA is not some sort of lobbying terrorist organization. In 2016, the organization spent just $1.1 million, ranking them 488th in campaign contributions for groups spending more than $1 million. In the same election cycle, the Republican party spent $638 million, or 580 times what the NRA contributed.
Since 2000, the NRA has spent $203 million in campaign contributions. While it is true they do give a lot of money to politicians, the NRA exerts more pressure on the political process by motivating their base, sending voter guides to their members in support of favored candidates. Moreover, they spend more money on independent expenditures than campaign contributions.
Contrary to what the media is pedaling, the gun lobby is not a greedy organization that condones the senseless murder of children. Rather, it is a genuine grass root group in Washington composed of millions of law-abiding citizens that value gun rights.
Me funding you because you support a position – what the NRA does – is not the same as me paying you to support a position. The latter is bribery.
International gun control did not work.
Britain, Australia, Mexico, all the international cases of gun control that liberal pundits love to use are not as successful as they are made out to be.
In Australia, the firearm homicide rate was declining years before the gun buyback program in 1996. In the 7-years before and after the buyback, the homicide rate declined at the same rate. 3 years after the gun ban, armed robberies and firearm-related murders had increased by 69% and 19% respectively. Additionally, a decade-long study concluded that the gun measures taken by Australia had no effect on crime rates.
In 2000, 3 years after the gun ban in Britain, crime rates had drastically increased: sexual assault by 112%, assault by 130%, and armed robbery by 170%. Half of the areas with the lowest number of legal firearms had a gun crime rate above average, compared to just 10% of the areas with the highest number of legal firearms.
Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and yet in 2012, the country’s gun homicide rate per 100,000 people was over three times higher than the US. All of this comes in spite of the fact that Mexico has one legal gun store, compared to nearly 65,000 n the US.
Gun crime was declining in Australia before the gun buyback; crime in Britain has risen since the ban, and Mexico remains a country stricken by violence despite the gun control.
American gun control did not work.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban didn’t lower crime. California’s strict gun-control laws failed to prevent San Bernardino. Connecticut gun control legislation since Sandy Hook has proved ineffective. Gun control failed in Chicago, it failed in Washington D.C., The Orlando nightclub Pulse was a gun free zone, as were Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.
For all the talk on the dire need for tighter gun laws, more signs and tears are offered than cases of hard evidence supporting gun control. And the reason why is clear: American gun control did not do what it was intended to do.
Image Source Matt Baldry