Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reality Check on "Gun Control", after the most recent mass shooting incident

This one is mostly for my anti-gun, pro-gun control, or otherwise gun ignorant (the three tend to be correlated) friends on facebook...

...And for anyone else who thinks that mass shootings are a good reason for gun control, or who are for "common sense gun laws" etc... etc...

Once more around the dance floor, for those who haven't been paying attention...

For those of you who have seen this before, let's do it one more time, so the others can catch up.


The navy yard murderer did not use an "assault weapon". He did not even use a handgun at first, he took two 9mm handguns off the guards he killed. He did not use an AR-15 of any kind.

He didn't even use a "semi-automatic weapon".

He used a standard 12ga pump shotgun.


The shotgun the murderer used is legal in every state, and is not subject to any kind of special regulation. The only way to make it illegal would be to make ALL guns illegal.


The murderer purchased the firearm legally, from a licensed dealer, and passed a background check

...Though given his history he likely shouldn't have been able to. Unfortunately that's because of problems between state agencies sharing information, and various bureaucratic and technical failures; not because "gun laws are too loose".


Murder is already illegal. People do it anyway.


Please describe for me if you will, what additional "common sense gun law" would have prevented the murders committed by this murderer?

Oh wait, you can't, because there ISN'T ONE.

Shotguns are used in only about 3.5% of all murders in the U.S.

Rifles of any kind, including so called "assault weapons" are used in only about 3% of murders.

Most of those rifles are still just standard hunting and target rifles. Less than 1% of all murders in the U.S. are committed using "assault weapons".
...Which by the way, are functionally no different than hunting or target rifles... in fact they are LESS powerful and and LESS deadly than common hunting and target rifles... they just LOOK different. They are NOT extra lethal special deadly killing machines for military use only... And they are especially NOT fully automatic weapons, aka machine guns.

They aren't even actually "assault rifles" which ARE machine guns, made for military use. The first one was actually used by the Nazis in world war 2, and Hitler invented the term "Sturmgewehr", which means "storm rifle" or "assault rifle". They're called "assault" rifles, because they're smaller, lighter, and less powerful than the"battle rifles" then commonly used by the military. 
"Assault weapon" isn't a real thing... It's a term made up by gun control advocates to get laws passed against guns they think look scary, and can easily lie to the public about, because people who are afraid of or don't know anything about guns, can be made to THINK they are machine guns.
All "assault weapons bans" do, is restrict access to newly manufactured (because you can't retroactively ban something there are millions of) standard civilian firearms, which LOOK like military weapons. This just makes them more expensive, it doesn't actually ban them.
Actually... I should expand that a bit... Because I've been using the term murder, when I should be using the term homicide. Homicide statistics include justifiable homicides like police shooting criminals, and self defense shootings.

Why is that relevant? Because almost all the homicides with "assault weapons" were actually self defense shootings, or police shootings.


Because that's mostly who own them and use them. Cops use them, and firearms enthusiasts use them. They're EXPENSIVE (I've paid $3500 for an AR-15 and the cheapest you can get them is around $800), heavy (8-12 pounds) and you can't easily conceal them (maybe, if you're a large man, under a trench coat). They attract attention. They are not commonly owned or used by criminals.

Taking that into account, less than 0.3% of actual murders were committed with "assault weapons".

Oh and by the by, those less than 0.3% of murders that WERE committed with "assault weapons"?

...Most of them were related to organized drug gang activity.

... and here's the kicker...

...Most of them were committed in places where they are already "banned".

The majority (not just the most common, actually more than 50%) of rifles used in murders by the way, are small .22s. Little target plinkers like they use at boyscout camp.

The most common handguns used in murders are also .22 actually.

.22 is universally recognized as just about the LEAST powerful, LEAST lethal commonly available chambering. It's what you use to teach kids how to shoot, or for shooting tin cans out back. It's illegal to use for hunting most animals in most states, because it's not powerful enough (it could hurt an animal without killing it).
Note: More than 90% of the people who are shot with .22s survive by the way. And more than 80% of all people who are shot survive. If you get shot, and aren't killed immediately (which only happens about 5% of the time), and make it to medical attention, you are nearly certain to survive. Guns, particularly handguns, are not nearly as lethal as most people believe. Severe knife wounds actually have a far worse survival rate.
Should we ban .22s?

I suppose it's relevant to ask, why are .22s used in so many murders?

Simple... because they're cheap, and there are a lot of them. There are more .22s made and sold each year, than all other firearms combined (and, like most firearms, they're durable. They last forever).

Most .22s, rifle or handgun, sell new for less than $400. Most .22 rifles for less than $300, some as cheap as $150. Used, most sell for less than $200, some as cheap as $50.

FBI research suggests that almost all firearms used in crimes were acquired for less than $500, the majority for less than $300. In fact, the only real trend or preference that criminal have in their firearms usage, is that they be cheap.

By the by... Glocks, and other "high capacity" handguns? Not actually all that popular with criminals... Because they're expensive. Very popular with cops, and self defense and firearms enthusiasts though. Also '90s rappers, which is how they got demonized in the first place... Remember, gun control is racist. 

Should we ban guns that cost less than $300... $500... less than $1000...

Sadly... that's actually been suggested as a serious proposal. Or that a licensing surcharge or tax be applied to otherwise effectively ban "cheap" guns. That's that they're talking about when they say "ban Saturday night specials" (which is also a racist term by the way).

Kitchen knives are used in more murders than either rifles or shotguns.

Should we ban kitchen knives?
Note: not scary "tactical" or "combat" knives, or double edged "daggers", or switchblades, or butterfly knives (all of which are also banned in some place)... Kitchen knives.
... and sadly that HAS been done already in some places. The UK has a ban on kitchen knives "without showing good reason" to have them, and many cities and states in the U.S. have extremely restrictive knife laws as well... Which, unsurprisingly, are also mostly racists leftovers from the 20s through 60s, as knives were seen as weapons of blacks, hispanics, and asians.
Baseball bats are used in more murders than either rifles or shotguns.

Should we ban baseball bats?

FISTS and FEET are, individually, used in more murders than rifles and shotguns combined.

So... should we ban fists and feet?

How about cars? More of them are used to deliberately murder people every year (about 300-400) than rifles or shotguns...

Oh and that's not even counting fatalities involving drunk driving, negligence etc... that were not charged as homicide. There are more drunk driving related fatalities (about 11,000 last year) than all murders with firearms (and accidental shootings and negligence by the way ARE counted in firearms statistics).

Should we ban cars?

There were about 15,000 homicides in the U.S. last year (including justifiable homicides like self defense, and police shootings by the way - about 1000 of them - , but excluding suicides. ). About 9,000 of them were committed using firearms (including 700 of the justifiable ones). 6,000 of them were committed with everything else.

Should we ban everything else?

Oh wait... right... MURDER IS ALREADY BANNED it doesn't matter what you use to commit it.

Now, to address the real agenda here...

The only way you could reduce "gun crime" (there is no such thing by the way. Crime is crime. Whether it's committed with a firearm or not) would be to ban, seize, and destroy all guns.

Note, I said REDUCE, not eliminate.

Guess what, even in countries where all firearms ownership by civilians is outright banned, and in some cases has been for 80 years... there is still a LOT of crime committed with guns.

The United Kingdom has had strict gun control since the 1920s, and an absolute ban on civilian ownership of semi-automatic centerfire rifles and handguns for about 30 years... And more crime committed with firearms, than all but the 10 highest crime cities in the United States (most of which by the way have very restrictive gun control).


You can not eliminate crime with guns, because you cannot eliminate crime; and criminals will seek out the most effective means to commit crimes.

Banning guns doesn't stop them from getting them... it doesn't even make it particularly difficult. Even banning, confiscating, and destroying all firearms in civilian hands doesn't stop criminals from committing crimes with guns (ask China for example, how well that worked).

More to the point, the more restrictive gun control got in American cities, and in the UK for that matter, the more crimes were committed with guns.

Gun control does not reduce crime, and it doesn't particularly reduce crime committed with firearms, it actually increases both.

If more guns meant more crime, than areas in the United States with high firearms ownership would have more crime than those with lower firearms ownership. Conversely, if less guns meant less crime, areas with lower gun ownership, would have lower crime than those with high gun ownership.

The reverse is true... to an absurd degree.

Even controlling for urban, suburban, and rural populations; areas with low lawful gun ownership are MUCH higher crime areas, and in particular have much more crime committed with firearms.

Dallas has far less "gun crime" than New York. Atlanta has far less "gun crime" than Chicago.

Actually... let's apply that to Europe while we're at it. Switzerland and Finland have nearly as much firearms ownership as the U.S. ... and far lower crime, and far lower crime committed with firearms, than the U.K.

In 2012, Switzerland and Finland both had about 6 times the rate of private firearms ownership as the U.K. (about 2/3 that of the U.S.). In 2012 Switzerland had about the same rate of murder with firearms as the U.K. and a much lower rate of other crimes committed with firearms. Finland had about HALF that.

Oh and neither Finland or Switzerland ban semi-automatic weapons or handguns, as the UK largely does. In fact, most adult males have military rifles, for use in their militia service.

France and Germany have far less restrictive gun control than the U.K., and far more civilian gun ownership... and they aren't islands... and they still have far less crime, and far less crime committed with guns.

In the United States itself, approximately 50% of all murders happen in cities or states which ALREADY HAVE STRICT GUN CONTROL including "assault weapons" bans.

Up until a few weeks ago, Chicago banned firearms almost entirely, and both Chicago, and the state of illinois, still have very strict gun control. There were more than 350 murders with guns in Chicago in 2011 (of the 435 total murders. 2012 data isn't available yet).

Washington DC, even after the supreme court forced them to rescind their near outright ban on firearms still has incredibly restrictive gun control. It is almost impossible to legally own a firearm in DC. There were 77 murders with guns in DC in 2011.

California has something like the second or third strictest gun control in the country... really you could say it's tied for top with Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Hey wait a second... Four of those five states are in the top 10 states for murders with guns (MA is the one exception. It's like 20th, but it's also a much smaller state than the others).

California alone, accounts for 14% of all murders with firearms.

Violent crime is a CULTURAL issue, not a gun issue. America has ALWAYS been more violent (outside of wartime) than Europe, because by the late 18th century Europe had become culturally far less violent (for many complex reasons).

Violent crime in America however was far lower prior to the 1920s (yes, including the "wild west", which actually wasn't very wild. There really wasn't that much violent crime, particularly not many murders with firearms) than today. Violent crime in the United States started rising significantly during the depression, then spiked dramatically in the mid 60's peaking in the early 90s; and has fallen significantly since then.

This does not correlate with gun control. In fact, there was NO national, and almost no state gun control before 1934 (and on the state level what the was, was largely racist in nature, trying to keep blacks, hispanics, and asians disarmed). From 1934 to 1968 gun control was minimal.

It was only in 1968, in the wake of widespread race riots, and several high profile assassinations (Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and others) that the first true national gun control law was passed; and the majority of state gun control laws were passed after that.

Funny thing... violent crime rose FASTER after the implementation of gun control, both on the state and national level.

Plus, guess what... that surge of gun control? It was largely racist as well. It was mostly motivated by the desire to keep guns from the hands of "radicals" and "undesirables"... Basically blacks and hispanics.

The societal disruptions of the 1960s made a lot of old white men think that there was the possibility of a counterculture and drug fueled racial revolution in the U.S. and wanted to make sure that it was mostly old white men who had the guns.

Since 1993 violent crime in the U.S. has trended dramatically downward. You know what hasn't? Gun ownership. It's trended dramatically upward. More people own more guns in this country than at any time in our history.

Oh and a huge number of those guns, particularly a huge number of the guns new since 1993 are scary black guns with "high capacity magazines" like Glocks, and "assault weapons" like AR15s.

Magazine capacity, and "assault weapons" have nothing to do with violent crime.

Violent crime in the United States, rose in line with the rise of drug abuse, and single parent households in urban poverty in the United States, particularly those in urban poverty.

It spiked in the late 80s and early 90s, because of large scale organized drug trafficking and its associated urban violence (as it spiked somewhat in the late1920s and early 30s with prohibition); and because of the general collapse of the black family in urban America (prior to the 1960s, blacks in America had a lower divorce rate, and a lower rate of illegitimacy than whites. It's now approximately double that of whites).

The prevalence of lawful gun ownership in a society is NOT positively correlated to the prevalence of crime committed with firearms; in fact it is the opposite. More guns means less crime.

But let's ignore all that... Guns are bad m'kay...

However, even if, against all evidence, science, and common sense, you STILL think that guns should be banned... How would you do it?

Even if you managed to ban all firearms, how would you enforce the ban?

It is completely impossible to ban firearms in the United States

There are reportedly 350 million firearms in the U.S. according to FBI estimates. Actually the number is likely far higher... I'd guess it may be double that. Guns are durable. I personally own and shoot guns that are over 100 years old, and which are just as good today as they were when they were first manufactured. If they're properly stored, or properly maintained, guns don't "go bad", or even wear out.

...And we make and sell somewhere between 10 and 20 million guns a year, EVERY YEAR, in the U.S. (the number varies significantly year to year).

You could not possibly seize and destroy them all, or even a significant percentage of them. And if you tried, you'd end up with a lot of dead cops, and possibly a populace, and a military, in revolt against the government.

... and even if "successful" you wouldn't get most of the guns, because people would just hide them.

... and it wouldn't be allowed anyway, because it's against the constitution; and the supreme court has recently reaffirmed this several times.

They can't even effectively ban guns in the UK or Japan which have had strict gun control for many years, AND ARE ISLANDS.

Japan has even stricter gun control than the UK (there is almost no civilian firearms ownership in Japan - about 400,000 guns total, including police firearms, for a population of 130 million -  and what there is is mostly single shot target firearms, and hunting shotguns), and again IS AN ISLAND. An island with very strict customs and immigration enforcement and which doesn't have a tunnel or ferries to a mainland with less restrictive gun laws. Criminals still have little difficulty getting guns (police seize about 2000 guns a year from criminals).
A note on Japan: Japan is often touted as an example of the efficacy of gun control. It's not. Though they have much less crime committed with guns, they also just have much less crime. In fact, the lowest crime rate, and in particular the lowest violent crime and murder rates, of any major nation in the industrialized world. This mostly has to do with them having a wealthy, highly educated, homogeneous, and stable society with a very high societal trust and cohesion, and a very strong sense of cultural propriety and conformity; along with very low rates of drug abuse, poverty, and illegitimacy. Not with guns.

Japan still has murders of course. In 2012 there were officially 506 murders in Japan (it is widely known that Japans official crime statistics are deliberately misreported, and are in fact much higher than officially acknowledged - it's estimated that there are likely two to three times as many murders as officially reported for example- ; but they're still very low in comparison to most of the world), about 20 of which were committed with firearms (the official numbers haven't been released and media accounts vary). Effectively banning guns didn't stop the other 462 murders... they just used knives, swords, poison, fists, and feet.
They still have mass murder, and mass school murders too. In 2001 a murderer in Osaka. killed 8 students and teachers, and injured 15 more, with a kitchen knife. 
Oh and none... not one... of those 2012 murders was committed with a lawfully owned firearm.
It would take a constitutional amendment to ban guns. That would require a two thirds majority in the house and the senate, and then ratification by 38 of the 50 states.

That's NEVER going to happen (note for my hysterical conspiracy theorist right wing friends too).

You cannot ban guns in this country. It is not legally, or practically, possible.

The problem isn't guns, even scary "assault weapons"... it's people.

There are bad people, who do bad things. Sometimes even good people do bad things. They will do that whether they have guns or not.

And yes, we should do what we can to keep bad people from doing bad things, and to try to keep firearms out of bad peoples hands.

Gun control doesn't do that.

The only thing gun control does, is make sure that the law abiding are disarmed, making them easier targets for those who don't give a damn about the law.