Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Drop in gun violence

The following is from MSNBC:

Gun violence in America has fallen dramatically over the past two decades, and the number of murders committed with a firearm is down too, though guns are still by far the leading type of crime weapon, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

As for where crime guns came from, the study notes that less than two percent of convicted inmates reported buying their weapons at gun shows or flea markets. The highest number, 40 percent, said the guns came from a family member or a friend. About 37 percent said the weapons were stolen or obtained from an illegal source. The rest say the guns were bought at a retail store or pawn shop.

Murders committed with a gun dropped 39 percent to 11,101 in 2011, from a high of 18,253 in 1993, according to the report.

Other crimes committed with guns were down even more sharply — from 1.53 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011, a drop of 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Around 70 percent of murders were committed with a firearm, and of those, the vast majority involved a handgun -- fluctuating between 70-80 percent.

My comments and questions:

Let it be known, this is not new. This is a trend that has gained momentum, and I believe I have written about it, although maybe not on this blog.

Why the hysteria about guns, particularly "assault weapons" in light of this information? Why is the drop in crime, the drop in gun crime in particular, not the subject of some political congratulating? Well, for one thing, it seems that the political stuff hasn't had much effect.

Note that nearly 80% of the guns used were stolen, illegally gotten or came from family/friends. None of the new laws proposed even begin to address those sources. The excitement has been on how many cartridges can go in a magazine (or, as the anti-gun folks say, bullets and clips). This is particularly ridiculous, the "appearance" of a gun.

The appearance of a gun makes no difference--it can look either cute, mean or cool, but if it can fire a round, it is dangerous. The "assault weapon" thing reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about the way weapons work--adjust the sear on any semi-automatic weapon and you make it fully automatic.

One of the first things I learned in gun safety when I was about 12 years old was that every gun is dangerous. Another phrase: the most dangerous gun is the "unloaded" gun. The first thing any of us in our family do when we handle a gun is to open the action, check to see that it is not loaded. Even if someone else just did it. Then never point at anything we don't intend to kill.

I will repeat myself. I have told this story many times. A guy notices a person, obviously drunk, on his hands and knees under a street light appearing to be looking for something. "Can I help?" "Sure," slurred the drunk, "I lost my contact lens." "About where did it drop?" "Over there," the drunk waves off in the distance. "Well, why are you looking here?" "Cause the light's better."

How often we all look where the light is better. We need to encourage real researchers doing real science to keep trying to figure out the causes and prevention of "random mass shootings," the only category of violent crime that has increased. Why? What can be done.

Why don't our politicians and the Hollywood types concern themselves with facts? Just publicity, group think and hysteria? Why do they only look where the light is better? Probably because the real issues are too difficult. Don't wave a fact or real issue in front of Diane Feinstein. The amount of time, effort and money spent on anti-gun campaigns is the real crime.

Again today, 90 million legal gun owners didn't kill anyone. Maybe legal gun ownership isn't the problem. By the way, did this story make it to the papers and "news" sources that put a lot of ink out on anti-gun stuff?


  1. It would be nice to know why gun violence has decreased, along with violence in general I believe. But we don't have a clue, in part because the NRA used its political influence in the mid-1990s to halt serious research into gun violence by the CDC that was started in the 1980s. If we actually understood the reasons, we would have an idea of what programs to follow that would reduce violence even further. You say, and I agree, that we need to encourage real researchers doing real science, etc. Well, we were doing so until 1996, and the reason we stopped is no mystery.

    If 40 (or 80 or whatever) percent of guns used in crimes come from family or friends, why does the gun lobby so strenuously fight the simplest background checks or tracking system? One of the reasons the most recent bill was killed in congress was because opponents said it would restrict the movement of guns between family members. Whether it would have actually done so, I don't know, but the very idea that it might was enough. Why does the gun lobby resist the tracking of guns? Why isn't the original family member who purchased the gun liable for its use in a crime by a family member? Do you think the NRA would support that amount of accountability?

    Instead of complaining about proposed legislation, why doesn't the NRA and its ilk help write something better? You and I both know it is because the those groups will accept no regulations at all.

    Obviously legal gun owners are not the major problem. But even legal owners should have to meet certain minimum requirements, one would think. Right now a legal gun owner can give his gun to anyone he wants, legally, and not be held responsible if the gun is then used in a crime. But, guess what, he's still a legal gun owner.

    Should we do away with stop signs because people who are determined not to obey them are going to do as they please anyway, and legal drivers will stop without being told to?

    Oh, and every time you mention Diane Feinstein, I'll drop the name Wayne LaPierre. So there.

  2. Yep, you're right.

    Just wonder why the drop in gun violence isn't "news." And why Chicago, with the strictest gun laws in the nation, is home to the greatest gun murder rate. Puzzling.