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May 30, 2013
Disarming Realities: As Gun Sales Soar, Gun Crimes Plummet
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
A couple of new studies reveal the gun-control hypesters’ worst nightmare…more people are buying firearms, while firearm-related homicides and suicides are steadily diminishing. What crackpots came up with these conclusions? One set of statistics was compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other was reported by the Pew Research Center.
According to DOJ’s 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. Non-fatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.
And where did the bad people who did the shooting get most of their guns? Were those gun show “loopholes” responsible? Nope. According to surveys DOJ conducted of state prison inmates during 2004 (the most recent year of data available), only two percent who owned a gun at the time of their offense bought it at either a gun show or flea market. About 10 percent said they purchased their gun from a retail shop or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.
While firearm violence accounted for about 70 percent of all homicides between 1993 and 2011, guns were used in less than 10 percent of all non-fatal violent crimes. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of those firearm homicides involved a handgun, and 90 percent of non-fatal firearm victimizations were committed with a handgun. Males, blacks, and persons aged 18-24 had the highest firearm homicide rates.
The March Pew study, drawn from numbers obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found a dramatic drop in gun crime over the past two decades. Their accounting shows a 49 percent decline in the homicide rate, and a 75 percent decline of non-fatal violent crime victimization. More than 8 in 10 gun homicide victims in 2010 were men and boys. Fifty-five percent of the homicide victims were black, far beyond their 13 percent share of the population.
Pew researchers observed that the huge amount of attention devoted to gun violence incidents in the media has caused most Americans to be unaware that gun crime is “strikingly down” from 20 years ago. In fact, gun-related homicides in the late 2000s were “equal to those not seen since the early 1960s.” Yet their survey found that 56 percent believed gun-related crime is higher, 26 percent believed it stayed about the same, and 6 percent didn’t know. Only 12 percent of those polled thought it was lower.
The Pew survey found that while women and elderly were actually less likely to become crime victims, they were more likely to believe gun crime had increased in recent years. On the other hand, men, who were more likely to become victims, were more likely know that the gun rate had dropped.
Those gun crime rates certainly aren’t diminishing for lack of supply…at least not for law-abiding legal buyers. Last December, the FBI recorded a record number of 2.78 million background checks for purchases that month, surpassing a 2.01 million mark set the month before by about 39 percent. That December 2012 figure, in turn, was up 49 percent from a previous record on that month the year before. FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record, and an increase of 19 percent over 2011.
Firearms sellers can thank the gun-control legislation lobbies for much of this business windfall. Marked demand increases have been witnessed over the past five years thanks to the 2008 and 2012 elections of U.S. history’s most successful, if unintentional, gun salesman as president. The firearms market got a huge added boost after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut activated a renewed legislative frenzy.
If that gun-purchasing fervor has abated with the defeat of several congressional regulation proposals, as I’m sure it has, you surely wouldn’t have known it by witnessing the overwhelmingly enormous annual NRA convention in Houston earlier this month. Attendance was estimated to be more than 70,000 people from all over the country.
Those attendees weren’t all guys either…not by a long shot. Last year, theNational Shooting Sports Foundation reported that participation by women increased both in target shooting (46.5%) and hunting (36.6%) over the past decade. Also, 61% of firearm retailers responding to a NSSF survey reported an increase in female customers. A 2009 NSSF survey indicated that the number of women purchasing guns for personal defense increased a whopping 83 percent.
Is John Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime” right? Does the rapid growth of gun ownership and armed citizens have anything to do with a diminishing gun violence trend? His expansive research concludes that state “shall issue” laws which allow citizens to carry concealed weapons do produce a steady decrease in violent crime. He explains that this is logical because criminals are deterred by the risk of attacking an armed target, so as more citizens arm themselves, danger to the criminals increases.
Whether or not you buy that reasoning, and it does make sense to me, what about the notion that tougher gun laws have or would make any difference? With the toughest gun laws in the nation, Chicago saw homicides jump to 513 in 2012, a 15% hike in a single year. The city’s murder rate is 15.65 per 100,000 people, compared with 4.5 for the Midwest, and 5.6 for Illinois.
Up to 80 percent of Chicago murders and non-fatal shootings are gang- related, primarily young black and Hispanic men killed by other black and Hispanic men. Would tightening gun laws even more, or “requiring” background checks, change these conditions?
Gwainevere Catchings Hess, president of the Black Women’s Agenda (BWA), Inc., an organization that strongly advocates strict gun-control legislation, rightly points out that “In 2009, black males ages 15-19 were eight times as likely as white males the same age, and 2.5 times as likely as their Hispanic peers to be killed in a gun homicide.”
Those are terrible statistics, but here are some others. Today, 72% of black children are born out of wedlock, as are 53% of Hispanic children and 36% of white children. Back in 1965, 25% of black children were born out of wedlock, nearly one-third fewer. As a result, promiscuous rappers, prosperous dope peddlers and street gang leaders are becoming ever more influential role models. It’s probably no big stretch of imagination to correlate such grossly disproportionate crime and victimization rates with comparably staggering rates of single-parent families, those without fathers in particular.
Yet in the general population, and although the agenda-driven media hasn’t noticed, we can be grateful that gun violence has been trending downward since 1993 when it hit its last peak. Don’t want to credit a rise in gun ownership and concealed carry by law-abiding citizens for this good news? Fine. But then, don’t imagine that gun legislation is the reason or answer either. Leave that illusion to gun-control cheerleaders in the media.