Gun Ownership Up, Homocides Down

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I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the
National Rifle Association, that that kind of record keeping
procedure [gun registration] is the first step to eventual
confiscation under one administration or another.
—CHARLES MORGAN, DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON DC ACLU
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TheGUNMAG.com
May, 2013
Page 2

Gun homicides down, ownership up; antis spin story
by TGM staff

A pair of blockbuster reports showing that firearm-related
homicides have plummeted over the past 20 years, during the
same period that gun ownership has climbed, sent
anti-gunners reeling until they could find ways to spin the
story.

Ironically, the reports were released two days after the
National Rifle Association’s record-breaking annual
convention in Houston.

The reports came from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
and Pew Research Center. The BJS report covered the years
from 1993 to 2011. According to the BJS, gun-related
homicides declined 39% from 1993 to 2011, a drop from 18,235
killings 20 years ago to 11,101 just two years ago. Pew
Research discovered that the “number of gun homicides per
100,000 fell from 7% in 1993 to 3.6% in 2010, a drop of
49%.”

During that same period, firearms sales have soared and the
number of citizens licensed to carry concealed has more than
doubled. All of these factors combined, say gun advocates,
put the lie to the entire gun prohibition agenda.

“The BJS data suggests that for almost 20 years, the gun
prohibition lobby has been consistently wrong about private
gun ownership and its correlation to crime,” said Alan
Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right
to Keep and Bear Arms. “The Pew report suggests that the
public has been essentially hoodwinked into believ ing
otherwise.”

He was referring to a startling revelation in the Pew report
that said most Americans are not aware gun-related homicides
have declined. They believe just the opposite.

“It’s unclear whether media coverage is driving the
misconception that such violence is up,” the Los Angeles
Times reported. “The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and
Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely
watched by Americans last year, Pew found. Crime has also
been a growing focus for national newscasts and morning
network shows in the past five years but has become less
common on local television news.”

One other fact that proponents of so-called “assault weapon”
bans tried to avoid is that the BJS study also said that
in 2011, about 70% of all homicides were committed with a
firearm, mainly a handgun.”

Gun rights activists immediately zeroed in on that,
suggesting that if the overwhelming majority of murders are
committed with handguns, gun prohibitionists focused on
banning semi-automatic rifles are targeting the wrong guns.
Many in the gun rights community believe that it is an
effort to convince Americans that it is okay to ban certain
types and classes of firearms, making it easier to ban more
types and classes of firearms later.

No sooner had news about the reports started gaining
traction than did the anti-gun spin machines crank into
action.

A story in the Christian Science Monitor stated, “America is
still bleeding from gun violence, make no mistake. Some
12,343 people were killed by guns in 2010, keeping the US at
the top of the most violent Western countries. The US also
has more guns, per capita, than any other Western country,
with at least 310 million and as many as 400 million
firearms in circulation.”

However, that’s a stretch of international data, and a check
with the FBI Uniform Crime Report revealed that in 2010,
there were a total of 12,996 reported homicides and firearms
were used in 8,775 of those killings. Gun rights activists
will quickly note that nobody is killed “by guns,” but by
people misusing guns.

In other bad news for the anti-gun crowd, regarding where
crime guns came from, the BJS study notes that less than 2%
of convicted inmates reported buying their weapons at gun
shows or flea markets. The highest number, 40%, said the
guns came from a family member or a friend. About 37% said
the weapons were stolen or obtained from an illegal source.
The rest said the guns were bought at a retail store or pawn
shop.

Besides a drop in homicides, the study noted that 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.

Media Matters’ Tim Johnson insisted that the “conservative
media” was all wrong about the reports, and that a decline
in homicides does not mean efforts to pass tougher gun laws
should be abandoned.

“Members of conservative media are trumpeting a government
report indicating that gun homicides have fallen as proof
that the need for stronger gun laws is unwarranted,” Johnson
writes, “while ignoring multiple factors that could account
for the decrease. At the same time, firearm violence
continues to be a problem as firearm homicides have fallen
less than serious violent crime in general and the rate of
gun violence in the United States still far outpaces other
high-income nations.”

“But there is no logic to their arguments that data from the
reports constitutes evidence against proposals to strengthen
gun laws,” Johnson insists. “Gun availability has been
repeatedly linked to higher incidence of firearm homicides,
and firearms remain the driving factor of homicides, with
70% of murders involving guns. According to an October 2012
report from BJS, the rate of serious violent crime declined
75% between 1993 and 2011, meaning that gun homicides are
declining at a slower pace than overall crime.”

Some anti-gunners have claimed that the decline in homicide
numbers is attributable to improved medical care, even
though the government funded study also reported that
non-fatal gun injuries also declined during the study
period.

Gun rights advocates see all of this as a smoke-and-mirrors
defense.

“If violent crime had gone upward,” Gottlieb fired back,
“gun grabbers would exploit the fact as proof that more guns
in private hands lead to more violent crime. However, if
the gun rights community argued that the BJS data proves
increased gun ownership leads to lower violent crime rates,
the dominant liberal media would savage the notion. Of
course, this is the same anti-gun press that has
sensationalized crimes while remaining silent about the
actual crime data.

“It is time for the gun control crowd to acknowledge they
have been consistently and undeniably wrong,” Gottlieb said,
“and admit that their agenda has never been about crime, but
about public disarmament. They don’t want to prevent gun
crime, they want to prevent gun ownership.”

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