More on firearms related fatalities

Carl Fyrdman: A bit more about the numbers that GunsenseVT present

In the last note, I clarified that the gun-control proponents need to restrict the numbers they use, to those comprised of homicides and accidental injuries. Clearly these numbers are still significant and merit a closer look.

Here are a few questions we need to ask:

1) What percentage of these shootings are associated with other criminal behavior? Are they part of a burglary? A mugging? A rape? A drug deal? Two drug dealing gangs fighting over turf? Of course in this first case, it will be difficult to prove, unless the individual is caught, and convicted.

2) Let us therefore ask what percentage are committed by someone with a criminal past? These criminals are already banned from owning a firearm. That means they are obtaining it illegally, and continuing to engage in criminal behavior, regardless of the consequences, and not giving a damn for the law.

3) What percentage are suspected (by the police), to have been related to an additional criminal element such as gangs, drugs, or a personal crime such as a mugging.

If you don’t think these numbers are likely to be significant, let me enlighten you.

The New York Times did some investigations into all of the NYC murders from 2003 through 2005, and concluded that within NYC, more than 90% of those committing homicide had criminal records; and of those who were murdered, more than half of that group had criminal records (it appears the criminal element is also at a much higher risk of being a victim as a consequence of their lifestyle).

We see a similar finding in Philadelphia:

Murder is intensely concentrated in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Many murders are committed by people on probation, on parole or awaiting sentencing. Murderers and victims alike often have criminal histories. Among alleged murderers, almost 9 out of 10 (86%) had criminal records. Victims were less likely to have criminal backgrounds, but still, over half (52%) had been charged with at least one offense prior to their murder.

Perhaps less dramatic, yet still startling is the following. In 2012, 70 percent of Baltimore City gun murders were committed by convicted felons; a full 40 percent were felons convicted of previous gun crimes.

Looking at the details regarding Chicago murders from 2011, we see that 87% of murderers had a prior arrest record.

Now ALL of those shootings could be addressed through criminal sentencing. The United States Department of Justice, under former Attorney General John Ashcroft, has stated that 2/3rds of gun crimes are committed by repeat offenders. Furthermore, we know that nationally, and locally here in Vermont, the criminal recidivism rates are roughly 65% (62-68%).

Therefore, if you want to prevent 2/3rds of gun crimes, you need only never release a criminal after their initial gun crime. As a society, we could focus on mandatory life sentences, and on truly eliminating drugs and gangs. At that point, the number of gun victims would be dramatically reduced.

This nation experiences: 79,770 rapes, 14,196 homicides, 1,928,465 burglaries, 724,149 aggravated assaults, and 345,031 robberies every year. These are crimes. We know the recidivism rate is 65%, and yet we keep releasing criminals back into the streets where they can continue to prey on the innocent.

Indeed, those criminal statistics are precisely why law abiding citizens should be armed and ready to defend themselves.

Estimates on the number of times a firearm is used to defend life, display extreme variability. High end estimates will claim 1 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) each year. Low end estimates cite 55,000-80,000 such uses each year. The National Crime Victim Survey has estimated 60,000 to 120,000 defensive uses of guns per year. A study conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (part of the CDC) found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 497,646 times per year.

Now let’s be exceedingly conservative and utterly ignore the high end values.Thus we fluctuate between 55,000 and 497,000 DGUs. This would give us a conservative average of 276 Thousand defensive gun uses. For the sake of appeasing doubters, we could arbitrarily lower the estimate to 150,000 DEFENSIVE gun uses per year. The FBI Uniform Crime Report states there were 8,454 firearms homicides in 2013. That’s a roughly 18 to 1 ratio of defense vs. murder.

Who are you to tell those 150,000 defensive gun users that they can no longer defend themselves from the high risk criminals being dumped back into society? How dare you claim you have the moral superiority to disarm law abiding individuals, when it is proven that there is a criminal element out there that will commit more violent crimes?

The Founding Fathers and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights both agree that a person has a right to life, liberty, and security of person — this means that they possess a right to defend that life, and to possess the means necessary to defend it. This is an inalienable, and unarguable, human right.


1. See NYT, “New York Killers, and Those Killed, by Numbers” – by Jo Craven McGinty, April 28, 2006

2. See the Wayback Machine Jan 1, 2003 capture of Public/Private Ventures’ (P/PV) analysis of Philadelphia Police Department homicide data

3. Md. needs tougher penalties for gun crimes, not gun control

4. Chicago Police Report page 56

5. While working on the “Project Safe Neighborhoods” plan, the US Department of Justice, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, stated that two-thirds of all firearms crimes are committed by repeat offenders.

6. See the two studies done in 1984 & 1994, which found recidivism rates of 62.5% and 67.5%, in just the first three years following release from prison.