Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gun Bans, the Numbers Don't Add Up

I had a little time to kill at work (hush, don’t tell the boss) and I used it to look at Representative Carolyn McCarthy’s bill that would bring back the “Assault Weapons” ban if passed. This time it would be new, improved, and ban even more guns.

First off, I know there’s no malice in the bill number, but come off it, HR 1022, the model number of one of the most popular .22 caliber semi-auto rifles ever made, the Ruger 10/22. Talk about serendipity.

The bill is masterful in its obfuscation. Here’s a bit that boggles logic as I know it: “…a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event.”

Then there’s the ever-popular definition of a pistol grip: “The term `pistol grip' means a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.” So if the wood has a pimple-sized bulge behind the trigger, would that be a grip? Come on our bureaucrats can write better definitions than that.

The bill concentrates on rifles as did its now-sunsetted predecessor. A few handguns are listed and fewer shotguns are mentioned. However, if the pistol grip language were improperly (properly?) interpreted many more shotguns and rifles would fall under the bill’s sway.

For people who support crime prevention, there’s a serious problem with “assault weapon” bans. Most murders are committed with handguns, but these bans aren’t focused on handguns. Let me be clear, that I oppose bans on handgun ownership. I’m a handgun enthusiast, collector, and shooter.

That said, I looked up murder rates and found, courtesy of the FBI, an interesting table. It lists statistics on murders committed in 2005 and shows how they were committed. I downloaded it as an Excel spreadsheet and ran some percentages. Here are the highlights:

There were 14,860 murders and 67.9% were committed with firearms proving that firearms are the weapon of choice for most murderers. Still, 32.1% (or 4,760) were committed with other types of weapons. Thus, even if guns were successfully banned, we would still have murders and probably many more more than 4,760.

Looking a little deeper we see that handguns were used in 50.8% of all murders. However, only 3.5% of murderers used shotguns and 2.9% chose rifles. This number includes all rifles, not just “black” ones. (Note: 10.7% of murders were committed with firearms, but of unknown types).

So, fewer than 3% of murders were committed with the guns McCarthy’s bill would most restrict. By contrast, 6.0% of all murders are committed with hands and feet (that includes pushing).

The numbers speak for themselves. Don’t let anyone tell you that gun banning is about reducing crime, it’s about control of you and me.

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