Monday, October 5, 2015

Gun Deaths

In the wake of the awful murders of college students in Oregon by a hate-filled lunatic there has been a resurgence of calls for gun control. I want to say something about that, but before I do I want to pose a question. Imagine that a white bigot targeted blacks (as happened in Charleston) or Muslims. Would we be talking about gun control or would we be talking about the state of racism or anti-Muslim bigotry in the U.S.?

I'm pretty sure that from the president on down the talk would be primarily about the latter, but, if so, why is it that when a bigot of a different sort targets Christians all that gets talked about is the need to "do something" about guns? Isn't the fact that this guy picked out Christians for execution worth probing? What does it say about the state of anti-Christian bigotry in this country that haters want to kill people just because they're Christians? Just wondering.

Anyway, an article at Hot Air has some interesting numbers on gun deaths in the U.S. According to the CDC's most recent figures (2011) there were 32,352 deaths inflicted by firearms in this country which certainly sounds horrific, but when the numbers get broken down the tell a somewhat different story:
[Of] those 32,352 gun deaths, 21,175 of them were suicides. That leaves us with 11,177 deaths to account for. But as it turns out, the FBI records that 8,583 deaths were murders of various sorts involving guns of all types. The remaining roughly 2,500 were accounted for by accidents and unintentional injuries.

Of the actual 8,583 gun murders committed in 2011, 323 were committed with “rifles.” And that’s all rifles, including bolt action, deer hunting rifles and all the rest. The number committed with so called “assault rifles” were a fraction of that. When you ask how dangerous those rifles are, compare that to nearly 1,700 who were stabbed as well as nearly 500 murdered with blunt objects and more than 700 beaten to death by somebody with their bare hands.
How many murders were committed with legally purchased guns? Less than 850. That's still too many, of course, but the point is that legal gun ownership is a relatively minor factor in the murder rate in this country. So, too, is legal ownership of automatic rifles. The real problem is illegal gun possession, but politicians don't have the stomach for measures that have proven effective in reducing that. One such measure is "stop and frisk." Stop and frisk was responsible for a significant reduction in the number of illegal guns on the streets of New York and a consequent reduction in the level of violence, but there was concern among civil libertarians that police were using racial profiling to do stop and frisk and that young black men were disproportionately targeted, so the policy has been curtailed.

Meanwhile, the murder of young black men by other young black men with illegal guns continues apace, but at least now it's harder for the police to profile.