10 Facts for the Gun Control Debate

After every tragic mass shooting, the political scene has the same predictable response– the American left demands gun control and claims you are heartless if you do not agree with their vague evidence less political pushes. The problem with their ideas is that they are driven by emotion and lack evidence– or specifics– to back them up. Here are ten facts to give context to the gun control debate.

1. The NRA does not bribe politicians. They do give a lot of money to politicians in raw amounts but politicians raise a lot more. In 2014, the NRA gave $981,152 in campaign contributions to Republicans. In that same cycle, Republicans spent over 627 million dollars or well-over 600 times what the NRA gave. But I am sure 295th largest donor of the cycle has an outsized influence.

2. Europe has a similar number of mass shooting incidents and deaths as America–
you just need to understand population differences. For example, because America has sixty-four times the population of Norway. In 2011, a mass shooting in Norway had sixty-seven gun casualties. Once you adjust for population, it would take a mass shooting with 4,288 deaths in the United States to be the same size as a similar one in America.

Since 2008, there have been 463 casualties from mass shootings in America– that is 46 a year or .000046 per million. If you look at the ten most populous countries in the European Union, they averaged 34 mass shooting deaths a year from 2009 to 2015– which is about .000034 per million which is a similar rate to the United States.

3. More guns do not equal more homicides. Let us assume for a second that tighter gun laws lead to less gun homicide. That does not mean the decrease in gun homicide would not be offset by an increase in other homicide. If you look at state level homicide rates versus gun ownership there is an obvious lack of correlation. If you take a look at OECD countries, while excluding outliers, you will see a slight trend of more guns equals fewer homicides.

4. Mass shootings are extremely rare. 2017 was by far the worst year for mass shootings and there were only eleven. The worst year prior to 2017 was 2015 and 2012. Both only had seven. In fact, mass shootings have only become a phenomenon that happens more than three or four times a year recently. The uptick in shootings began in 2012. And to be clear, guns have been proliferating in the United States since the 1990s.

5. Good guys do stop mass shootings. Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, has compiled two handy lists of twenty examples of good guys stopping potential mass shootings– it can be found here and here.

6. Guns save lives and stop harms. Surveys show that guns are consistently used more often for defensive purposes in the United States. On the low end, the National Crime Victimization Survey finds 70,000 defensive uses of guns every year. Other surveys find the number to be over two million.

7. Australian Gun control did not work

  • There are as many guns now in Australia as at the time of the gun buyback.
  • New Zealand provides an excellent comparison to Australia. Both have very similar politics and saw similar trends in mass shootings prior to the 1996 gun confiscation. Australia underwent mass gun confiscation but New Zealand did not. Neither country has had a mass shooting since.
  • In 1995, the Australian homicide rate was 2 per 100,000 while it was 1 per 100,000 in 2015. That constitutes a drop of fifty percent. Meanwhile, in America, a similar result was seen with a drop from 8 homicides per 100,000 to 5 homicides per 100,000– a drop of almost forty percent. While Australia underwent a significant drop in homicide, the United States underwent a similar sized drop without the same gun policies.
    Going off this point, a 2015 study in the International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences found that none of the fifteen studies which had looked at the Australian firearm homicide rate has“…found a significant impact of the Australian legislative changes on the pre-existing downward trend in firearm homicide.”

8. There have not been 18 shootings since 2018 began. Well, there technically have been eighteen if you stretch the definition of a school shooting to a meaningless term that includes everything from a Newtown style event to a single shot being fired after school hours.

School shootings have an actual connotation. When you say “school shooting,” everyone thinks of Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech. No one thinks of suicides, accidental discharges, or incidents on school property but after school hours.

9. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Connecticut passed mandatory assault rifle registrations. It is estimated between 50,000 and 350,000 (50% to 88%) assault rifles remain unregistered.

10. The second amendment is an individual right. The Supreme Court ruled this in a 5-4 decision during the District of Columbia v. Heller case. It expanded it, via the incorporation doctrine and fourteenth amendment, to the states in McDonald V. City of Chicago.

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