There have been a lot of emotional and passionately charged arguments over gun violence, gun control, and the Second Amendment recently; and while it’s easy to understand why someone may feel passionate about a topic, it’s important to be rational and level-headed when advocating policy.
It was F.A. Hayek who said: “Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded,” and so many years later this quote is still just as relevant and powerful as it was when it was first shared.
First things first: There’s a lot of misinformation out there about gun violence in general.
The popular narrative shared across most major media outlets is one where gun violence in the United States is at epidemic levels, and that there is a massive problem, in particular, with school shootings.
Outlets will spread information like this graph, produced by Everytown Research:
The first and most obvious problem here is that this chart is just flat out inaccurate.
Here is the actual ratio of homicides/100,000 people:
This image is sourced from a site which has a fantastic structure for resource citations; however, even if that information isn’t entirely to-the-number accurate, even The Guardian provides information that also refutes what is presented by Everytown.
(Feel free to download the provided spreadsheet and see for yourself.)
The big problem here is Everytown Research used the headline, “gun murders” leaving the reader to believe this includes homicides.
However, if you read the fine print they state, “Homicide, suicide, and unintentional firearm fatality: comparing the United States with other high-income countries, 2003.”
Taking into consideration that suicide consists of 2/3 of the gun-related deaths in America, this has a significant influence on the way this data is presented.
As we all know, the issue of finding out why someone wants to kill themselves and trying to address that is entirely different from the topic of firearms and legislation.
How Gun Control Effects Suicide
If we look at Australia as an example of what happens to suicide rates in the face of strict gun control, when looking at the entirety of the data available, the answer to that question is quite clear.
News outlets and advocates of gun control will brag about suicides by firearms being reduced significantly, and it’s true, those numbers absolutely did decline.
The problem is the narrative ends there. What is left out is the fact that despite a decline in a method, the rates of suicide weren’t much different at all.
You can read a more detailed analysis I did regarding the effects of Australia’s NFA here.
The American School Shooting Epidemic
While it’s completely horrendous that it’s an issue we even have to deal with, the reality of the situation is that school shootings have actually decreased significantly since the 90s. Everytown has some data they put together for the school shooting number as well, claiming that this year alone there had already been 18 school shootings.
Again, this turned out to be a situation where Everytown was being intentionally misleading with data in order to push the desired narrative across.
As it pertains to the Parkland shooting specifically, and who is to blame, or what can be done, the FBI recently announced they totally dropped the ball, which we already knew.
That’s on top of the fact that there were actually multiple armed guards standing outside of the school who failed to enter the premises and engage the shooter.
It’s a bit silly that so many are advocating giving even more responsibility to these organizations and agencies that have already failed in the responsibilities they had to begin with.
The Assault Weapon Ban of 1994 Did Almost Nothing
The biggest issue was of the guns that were banned in the 1994 assault weapons ban didn’t do a ton to curb violence from the weapons that were included in the ban; which were already a small percentage of deaths that were occurring due to rifles… which are a minute percentage of the gun violence accounted for in the United States. So, really, we’re talking about percentages of percentages.
The DOJ itself states, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”
And then went on to say in the same report: “However, the decline in AW (assault weapons) use was offset throughout at least the late 1990s by steady or rising use of other guns equipped with LCM’s (large capacity magazines) in jurisdictions studied (Baltimore, Milwaukee, Louisville, and Anchorage). The failure to reduce LCM use has likely been due to the immense stock of exempted pre-ban magazines, which has been enhanced by recent imports.”
Essentially, the ban had very little effect on the actual thing it had set out to solve from a statistic standpoint. And to make matters worse, when regulation was announced, the surge in purchases of the items that were going to be banned just ultimately led to far more of what we had set out to ban being owned across the country.
I have broken down more of the effects of the 1994 gun ban in an analysis that you can read here.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the facts don’t lie.
Implementation of policy on a federal level is not cheap, and that’s before you account for the potential damage done to the citizens of the country.
One thing that most people can agree on is that criminals do not historically follow laws.
Again, we’ll look at Australia, directly after the gun buyback program incidents of crime involving a firearm increased quite a bit.
This is why the Second Amendment is so important for so many of us when discussing this topic.
Historically, what we can learn from past attempts to remove or regulate ownership rights of firearms from citizens is that it doesn’t do a whole lot to actually affect the rates of violence that exist, only the rates of violence with the weapon that you had set out to ban.
Advocating for such things is to advocate for policy that comes at a top dollar price tag, which has been proven to be essentially ineffective against moving already existing trends of violence.
When I review the available information (after muting my own emotional responses and cutting away the bias and false positives that many pack their analyses with) it’s quite clear that it is not at all worth a sacrifice of individual liberty just to rack up public funds for a policy that maintains an already existing par, and puts the average law-abiding citizen at an even larger disadvantage against those with ill-intent.
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