Home Defender - - Contents - BY BRAD FITZPATRICK

The low down on the real facts be­hind gun own­er­ship in the United States.

Here’s a look at what the num­bers show… and what we can learn from th­ese sta­tis­tics.

If you’re a gun owner, you prob­a­bly know that our rights and free­doms guar­an­teed by the Sec­ond Amend­ment face con­stant and con­tin­ual threats in the form of new leg­is­la­tion aimed at re­strict­ing firearm own­er­ship. In the United States, we en­joy un­prece­dented lib­er­ties, and the right to bear arms is one of the foun­da­tions upon which the United States con­sti­tu­tion was con­structed. In the wake of re­cent shoot­ings, media out­lets have worked to paint gun own­ers in a neg­a­tive light, but what do the facts say? What can we learn from them? What’s the truth about guns, crime and gun own­er­ship in this coun­try?

Be­low are a num­ber of sta­tis­tics gath­ered by the CDC, Na­tional Safety Coun­cil and the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s Bureau of Jus­tice Sta­tis­tics that of­fer a more com­plete pic­ture.

Not only do th­ese sta­tis­tics need to be known and shared, but they also serve to teach us some­thing about crime and how to de­fend our­selves.

Vi­o­lent Crime is Down

Gun own­er­ship is at an all-time high, and those who claim that le­gal firearm own­ers are the root cause of vi­o­lence should be made aware of the fact that, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, firearm-re­lated homi­cides were down 39 per­cent between 1993 and 2011, a very sub­stan­tial de­cline.

Some of this has to do with the hard work of law en­force­ment, but it’s im­por­tant to bear in mind that there has been a mas­sive in­crease in the num­ber of civil­ians who are al­lowed to legally carry firearms dur­ing that same pe­riod. Since wide­spread con­ceal carry laws were passed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it’s es­ti­mated that more than 7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are armed.

If, as many peo­ple in­di­cate, more guns equal more crime, then the sta­tis­tics have shown the ex­act op­po­site to be true.

The sim­ple take­away from this is that a legally armed pop­u­la­tion in the United States does not lead to an in­crease in firearms crime, and the no­tion that more guns equals more vi­o­lence sim­ply is not true. The fol­low­ing are some of the more com­mon false­hoods of firearms own­er­ship.

“Since wide­spread con­ceal carry laws were passed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it’s es­ti­mated that more than 7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are armed.”

FALSE: AR-Type Ri­fles are the Weapon of Choice for Crim­i­nals

“Black Guns” have re­ceived a black eye from the press, but does the re­cent uptick in AR sales mean that more crimes are com­mit­ted with th­ese firearms? The an­swer, quite sim­ply, is no. The vast ma­jor­ity of fa­tal shoot­ings by crim­i­nals—between 70 and 80 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the bureau of Jus­tice Sta­tis­tics—in­volve handguns, and 90 per­cent of non-vi­o­lent shoot­ings in­volve handguns.

The AR plat­form has be­come a light­ning rod for anti-gun forces who claim that th­ese “as­sault ri­fles” (an er­ro­neous de­scrip­tion) are used for vi­o­lent crime. In fact, de­spite the re­cent surge in AR sales, th­ese ri­fles are still used far less fre­quently by crim­i­nals than are handguns, an­other clear demon­stra­tion that in­creased le­gal gun own­er­ship does not cor­re­late with higher crime rates.

FALSE: Gun Stores and Gun Shows are a Pri­mary Source of Weapons Used in Crime

The phrase “gun show loop­hole” has be­come so com­mon­place that it is now part of our ev­ery­day ver­nac­u­lar, the idea be­ing that crim­i­nals can some­how sim­ply walk into a gun show and pur­chase any firearm they’d like. Not so, says the BJS find­ings.

The ma­jor­ity of firearms used in crime—77.4 per­cent—were ob­tained from friends, fam­ily or on the street. Thirty two point six per­cent of guns ob­tained for use in crime came from “drug dealer/off street/fence/black mar­ket,” and an­other 7.5 per­cent of firearms used in crimes were stolen in 2004. Le­gal pur­chase ac­counts for just 7 per­cent of guns used in crimes, and less than 1 per­cent of firearms used in vi­o­lent crimes were pur­chased at gun shows.

The take­away here is that leg­is­la­tion aimed at con­trol­ling le­gal pur­chas­ing of firearms from re­tail­ers and gun shows will do very lit­tle to stop vi­o­lent crime – but it will serve to make it tougher for law-abid­ing cit­i­zens to de­fend them­selves. It’s also clear that, with over 7 per­cent of homi­cides com­ing through theft, there’s an im­per­a­tive for le­gal gun own­ers to keep their firearms se­cured.

FALSE: At­tacks Only Hap­pen in Dan­ger­ous Neigh­bor­hoods in Large, Ur­ban Ar­eas

There’s a no­tion—a dan­ger­ous one—that you can some­how pre­dict when and where vi­o­lence will oc­cur. Ev­ery day we hear peo­ple talk­ing about spe­cific neigh­bor­hoods where crime is high, and some peo­ple even shame vic­tims be­cause they “shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”

While it’s true that crime rates vary by lo­ca­tion, the no­tion that vi­o­lent of­fend­ers won’t show up in your neigh­bor­hood is false, and the idea that some­one for­sakes their per­sonal lib­er­ties sim­ply be­cause they went for a jog through a rough area

of town or had to stop at a rest area at night dur­ing a long drive is ap­palling. Re­gard­less, crime can hap­pen any­where. Ac­cord­ing to BJS fig­ures, the non­fa­tal firearm vi­o­lence crime rate from 1997 to 2011 oc­curred at a rate of 1.3 in­ci­dents per 1,000 peo­ple over the age of 12 years in ar­eas with pop­u­la­tions from 100,000 to 249,999. In the largest ur­ban ar­eas that rate went up to 3.2, but the high­est oc­cur­rence was in ar­eas with pop­u­la­tions from 500,000 to 999,999 at 4.6 per 1,000 peo­ple. Like­wise, the lo­ca­tion where th­ese at­tacks oc­curred was wide­spread; from 2007 to 2011 19.3 per­cent of non-fa­tal firearms vi­o­lence oc­curred in the vic­tim’s home or lodg­ing, and 22.7 per­cent oc­curred near the home. More than 15 per­cent of th­ese at­tacks oc­curred in park­ing lots or garages, and 22.9 per­cent of at­tacks hap­pened in open ar­eas, on the street or on pub­lic trans­porta­tion. The FBI’s na­tional in­ci­dent-based re­port­ing sys­tem showed

that, in 2011, crimes hap­pened through­out the day, but the pe­riod from mid­night to 12:59 a.m. had the high­est crime rate, and the pe­riod from 5:00 a.m. un­til 5:59 a.m. has the low­est crime rate.

The take­away for gun own­ers here is that sit­u­a­tional aware­ness—that state of mind train­ing taught by in­struc­tors like Colonel Jeff Cooper and oth­ers—is essen­tial. There are ar­eas that are more prone to crime, but there is no place that is im­mune to its ef­fects. Don’t as­sume that be­cause you are in the right neigh­bor­hood or that you are in your own home you can’t be at­tacked. The key is not to live in fear but rather to re­main vig­i­lant.

FALSE: Gun Own­er­ship is Dan­ger­ous

There’s a wide­spread no­tion (pro­mul­gated in no small part by anti-gun media out­lets) that firearms own­er­ship is dan­ger­ous. The idea that recre­ational and com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing, hunt­ing, and sim­ply own­ing a gun puts you at peril is false, and the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion has com­piled sta­tis­tics from the CDC and Na­tional Safety Coun­cil that clearly show that shoot­ing isn’t in­her­ently dan­ger­ous.

Since record keep­ing be­gan in 1903, un­in­ten­tional firearms deaths are down 94 per­cent, and this is due in part to the fact that firearms own­ers are more aware of safety pro­ce­dures and safe firearm stor­age has be­come a top pri­or­ity. This isn’t to say that there isn’t the po­ten­tial for in­jury if you han­dle guns care­lessly or al­low them to get into the hands of oth­ers, but sta­tis­ti­cally speak­ing, shoot­ing is not a dan­ger­ous af­fair.

In fact, you’re 56 times more likely to be killed in a car ac­ci­dent than you are while shoot­ing, yet millions of Amer­i­cans head to work each day on con­gested free­ways with­out stop­ping for a mo­ment to think that driv­ing is a per­ilous af­fair. Firearms are in­volved in 0.4 per­cent of ac­ci­den­tal fa­tal­i­ties, far less than poi­son­ing and falls, which ac­count for 29.8 and 23.1 per­cent of ac­ci­den­tal fa­tal­i­ties, re­spec­tively.

The Truth About Firearm Own­er­ship in Amer­ica

Many of th­ese sta­tis­tics echo what we al­ready know—that the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­can gun own­ers are re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens and that an in­crease in the num­ber of firearms does not cor­re­late with a rise in vi­o­lence. But there are other key points here that may not be so ob­vi­ous, and it’s clear that the cur­rent at­tack on our Sec­ond Amend- ment rights is not an ef­fec­tive means by which to con­trol gun vi­o­lence sim­ply be­cause re­strict­ing the rights of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens does not stop crim­i­nals from com­mit­ting vi­o­lence.

The re­peated at­tacks on gun re­tail­ers, gun shows, man­u­fac­tur­ers and Amer­ica’s millions of gun own­ers are un­war­ranted. De­spite the fact that crime is down vi­o­lence still lurks, and it can be hid­ing around any cor­ner, from the most re­mote back coun­try ham­let to a ma­jor metropoli­tan area. The key, then, is to be pre­pared. Hav­ing a firearm sim­ply isn’t enough—you need to know how to use that gun (and, thank­fully, shoot­ing is a rel­a­tively safe ac­tiv­ity). What th­ese facts prove is what we, as gun own­ers, have known for a long time, but with in­creas­ing at­tacks on our rights we need to spread th­ese truths about gun own­er­ship in Amer­ica. It’s essen­tial to pre­serve our lib­er­ties and pro­tect our rights for gen­er­a­tions to fol­low. HD

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