There has been much debate recently with the upcoming election about gun laws in America. Some politicians and their supporters believe tightening gun laws would make a big difference in reducing gun violence in our country. On the other hand, some believe adding and tightening gun laws would infringe on our rights without making a significant difference on gun violence. Many of this school of thought believe focusing the attention instead on mental health would make more of a difference. Recently the New York Times published a study examining America’s worst shootings in 2015. They examined all 130 shootings in 2015 in which, “four or more people were shot, at least one fatally, and investigators identified at least one attacker”.
The findings of the study were as follows:
- “In more than half the 130 cases, at least one assailant was already barred by federal law from having a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction”
- “64 percent of the shootings involved at least one attacker who violated an existing gun law”.
- “Of the remaining assailants, 40 percent had never had a serious run-in with the law and probably could have bought a gun even in states with the strictest firearm controls”.
- “Only 14 shootings involved assault rifles, illustrating their outsize role in the gun debate. Nearly every other assailant used a handgun. That is in line with a federal study that concluded that reviving a 1994 ban on assault weapons and ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds would have a minimal impact, at best, on gun violence”.
From this study along with many others, it is easy to conclude that criminals typically do not follow the law. As you can see, in the majority of these shootings the attacker violated an existing gun law. It’s true, criminals do violate laws, so enforcing our current gun laws may do far more than adding new ones ever could! Not to mention, we can do this without infringing on our second amendment rights! To me the answer is simple, focusing on mental health and enforcing our existing laws will help make this country a much safer place than adding new gun laws could.
Here are some additional facts about guns and violent crime:
- USA has the number one highest gun ownership rate in the world yet is ranked 103 in intentional homicide rate in the world. 1, 2
- Violent crime per 100,000 people in UK: 2,034. 3
- Violent crime per 100,000 people in USA: 466. 3
- The 9 European nations with the lowest gun ownership rate have a combined murder rate 3x that of the 9 European nations with the highest gun ownership rate. 4
- Every public mass shooting in the USA since 1950 (except one) has happened somewhere citizens are banned from carrying guns. 5
- 200,000 times a year women use a gun to defend against sexual abuse. 6
- 60% of felons say they won’t mess with an armed victim. 7
- Research has consistently shown that victims who resist a violent crime by using guns are less likely to be injured than those who do not resist or resist without weapons. 8