Gun policy expert Lois Beckett of the Guardian USexplains the four things you need to know about firearms in America.
Lois said, “I grew up in Connecticut, firmly on one side of the gun culture war. My parents thought it was wrong even to let kids play with toy guns. But I made a vow to myself when I started covering this debate: I would not be one one of those New York City journalists who writes ignorant, condescending stories about ‘gun nuts.'”
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He continued, “When I actually dug into the data, I was shocked by how little evidence there was behind some of the most prominent gun control policies. Here are some basic facts that gun rights advocates already know—and that liberals who want to reduce gun violence need to understand.”
1. Banning assault weapons would do almost nothing
After every mass shooting, liberals begin to demand a ban on “assault weapons.” AKA the military style rifle.
There’s a problem with this popular liberal idea: banning these guns would not do much to save American lives. Only 3.6 percentof America’s gun murders are committed with any kind of rifle, according to FBI data.
The most gun murders are committed with handguns.
A ban on the guns themselves “does nothing,” a former Obama administration official said last year. Though the White House endorsed a renewed ban after Sandy Hook, “we did the bare minimum,” the official said. “We would have pushed a lot harder if we had believed in it.”
2. Owning 17 guns really isn’t that extreme
To a non-gun owner, this might sound like a lot. But you have to think of guns as tools: a few different rifles for hunting different kinds of game, plus a shotgun, a handgun or two for self-protection, and some antique guns inherited from your grandfather. It adds up fast.
3. Only a tiny fraction of America’s guns are used in crimes
American’s own between 265 million and 400 million guns, not including military or officer personnel.
The total number of crimes involving guns is as many as 500,000 a year, according to Justice Department estimates.
Roughly speaking, that means that fewer than 1% of American guns are used in recorded crime or violence each year. Most of America’s hundreds of millions of guns are sitting in gun safes, being used for target practice or hunting, and causing no harm at all.
4. Gun crime dropped even as Americans bought more firearms
Over the past two decades, gun murders have dropped by almost 50%, all the while, Americans also bought “an estimated 700 million more guns.”
This trend isn’t proof that more guns equal less crime—many factors drove a spike in gun violence in the early 1990s, and a drop afterwards. But it does show that the relationship between America’s high gun ownership rates and its high gun murder rates is more complex than a simple correlation.
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