Twenty-five days have passed since the horrid Newtown massacre where 20 small children were senselessly murdered. While their lifeless bodies still lay dead in Sandy Hook Elementary School and first responders still on scene, America’s gun control contingent seized upon the opportunity. Twitter and Facebook were awash with calls for gun bans. “Take the guns away now!” went the hue and cry.
And, as expected, the nation’s media soon diligently followed with analysis and statistics, making the case for a renewed, “assault weapons ban.” Editorial staffs, bloggers and pundits spun tales of epidemic gun violence in the United States, citing push-polls with questions like, “Do you support Congress in adopting a ‘sensible gun policy’?” Who would answer no? How often do you beat your spouse?
I advocate for the Second Amendment and the law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms and I do so unapologetically. I include the right to own these ineptly labeled “assault weapons.” But I do not make that case here. The existing data speaks for itself.
Facts are curious things. A Mother Jones Magazine article recently attributed an absence of mass killings in Australia to the 1996 gun ban. “Firearms homicides fell 59 percent and suicides, 79 percent.” But what Mother Jones fails to mention, however, is that violent crime spiked in Australia and in 2001, the Bureau of Criminology found no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in violent crime. Moreover, firearm murders rose to their highest levels in 2006 (16.3 percent.) Assaults were up 49.2 percent; robbery, 6.2 percent; sexual assaults were up one-third and the overall Australian crime rate went up 42 percent.
In the United States, a National Research Council panel noted (2004) the assault weapons ban as, “not having any clear impacts on gun violence, due to the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime prior to the ban ... The Jerry Lee Center of Criminology found no statistically significant evidence that either the assault weapons ban or the ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds had reduced gun murder.”
Mainstream media gave vapid lip service to the dangerous amount of violence in video games and films, ignoring the Hollywood elite who recently made a television commercial asking for a cessation of gun violence, despite those same actors having had roles in films depicting shooting and killing.
Advocates of gun control (and gun banning) like to contrast and compare crime and violence in the United States to other countries, implying that America is the standard-bearer of violent society when in reality, the opposite is true.
According to FBI national crime statistics, The violent crime rate (1992) was 757.7 per 100,000 people. The murder rate was 9.3 per 100,000. By 2011, the violent crime rate fell to 386.3 per 100,000, showing a 50 percent decrease in 20 years. The murder rate fell to 4.7 per 100,000, a 54 percent decrease over 1992. Inversely, the UK experienced 1,361 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2011, three times the U.S. violent crime rate! One trend consistent both here and in the UK is that the vast majority of the violent crime concentrates in urban areas with populations greater than 250,000. The majority of U.S. urban centers have strict gun control laws. Violent crime in urban areas is double the national average. Correlation?
The United Kingdom’s homicide rate is 28 percent lower than the U.S. at 1.3 per 100,000 compared to 4.7 per 100,000 (2011 numbers from UK Home Office and FBI.gov). Gun control advocates ram this point home constantly, but those numbers alone lack context.
The UK, with a population of 56 million has 39 metropolitan areas with populations in excess of 250,000 people. That’s just 17 percent of the United States — population 300 million — with 186 metropolitan areas having populations in excess of 250,000 people.
In a 20-year period, violent crime in the U.S. plummeted, while crime increased in other nations. While other nations tightened gun control policies, banning most guns and forcing citizens to surrender firearms, American gun ownership skyrocketed with states expanding laws making it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry guns.
In the wake of the Newtown massacre and the impending gun control debate, firearms dealers are plagued by inventory problems keeping semi-automatic rifles and handguns in stock — guns now targeted by the gun ban rhetoric. NRA membership and donations have reached epic proportions, as people fear what Washington will do next.
Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill calls for a ban on “assault weapons.” Current ownership, of semi-automatic rifles (grandfathering) will require fingerprinting, photos and registration akin to an arrest and booking. But unlike being arrested, criminals pay no fee.
Many Americans used firearms to thwart violent crime, last year, without a shot ever being fired, a fact ignored by the mainstream media in America. The United Kingdom and Australia have lots of gun control laws and lots of crime. The U.S. has more guns and less crime. Correlation? It speaks for itself.
Rick Olson is president of the Londonderry Fish & Game Club, president of the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, an avid hunter, target shooter and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.