There are too many guns in the U.S.!

March 24, 2021 • 12:30 pm

When I write about gun control, I know that I’ll get substantial pushback on either this site or on email. Americans love their guns, and can give many reasons why they should have them (including  semiautomatic weapons).

These reasons include the Second Amendment, which has, in my view, been misinterpreted by the courts to allow nearly anyone to have guns, handguns, assault rifles, and the ability to open carry. All that to ensure “a well regulated militia”!  But we no longer have militias!

I’ve always advocated for strict gun control—along the lines of Britain or even Scotland—as a way to reduce homicides in the U.S. The counterarguments I hear include the famous mantra “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns: the idea that making guns harder to buy will ensure that only criminals will have guns. But there are a slew of other arguments for why loose gun control in America isn’t responsible for mass shootings, some of them addressed in the NYT column below. These include the claim that the U.S. is an especially violent nation, is full of mentally ill people who commit mass shootings, have racial divisions that exacerbate homicides, and so on. Those arguments now appear to hold no water.

We already know that private ownership of guns causes the deaths of far more innocent people than of home invaders or other miscreants. We also know that the U.S. leads the world in per capita gun ownership (see below), with nearly as many guns (270 million) as people (328 million, but that includes kids and the aged).

The column below (click on screenshot) attacks the notion that the ease of gun ownership in the U.S. has nothing to do with the huge number of mass shootings. And it dispels the claims that other peculiarities of American culture are the real reason for mass shootings.

This plot shows the total number of guns per country and how much of an outlier we are in both the number of mass shootings and the number of guns:

Below: the correlation between per capita gun ownership and per capita number of mass shooters. Now if you remove Yemen (which has even more mass shootings per capita) as well as the U.S., there might not be a statistical correlation, but the analysis in the article apparently shows that there is, and it isn’t due to complicating factors like an American “culture of violence”.

Here are some data and citations from the article (quotes are indented). You can check the sources for yourself; I haven’t read them.

Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

. . . Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.

. . . More gun ownership corresponds with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed countries, among American states, among American towns and cities and when controlling for crime rates. And gun control legislation tends to reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

Other factors that didn’t correlate with mass homicides included suicide rates (well, there are fewer mass shootings in countries with higher suicide rate), playing video games, racial diversity, general amount of criminal behavior (though American crime is “simply more lethal” than that in other developed countries), or mental health issues.

And here’s a comparison with China, suggesting that the lethality of weapons makes a difference in the homicide rate, at least in this case:

In China, about a dozen seemingly random attacks on schoolchildren killed 25 people between 2010 and 2012. Most used knives; none used a gun.

By contrast, in this same window, the United States experienced five of its deadliest mass shootings, which killed 78 people. Scaled by population, the American attacks were 12 times as deadly.

The authors of the NYT piece,, Max Fisher and Josh Keller, note that even in countries with high gun ownership, like Switzerland—second only to the U.S. among in gun ownership among developed countries—which has a higher than average rate of homicides, it’s still only a fraction of the U.S. rate (in Switzerland it’s 7.7 per million people; in the U.S. it’s 33). The authors add at the end that “The United States is only one of three countries, along with Mexico and Guatemala, that begin with. . . . the assumption that people have an inherent right to own guns.”  That’s again pretty scary for us, but many Americans cling to the wonky interpretation of the Second Amendment.  It would be nice if the courts interpreted the amendment as I believe (as do others) it was intended.

According to this article, if you want reduce mass homicides in America, regulate our guns. There’s no sign that pervasive gun ownerships keeps America (or gun owners) safer, and lots of people get killed as a byproduct of “legal” gun ownership (viz., children, domestic disputes, and, of course, the mass killers). Reports of mass killings seem to be almost a monthly event now. Most Americans want stricter controls on guns. It’s only the NRA and the Republican Party that are preventing enacting the will of the people.

The article ends with a sad prognostication:

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

It should not be bearable. When I was a kid, we had “nuclear attack drills”, when we would pretend the Russians were bombing us and we’d hide under our desks. Those days are gone; now they have “mass shooter drills.”

219 thoughts on “There are too many guns in the U.S.!

  1. “private ownership of guns causes the deaths of far more innocent criminals than of home invaders or other miscreants.” I think you meant ‘innocent citizens’ , not ‘innocent criminals’?

  2. Sadly, disgustingly and disturbingly, the legislative response to the latest of these mass shootings will be the same – big smoke but no fire. The Dems will trot out outlawing certain guns and ammo, the Repugs will dance the Second Amendment Shuffle, nothing reasonable will be accomplished, and we will continue to see mass shootings. We happened to be at a different Kings Soopers in Boulder near the time of the shooting – almost makes me want to get a concealed carry permit.

    1. Remember that in the King Soopers massacre, the only other person with a gun, a police officer, was also shot dead. I assume he was well trained…or at least better trained than a civilian (which I assume you are). Having a gun doesn’t help you’re chances, especially a handgun vs. an AR-15; you have a much better chance of survival by running and hiding.

      1. I should have put the proper emoji for tongue in cheek. It’s obvious that more guns are not the answer, and having more people armed often leads to more chaos in shoot out situations where often it is difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys. The police generally assume that anyone shooting their gun is one of the bad guys.

    2. What I don’t understand is why no one proposes a new Amendment, amending the 2nd Amendment, so to speak. At the very least, it would do to clarify and narrow the purpose of the Amendment, since I’ve heard many different interpretations. That would end the “2nd Amendment” argument. And though it would be an uphill battle, it would at least bring that conversation forward.

        1. You’re probably right, but I think setting the bar high might nudge things more in the direction intended. And who know, we might be surprised. Strange things sometimes happen.

          1. Sorry, I was only responding to the parent post. You are correct and elsewhere I myself have ranted against the attitude of “oh it’s impossible, so let’s not even try”.

            Gun crime is a huge problem in the USA and you’re not going to solve it with one measure. You have got to keep chipping away at it with “salami tactics”.

  3. Says the Jewish man whose people were systematically exterminated after gun control instituted by a crazed ruler.

    1. I guess all the Scots are going to be rounded up and put in concentration camps. And do you really think that if the Jews had guns, they could have fought off the Nazis with their machine guns and tanks and superior numbers? Don’t make me laugh.

      What an odious and irrational person you are. Bye!

      1. They tried! They tried really hard! E.g. the Polish ghettoes. And they were ruthlessly crushed.

        There are some “2nd Amendment” types who claim to think they need to have guns in case a rebellion against the government is needed. Much good your AR-15 is going to be against a platoon of trained soldiers with TOW missiles and a Bradley vehicle!

        On the other hand, there is a plausible case for defense against violent individuals.

    2. Really!!??? Would that have stopped the holocaust? It would have meant All German civilians also had access to guns you twit. That would perhaps have encouraged murders sooner…

    3. Is that not a red herring? How ‘armed’ was the German general population? Was there really a disarmament? I’d like to see some serious link there.
      Of course, one could argue that the SA was a ‘well regulated militia’. 🙂

      1. Just as a historical comment from someone with a tenuous grasp of history: my interpretation is that various gun control laws were passed to prevent the nazi party from staging a coup. They were anti- Hitler laws. Of course they later took advantage of similar legislation to disarm ONLY people they didn’t like..

    4. The Nazi gun control argument is a belief that gun regulations in the Third Reich helped to facilitate the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust.[1][2][3] The majority of historians and fact-checkers have described the argument as “dubious,”[4] “questionable,”[5] “preposterous,”[6] “tendentious,”[3] or “problematic.”[2] This argument is frequently employed by opponents of gun control in debates on U.S. gun politics. Questions about its validity, and about the motives behind its inception, have been raised by scholars. Proponents in the United States have used it as part of a “security against tyranny” argument, while opponents have referred to it as a form of reductio ad Hitlerum.[7]

    1. Sadly, spot on. I think it’s worthwhile to frame the debate in a comedy routine as it is more (excuse the pun) disarming.

  4. Gun ownership in the U.S. has become a religious identity, in addition to being an intransigent political block. Overcoming this intransigence would require a level of focus and organizing the vote that I’m not sure is possible in our polarized society. A major part of the problem is that the gun rights advocates intersect broadly with the violent right wing extremists, many of whom we saw in action on January 6th. It’s more than a battle of ideas–it is also the threat of literal battle against well armed terrorists waiting to be activated.

    1. Religious? Yes, but it’s also become a fetish. The right has sexualised guns. There’s a whole market for women with fake boobs shooting semi-automatic guns. It’s creepy. I’m crap at imbedding links, but look up Little Britain USA: America’s Love for Guns.

    2. “A major part of the problem is that the gun rights advocates intersect broadly with the violent right wing extremists”

      A major part of the voters who are in favor of firearms rights intersects with the overall voting population. (That-there’s intersectionalism for you.)

  5. It all tracks back to the same place- profit. The firearm industry wanted to expand their market for military weapons, so they convinced the gullible that freedom, safety and the Second Amendment were at stake. It’s the same with cars- drivers are sold increasingly large (and profitable) SUV’s to feel safer on the road. Agricultural chemical companies marketed their products to suburban homeowners convincing them they aren’t doing it right if they don’t have grass that looks like astroturf. My wife always says if Sandy Hook and 20 dead children can’t get the laws changed, what can?

  6. Heather Cox Richardson has a recapitulation of the NRA vis-a-vis the 2nd Amendment in her most recent post on Substack. I know Substack has a restriction on the number of words in a post, but I wish she would have elaborated a little more on the Heller case, where the majority opinion written by Scalia effectively redlined the Militia Clause out of the Amendment. Ever since I’ve been scratching my head about how this opinion could possibly be an “originalist” reading of the language so beloved by conservatives. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/march-23-2021

    1. I wish the Founders would have put more care into writing the Second Amendment. I sometimes think that its incoherent syntax opened the door to the individual right interpretation. To me, even with its incoherence, its purpose to protect the State militias from being disarmed by the new Federal government seems clear. Unfortunately, at the time, militia men were expected to provide their own weapons, which further muddles the interpretation.

    2. I thought a standing army & armed police WAS the armed militia that removed the need for a weaponised citizenry…?

      1. One thing is certain; we do NOT have a well regulated militia! We have almost no regulations at all!

        1. Yes, that particular phrase in the 2nd never gets the attention it is due for some reason that escapes me entirely…

            1. “Well prepared,” would require regulation. Supplies, replacement, cost streams. “Well equipped,” would require regulation. Standardized weapons, ammunition, training.

            2. Sorry, but I’m sure that’s not true.
              Well regulated never meant well equipped. If you want to claim otherwise, please cite examples in relevant texts from a similar period or retract this claim.
              I searched quite hard and the closest examples I could find all meant it in the rules and regulation sense…
              (Just in case I’ve replied to the wrong place yet again, I’m agreeing with painedumonde, but disagreed with darwinwins.)

  7. Exceptional in so many ways …

    While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.

    The US has 20% of the worlds COVID deaths.

    Among 20 wealthy nations, US child mortality ranks worst.

    The United States has the 12th highest obesity rate in the world of 36.2% and is the most obese OECD country.

    Every year 530,000 American families file for bankruptcy due to medical bills.
    US medical bills and indebtedness are responsible for 62% of all American personal insolvencies.

    In 2019, the United States spent about $11,100 per person on healthcare — the highest healthcare cost per capita across the OECD. For comparison, Switzerland was the second highest-spending country with about $7,700 in healthcare expenses per capita, while the average for wealthy OECD countries, excluding the United States, was only $5,500 per person.

      1. Many of them would need a course introducing them to the concept of shame first. And the pass rate on that course would not be high.

    1. When I had covid-19 I had to do two days in the hospital. Maybe it was three days, two nights. The bill for that was $11,000, actually just over 11 thousand. Fortunately I was covered for that but imagine all the people who are not.

      1. Ffs! The suggestion of the latest fuss over AstraZeneca is that the other drug companies stand to make huge profits if they discredit AstraZeneca who are charging cost price…

    2. Swiss citizens get actual healthcare for the francs they spend. In the US, most of the money spent goes into the pockets of investors.

      L

  8. Well, everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, AND to their guns. What so many people fail to realize though, is that gun laws and gun controls DON’T WORK! 1) Chicago and Illinois have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and Chicago is also the homicide capital of the United States. Criminals ARE NOT going to follow any laws, regardless of how many you have. CRIME is in their very name. And believe me, the criminals will ALWAYS still have guns, no matter what laws are on the books. All these gun laws do is prohibit good, law-abiding citizens the right to protect themselves, which means MORE crimes, and more violent crimes are going to take place, NOT LESS! 2) Now, more than ever, citizens need to be able to protect themselves, and yes there is a very definite need for “militias” to help fight against a tyrannical government, especially since there is a big push to “Defund the Police” in many states. If you take away guns, and the rights of people to protect themselves, their families and their homes, AND defund the police, that is nothing but a recipe for disaster. This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, and EVERY OTHER Communist/Socialist country where the rights and freedoms were taken away from the citizens.. The reason the shooter chose Boulder, Colorado yesterday is BECAUSE it is a GUN FREE ZONE. Criminals choose easy targets, and nothing screams easy target more than announcing it is a “GUN FREE ZONE”.

    Gun Effectiveness
    I checked online and found some fascinating numbers. A good website with footnotes and references to authoritative sources is GunFacts.info. There I learned the following:

    Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed.

    Every year, 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes are prevented using firearms.

    60 percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. Forty percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed.

    Felons report that they avoid entering houses where people are at home because they fear being shot.

    Fewer than 1 percent of firearms are used in the commission of a crime.

    If you doubt the objectivity of the site above, it’s worth pointing out that the Center for Disease Control, in a report ordered by President Obama in 2012 following the Sandy Hook Massacre, estimated that the number of crimes prevented by guns could be even higher—as many as 3 million annually, or some 8,200 every day.

    Another excellent source of information on this topic (and many more current issues) is the Gun Control page at JustFacts.org.

    1. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 467,321 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in 2011.[1] In the same year, data collected by the FBI show that firearms were used in 68 percent of murders, 41 percent of robbery offenses and 21 percent of aggravated assaults nationwide.

      Most homicides in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns.

      Gun-related homicide is most prevalent among gangs and during the commission of felony crimes. In 1980, the percentage of homicides caused by firearms during arguments was about the same as from gang involvement (about 70 percent), but by 1993, nearly all gang-related homicides involved guns (95 percent), whereas the percentage of gun homicides related to arguments remained relatively constant. The percentage of gang-related homicides caused by guns fell slightly to 92 percent in 2008, but the percentage of homicides caused by firearms during the commission of a felony rose from about 60 percent to about 74 percent from 1980 to 2005.

      Since 2013, fatal firearm injuries for children and teens have risen unabated.

      Rates of death from firearms among ages 14 to 17 are now 22.5% higher than motor vehicle-related death rates. In the U.S., middle and high school age children are now more likely to die as the result of a firearm injury than from any other single cause of death.

      For Americans between the ages of 1 and 19, a little over half of 2017 firearm-related deaths are homicides.

    2. A couple of things about your comments. Stating that Chicago or wherever has some of the strongest regulations on fire arms is just crap. The guns in Chicago can come from all over the country. How far is it to Indiana? When you say these laws are strict what do you mean? Everyone is Chicago can have a gun and most of them do. So where are these tough regulations. It is nonsense. Saying that guns prevented millions of crimes is just talk and it means nothing. Who really has any realistic number on this – I say they are mostly made up. It is fantasy.

      1. “How far is it to Indiana?” If you’re implying that somebody can just drive over to Indiana and legally buy a gun, I don’t believe that’s the case. Indiana gun shops can only transfer firearms to Indiana residents. Providing proof of residency is required. If an Illinois resident goes to Indiana, any gun seller – whether private party or not – is required by federal law to ship the firearm to a federally licensed dealer in their home state of Illinois who will apply the local laws before releasing the firearm to them.

        1. Indiana does not require lost or stolen guns to be reported to the police. Therefore, combined with laxity, gun show loopholes, etc. Indiana accounts for untold numbers of “straw purchases” of guns that wind up on the street here in Chicago. This is pretty well documented.

          https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international/chicago-gun-trace-report-2017/27140/

          To continue to assert otherwise is just an admission of being too lazy to do one Google search.

          1. Almost every method mentioned for criminals to obtain guns is already illegal. Stealing a gun is illegal. Straw purchases are illegal. There is no gun show loophole that operates across states – selling to out-of-state buyers without going through a federally licensed dealer in the buyer’s home state is illegal. Providing a fraudulent documents to circumvent verification checks is illegal. A gun dealer not verifying identity and eligibility before the purchase is illegal. And more generally, the shooters in Chicago tend to be career criminals who are legally barred from possessing any firearm.

            If the proposal is to pass another law and hope the criminals who ignore the many existing laws will follow that one, it ain’t gonna work.

            Requiring lost or stolen guns to be reported doesn’t seem useful to me, although I don’t object. I suppose it means that gun dealers won’t be able to sell them, but there are plenty of legal, used guns that can be bought from licensed dealers, and illegal gun sellers aren’t likely to care.

            Police already have the means to track down straw purchasers when they’re the original purchaser, but I do agree that unrelated private parties should be required to report the serial numbers of weapons transferred to the police and to keep records accessible via search warrant on the identities of the people they transferred to. That should assuage fears of a gun registration database while still allowing police to track down the details if it turns out that a single person transferred several guns that ended up being linked to crimes.

            1. Wonderful to learn that we don’t really have a problem here at all! For some reason I had been mislead to think that the United States has a far greater level of gun violence and death compared to other countries. But police have all the tools they need! All of the solutions are already in place! How could I have been so wrong?

              1. I’m not sure if you read down to my last paragraph but I do think there is scope for improvement via better tools for police, and I think it can be done in a way that protects the privacy of gun owners and avoids the “gun registration database” fight.

      2. The point then is that regulations don’t stop criminals from getting the guns. They stop law abiding people from owning them in order to protect themselves. Drunk people drive cars, kids steal their parents cars, criminals steal cars and drive them illegally. But no one ever says “We need to get rid of cars!!!” What we need to do is to find more effective ways of preventing abuse and illegal obtainment.

        1. This is why we should have no laws at all. Laws just prevent law abiding people from doing bad things. Criminals just ignore the laws. We definitely should abolish laws. Think of how much we will save by not paying for a justice system!

    3. A post about guns is like my underwear; it’s guaranteed to contain at least one asshole and a couple of nuts.

      1. LOL best comment I read online today, and sadly applicable to all manner of political discussions.

    4. I’m so tired of this kind of reasoning- you’re against any kind of gun restrictions because “we can never get rid of the guns, the criminals will be the only ones with the guns, there’s nothing we can do for protection, so let’s arm everyone”. Not only is this argument based on irrational fear and hopelessness, it is a flawed argument and has been disproven by data and anecdotal evidence- Australia being the most recent and salient anecdotal example. The problem is, there is no political will in one political party to begin the process, and it needs to be a federal response, not a state response. You cite the canard of Illinois as having the strictest gun laws, yet has the most gun violence. You know why? Indiana and other next-door states that don’t have strict gun laws. This is why gun control on the state level is useless. And if you think the Jews in Nazi Germany or the other oppressed citizens in the countries you cite could have stemmed their subjugation if only they had access to firearms, or if you think that what’s keeping the US Feds at bay is that Americans have so many firearms, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It would take just one tank (or a tank company which has 4 tanks) to completely crush any “serious” rebellion here, in Venezuela, Russia or Nazi Germany.

      Another thought: If all the insurrectionists storming the capital on Jan. 6 were armed to the teeth and actually overtook the capital and executed half of Congress, how long do you think they would keep it under their control? You think, after the dust settled, that they could have put Trump back in the oval office?

      And you have no idea why Boulder, Colorado was chosen, or even if the city was “chosen”. You simply state that it is because Boulder is a “gun free zone”. No motive has been released by the authorities, so unless you’re one of the investigators interrogating the suspect, you have no idea why he did what he did or whether or not a “gun free zone” has anything to do with it. I highly doubt it has anything to do with it, and even if it does, that is still a weak argument of why Americans need guns. You’re exhibiting confirmation bias.

      Lastly, there was an armed police officer who, by your logic, should have been able to stop the massacre; instead, he was shot dead.

      BTW, the Gunfacts site you cite is not credible- it’s a pro-gun site, which a couple minutes of researching reveals. Here’s one expose: https://medium.com/the-wilson-times/is-the-website-credible-75d8e452eeeb

      1. Totally agree; people like this simply make shit up. Boulder is not a Gun Free Zone – they tried to ban assault weapons and that failed. My guess is that gun ownership in Boulder is not much different that any other university town. In addition, I believe that Boulder is an open carry town.

      2. Read your history. I was raised as a WWII buff, and my dad fought in WWII. I just finished reading a true story about NAZI Germany, Called “We Were The Lucky Ones”. Schools don’t teach history anymore, and those that don’t know their history are bound to repeat it. And as for Australia, my dad was from Australia and I have a ton of relatives there. they are having just as many, and the same problems we are having here.

        1. Australia now has very strict gun laws. You must have a license, and a genuine reason (which does not include self-defense) for ownership, and each gun is individually registered to a licensee.

        2. Australia has a fraction of the homicides per capita of US. Murder rate by firearms is 1/10 per capita of the US, overall homicide rate is 1/5 US.
          https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Australia/United-States/Crime
          Mass shootings in Australia are extremely rare.
          Mass shooting in the US, practically a weekly occurrence.
          Toddlers shooting people in Australia, never heard of it happening. In the US? Practically weekly.

          BTW, I find it odd that evidence that contradicts your claims is retorted by “read your history”.

          “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
          John Maynard Keynes

        3. Well in the UK it is very hard to get a gun legally & there are remarkably few gun crimes. Being an island helps… I suppose that with guns so freely available you will not easily get rid of them. But assault weapons are not needed. What you need is trust in institutions. I wonder if US police would like a ban on assault weapons?

          1. There may not be a lot of guns and gun violence in the UK, but there are a lot of crimes committed by knives in the UK. Which just proves my point, If someone wants to kill someone bad enough, they will do so by any means possible.

            The number of offences involving knives recorded by police in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest on record, official statistics show, with big cities driving up the numbers.

            There were 45,627 offences involving knives or sharp instruments recorded by police in 2019, a 7% rise year on year, and 49% higher than 2011 when comparable records began, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

            1. By the time you have stabbed someone you feel the need to six times you could have downed a dozen people with an assault rifle, in the same time… I’m not a weapons expert by any means but you must be able to see the difference here… or not.
              The action to pull a trigger using a handgun is minimal to having to move your arms to thrust a knife with appropriate force. Even if you run from a knife wielder you have some chance, not so with a gun. Outcomes to this kind of violence are unpredictable so anything is possible (you picked the wrong victim) but a knife and an automatic assault weapon are not the same.
              I don’t think any point was proven other to say the UK has a rising violence problem over a given time using instruments of harm, no mass killings with guns, which we can be thankful for.
              NZ had a mass killing of 51 people with an assault rifle try doing that with a knife.

            2. There are far fewer murders per 100,000 people in the UK than the USA. In fact, the US murder rate with guns ONLY is higher than the UK’s total murder rate.

              1. It’s not about the population, but the murder *rate*. In percentage terms, you’re much more likely to be murdered in the US by someone wielding a gun than in the UK full stop.

              2. If you say so. What so many people do not understand is that there are bad and evil people out there. there always has been and there always will be. It is really naive and dangerous to think otherwise, or to not acknowledge this fact. If someone truly is intent upon hurting or killing someone else, they will ALWAYS find a way of doing so, no matter what. Jim Jones killed over 900 people by putting cyanide in their Kool Aid in Guyana. Over 3000 people were killed when planes rammed into buildings on 9/11/2001. There are never any guarantees, but at least we can be prepared and armed as best as possible.

              3. It’s not a case of ‘I say so’. The FBI’s own site makes it clear that three quarters of all US murders in 2019 involved firearms. The murder rate with firearms *alone* exceeds the total murder rate of several other nations combined. The presence of guns in US society has not made it safer – far from it.

              4. Well, taking away guns is not going to make us any safe either, in fact, it will make us much more vulnerable. taking away guns will make the world a much more dangerous place than it is by allowing people to have guns. Think what you want. I am done here. Neither you or I will change each other’s minds. All we can do is hope for the best.

              5. The facts don’t agree with you. The UK is generally less violent and dangerous than the USA. France is generally less violent, Germany is less violent, Canada is less violent, Australia and Japan are less violent… And all those countries have addressed gun violence in some way shape or form.

              6. I’d say the fact don’t agree with you. Once again, the biggest problem we have today is there are NO shared facts. One side gets their information from particular sources that fit their narrative, and the other side does the same, but the two narratives don’t support each other. It’s very sad, and very dangerous. The world of journalism NEEDS to go back to presenting the facts, NOT their opinions and editorials. Let the people decide for themselves. It is NOT their job to make our decisions of what is fact and what is not.

              7. I can provide you with sources. The US murder rate details are drawn from the official FBI site. The UK rate from the Office of National Statistics. Challenge them if you wish, but they *are* facts.

              8. And I can provide you with sources too. And I have, just like you have. We are obviously getting our information from different sources and the information is different on both sides. I don’t know what to tell you other than we do not have shared facts, and I think this is dangerous to society as a whole because no one knows what to believe. Good luck.

              9. But do your facts refute the murder rates of respective countries? Do they address how and why mass shootings are virtually unheard of in the UK (we took steps after Dunblane to try and stop them, with considerable success)? To keep saying we don’t have ‘shared facts’… what is a ‘shared fact’? How does it differ from a fact? Is the information from the FBI on murder rates wrong? Incomplete?

        4. Sorry mate, but your impressions of Australia are way off. We’ve got plenty of our own problems here but to compare our problems to America in regard to firearms is utterly preposterous.

    5. Like Maru, I am compelled to respond whenever I see the words “Chicago and Illinois have some of the strictest gun laws in the country”. NO IT DOES NOT, Chicago, and the state of Illinois have massively permissive gun regulations. The only places that are more permissive are states that allow open carry, which Illinois does not. Furthermore, Chicago is not the “homicide capital of the United States” – there are lots of places with more per-capita homicide (by a lot)… How do I know that, you may ask? A) I live in Chicago, and have lived here since the peak of violent crime in the 90s, and B) I actually have a CCW permit and I own some firearms (I’m sorry, I’m originally from Wisconsin).

      I would like to see these mass shootings end, I would also like to see an end to the day to day violence in my city – however these are largely different issues, with different solutions. I’m saddened that the daily suffering of mostly black and brown people here doesn’t ever seem to get the attention it deserves, particularly when it’s seen in contrast to these all too frequent, and dramatic mass shootings.

      1. Well, you don’t do your homework very well. With 2 quick and simple searches on GOOGLE, I just disproved your theories.
        As of Dec. 31, the city recorded 774 murders in 2020, an increase of more than 50% from the 506 murders in 2019, according to a database maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times. The uptick was felt across the city, as 20 of the CPD’s 22 police districts recorded more murders in 2020 than the year before. The number of overall shooting incidents skyrocketed, too, rising from 2,120 in 2019 to 3,237 as of Dec. 27, 2020. The department’s murder clearance rate on the year stands at 45.6%, with detectives closing 350 murder cases in 2020 — the most in a single year since 2005, according to CPD spokesman Don Terry. The department’s clearance rate in 2019 was 53%. 2020 gave way to the single deadliest day in Chicago’s modern history. On May 31 — as the city was roiled by protests and looting spurred by the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer — Chicago recorded a staggering 18 murders in 24 hours. Along with shootings, carjackings also dramatically increased in 2020, rising by 105% from 2019. Violent crime rose in major cities all across the country, but Chicago saw the most murders of any American municipality, nearly matching the combined totals of New York City and Los Angeles, according to records from all three police departments.

        1. Per capita the US city with the highest murder rate is St. Louis, Missouri.

          Then:
          Baltimore
          New Orleans
          Detroit

          https://www.statista.com/statistics/243797/ranking-of-the-most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-by-murder-rate-per-capita/

          Contrary to your comment below:

          “I gave you the statistics. Numbers don’t lie, and these all came from reliable sources.”

          Numbers can lie or at the very least mislead when used out of context. For instance the context of homicides per capita which give a true baseline. A town of 100 people may claim they have a low murder rate of 1 per year but in context of per capita murders that town would be top of the list.

          Suggested reading:
          Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists
          Book by Joel Best
          How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.

    6. Your host just showed that proliferation of fire arms is correlated with the number of gun deaths, In the world, as well as in the US. How do you explain that?
      I’m not really interested in sites that have been exposed as biased, btw.

      1. Then if you are NOT interested in biased sites, don’t follow Facebook, Snopes, Politico, the MSM. And one of the sites I mentioned was the CDC. So what you are saying is that you listen to what the DC says on somethings, but not others.

    7. “Most mass shootings are committed by career criminals” I think that is incorrect, as I understand it, most mass shootings are carried out by nuts with no or only a minor criminal career. By amateur psychos, if you want.
      That being said, I think ‘background checks’, unless carried out by good professionals (and even then), would make not much of a difference.
      The ‘default’ should be no fire arms at all, unless good reason: cash in transit guys, arms collectors, hunters, and, of course, a well regulated militia (and the like)).

        1. You speak, it seems to me, out of a deep fear if your fellow citizens. The US is stuck in a situation that is hard to escape from.

          If we accept hunting rifles & hand guns, I still cannot see any justification for military grade weapons.

      1. It depends on how you define “mass shooting”. If you use a definition like “at least four people shot in a single event”, then most of them by far are gang-related and committed by career criminals. Even if you try to add some criterion about innocent people being shot, it still ends up that way. Plenty of parties and funerals get shot up by gang members. But the national media rarely report on those.

        You have to exclude shootings related to gangs and street crime to arrive at a definition of “mass shooting” that jives with what you see in mainstream news reports, and some mass shooting databases explicitly (but quietly) do just that. And yes, those do tend to be committed by people who have legally obtained weapons and would pass any reasonable background check.

        1. But even so, those numbers of deaths are unacceptable in a civilised society, surely? Mass shootings, however you want to define them, just don’t happen at the same level in any other advanced economy in the world.

      1. You are being sarcastic, but I believe gun control opponents actually believe that. Of course, the fact that heavily and equally armed rival street gangs account for so much gun violence contradicts that belief.

      2. No matter what laws or how many laws you have on the books, the criminals will ALWAYS be able to get them. I stand by my 2nd Amendment rights and I always will. All I can say is good luck to you. I know I will be able to defend myself.

        1. A perfect summary of the “me, myself, and I” thinking that has lead to this awful mess. But no, in all probability you will not be able to defend yourself or others.

        2. But you wont be able to defend yourself will you? Over the last few decades, there have been untold millions of 2nd amendment supporters across the US. Gun owners just like you, who thought they were safe because they owned a deadly weapon. How many do you think are dead now, due to gun violence? How many have been heartbroken, had their lives ruined, by seeing their children killed? Of course, that will never happen to you or anyone you love. Why? Because you will ALWAYS have your gun on you, cocked and loaded. You’ll NEVER have your back to someone with a gun. A mass shooter will never rampage around the school your kids or grandkids attend because it always happens to other people. Or maybe you’ll just happen to be there with your gun to take out the ex-military shooter who’s 40 years younger than you and has a semi-auto rifle and bullet proof vest. You and your family members will never find yourselves in a theatre, or shop or church where dozens get shot. Why? You have a gun, of course. And bad things always happen to other people, dont they?

          I don’t mean to be rude but i find it hard to be otherwise here. If you believe you’re able to protect yourself and those you love, through gun ownership, you are deluded. If you think owning a gun in a society full of guns is a net positive you’re wrong.

          Guns are a disorder in the American psyche, and a perversion in a civilised society. The idea that you have the right to own a gun – a deadly weapon – because other people might also own a deadly weapon with which they want to kill you, belongs in the dark ages. Its perverse in modern society. You obviously live in fear and while i sympathise to a degree, I dont think equiping yourself to shoot others is a civilised solution. It’s backward and selfish in the extreme. It also speaks of much deeper problems in the collective American consciousness.

          There are many thousands of people like you, who have to visit the grave of their kids every Sunday. People who, just like you, thought guns would protect them and their loved ones. The rest of the world views America’s relationships with guns with a mixture of horror and disbelief. The fact that you remain enthusiastically in their favour is asonishing.

          1. On top of which there is the appalling number of people including many small children who are unintentionally killed in accidents involving legally-owned guns. So you increase the risk of accidentally causing the death of your own loved ones without really reducing the risk of being killed or injured by an intruding ciminal.

          2. There are many more who have to had to visit the graves of loved ones because they could not protect them. If someone wants to kill or hurt someone bad enough, they will do so by any means possible. Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

              1. If there is a will, there is a way. Jim Jones killed over 900 people in Guyana with Kool-Aid. Later that same day, November 18, 1978, 909 inhabitants of Jonestown,[92] 304 of them children, died of apparent cyanide poisoning, mostly in and around the central pavilion.[93] This resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life (murder and suicide, though not on American soil) in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001.[94] The FBI later recovered a 45-minute audio recording of the mass poisoning in progress.[95] With that reasoning, Jones and several members argued that the group should commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Later-released Temple films show Jones opening a storage container full of Kool-Aid in large quantities. However, empty packets of grape Flavor Aid found on the scene show that this is what was used to mix the solution, along with a sedative. Jones had taken large shipments of cyanide into Jonestown for several years prior to November 1978, having obtained a jeweler’s license that would allow him to purchase the compound in bulk to purportedly clean gold.[97]

            1. Well, there aren’t, that statistical claim in your first point is fallacious. Demonstrably so. Then, your assertion that people kill prople, not guns, is absurd. Guns give someone the ability to murder many people very quickly, and at little immediate risk of violent intervention againt themselves.
              There is nothing that could be more suitable for mass murder as we currently see it, than an assault weapon. They’re re designed to kill. More guns is the last thing you need, so stop the selfishness, the fixation on guns and shooting. Then realise peace is about trust, unity, respect and collaboration. It’s not about buying guns so you can show them to other people. Its not about demonstrating you have more brute force and anger than them. Civilisation is about loving each other, it’s about caring. It’s not about how much fear you’re own gun imparts on others.

    8. “Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day.”

      The claim has been discredited many times and it’s easy to find links to criticisms of the “study”. This claim was generated from a self reporting study, then extended to the rest of the population.

      Anyone who considers these numbers for more than a few seconds will realize just how much of an exaggeration or outright fraud this is.

      Where are all the police reports? There exists not even a tiny fraction of the reports these numbers would generate.

      About 1/3 of Americans own firearms (many own multiple, some own over 20). 2.5 Million is 2.13 percent of 117 million gun owners. This means gun owners should see a 2.13 percent reduction in crime. But that doesn’t show up in statistics. High gun ownership states should be experiencing exceedingly low crime rates (2.13 percent is a HUGE amount, close to the overall rate for all of America) Conversely, people without guns should be seeing more crime, slightly over 1 percent (two thirds of the population). These high gun ownership states should be virtual bastions of safety and police departments should be overflowing with records of criminals and the gun owners that stopped their reign of terror.
      But they aren’t and they are still experiencing crime, on par with other states, in many high gun ownership states, higher.

      I would suggest people familiarize themselves with one of the gun lobby’s main researcher, John Lott.

      https://www.vox.com/2016/8/30/12700222/nra-social-scientist-claims-debunked
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2003/02/01/scholar-invents-fan-to-answer-his-critics/f3ae3f46-68d6-4eee-a65e-1775d45e2133/
      John Lott also states he has evidence of vast voter fraud.
      Google “John Lott fraud Sock puppet”

      Numerous gun owners have been shown in videos brandishing their weapons during minor altercations with other citizens, in some cases resorting to firing their weapons, sometimes injuring or killing the victim. In many cases these gun owners are found to be guilty of crimes, from brandishing to assault to homicide. It probably shouldn’t be surprising to many that these people often claim they were under threat.

      A review of the study showed many of the claims could have been considered a crime, a gun owner over reacting to an everyday occurrence. The kind of occurrence that in most countries results in raised voices or angry gestures but in America too often results in gunfire, injuries and too frequently, death.

      I would also suggest people Google “bystander shoots innocent person”. It’s not uncommon for a Good Guy With A Gun to shoot at someone he/she thinks is committing a crime, only to shoot an innocent bystander. Or to shoot the intended, for instance the man who shot and killed a shoplifter who was running away. Or just to be completely mistaken about a crime being committed.

      BTW, the 2012 study is The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, published in 2013
      Washington Post quotes:
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/16/the-study-that-gun-rights-activists-keep-citing-but-completely-misunderstand/


      The study calls the defensive use of guns by crime victims “a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed.” While it might be as high as 3 million defensive uses of guns each year, some scholars point to the much lower estimate of 108,000 times a year. “The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field,” the study notes.

      What the study found was there is a lack of data on firearms, their use and misuse in America.
      Much of that lack is directly attributable to the NRA and Republicans blocking funding for studies by various government agencies.

        1. Always the standard bearer of reliable information that Youtube and NewsMax.

          You’ve gone from quoting numbers and asserting numbers don’t lie to linking to NewsMax opinion pieces on Youtube. That you think that opinion piece is in any way a refutation of the points I made or of any cogent argument that supports you is, well, just sad.

          1. The same goes for you. the biggest problem we face is that there are NO shared facts. Whenever someone presents information, with the sources to back it up, people who do not believe that just automatically claim it is “Fake news”. Good luck. We are not going to change each others’ minds. All we can do is hope for the best.

    9. That’s actually funny. Chicago may have strict gun laws by US standards, but it doesn’t have strict gun laws. And, of course, guns are quite portable. You could buy a gun somewhere else and bring it in to Chicago.

      And, by the way, crime is only one part of the reason for strict gun laws. Suicide by gun and accidental shootings are also a real problem, in fact, probably a bigger problem than gun crime.

      1. If someone wants to commit suicide, they will find a way to do it, no matter what. if someone wants to kill someone, they will find a way to do it, no matter what. If someone one wants to commit a crime. they will. Just ask any cop, anywhere. if someone wants a gun, they are very easy to find, on the streets. If you have enough CASH, you can go anywhere and come back with a gun within minutes.

    10. None of my gun-owning friends, here in Chicago or around the country, have any problem following the various state/city laws concerning guns. Nor have they ever felt the need to open-carry everything, everywhere for the express purpose of intimidating those opposed to putting any limits on gun ownership.

      Doesn’t mean we can’t also have the common-sense gun regulations that the overwhelming majority of citizens, including gun owners, support, such as what we do with other objects, like cars: proof of ownership required, report if stolen, prove you can operate it correctly.

      And, as you probably know, in several of the mass public shootings, there were those “good guys with guns” who chose not to become involved, as it would have been impossible for the police to tell.

      1. I completely agree. However. I follow all the guns laws for Colorado as well. But my point is, to outlaw guns is not going to solve the problem, but will in fact, make the problems much, much worse because, no matter what laws or how many laws are on the books, the criminals WILL ALWAYS find ways to get guns. So to outlaw guns will only make it easier for criminals to commit violent crimes.

        1. Criminals— by definition— will find ways to get guns, cars, drugs or even children to use for illegal purposes. Having basic regulations makes it easier to arrest and convict them. I am not for outlawing guns, but for taking basic responsibility for what you own and use. Be it a gun or a car.

          It’s not like a gun just picks itself up and decides to do *whatever* on it’s own. Somebody is responsible for it.

          1. You can have as many laws as you want, but they don’t do any good at all when they are not enforced. In fact, they actually do more harm than good when they are not enforced because the criminals just laugh in the face of the law knowing they will get away with, literally, murder.

    11. Odd, I thought most criminals in the US were people fiddling their taxes, defrauding the government etc. That’s the case in most of the world.
      Most criminals are financial criminals, not violent criminals.

    12. Guns account for two-thirds of all US homicides. Countries with robust forms of gun control (UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, who all use different forms of gun control) have much lower homicide rates? In 2019 firearms accounted for nearly three-quarters of all US murders. The murder rate was 5.0 per 100,000 people. Therefore the US murder rate was nearly 3.75 per 100,000 if we look at only firearms. The UK’s total homicide rate over a similar period? 1.1 per 100,000. More than three times as many people were murdered by firearms in the US than murdered in the UK by any means. Yet the USA has far more guns in circulation.

      1. Jim Jones killed over 900 people with Kool-Aid in . if someone wants to kill another person, they will always find a way. Later that same day, November 18, 1978, 909 inhabitants of Jonestown,[92] 304 of them children, died of apparent cyanide poisoning, mostly in and around the central pavilion.[93] This resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life (murder and suicide, though not on American soil) in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001.[94] The FBI later recovered a 45-minute audio recording of the mass poisoning in progress.[95] With that reasoning, Jones and several members argued that the group should commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Later-released Temple films show Jones opening a storage container full of Kool-Aid in large quantities. However, empty packets of grape Flavor Aid found on the scene show that this is what was used to mix the solution, along with a sedative. Jones had taken large shipments of cyanide into Jonestown for several years prior to November 1978, having obtained a jeweler’s license that would allow him to purchase the compound in bulk to purportedly clean gold.[97]

        1. The majority of Jones victims chose to follow their charismatic cult leader and knowingly committed suicide. Jones himself ended his own life with a handgun.

          Suicide is different than murder. Victims of mass shooting don’t sign up for that; if fact they actively run from them. Sort of a big difference.

          1. What about the 3000+ people who were killed when planes rammed through buildings on 9/11/2001? They did not choose their fates.

            I think a lot of people are just way to naive and don’t really understand that there are bad, evil people out their in the world. there always has been and there always will be. If someone wants to hurt or kill someone, they will find a away to do it no matter what. We have to have a way of defending ourselves as best we can. There are no guarantees in life at all, but at least we can be armed and prepared as best as we can.

            1. To avoid violating The Roolz — I’m now in ‘take-it-outside’ you guys’ territory— this is my last comment, feel free to have yours. I can be found on fb should you wish to continue.

              Relying solely on inanimate objects to protect yourself (or anybody else) is a bad strategy. Just finished a nice course on EDC Knives, and their phrase applies equally to guns: “You have to earn your draw.”

  9. (Channelling that NRA spokesman with the “cold dead hands” slogan).
    This is a problem that can only be solved by MOAR GUNS!

      1. Oh, that’s a new one to me. I hadn’t heard of the heriot before.
        One possible way of reducing the number of guns in circulation might be to put a large tax on inheriting them. Well, in general, taxing legal gun ownership transactions, with heavy costs for not getting the paperwork right. But with the US’s patchwork of legislations, someone would work out a way to profit off different rates in different state.
        The problem is that Americans are sufficiently happy with their annual human sacrifices. Then the complain about the Aztecs building pyramids and ripping people’s hearts out at the top, and don’t see the contradiction.

  10. Although I agree 100%, there are some small details one might add here.

    – Mass shootings are generally carried out with semi-automatic rifles, but overall most fire arms deaths are due to handguns, not those rifles.
    – The high gun ownership in Switzerland is mainly due to the fact that about every male is an army reservist, and has ‘a gun in the cupboard’. I’d like to add that being a reservist of a regular army might qualify as being part of a ‘well regulated militia’.
    – I know some youngster gamers (of mixed race, something that counts in SA): they are the most well behaved, honest, empathic, ethical and polite bunch I know*, and not interested in guns. Sometimes eerily so: one would expect some anger, violence and contrariness in young male adults. I suspect that ‘video games ‘ are not just neutral, but even negatively correlated to gun violence.

    *No, not really nerds, they do sports and parties too.

    I’d like the SC to explain to us why there is this “well regulated militia” clause in the second, and what they think it means. From Heller I gather there is no reason that clause is there, means absolutely nothing and might just as well be scrapped.

    1. You must go back in history, all the way to 1790 and before to understand the militia phrase. Not creating or having a standing army was the fear of many anti-federalist. Therefore, seeing phrases such as this would give them a good feeling that the militia would be used if necessary and there was no need for a standing army. And naturally the militia should have arms available. The state did not provide free weapons to militia members, they had to produce there own. Anyway, this is what Madison was attempting to show in this 2nd amendment, not that every person had a right to a weapon.
      You look pretty stupid going to fight with no gun.

      1. So … the second amendment became null and void once America acquired a standing army. No?
        When did America acquire a standing army? The destruction of Washington in 1812 suggests that if there was an army, it was pretty shoddy. (Or did the British navy use Canada as a forward base, greatly shortening supply lines? It’s not a minor war which we waste much effort on here – Boney was a more significant bit of history.)
        I recall there was some … angst(?) over the introduction of conscription during the Civil War, but I’m not sure if it was on the winners side or the losers side. But was there a standing army before then? Maybe something to do with pacifying the newly-Americanised Indians after the Louisiana Purchase? Oh, there was a war with Mexico/ Spain some time around then as well.

        Regardless, by that argument, the second amendment should have gone out of the window in about “18 and a few dozen”.

    2. “The high gun ownership in Switzerland is mainly due to the fact that about every male is an army reservist, and has ‘a gun in the cupboard’. I’d like to add that being a reservist of a regular army might qualify as being part of a ‘well regulated militia’.”

      In Switzerland it is also easier to buy arms compared to other European countries. I thing Swiss law allows you to buy guns that would not be allowed elsewhere. A few years ago somebody claimed that Switzerland was the weapons supermarket of Europe.

      Fewer males have now an assault gun in their wine cellar compared with a couple of decades ago because (1) more and more males chose to do a civil service rather than military service and (2) they have now the possibility to leave their gun in a secured place instead of bringing it home.

      Militia well regulated or not, many crimes are committed in Switzerland with military guns, that arguably would not have been committed if such guns were not at reach. A newspaper article of 2017 that I just found says that the number of people killed by military guns within a year in the country went down to 200. Hundreds of people killed every year in a population of 8.5 million, just to keep a folkloric habit alive .

  11. You have heard all of my words on this site before so I will not repeat much of it. We all know the second amendment is a misinterpreted joke. One thing I would add to the article provided here is – mass murder is way down this last year. That is due to the virus we think. But murder by gun is up maybe 4 to 5 thousand over the previous year, so don’t worry, we are not falling behind. Unless or until we have the will to get rid of handguns and assault weapons, these are the weapons that kill all the people and make the manufacturers rich. We do not need any of these type guns and any sane person knows this to be true. Hunters know it as well. There are plenty of good hunting guns out there without any of these handguns or assault guns. Of all the murders done each year with these guns, how many murders do you think were done with hunting weapons? I will tell you, very few.

    1. We all know the second amendment is a misinterpreted joke.

      Do American bears have claws on their feet as well as their hands?

      Of all the murders done each year with these guns, how many murders do you think were done with hunting weapons?

      Do you mean (approximately) bolt-action long weapons with a clip of 3 to 6 bullets?

  12. In a sense, this issue is the liberal equivalent of the undisguised right-wing wish to have the current Supreme Court revisit Roe v. Wade. If there is ever a liberal majority on the court, it would be worth trying to get it to revisit court’s view that the second amendment covered virtually unlimited private ownership of firearms. Ironically, given the “strict constructionist” outlook of conservative judges, this is one issue on which they refuse to try to interpret the amendment as it was plainly originally intended — to establish viable state militias at a time when they were the organizational units of a national army. Once the US moved to a full-time, permanent, professionalized standing army (a prospect that would have dismayed James Madison, at least before the Battle of Bladensburg) that justification disappeared. At some point the SC needs to recognize that.

  13. I tend to agree that British style gun control is not likely to be practical here. The horses have left the barn. However, this does not mean we can’t do anything. Why is this always framed as an all-or-nothing question?

    1. “Why is this always framed as an all-or-nothing question?” Because Jeanne@9 and her friends have an irrational fear that Boulder will turn into “Nazi Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, [or] Russia” if we don’t straw-man this thing with all-or-nothing arguments. Preferably in all caps. [/s]

      1. It is true that the first thing an oppressive regime does to retain power is to disarm the populace, and restrict the access to free information (see North Korea, Communist China, and Cuba for examples.) The Nazis disarmed people, and the Confederates made sure to disarm blacks. It’s clear that the majority of free, developed societies allow their citizens to be armed. Now this doesn’t that it’s a MadMax style free for all. There are already regulations in place and it seems fair that these regulations should be re-examined.

    2. The late SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens, after first calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, suggested an amendment to it to restore and strengthen the Militia Clause that was summarily erased by the Heller decision, viz., “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.”

      1. No offense to Justice Stevens, even in it’s original form, that is exactly what it means. And even if you were playing games with the intent as Scalia was, it does not mean no gun regulation. They can twist it any way they want and that has nothing to do with removing hand guns or assault weapons. If you remove these from the planet there are still plenty of guns for everyone.

  14. “Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns.”

    We get this kind of statistic in a number of areas, including our high COVID case count, our use of gasoline, our wealth, etc. We are number one in many ways that are undesirable.

    People have all sorts of theories about what does and doesn’t work for managing guns. Oddly they generally don’t look at the actual data and notice the public hazard that guns create.

    Being exceptional is what we are good at, I guess.

  15. A minor quibble. Firearms control has not been devolved to Scotland which means that the law in Scotland is the same as in England and Wales (Northern Ireland had, for obvious reasons, different laws).

    1. With the exception that Scotland has separate laws governing ownership of air weapons, following the death of a two-year-old hit in the head by an airgun pellet. The shooter was subsequently convicted of murder.

      1. Six or seven years ago, IIRC. There was a considerable hand-in of air weapons in the subsequent amnesty. The idea that they’re an acceptable possession (let alone gift) seems to have gone now.

        I can’t remember the last time I saw a gun shop. The last one whose location I knew was converted into a pharmacy (with the drugs stored in the heavily reinforced strongroom which was necessary for the guns and ammunition) … getting on for 20 years ago.

  16. I think we need to allow the survivors of gun violence, and those whose loved ones have been killed with guns, to sue gun and ammunition manufacturers. Not symbolic, slap-on-the-wrist lawsuits, either – I’m talking 75% of a gun manufacturer’s annual profits kind of lawsuits.

    The advantage of this is that it would bypass the “BUT MUH FREEDOM!!111!!11!” gun enthusiasts who always flip out at any suggestion of limiting their sacred Second Amendment rights. The right-wing people are all for personal responsibility, are they not? The message is: we’re not taking anyone’s guns away – we simply want to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the effects their products have on society.

    Currently there is no downside to gun manufacturers selling as many guns as possible, including to potential mass murderers. Facing the possibility of a ruinous lawsuit would change the cost-benefit ratio: “Yes, we want to sell lots of guns, but not to people who use them to commit murder, or else the victims’ next of kin will sue our pants off.” Then we would see gun manufacturers campaigning for sensible gun reform out of self-interest! What a day that would be.

    1. Sure, as long as it’s applied consistently to other kinds of products like automobiles, medicines, etc. In no other area are manufacturers held liable for the results of people using their products illegally and improperly, when those products didn’t malfunction or otherwise function in an unreasonable manner.

      I don’t see how the scenario you describe would come about. Even if gun manufacturers campaigned for “sensible gun reform” out of self-interest, it wouldn’t help them. If their guns work at all, then somebody could still use one to kill somebody, and the survivors could file a lawsuit. No sensible gun reform would save them from lawsuits.

      What kind of gun reforms are you imagining that could be implemented at the manufacturer level and that would stop gun crime? Manufacturers don’t sell to the general public; at least I’m not aware of any who do. There’s a good chance it’s not even legal. Manufacturers sell to federally licensed firearms dealers, who then sell to the general public. In any case, there’s simply no way to manufacture a working firearm that can’t be used to commit a crime.

      The only reason to allow victims of gun crime to sue gun manufacturers for 75% of their annual profits (per case, presumably) is to put the manufacturers out of business. People who call for that should just honestly campaign for a blanket gun ban.

      1. “I don’t see how the scenario you describe would come about.”

        I don’t, either, to be honest, but it’s fun to imagine.

        “In no other area are manufacturers held liable for the results of people using their products illegally and improperly, when those products didn’t malfunction or otherwise function in an unreasonable manner.”

        My whole point is that firearms are the only product available to the general public that is expressly designed for killing and injuring living beings. (I’m not counting things not available to the general public, like Hellfire missiles and landmines and such.) The other examples you cite – automobiles, medicines – can certainly injure and kill, but that is not their purpose. So, if manufacturers choose to profit by selling items that are intended to cause pain and death, am I supposed to say, “Oh no, we can’t sue weapons manufacturers because then they might go out of business, and we just can’t have that”?

        Also, your point about licensed arms dealers is valid, but doesn’t change my overall argument. If I tell my buddy Shorty to take care of some guy who annoyed me, and Shorty does so, then I’m still criminally liable for the guy’s death, even though I acted through an intermediary.

        1. “My whole point is that firearms are the only product available to the general public that is expressly designed for killing and injuring living beings.” I donno, we’ve got poisons and traps and “tactical” knives all designed to kill or injure living beings. People sometimes commit murder with them (maybe not traps, though :-P). It doesn’t seem right to hold a poison manufacturer responsible because an unfaithful husband got the ol’ rat poison in the coffee.

          I’m pretty sure no gun manufacturer would say that their products “are intended to cause pain and death”. Police cause pain and sometimes death but they (ideally) do it in service of a higher purpose: protecting society from criminals. I’m sure the manufacturers would appeal to that same higher purpose. “We sell guns as shields to protect the innocent from those who would victimize them.” And they might even be honest in saying that.

          If there was no legitimate usage of firearms I’d probably agree with you, but we just don’t have a legal principle that manufactures should be held liable when products are abused by criminals to commit crimes, and I wouldn’t want a double standard just for gun manufacturers. Anyway, I think most people who propose such a thing know it would put them out of business. It’s their backhanded way of pushing for a gun ban.

          1. “I’m pretty sure no gun manufacturer would say that their products are intended to cause pain and death.”

            In the words of our President, c’mon, man. What do you suppose a person feels when shot with a gun, a pleasant tickling sensation?

            “I’m sure the manufacturers would appeal to the same higher purpose… And they might even be honest in saying that.”

            Then I’m calling them out on it. If guns are really “shields for the innocent,” as you claim, then there should be no problem in the possibility of lawsuits, should there? The lawsuits would be only for people *wrongfully* injured with guns. (A burglar who gets shot in the leg by a homeowner defending their property doesn’t get to sue the gun manufacturer, in my scenario.) But you and I (and everyone with a brain) know that the more guns there are, the higher the risk of an innocent person getting hurt/killed.

      2. … as long as it [gun liability]’s applied consistently to other kinds of products like automobiles, medicines, etc.

        Does “etc.” include cigarettes? Some products are, as the book title regarding automobiles manufactured without commonsense safety features had it, Unsafe at Any Speed.

        I take it, based on your comment above, that you favor repeal of 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901–7903, which grants gun manufactures a type of immunity not available to the manufacturers of other commercial products?

        1. I don’t have a problem with people taking risks (e.g. by buying cigarettes) if they know the risks. I appreciate attempts – by legal mandate if necessary – to standardize, simplify, and more reliably communicate accurate information about loans, cars, drugs, foods, etc. so that people can make informed decisions.

          I favor repeal of that law provided courts can be trusted to apply the same standards to gun manufacturers that they apply to other manufacturers. But it seems the law was written – at least the law itself says it was written – because of various attempts to apply special liability rules to gun manufacturers holding them accountable for misuse of guns by criminals when the same wouldn’t be done for other types of products.

    2. That would be a bit strange. Some of the more popular rifles in the USA (e.g. AR-15 pattern) and most handguns are specifically designed for killing people. You’re talking about suing firearms manufacturers for making a product that does its job effectively.

  17. I’m all for having a conversation about gun control, but those on the side of gun control, especially when they say they are animated by a particular crime such the recent mass shooting, should explain how their proposal would have helped and should explain how they will get guns out of the hands of criminals.

    For example, the many people now calling for universal background checks – something I’m not opposed to – should realize that it’s already the law in Colorado and has been for almost a decade.

    Most other laws Congressmen have proposed already exist in certain locales and they’ve largely been ineffective there. Most mass shootings are committed by career criminals and go unreported in the mainstream media, but most of those that are reported involve firearms obtained legally by people who would pass any reasonable background check.

    The only policy that might make a real dent, then, is completely banning firearms. Of course, career criminals, who commit most of the shootings, won’t comply, and law-abiding gun owners won’t want to be unilaterally disarmed. Almost nobody in Congress is proposing this, and I doubt it could pass.

    So it seems we have proposals that don’t work and proposals that won’t pass, and very few people who want to honestly engage with the realities of the situation.

    1. There is no doubt the large number of guns in circulation will complicate any efforts at control. With almost 300 million horses already out of the barn, I despair that there isn’t much that can be done. At least not in less than a generation.

    2. Actually, if most firearms are banned as they are in the UK, career criminals, for the most part, will comply. The reason for this is that guns will become hard and expensive to obtain, even illegal ones, so most criminals won’t bother. Furthermore, anybody seen in public carrying a gun will immediately be in serious trouble.

      And it’s not just about deliberate homicide. Several hundred people die in the USA due to accidents and negligence. Also suicide by gun dwarfs all the other gun deaths. Guns are a particularly easy way to kill yourself, being literally point and click. Ban or control guns better and you’d be saving thousands of lives before you even get to the criminal killings.

    3. “…but most of those that are reported involve firearms obtained legally by people who would pass any reasonable background check”.

      Isn’t a large part of your answer right there? In countries, such as the UK, where you can’t just go and buy multiple firearms over the counter, with or without a background check, those people would not have had the weapons to carry out the attack. Granted inter-gang killings may not be prevented by strictly limiting and reducing legal gun ownership, but isn’t it already something to stop the high school and college killings carried out by people who are not gangsters or career criminals and who manage to slip through the background checks that are supposed to prevent guns falling into unsuitable hands?

  18. While I am happy to live in a place where there are very few murders, and think that in a reasonable society at most the police would have guns, there is the practical question of gun control in the States. Forget about restrictions on buying and selling; what about those already there? No-one knows who owns how many. Voluntarily giving them up wouldn’t work. It would be interesting to see some concrete suggestions on how a significant restriction could actually be implemented.

  19. Next time the Brits invade, be warned: we’re strapped and ready!

    In that case, though, we may have to invoke the Third Amendment regarding quartering soldiers in our homes.

    1. Point being, the Second Amendment is as anachronistic as the Third.

      The modern United States has no more need of citizen militias keeping and bearing their own firearms than it has of a prohibition on the involuntary quartering of soldiers in private homes during times of peace.

  20. Agreed – far too many guns, and far too many of them in the wrong hands. What could possibly go wrong?

  21. Guns needs ammo to not become simple “throw at your face” objects. Stop selling guns *and* ammo like it’s done today, and it will become a non-argument rather rapidly.

    1. This reminds me of a funny bumper sticker I saw long, long ago, a sharp counter to one of the grossly misleading NRA slogans circulating at the time. It said:

      GUNS don’t kill people—BULLETS kill people.

  22. I suspect there are many more guns in the US than the 270 million mentioned. I have 7 guns that were passed down to me from my dad and granddads over the years, and I’m sure these aren’t counted in the total. I suspect this is very common. BTW, I have no ammunition for any of them.

    1. I’ve got an 1848 Garibaldi rifle from Civil War days that was handed down to me. It hangs on the wall. It can’t be fired due to rust, if nothing else. But the bayonet remains sharp. I’m going to defend myself against the tyrannical government with it when they come by in their black helicopters.

      1. Bringing a bayonet to an air-to-ground missile fight? Hmmm, Your life insurance provider is calling on line 2.

  23. Jerry, I’m not sure that there are any significant differences between fire arms control in Scotland and the rest of the UK with the exception of Northern Ireland. ( Firearms control is a matter for Westminster governance: it is not delegated to Scotland’s Parliament in Edinburgh ) I have not studied the matter however and it may be that you are correct in some respect. (Scotland did however legislate a few years ago to put in place a licensing scheme for possession of air rifles pistols.)
    One aspect of US gun culture which is rarely mentioned us the appalling loss of life amongst young children by the accidental discharge of firearms ( often by other children ( almost 1400 last year) UK figures are negligible – usually occurring on farms. I think this is tragic and all because if parental negligence.

  24. I guess I will wade in with my three cent’s worth. A couple of important points:
    The perfect defensive use of a gun is one where no shot is ever fired. Crime prevented is hard to quantify. Also, the point that being armed makes on less safe is related to a study which included households where guns were present because of a specific risk of violence, like households where gang members live, or where drugs are sold.
    I live in an area where access to guns is almost universal, but there there is almost zero gun crime. On the other hand, we have very low population density, and the six police officers in our county are not going to be of much help in an emergency, even if we had cell reception. Disarmed, we become the Clutter family of Holcomb, Ks.

    If we subtracted homicides related to gang activity, the US would rate alongside places like Denmark, as far as homicides go. I don’t think “Number of mass shooters” is a real metric of the risk faced by residents, either.

    The latest homicide rate I can find for the USA is around 5 per 100K residents. We are adjacent to a country where the number is 25 per 100K, and we have less control over that border every day.

    Number of guns owned is a less useful metric than the number of armed persons. I am a collector of antique guns, as was my father and grandfather. The end result is that I have a lot of guns. But a person can only use one at a time. A person with 10 or 100 guns is no more potentially lethal than a person with one. And frankly, it would be better to address the issue of the gang member with the illegal gun right there in Chicago than it is to pass legislation that would primarily have the effect of disarming and criminalizing my neighbors, who are no danger to anyone.

    Most of my neighbors view all of this with a great deal of skepticism. It is not unreasonable to wonder what you plan to do to us that you cannot do unless we have been disarmed and pacified.

    I wish I was going to be in Texas when Dr. Coyne is there. I would love to take him to my Wife’s family ranch down there, so he could gain insight on our perspective. On that subject, as a BBQ obsessive who grew up in the area, my wife wanted me to mention that Franklin’s is probably the best, but there is usually a line. The best BBQ meal experience is probably County Line, which used to be a scout camp, although they claim it was a speakeasy. The view and atmosphere is great. It used to be trees and hills and the sunset, but has been developed in the last couple of decades. It is still a great place to go.

    1. “A person with 10 or 100 guns is no more potentially lethal than a person with one.”

      The Las Vegas shooter would disagree, as would his 867 victims.

      “If we subtracted homicides related to gang activity, the US would rate alongside places like Denmark, as far as homicides go.”

      Citation please?

      1. It is easier to reload than it is to switch guns. I don’t know why the LV shooter felt he needed so many guns. He had 24 guns with him, and fired about half of them. It seems to me that his needing any more than two was related to possible mental illness.

        Homicide rate from wikipedia, US-4.96, Denmark 1.01
        WTTV reports “Gang-related shootings and murders would be closer to 80 percent.”
        LA times estimates 60% of homicides there are gang related.

        There is no reliable national database of gang related murders. But most of the murders in the US occur in 2% of counties. Even in those counties, the murders are usually focused in particular neighborhoods. Most counties in the US have no murders in an average year.
        (University of Michigan ICPSR)

        There is some contradictory information on this subject, and an explicit effort in some places to not connect gang and crime data. However, the 80% number was also related by ABC news, as the percentage of US crime in general that is gang related.
        So the Denmark comparison is fair, although the numbers could be somewhat lower or higher.

    2. “If we subtracted homicides related to gang activity, the US would rate alongside places like Denmark, as far as homicides go.”

      Even if we were to grant this (which I do not), what justification do you have for removing 80% of firearm homicides (8000, Denmark’s homicide rate is 1/5 US) in a discussion about the easy access of firearms in the USA and its high murder rate? Is it because they are criminals, therefore their criminal homicides shouldn’t count towards the non-criminal criminal homicides? Are their guns magical, somehow just appearing out of nothing and nowhere? Are their victims less dead?

      I keep seeing this assertion by gun enthusiasts but it makes no sense, not the numbers and not the basic premise nor have I ever seen anyone give a citation to support the assertion.

    3. I am a collector of antique guns, as was my father and grandfather. The end result is that I have a lot of guns. But a person can only use one at a time.

      How many of your weapons have been permanently disabled? (So that it would be easier for a reasonably skilled and equipped machinist to make a gun from scratch than to re-enable them.)

      1. I am not sure how that is relevant. The answer though, is very few.

        I do think people overestimate the difficulty of manufacturing firearms. A great deal of research was done in the mid 20th century to develop firearms specifically for simplicity of manufacture and reliability even in the face of poor manufacturing technique. A reasonably skilled and equipped machinist could crank out Sten clones by the hundreds. A marginally skilled and poorly equipped machinist can still make ugly but fairly reliable submachine guns, along the lines of those manufactured by gangs in Brazil.
        https://homemadeguns.wordpress.com/category/submachine-guns/
        I have a neighbor who spends his free time making precision barrels for long-range competitive shooters. He does this in a nondescript shed behind his mobile home.

        I made a breechloaded gun for the first time when I was 12, using no premade gun components. I still make flintlock and percussion guns as a hobby. That is at best 18th and 19th century technology. Powder and primers are just chemistry, and also centuries old techniques. A substantial percentage of people who make guns as a hobby have at some point made their own powder as well. There is some art to doing that safely and well, with the preparation of good charcoal being the critical step.

        Barring some apocalyptic disaster that sends us back to a nomadic lifestyle, we are not going to be living in a world where a person who wants a gun cannot get one. We can build a society where people are very averse to killing others without the presence of an immediate deadly threat to themselves or their families. There are many such places already.

        One of many important lessons I learned in the USMC was the answer to which of two people was more dangerous, when one has a machine gun and the other has a rock. The answer of course is that the one willing to kill is the most dangerous.

        1. Actually your post makes the case for gun control lobby. THINK about what guns were in use when US law makers ratified 2nd amendment! Flintlock rifles and muskets! These are hardly mass murder weapons. It was very rational to allow everyone to have these weapons for self defense and hunting. 200 years later, guns have become MUCH more powerful, enabling mass murders. 200 years further on from now, guns will become even much more powerful. How guns so powerful as to wipe out thousands of people in single shooting? Hunky dory right? Go ahead, make your own flintlock rifles and muskets. Nobody cares. If US were to interpret 2nd amendment strictly acceding to condition that existed when founding fathers ratified 2nd amendment, only flintlock rifles and muskets will be allowed! All modern guns should be confiscated, and it will create safe society.

  25. US politics are not determined by what a voting majority wants, be it more gun control, not-for-profit health care or a decent minimum wage. Each of these items offer a strong majority on a silver platter, but the parties demonstrably don’t care to grab them. The answer is easy and by now well understood: the USA is not really a democracy, but ruled by interest groups who pay the political caste.

    The British journalists is probably right. It was decided that mass shooting drills and annual sacrifice of dead children are part of the American Dream. That’s that.

    The periodical warming up of the debate is also a fully internalised. Americans are entrapped in all sorts of pseudo-debates they cannot really influence, and which have no effect other than to distract them enough to keep them out of real political power.

  26. I wonder if the Sandy Hook parents had emotionally “taken one for the team” and publicized the autopsy/path pictures of their children blown to bits – that might have moved the needle? A gruesome idea for sure but we the voting public think in images.

    In Japan you can count the gun deaths a year on one hand – because there are nearly no guns about. Gun deaths often make the national news there as exceptional, weird outrages. And Japanese people are no less or more mentally ill than us and they play more video games – the difference of course is ACCESS TO GUNS and a tortured reading of our Constitution.
    We are living in a very deadly delusion.
    D.A.
    NYC

    1. As callous as this may sound, deaths from mass shootings are a tiny fraction of the gun deaths in the US. Most gun deaths occur from use of handguns (crime and suicide), so the elimination/reduction of handguns is the real problem to solve.

      Put differently, 100% elimination of mass shootings would do little to reduce the number of gun deaths in this country.

      1. blitz: You are right about that, however, as am I pro second amendment we need to acknowledge that this is a growing problem and something that needs to be addressed. Majority of the shooters have been young men in their early 20s. Very very few are older than 35. Majority had mental health issues and were on prozac or another type of psychoactive drug. In addition – it’s true that gang related shootings actually take MANY MORE LIVES each year than mass shootings, but these get less media coverage because the loss of life is spread out over days and months and happens in multiple locations. A more detailed, thoughtful study which looks at not just numbers but other related stats such as socio-economic status, mental health status, age, type of weapon used etc, must be available out there somewhere…

  27. Someone do the math for me…..

    The US has a murder rate of 5 per 100k. Whites make up roughly 65% of the population and, according to the FBI crime stats, commit 24% of the murders. What is the white murder rate in the US? I’m guessing the white murder rate would fall pretty close to the murder rate in many of the peaceful European countries people like to point to.

    We don’t have a gun problem. We don’t have a mass shooting problem. We have a black violence problem. Ignoring the actual cause means we will never find the right solution.

      1. When you use deaths by homicide you also have to take into account that a substantial portion of white deaths are caused by blacks. That’s why I the stats I referred to were homicide criminals by race instead of victims. I’m just not smart enough to do the math to figure out the actual rate.

        I tried multiplying homicide rate in the us (5 per 100k) by white percentage (65%) times white percentage of murderers (24%) and got 0.8 per 100k. That on the low end of the European murder rate, but I don’t think I’m doing the math right.

      2. So, all black gun victims are shot by black gun criminals? And all white gun victims are shot by white gun criminals? And no white gun victims are shot by black gun criminals? And no black gun victims are shot by black gun criminals?
        You are conflating criminals with victims. Granted, it is harder to count criminals than victims, but you’re still making a very false equation.

        1. I’m not making a false equation. You’re arguing with a straw man. I never said any of those things you implied.

          But seeing as how blacks commit violent crimes against whites at a rate 45 times higer than the reverse, figuring out who’s doing the actual killings should result in an even lower white murder rate.

      1. I think you’re missing my point.

        Take England, which is overwhelmingly white. It has a murder rate of around 1.5 per 100k and very strict gun laws. Take a few million descendants from those English, give them a few million guns, and the murder rate is virtually unchanged. The difference isn’t the guns.

        England decided to import some “diversity” over the last few decades. In London, which is just over 10% black, those blacks accounted for over half of the violent crimes, just as they do for murder here in the US. Instead of just shooting each other, they stab each other. I can’t find exact murder rates, but I would be surprised if the black murder rate in England wasn’t very close to the black murder rate in the US.

        When I say we don’t have a mass shooting problem, I mean that our high murder rate isn’t simply a result of the numbers of guns. We have a truth that is absolutely verboten to say: Black people everywhere commit much higher numbers of violent crimes and murders than whites. Ignoring this fact to focus on guns means that whatever solution we come up with is bound to fail.

          1. Having read the report now, I see it says,

            “The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation publish figures showing that the homicide rate in the United States of America in 2019 was 50 per million, a similar rate to the previous year.”

            The homicide rate in the UK detailed in the report was 11.7 per million population.

          2. Thanks for that. There’s one part that really stands out to me. From the section on murder suspects by race:

            “Around one in five (21%) suspects were identified as Black, seven times higher than the general population (3%).”

        1. “When I say we don’t have a mass shooting problem, I mean that our high murder rate isn’t simply a result of the numbers of guns. We have a truth that is absolutely verboten to say: Black people everywhere commit much higher numbers of violent crimes and murders than whites. Ignoring this fact to focus on guns means that whatever solution we come up with is bound to fail.”

          But the assumption underlying your point is essentially that black people killing with guns is a separate problem from white people killing with guns, and can meaningfully be addressed separately. It isn’t, because while there are additional social factors of course, the most fundamental part of the equation — the one that is common to both — is the prevalence of guns.

          1. My point is that it’s not the prevalence of guns, it’s the prevalence of blacks. The murder rate of whites in gun-free Europe is roughly the same as the murder rate of whites in gun-rich US. Also, the murder rate of backs in gun-free Europe seems to be similar to the murder rate of blacks in gun-rich US.

            If we want to fix the problem then we have to acknowledge what the actual problem is, and it isn’t a problem of guns. It’s the problem of black violence.

            1. Doubting Thomas, your reading of statistics is faulty. The relevant table to look at in the FBI stats is not extended table 6 (which is only a subset of murders, namely single-victim/single-offender) but extended table 3 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-3.xls), ethnicity of *all* murderers. The “white” total there is 4,884, or 29.9% of all murderers. As a proportion of the white population of the US (c. 196 million) that represents 3.87 times the number of white murderers in England and Wales per unit of population, i.e. 67% of approximately 500 murderers in a white population of 52.1 million for England and Wales (see tables 29 and 24 respectively in the Excel downloadable at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales). Moreover, since white gunmen are responsible for some 67% of *mass* shootings in the US (https://www.statista.com/statistics/476456/mass-shootings-in-the-us-by-shooter-s-race/), that 4,884 or 29.9% of the population represents a significantly larger proportion of murders (i.e. victims) than 29.9%. Add in the fact that ethnicity is not reported for a further 29.5% of all murderers, then applying the known ethnic proportions to that group means that a further 8.8% of the total is likely to be white, which pushes the disproportionality with the UK up from a factor of 3.87 to a minimum of 5.01 (and because of the mass shooter phenomenon, which doesn’t exist in the UK, almost certainly more).

              The black murder rate in the US is certainly disproportional to the black population: applying the same methodology for assigning race to unknown ethnicities, they represent 50.1% of murderers from a group representing 12.2% of the US population — in other words, at 4.1 times their number in the population.

              So, to summarize, the difference in white murder rate in the US compared to England of 5 TIMES is one that you have characterized as negligible (“virtually unchanged”). Yet you characterize a disproportionality of 4 times in the US black murder rate to be not only significant, but virtually the only point of significance in the whole debate.

              I don’t know anything about you, so I won’t speculate on your reasons for presenting such a misleading picture. But I will re-state my point, which the above analysis fully justifies: yes, guns damn well *are* the most fundamental problem in this equation.

              1. “The “white” total there is 4,884, or 29.9% of all murderers.”

                That includes hispanics as white. Take out the hispanics and whites committed 3308 or 20% of all murders.

                As for the black murder rate, if we simply exclude the unknowns then blacks account for 55% of all known murderers. Since the unsolved murder rate is higher in black communities (Snitches get stitches), then I would be surprised if the actual black murder rate wasn’t a little higher than that.

                And I’m very skeptical about your statistica link. It won’t let me see their methodology, but often they exclude gang or crime related mass shootings which drives the white percentage up significantly. The NYT included all mass shootings regardless of gang affiliation and blacks committed something like 75% of mass shootings.

                As for the reason I presented my data, it’s because I’m a racist, sexist, transphobic, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobe who didn’t cry at the end of Old Yeller.

    1. Almost exactly what I said in comment 33 below. I think this is a truth which is just too uncomfortable to acknowledge in today’s society.

  28. I see firearms as a cost/benefit analysis more at the level of the society at large than at the level of individual gun rights.

    Meaning, what do we gain as a society for the cost of tens of thousands of deaths and injuries each year, not to mention the contribution of guns to crime? What is the benefit and what would we lose if we were able to reduce the number of guns in society?

    When this analysis is applied to vehicles, I can answer that despite the carnage that they create, it would be hard for society to function without them. At the same time, we strive to make them as safe as possible. But I don’t see any obvious benefits for mass gun ownership that would offset the negatives. I also don’t see the regulation of safety of firearms that there is for vehicles.

    The second amendment argument to me is a completely separate issue to this question. It could be the case that the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment is that everyone could have a personal arsenal, but at the same time, this would be very bad for society.

    1. “The second amendment argument to me is a completely separate issue to this question. It could be the case that the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment is that everyone could have a personal arsenal, but at the same time, this would be very bad for society.”

      I wish more people on both sides would understand this point. When discussing a policy’s effect on societal well being, the Constitution is irrelevant.

    2. When this analysis is applied to vehicles, I can answer that despite the carnage that they create, it would be hard for society to function without them.

      The last year we have started on an experiment in changing that. As increasing proportions of the population have discovered that they can work productively without putting on a suit and tie and going to an office in the middle of town, then we are likely to see a major decrease (over years) in property values in town, and in the profitability of the personal transport industry.
      Things can change. Whether America has the will to make that change in respect of murder tools remains to be seen.

      1. I’m all for reducing vehicle usage. Not only would it reduce deaths, injuries and pollution, but it would take away this talking point from the gun advocates!

  29. A couple of things:

    The focus on a particular type of gun misses the point. Long guns, of all types, account for less than 3% of all deaths by shooting. So if you want to go after the 3% instead of the 97%, knock yourself out. But it’s not going to dent the issue.

    Handguns are the issue and basically no one is seriously talking about banning them (and based on SCOTUS rulings, that will not happen in my lifetime). Handguns are much easier to conceal, the ammunition is smaller and lighter, as are the magazines. You aren’t going to hit anything from 100 yards; but very, very few shootings are longer range than a couple of dozen feet. A handgun is a more suitable weapon for the job. It’s also easier to maneuver with and harder to be grasped by someone else (and possibly controlled or pulled away). Any handgun heavier than .25 ACP is plenty deadly.

    The key is preventing the wrong people from getting guns.

    I am strongly in favor of:

    100% background checks, preventing classes of people (e.g. felons, mentally ill, people on the terrorism watch list (basically all the questions on Form 4473)).

    Closing the gun show loophole for firearms transfers

    Registering all guns

    Requiring firearms training for gun owners

    Making gun owners legally responsible for the fate of their guns (require reporting of all movements of guns, including theft)

    A note on “Assault weapons”. It’s not possible to buy a new rifle (as far as I can tell) with a semiautomatic action that isn’t of a military style now. And we are only talking about styling. A Remington Woodsmaster from 1972 works more or less exactly the same as an AR-15 or AKM. This is because that is what sells. The gun buyers want that type of rifle (the prices are way up from even a few years ago).

    Saying that assault rifles “are designed for killing people” also misses the point. Or, rather is making a completely obvious point: All guns are designed to cause serious (immobilizing/killing) damage to bodies. Any other kind of gun is toy.

    1. Actually, the Roger Mini 14, with its wooden stock and finish looks like a compact .22 rifle suitable for plinking tin cans or shooting squirrels. It actually fires the same .223 ammo as an AR-15 and has the same rate of fire. Roger also makes an “evil” black version of the Mini 14. It can be customized with after market folding stocks, higher capacity magazines, scopes, etc.

  30. It is true that the total number of guns in this county FAR outnumbers most other countries with high gun ownership rates. Keep in mind though, that they’re not distributed equally. It’s a small amount of people who own multiple guns. I know people who have 15 guns that they just shoot for sport, target practice etc. Most of these people do not carry, even though we live in an open carry state. I just want to make a few points here also:
    1) Some countries with the LOWEST rates of gun ownership also have the highest rates of gun deaths and overall low standards of living. These tend to be developing countries in Africa, some of which are run by warlords with guns. In this case, the unarmed have no way to push back on the dictators in charge
    2) The countries with the highest rates of gun ownership are actually the most developed and the most highly educated. These include Switzerland, Finland, Germany, France, Canada, and the list goes on. Most of these places do not have mass shootings and high rates of gun crime. So in my mind, this points to a third factor influencing the mass shootings.
    3) In the USA, believe it or not, the police are not obligated to protect you. By law, the police are required to enforce the law, and that’s all. There’s no mandate that they come by to rescue you when an attacker is breaking in (although they usually do.) This leaves the ultimate burden of protection on the individual. So if you live in a rural, outlying area which is sparsely populated and has slow fire/ambulance/police response times, you had best be armed against bears and anything else that might hurt you.
    4) The number one cause of gun death is due to SUICIDE. Now, does a person have the right to take their own life, as sad as that is? You decide.
    5) The cities with the most stringent gun restrictions still have the highest rates of gun related homicides. The reason is that these cities tend to be plagued with poverty, gangs, and criminal activity. The last stats that I have seen actually show that if you live in Chicago, Balitimore, and certain parts of LA and SF, you have a much higher chance of dying from at the hands of a gun even in spite of restrictions.

    So that brings me to my point: There are some demographic and cultural related issues which need to be studied along with simply the numbers of guns.

  31. When you remove black on black gun-related homicide, the US is no longer an outlier among developed nations. It’s actually kinda eerie how similar the stats become to those of European countries. Given that other countries don’t have black on black homicide, it’s safe to assume that that’s the one variable that must be addressed.

    Focusing on mass-shootings is futile. Mass shootings are pretty scandalous and frightening to think about, but the number of deaths don’t really amount to much, when compared to the overall rate of gun-related fatalities.

  32. Point of information: we *do* have militias. There is at least one “organized” militia in every state — including California — and Texas has two. There are also “un-organized” militias, usually linked to local county sheriff’s departments.

    –Leslie < Fish

  33. I might have mentioned this before, but when I lived in Brazil I remember the press reporting the extent to which the drug gangs used firearms from the US. Better gun control in the US, it seemed, would hinder the drugs business in Latin America – it would be difficult to run a drugs business without firearms. I can’t provide any data though – sorry.

  34. After following all of these comments and conversations, it seems clear to me that two fundamental things should happen: since the gun horse is already out of the barn, gun ownership should be at least equivalent to car ownership – license, registration, proof of competency, proof of insurance, and so on. Second, we need prosecutorial reform for all who commit murder and other acts of violence with guns [or any other lethal weapon as far as that goes]. The mass shooter at the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs will likely never be prosecuted because of ‘reason of insanity’ even though as in Boulder, a police officer was killed.

    The first move of the public defenders for the Boulder shooter was to request [and receive] a delay for mental evaluation. Perhaps the insanity plea should be abolished [not particularly relevant to the dead or their families], and the entire prosecutorial process should be expedited. Reopen Alcatraz and let it be the opposite of the comfortable prison facilities such as the Super Max in Florence.

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