Friday, March 8, 2013

Does a "Good Guy" With a Gun Really Stop a "Bad Guy" With a Gun, or a Knife, or a Heavy Object?

The study on whether the availability of assault weapons increases or decreases crime would be an arduous task, and I'm not sure anyone is doing it. If they are, the data isn't available from an Internet search as far as I see (Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go). Gun Rights groups claim it does based on charts showing a decrease in murderous crime since the end of the assault weapons ban in 2004, but that is not a responsible assessment. What we have in the US is an aging population. old fogies, a group more and more of us belong to, are not likely to go out and commit violent crime, because we are apparently "Le Tired" in the words of the French lady in delightful short video "The End of the World". I know that though I've never committed violent crime (that I can remember) I also don't go out until 2am doing other things very often anymore either.   I think most of us can relate to that.
(Chart on Top comes from The Death Penalty Information Group).

Bloomberg has published a chart showing that gun deaths per year will exceed traffic deaths by 2015 (post 2010 all projected).  But that is not controlled for population numbers as I can tell.  See first graphic below.  And though we can also see a precipitous drop in gun related deaths starting the year before the 1994 assault weapons ban and getting steeper as the ban goes into effect that seems to continue until the year 2000 though our population was increasing at that time as it has continued to do.  Apparently the decrease in deaths from auto accidents is from again our aging population, as well as automobile safety enhancements, and more informed procedures.  Twelve years ago who was putting the baby's seat in the middle back instead of right beside mom?
But if we give the gun advocates their due we should look not at only gun deaths, but at least all murders. Personally I don't care if you lose your automobile or your new stereo to a burglar, gun owner because you have the ability to shoot the the suspected thief (or the bird that bounces against your window).  I care about people dying.

So Bloomberg can show that more people are dying from "gun deaths" with an illustrative bounce in 2004 when the assault weapons ban expired, but we also want to know if more assault weapons and more firearms in general reduced the total murders (controlled by population).  Does a good guy with a gun stop a bad guy with a knife, or a baseball bat, or his fists in an unwarranted attack on a vulnerable person.  The chart clipped from the top chart for clarity shows that the murder rate has been reduced since 2004 which I explained above as possibly being due to an aging population, but look at the steep slide after the ban went into effect in 1994!

That was like the first big drop of a roller coaster ride.  Was an greatly improving economy a big help in that? It may have been, but, I think the ban, that supposedly totally unnecessary ban (according to the gun lobby) must have increased the slide for those years under Clinton.

Later, did the doldrums of the George W Bush years (in clip of chart set below) stop the slide, or was it the increased national belligerence (illustrated by the invasion of Iraq in 2003) and extreme partisanship induced by angry whites which would later emerge as the Tea Party that set a new trend in violence?

Luckily the "Le Tired" syndrome seems to have re-emerged as we sit our aging bodies down and watch our TVs, Hulu, dvds or Netflix or engage printed meda, or even read or argue over the Internet.

But I don't think the NRA's claim that resuming sales of assault weapons has done the job on the murder rate since 2004.  I think it's just old cranky bones.  Otherwise, murders wouldn't have done what they did  from 1994-2000.

Unfortunately, information is available only in small samples and specialized charts on the Internet.  Sometimes it seems that people try to use the small bits to make points that aren't valid, such as the NRA's "point" that the murder rate has gone down since assault weapons were allowed to be sold again.  In fact the first thing it did was go up for 3 years and from what I've seen in gun sales charts on pro-gun sites with I will not copy here since it would be from a hostile source, the drop in murder rate 2008-2009 coincides in a drop in gun purchases from 2007-2008, most likely because of the financial distress that was sweeping the nation.  Gun sales began going up again in 2009 (possibly late 2008) but that may not mean that more people had them, only that a smaller group was buying more guns each which means the murder rate reduction of 2009-2011 isn't correlating  with gun purchases because how many guns do you need to fend off a bad guy with a knife or club or even a gun?  Probably, only in extreme circumstances, more than one.

It would be helpful  for the number of gun owners to be counted, instead of gun purchases, and for all this to be tracked someplace everyone could easily find it.  Instead we get gimmicks from partisans -- like gun sellers and manufacturers and their lobbyists at the NRA to, even, gun control groups -- or fleeting news episodes some more emotionally manipulative than informational.  I believe though, that I've put down some useful analysis of what I could find to counter the idea that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, a club, or a knife, is a good guy with a gun.  It doesn't appear to be happening, given the other factors influencing our lifestyles in the US since the Assault Weapons Ban expired.

A big part of the reason that more available gun sales has not reduced murders is that straw purchases carry little penalty.  That is one problem that Common Sense would tell us to change by increasing those penalties.  But again apparently Wayne La Pierre and his cronies cannot stand the thought that a wealthy woman's son or a small time pimp can't get his hands on whatever weapon he wants to go out and kill other teens an young adults or even mow down first grade students at a local school.  

 Other resources on Gun Control, the NRA or the above report:
CS Posts:

Now There's Proof: Stricter Gun Laws = Fewer Gun Deaths

Neo Nazi Murderer, Illegally Posessing Fire Arms, Was Tracking Officials

Murderapolis No More. How Minneapolis Reduced Gun Violence

All New Wayne La Pierre. Now Making 100% Less Sense!  

Four Pinnochio Noses For NRA Ad Claiming Obama Kids Protected by Armed Guards at School!

Grandfather Who Comforted Sandy Hook Children Attacked by Deniers

 Sandy Hook Shooting Faked?

 Hitler and His Nazis Did Not Take Away Guns. Other Lies Debunked

 Video: More Stewart. This Time on Guns and Gun Control.

Lawrence O'Donnell's First Word on Wayne La Pierre's Friday Speech


  The End of the World as mentioned in post above ( and as allowed by You Tube embed code):

Other charts and snips claimed as "Fair Use" because of our non-profit status and the need of people to understand reality behind gun control and murder statistics.