(Note: The following data is compiled from a list of sources included at the end of summary. Please click links for more detailed information. Does not include deaths from war or other government/state perpetrators to include “crimes” committed in war zones. Both Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Major Nidal Hasan are cited in the overview. Doubtless, Hasan is included in current domestic crime statistics, Bales crimes are probably not included in domestic homicide stats. I also encourage readers to check data presented against other sources.)
According to a 2007 Small Arms Survey by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, about 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States and the nation has about “90 guns for every 100 citizens.” The US is it the most heavily armed nation in the world with its citizens “owning 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms.”
The 2007 report estimated there were 650 million civilian firearms worldwide, and 225 million held by law enforcement and military forces.
Although the AR-15 assault-type weapon – the civilian adaptation of the standard military issue M-16 - is the most popular “sportsman’s weapon” in the US, some estimates are that during the last 60 years well over 100 million Kalashnikov AK-47-style assault rifles – famously referred to as “the people’s gun” - have been put into circulation around the world.
The FBI also estimates that there are 250-270 million registered privately owned firearms in the US – 100 million handguns, 150-170 million shotguns and rifles. Others estimate 350,000,000, as there’s no way to know the number of unregistered, illegal foreign-made weapons in the country. Add those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums and that’s 1 weapon for every man, woman and child.
There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers, 51,438 of which are retail gun stores. That compares with 10,787 Starbucks stores, and 143,839 gas stations across the country. And that doesn’t count gun shows. About 40 percent of guns are sold in unlicensed private sales.
The majority of guns are owned by whites.
Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:
|Households With a Gun||Adults Owning a Gun||Adults Owning a Handgun|
A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership:
In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:
|Protection Against Crime||67%|
The most current polls report that among those who own handguns, 75 percent reported in a national survey that self-protection is the primary reason for owning a firearm. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology (link is to pdf for 2009 study) reported that US civilians used guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. (Is a Gun an Effective Means of Self-Defense?)
Other cite or argue:
- The 2nd Amendment & constitutionally protected rights – “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
- The 2nd Amendment is “the rebellion clause” in the Constitution (“No Prior Restraint [1st Amendment]” – Doctrine of Prior Restraint),
- “The 2nd Amendment is there to defend the 1st.”
- The government – to include the police and the military, shouldn’t have more guns than the people least we’d have a police-state,
- The police can’t be around to protect one all the time.
- Prevention from foreign invasion
- Laurence Tribe on the 2nd Amendment “Tribe, well-known as a liberal scholar, concludes that the right to bear arms was conceived as an important political right that should not be dismissed as “wholly irrelevant.” Rather, Tribe thinks the Second Amendment assures that “the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.” Tribe posits that it includes an individual right, “admittedly of uncertain scope,” to “possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.””
- Laurence Henry Tribe (bio) | Harvard Law School bio
[So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? By Jeffrey Toobin – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FSy4HiRc]
The Real And Racist Origins of the Second Amendment By Bruce Dixon - http://blackagendareport.com/content/american-history-black-history-and-right-bear-arms
United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law – GunPolicy.org – http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states
- Approximately 37,500 gun sales, including 17,800 handgun sales, are completed every day in the United States.
- In October 2012 the number of background checks on people applying to buy guns, an indicator of future sales, increased by 18.4 per cent. There was a similar jump when President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008. A total of 12.7 million background checks were carried out that year, up from 11.2 million the year before, and the number has been rising since then.
- Black Friday 2012 gun sales set record – The FBI said that its call centers were flooded with 154,873 calls from firearms dealers seeking background checks — about a 20 percent increase from 129,166 on Black Friday 2011.
- In 2005 the AFT estimated that 5,000 gun shows take place each year in the US. Most gun shows have 2,500 to 15,000 attendees over a two-day period. The number of tables at a gun show varies from as few as fifty to as many as 2,000. At the largest gun shows, over 1,000 firearms are sold over two days.
- “Gun show loophole“
- Gun Shows -State-by-State Regulation of Gun Show
- About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. own a firearms. That’s 70 plus million gun owners.
- The average gun owner has more than one weapon – 4 on average.
- The number of firearms rises over 4 million annually.
- Firearms are generally classified into three broad types: (1) handguns, (2) rifles, and (3) shotguns. Rifles and shotguns are both considered “long guns.”
- A semi-automatic firearm fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled and automatically loads another bullet for the next pull of the trigger. A fully automatic firearm (sometimes called a “machine gun”) fires multiple bullets with the single pull of the trigger.
The 9mm has replaced the .38 and the .32 as the weapon of choice of many gun owners and doubtless, guns are used more often than rifles in weapons-related incidents. It’s the most common home protection weapon.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales – charged with the murder of 17 Afghan civilians and the attempted murder of 6 others in Panjwai, Kamdahar, Afghnaistan on March 11, 2012 – used an M4 carbine outfitted with a grenade launcher, a 9 mm pistol and a knife.
Four months later on July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and fired into the audience of a Aurora, Colorado movie theater killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. He had multiple weapons – a 12 Remington shotgun, 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Tactical , a Smith & Wesson M&P15 – semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which malfunctioned after reportedly firing fewer than 30 rounds and a Glock 22 handgun.
Background Checks and Criminals’ Sources of Guns – http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
Modern Firearms – AK-47 in US – http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/ak-akm-e.html
- Approximately 46 murders are committed each day in the U.S. 27 of those will be killed by a gun. That’s a total of about 16,700 plus each year although the actual number is closer to 17,000.
- Most Americans that are killed by gun violence are killed by handguns in their own homes.
- Worldwide an estimated 520,000 people are murdered each year. That’s an average of 1,477 per day per day. Two-fifths of them are young people between the ages of 10 and 29 killed by other young people.
- Homicide rates among 18- to 24-year-olds have declined since 1993, but remain higher than they were prior to the 1980s. In 2005, the 17 through 24-age group were significantly over-represented in violent crime stats, particularly homicides involving firearms. In 2005, 17- through 19-year-olds was 4.3% of the overall population of the United States. This same age group accounted for 11.2% of those killed by firearm homicides. This age group also accounted for 10.6% of all homicide offenses. The 20- through 24-year-old age group accounted for 7.1% of the population, while accounting for 22.5% of those killed by firearm homicides. The 20 through 24 age group also accounted for 17.7% of all homicide offenses. Those under age 17 are not over-represented in homicide statistics. In 2005, 13-16-year-olds accounted for 6% of the overall population of the United States, but only accounted for 3.6% of firearm homicide victims, and 2.7% of overall homicide offenses.
- People with a criminal record are also more likely to die as homicide victims. Between 1990 and 1994, 75% of all homicide victims age 21 and younger in Boston had a prior criminal record. In Philadelphia the percentage of those killed in gun homicides that had prior criminal records increased from 73% in 1985 to 93% in 1996. In Richmond, the risk of gunshot injury is 22 times higher for those males involved with crime.
- Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, with somewhere between 1.2 to 3 million guns in the private residences of its approximately 8 million citizens. In 2006 in that country there were 34 recorded murders or attempted murders with a gun, representing a firearm homicide rate of 1 per 250,000.
- In 2009, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 66.9% of all homicides in the United States were perpetrated using a firearm. There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000.
- The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.
- Nationwide, the most recent FBI data shows that the total number of justified homicides by citizens rose from 176 in 2000 to 325 in 2010. Justified homicides are “certain willful killings” that “must be reported as justifiable, or excusable” – this includes the killing of a alleged felon by a police officer in the line of duty” and “the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.” Totals for all homicides rose slightly over the same period, but when adjusted for population growth, the rates actually dipped. An earlier 2008 FBI study had picked up on the spike in the number of justifiable homicides. According to the report, in 2007, police officers killed 391 people — the highest number since 1994 — and private citizens killed 254 — the most since 1997.
- According to the Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) state-by-state study of the latest 2009 government data, gun-related deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 10 states. The 10 states are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
- Murders per capita by state
Crime & Race:
“The black homicide victimization rate is six times the white rate, so this is clearly a worthy issue to address. But, it is important to note that the black homicide victimization rate was cut in half from 1991 to 1999. It declined 49 percent while the white rate declined 39 percent.” (Racial inequality and the black homicide rate)
Even so, in 2012, Chicago experienced 485 killed in gun violence, 125 under the age of 18, mostly black.
- The Violence Policy Center – Black Homicide Victimization in the United States – An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data:
“National Data – According to the FBI SHR data, in 2009 there were 6,505 black homicide victims in the United States. The homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 17.90 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 4.76 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.92 per 100,000. Additional information contained in the FBI SHR data on black homicide includes the following.
Gender – Of the 6,505 black homicide victims, 5,576 (86 percent) were male, and 928 (14 percent) were female. In one case, the gender of the victim was unknown. The homicide rate for black male victims was 32.14 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for male homicide victims was 7.57 per 100,000. For white male homicide victims it was 4.26 per 100,000. The homicide rate for female black victims was 4.89 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall rate for female homicide victims was 2.01 per 100,000. For white female homicide victims it was 1.61 per 100,000.
Age – Five hundred sixty-one black homicide victims (9 percent) were less than 18 years old and 129 black homicide victims (2 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 30 years old.
Most Common Weapons – For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 82 percent of black victims (5,065 out of 6,156) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 74 percent (3,723 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 587 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 238 victims killed by bodily force, and 170 victims killed by a blunt object.
Victim/Offender Relationship – For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 72 percent of black victims (2,271 out of 3,134) were murdered by someone they knew. Eight hundred sixty-three victims were killed by strangers.
Circumstance – For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 71 percent (2,812 out of 3,937) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 54 percent (1,524 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender. Thirteen percent (355 homicides) were reported to be gang-related. Forty-nine percent of gang-related homicides (175 homicides) were in California, which may be in part due to more comprehensive reporting. In California, 60 percent of non-felony related homicides were reported to be gang-related.”
Homicide Trends by race from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Homicide Trends in the US:
Blacks disproportionately represent homicide victims and offenders
- In 2005, homicide victimization rates for blacks were 6 times higher than the rates for whites.
- In 2005, offending rates for blacks were more than 7 times higher than the rates for whites
The race distribution of homicide victims and offenders differs by type of homicide
For the years 1976-2005 combined -
- Black victims are over represented in homicides involving drugs. Compared with the overall involvement of blacks as victims, blacks are less often the victims of sex-related homicides, workplace killings, and homicide by poison.
- Race patterns among offenders are similar to those among victims.
Most murders are intra-racial-
From 1976 to 2005 –
- 86% of white victims were killed by whites
- 94% of black victims were killed by blacks
Stranger homicides are more likely to cross racial lines than those that involve friends or acquaintances
For homicides committed by –
- a friend or acquaintance of the victim, less than one-tenth (8%) were interracial
- a stranger to the victim, one-quarter were interracial
School & Mass Shootings:
- The ban on assault weapons expired on September 13, 2004. Under the federal ban from 1994 to 2004 there was a reported 60% drop in assault weapons deaths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban
On December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six others at the Sandy Hook Elementary School as well as his mother, Nancy, at her home prior to the massacre at the school. Lanza committed suicide after the tragedy. The shooting was the second deadliest in U.S. history, behind the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute that claimed 32 people on April 16, 2007.
Lanza had 3 weapons in his possession, legally obtained by his mother. He had two handguns, a Glock and a Sig Sauerm and a Bushmaster AR-15 “assault-type weapon” with magazines that held 30 bullets each.
Beyond the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)and its primary funder the National Rifle Association (NRA), a host of groups such as Gun Owners of America, OpenCarry.org, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and various statewide conceal carry groups have gotten to state legislators – Republicans and Democrats – in the past 2 decades. Extension of the “Castle Doctrine” lies at the foundation of gun carry laws.
- Castle doctrine – also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an legal doctrine that designates a person’s abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend against an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution. The Indiana Castle Doctrine law says that if someone has entered or is attempting to enter your home without your consent, you’re legally permitted to use a reasonable amount of force to expel the intruder from your residence. If you reasonably believe your life or members of your family are in danger, you can use lethal force. The revision to Indiana’s law states that public servants aren’t exempt from such treatment. Indiana residents must (a) reasonably believe the public servant is attempting to enter their home illegally and (b) use no more force than is reasonably necessary to dispel the threat to their lives or property.
- The “right to carry” movement started out in the late 80s pushing state and local governments – legislatively and in the courts – to expand who could have a conceal carry permit – which at that time was generally limited to private citizens deputized as state constables, private investigators and security personal.
- 49 states now allow citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.
- Out of the 70 million gun owners an estimated 6 million have conceal carry permits – of which the overwhelming majority are white and male.
- As of 2010 guns are allowed in all but about 20 of the park service’s 392 locations, including: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park. Guns aren’t allowed in visitor centers or rangers’ offices, because firearms are banned in federal buildings, but they can carried into private lodges or concession stands, depending on state laws.
- At least thirty-four states (and counting) now have a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law (also called ‘Line In The Sand,’ ‘Make My Day,’ ‘Kill at Will’ or ‘No Duty To Retreat’) – Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Many have now passed so-called “Applebee’s Law” which allows gun owners with permits to carry their guns in restaurants and bars. Just this year the South Carolina House approved a bill that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry their guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as they don’t drink. Virginia passed a similar law that took effect on July 1, 2010 and according to an analysis of Virginia State Police crime data by the Richmond Times-Dispatch “major crimes involving guns at bars and restaurants that serve alcohol decreased by 5.2 percent in the first year after the law took effect.”
Despite a provision in the 1994 Crime Control Act requiring the Attorney General to collect the data and publish an annual report on them, “official” statistics on police shootings or those “acting” as police (security officers, etc.) and use of non-deadly force is hard to come by. At present, no comprehensive accounting for all of the nation’s 17,000 police department exists. The Jericho Project of the October 22nd Coalition tries to keep track of the victims through its ‘Stolen Lives’ publication. In the 1990s, the Stolen Lives Project estimated that there were over 2,000 deaths at the hands of police and other law enforcement agencies. Police supporters claimed that the numbers were too high. Now it appears that the numbers of people killed by the police in the 1990s was even higher than Stolen Lives Project had estimated.
- Police or security officers killed 30 black people from January – March 2012 according to the US Human Rights Network. Of the 29 people killed (28 men and 1 female), 11 were innocent of any illegal behavior or behavior that was a threat to anyone – many of the shooters claimed the victims looked “suspicious.” 7 were emotionally disturbed and/or displaying strange behavior. 18 were unarmed. Two probably had firearms, 8 allegedly had non-lethal weapons. The remaining 10 were either engaged in illegal or potentially illegal activity, though nothing that would warrant death penalty if adjudicated.
- According to Amnesty International at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with tasers either during their arrest or while in jail. They reported the largest number of deaths following the use of tasers in California (92), followed by Florida (65), and Texas (37). The Oklahoma City Police led all law enforcement agencies in deaths (7) following by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Harris County Sheriff’s (TX), Phoenix, AZ and San Jose, CA., all with six deaths.
- A 2007 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Justice Department reported that from 2003 through 2005 at least 2,002 people died during their arrests by state and local law enforcement officers. The number of arrest-related deaths increased 13 percent over the course of the 3 -year study. In 2003 the number of deaths was 622. In 2005 jumped to 703 deaths. Unsurprisingly, those killed by police are primarily young black and Latino men. More than half of the victims were Black or Latino, though combined they only make up only 28% of the U.S. population. Over 50% of those killed were under 35 years old. And almost half of those killed were not committing a violent offense. The report does not include killings by federal law enforcement, such as the FBI or Department of Homeland Security, or immigrants killed by the border police. It also does not include many people killed during police car chases or people killed by police or prison officials while they were in jail or prison.
Major Court Cases & Gun Rights:
- Kachalsky, et al. v. Cacace (2012) Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. In Kachalsky, et al. v. Cacace, et al, the Second Amendment Foundation argued that the “proper cause” section of NY’s concealed weapons law violated the 2nd Amendment. But the Court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that the state’s current concealed weapons laws don’t violate the Constitution, and are “valid because it is substantially related to NY’s strong interest in public safety and crime prevention.”The three-judge panel said that “NY’s efforts in regulating the possession and use of firearms predate the Constitution” and continued with the 1911 Sullivan Law, said none of the plaintiffs demonstrated a qualifying need for self-protection beyond that of any other member of the public.
- National Rifle Association of America Inc et al v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives et al, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-10959. (2012) – The Court of Appeals in Houston rejected the NRA’s argument that 18- to 20-year-olds had a right to buy the guns under the 2nd Amendment, as well as the equal protection clause of the 5th Amendment.
- Nordyke v. King (2012) – the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld an Alameda County, California gun control ordinance regulating gun shows at the county fairgrounds. Although the 9th Circuit voted to uphold the Alameda County gun law, the court also declared that the time had come for the 2nd Amendment to be enforced against the states. “The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental,” wrote Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain. “We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment incorporates the 2nd Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments.” In the course of litigation, Alameda County decided to modify its 1999 law, permitting fairground gun sales so long as the guns aren’t loaded and various other safety measures are followed. In its ruling, the 9th Circuit found these new regulations to be constitutional.
- Two 2nd Amendment cases provide right-to-carry victories in Maryland and Colorado (2012). In Woollard v. Sheridan, a Maryland judge ruled the plaintiff did not have to prove “good and substantial reason” to carry. In Students for Concealed Carry on Campus v. Regents the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled Colorado’s 2003 Concealed Carry Act entirely preempts the University of Colorado’s power to prohibit licensed carry.
- McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) -561 US 3025, was a landmarkdecision of the Supreme Court. The Court held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the 2nd Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and applies to the states.
- District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. 570 was the precedent to McDonald v. Chicago in which the Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, in federal enclaves.
WOULD BANNING FIREARMS REDUCE MURDER AND SUICIDE?
A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL AND SOME DOMESTIC EVIDENCE
DON B. KATES AND GARY MAUSER – Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy – http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf
“Gun Control Facts” – http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people - http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/08/28/us-world-firearms-idUSL2834893820070828
Gun violence in the United States (Justice Department)-http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/gun_violence/sect01.html
Gun violence in the United States -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States
Gun violence in America – http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/12/looking-for-lessons-in-newtown/\
Gun-related deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 10 states – http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/933481/gun_deaths_outpace_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_10_states/
Murder Victims–Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death (1980-1998) -http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/333_murder_victims_circumstances_and_weapons_used.html
Gun shows in the United States – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_shows_in_the_United_States
Record numbers licensed to pack heat – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34714389/ns/us_news-life/#.UNE2G6z17ch
“Justifiable Homicides” Are on the Rise – http://www.alternet.org/story/107001/%22justifiable_homicides%22_are_on_the_rise%3A_have_self-defense_laws_gone_too_far
With more people carrying guns, self-defense killings on increase – http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/jan/05/justifying-homicide/
US gun sales up after Obama re-election - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9670585/US-guns-sales-soar-after-Barack-Obamas-re-election.html
Black Friday 2012 gun sales set record – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57555989/black-friday-gun-sales-set-another-record/