Want To Reduce Gun Violence? It’s These Guns That Count.

Perhaps without realizing it, our friends at The Trace have published data which could help the gun-control movement have its first, really informed discussion about how to regulate the product that causes gun violence, namely, the guns. The reason we experience gun violence and other countries don’t, is because we are the only advanced nation-state which regulates this particular consumer product by trying to control the behavior of product users, rather than by regulating the product in and of itself.

crime guns             This rather unique (and bizarre) regulatory approach was reaffirmed by SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who defended the ownership of assault rifles as a ‘matter of law,’ based on the fact that such weapons are commonly found in the home and therefore deserve 2nd-Amendment protection. Whether Gun-control Nation likes it or not, using ‘common ownership’ as the basic criteria for Constitutional gun rights happens to be the core argument advanced by gun-nut Scalia (and accepted without question by the dissenting justices) in the 2008 Heller case.

No other advanced (OECD) nation-state obliges its citizenry by allowing free access to guns that are used in violent crimes. And the reason that certain guns show up again and again at crime scenes is because those kinds of guns were designed to be used as assault weapons and have no other function or use at all.

I’m not just talking about AR-15’s and AK-47’s.  I’m talking about pistols from Sig, Glock, Kahr, Smith & Wesson, Beretta and just about every other handgun manufacturer because these guns are also designed to be used in assaults. Now you can argue from today to next year whether an assault is ‘offensive,’ or ‘defensive;’ I really don’t care.  The bottom line is that if you point a gun at someone else and pull the trigger, it’s an assault.

The article which sheds some important light on this issue is complete listing of every gun connected to a criminal investigation conducted by the Chicago Police Department from 2010 through 2016.  I decided to analyze all of these ‘crime’ guns picked up in 2014, which was a total of 4,511 guns. Although gun homicides dropped slightly from  the previous year, overall criminal gun injuries increased  by almost 15 percent, meaning that the gun-violence rate in 2014 was 95.6 per 100,000 city residents. The national rate that year for gun homicides and assaults was 22.4.  So a lot of guns were used to commit gun violence in the Second City during 2014.

Of the total crime gun listing, I was unable to identify 184 guns, which reduces the known crime guns to 4,327.  Of these guns, center-fire handgun calibers accounted for 3,160, the remaining crime calibers being either 22-caliber or rifle calibers.  In other words, nearly 75% of all guns connected to criminal activity in Chicago were centerfire weapons, whose only purpose is to inflict an injury on someone else (this listing did not include guns picked up in suicide investigations.) Of the remaining guns, 369 were 22-caliber weapons, the remaining 800 guns being shotguns and rifles, of which a grand total of 30 were assault-rifles (AR & AK.)

So the ‘crime’ gun problem in Chicago, which is probably true of all high-crime jurisdictions, isn’t so much a ‘gun’ problem, as it’s a problem of handguns. But even within this category there is an interesting subset of data, because of all the crime handguns, nearly one-third (n=978) can only be described as real junk; i.e., cheap guns, many if not most no longer manufactured, all of which floating around somewhere for at least the last thirty or forty years.

According to the gun stock survey published in 2017, roughly 40% of all guns in the United States are handguns. Doing a little extrapolation from what we found in Chicago, there’s a good chance that as many as 40 million crummy but nevertheless very lethal handguns are sitting in God knows whose pockets, drawers, and everywhere else, none of which could ever be traced to anyone at all.

Comprehensive background checks to reduce gun violence? Yea, right.


2 thoughts on “Want To Reduce Gun Violence? It’s These Guns That Count.

  1. My sister and I were early members of Handgun Control, which as I recall came into existence at about the same time all those junk guns were being made and sold and which organization was subjected to the same castigation we see levied against gun-control proponents and propositions in the current day. The problem then was clearly seen as an overabundance of handguns; your current analysis is really nothing new. So -what the hell happened to Handgun Control?

  2. I like the way you frame the discussion as well as the statistics which bear out what I’ve always believed (ARs and AKs according to your numbers are used in about 1% of crime)

    I’ve never owned a handgun. Price, plus need, plus I like the power and accuracy of rifles.

    Lately my wife and I have been doing a lot of hiking in forest and big W wilderness, I always carry bear spray. We live in cat and black bear country and I know they are often around, I see tracks and scat with regularity. The bear spray is pretty good, but not foolproof, especially with black bears. When I combine the odds of one of those critters acting aggressively, plus the odds of the bear spray not being effective, I figure the risk is very very low. Plus if need be spray is good for humans and dogs, and I’d think most LEOs or judges would be happier dealing with a bear spray incident than a shooting.

    Last week out of the blue my wife said she wanted a CC permit. Where she works some of the docs have them, and a couple nurses. She wanted something that if need be she could shoot a mountain lion or bear. She feels vulnerable while hiking. I was surprised, she’s never shown an interest in shooting, and the only interest she has in hunting is the meat. She’s 4’9″ and 100lbs.

    Thinking about it I thought back to your article here. There are for sure instances where a handgun can be used and I don’t think it’s assault to shoot an aggressive large predator.

    Just my 2 cents. Great blog.

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