Increased Guns, Less Violence

By: Mona Zaini

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation?page=1

Graph from Motherjones.com

This Mother Jones article attempts to correlate the increasing amount of guns in the United States with an increasing number of mass-shooting victims annually.  The trend in the chart is immediately noticeable but also obvious is the bold inclusion of famous mass shootings that have happened within the past 8 years(Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Virginia Tech) and one from 15 years ago (Columbine). Conspicuous reminders of notable mass shootings from 1982 to 1998, an additional 16 years, are intentionally left off the chart.  In 1991, 23 people were shot and killed in a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. In 1984, 21 people(including five children) in a California Mcdonalds. Several other shootings are never mentioned, despite having more victims than Columbine.

Another problem with the article is that it fails to account for differences in population. In 1982, when the graph begins, the population of the US was roughly 230,000,000; in 2012, it was around 313,000,000. Of course more people would equate to more shooters and naturally, more victims. But even those conclusions are not cohesive—in 1984, there were around 28 mass murder victims, this is even more than the 18 victims seen in 2011 despite a substantial increase in population. 2012 is an outlier with nearly 80 fatalities and skews the appearance of the trend in the graph. I’m not denying that a slight increase can be seen regardless of that end-year, however when considering the total population increase, the inconsistent data (1999 had over 40 victims, yet the subsequent five years have astonishingly low victim counts), the use of numerical victims instead of rates, and the unusual addition of injuries to obscure results, the articles argument comes off as a bit far-fetched. The questionable nature of the trend is even further reinforced when considering homicide rates over the years. In 1982, the homicide rate was 9.1; in 2012, it was 4.7. With these statistics, a legitimate trend contradicts the dubious trend in the Mother Jones article—the rate of homicides is steadily dropping each decade, despite an increasing number of guns.

The biased article makes outlandish claims that there will soon be significantly more guns in the US than people. The article tries blame “Republican-controlled statehouses” for allowing people to carry concealed weapons, suggesting that this somehow could be responsible for mass shootings. People aren’t “allowed” to murder, yet they do it anyway. Someone who has the intent to murder innocent people is not worried about the legality of carrying a concealed weapon. Again, there is little correlation. Republican states with relaxed gun laws do not necessarily have the most mass murders. California, a Democratic state, has had an overwhelming amount of mass shootings. Similarly, the New England states from New York to Maine have had a substantial amount of mass shootings, despite being largely Democratic. Republican states such as Louisiana and Alabama have never had a mass shooting.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.32.30 PM

This article has some decent points yet falls short at proving the supposed trends beyond coincidence. Perhaps more guns could mean more murders, however it is likely that if a shooter wanted to acquire a gun, they will do so(and have done so) irrespective of the abundance of guns. The fact remains that majority of the guns in the country do not get used for mass shootings or even murders and that mass shootings have been committed regardless of firearm abundance and laws.

Additional sources:

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

http://myfox8.com/2014/08/29/26-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-us-history/

Advertisements

Department of Justice Study Declares Gun Possession as a Crime Deterrent

Affirmative Argument

By: Sam Bourassa

A study conducted by professors of the Social and Demographic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, James D. Wright and Peter Rossi, provides strong evidence in opposition to this common belief that less guns will equal less crime. This study, funded by the Department of Justice, allowed the researchers to interview 1,874 convicted felons in 10 different states about how they felt victim’s gun possession would affect their decisions to commit crimes. The results were indisputable:

81% of interviewees agreed that a “smart criminal” will try to determine if a potential victim is armed

74% indicated that burglars avoided occupied dwellings, because of fear of being shot

57% said that most criminals feared armed citizens more than the police

40% of the felons said that they had been deterred from committing a particular crime, because they believed that the potential victim was armed.

57% of the felons who had used guns themselves said that they had encountered potential victims who were armed.

34% of the criminal respondents said that they had been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed citizen.

It should be noted that these researcher’s original belief was that strict gun control would prevent crime, however the evidence was conclusive enough to change both researcher’s beliefs.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.08.36 PM

The logic is simple; when a potential victim is armed, suddenly attempting to victimize the citizen is much more dangerous for the offender. Further evidence of this fact can be found everywhere, both nationally and globally. In 1982, the city of Kennesaw Georgia mandated gun ownership in every home (with some exceptions, such as religious conflictions). After the implementation of this law, the city saw an 89% decrease in crime. It is true that crime in general was on the decline during these years anyway, but the 89% decrease is much more drastic compared to the 10% crime decrease in the remainder of the state

Globally, one can look at countries such as Russia or Norway to see the lack of effect that gun control has on crime rates. A study was conducted by the University of Harvard which compared the United State’s homicide rates with the homicide rates of dozens of other countries of varying gun control laws. Russia, which had less than half of the amount of firearms in the country than the U.S. did, still had three times the amount of homicides per capita. In contrast, Norway, which had nearly three times the amount of firearms in the country than the U.S., had a mere one-fifth of the amount of homicides per capita. Clearly, if any relationship exists between gun control and violent crime rates, it’s that civilian gun ownership prevents crime.

Cruz, Jennifer “Harvard Study Concludes That Gun Control Does Not Prevent Murders, Other Violent Crime.” Gunscom. 30 September, 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.

This article summarizes the study conducted by Harvard quite nicely. Tables are presented which only discredit the theory that gun control prevents crime. Countries other than Russia and Norway can also be examined to see the same effect, though these are admittedly the most notable countries for this argument.

Hamilton, Jonathan & Burch, David. “Gun Ownership – It’s The Law in Kennesaw.” Rense.com. Accessed on 15, November 2014. Retrieved from: http://rense.com/general9/gunlaw.htm

This article examines the affects of Kennesaw, Georgia’s mandatory gun ownership law. The evidence is very conclusive. When the likelihood of a victim having a gun is increased (or in this case, nearly guaranteed), crime rates will drop.

Wright and Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms (N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter, 1986)

In this study, 1,874 inmates were interviewed on how greater gun ownership would affect their willingness to commit crimes. Coming from criminals themselves, I find this to be indisputable evidence that gun ownership is a great deterrent of crime.