Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gun Control Myths

Hutus killed 800,000 of their fellow Rwandans in 100 days with knives and machetes while Bill Clinton and fellow world leaders studiously avoided "knowing" what they knew was happening. The knives and machetes were instruments of murder because they were wielded by murderous people. I doubt they could have killed more effectively if they had guns.

Actually, they probably would have been opposed by Tutsis with guns, and a lot less Tutsis, and a lot more Hutus would have died.

In a recent study in the United States, suicides accounted for about 58 percent of gun fatalities, or 17,000 to 18,000 deaths, in 2001; another 11,000 deaths, or 37 percent, were homicides, and the remaining 800 to 900 gun deaths were accidental.

Although the United States has a lot of guns per capita, there is no correlation between high possession of guns and high suicide rates. The rate of suicides in South Korea soared to 24.7 per 100,000 people in 2005, according to the latest statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that rank the country at the top of the list.

Others with high rates were Hungary at 22.6 and Japan at 20.3, both using numbers from 2003, the latest available. By comparison, the U.S. suicide rate was 10.2 per 100,000 in 2002, the OECD said.

The countries with higher suicide rates also have strict gun laws and low gun ownership.

The murder rate in the US is 24th in the world at 0.042802 per 1,000 people, with an estimated 2/3 committed by guns (almost always by hand guns, not by such weapons as assault rifles). Columbia has the highest homicide rate at 0.617847 per 1,000 people, over 14 times higher than the US rate. South Africa, Jamaica, Venezuela, Russia, and Mexico have the next five highest homicide rates following Columbia. The Mexico rate is 0.130213 per 1,000 people, three times as high as the US.

There is a strong racial component to murders in the United States. Blacks are about 10% of the population, but commit over half the murders where race of the murderer was determined. Almost half of murder victims are black too.

Studies of immigrant Latino groups also show a homicide rate several times higher than for whites, although only in New York is the Latino homicide rate higher than the black homicide rate.

Homicide is also primarily an urban, rather than rural phenomenon. New Orleans, at 0.577 per 1000 inhabitants (2002 statistics, before Katrina), had the highest homicide rate of large US cities, followed by Washington, DC at 0.44 per 1000, then Baltimore (0.419), Detroit (0.399), etc.

Since the murder rate for the entire US is 0.042802 per 1,000, the murder rate for rural America is obviously much lower than that because of the very high urban rates. For an example, the New Orleans homicide rate is over 13 times the national rate.

Unlike the rationales that advocates apply to gun control, an examination of gun deaths shows them to be primarily a factor of suicides, are heavily influenced by race and living in an urban environment, and not really have much to do with the highly publicized but exceedingly rare shopping center and schools shooting sprees.

Once again, an analysis of factual rather than emotional data shows that guns do not kill people, but segments of populations in urban areas that promote gang-type violence do kill people, usually with pistols, often with knives.

The large population of rifles and shotguns that comprise the vast majority of American firearms play a very small part in deaths, and that part is mostly confined to suicides.

Nations with higher suicide rates have very low gun ownership rates, so if there is a will to commit suicide, apparently a way can be found.

Isn't it better to try to gain an understanding of this by using facts and rational analysis, instead of as one control advocate did, basing her conclusions on the concept that:

"Today in America we have people with the social mentality of a three year old or less who are buying guns and using them in shopping centers and schools to avenge real or imagined grievances."

That's not what we have today in America.

Why are we trying so hard to solve a problem that doesn't exist, and ignoring ones that do?

Please click on the label below to see all my articles on this topic.

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