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Guns in America, The Facts


"What the Media Won't Tell You!"


Preventing law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms for self-defense does not end violent crime - it just makes victims more vulnerable! Society benefits from ordinary people who accept the responsibilities of firearm ownership - not from gun-control.


SELF-DEFENSE & CRIME

In 1990, a convicted felon could expect to serve the following prison time: 1.8 years for murder, 60 days for rape, 23 days for robbery, 6.7 days for arson, and 6.4 days for aggravated assault. According to a U.S. Justice Department survey in 17 states, of felony offenders placed on probation in 1986, 43% were re-arrested on other felony charges within 3 years of their release. (1)

Passage of the Brady Law in 1994 has not been accompanied by a statistically significant decline in murder or robbery. It has been associated with significant increases in rape and aggravated assaults, presumably from the increased difficulty encountered by law-abiding citizens in obtaining firearms for self-defense. (2)

In 1987, Florida's concealed-carry law went from "may-issue" to "shall-issue" (also known as "Right-To-Carry", or RTC). This meant that issuing authorities must provide a concealed-carry handgun license to all qualified applicants. Other states followed suit, and modeled their own RTC laws after Florida's. On 4/7/98 (the latest date such figures were available), Florida's Dept of Law Enforcement announced that the state's murder rate had dropped, again, in 1997, just as it had in each of the 5 previous years. The additional drop marked the lowest murder rate experienced by "Dodge City East" since 1933. (3)

In 1982, Kennesaw GA (pop. 17,000) passed a law requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in their home, exempting those with criminal records or religious objections. Seven months after it took effect, the residential burglary rate dropped 89%, vs. 10.4% statewide. Since 1982, only 2 murders have occurred (1984 and 1989), both committed with knives. (4)

Allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crime. The reduction corresponds very closely to the number of concealed-handgun licenses issued.

On average, murder rates in states banning concealed-carry are 127% higher than in states having the most liberal carry laws.

The net value of private firearm ownership - the dollar savings from defensive gun use, minus the costs of "gun-violence" - has been estimated at up to $38.9 billion, annually. (8)

In 1856, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local law-enforcement had no duty to protect individuals, but only a general duty to enforce the laws. (10) In 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals held that "there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against criminals or madmen. The Constitution does not require Federal or State government to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order."(11)

In Great Britain, handguns are outlawed, and possession of long guns is severely restricted. Yet, despite strict gun-control, as of 1995, rates for robbery, assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft in England and Wales had surpassed those here in the States. On average, for all 4 crimes, English rates were double U.S. rates. (12)


MASS SHOOTINGS &
"GUN-FREE" SCHOOL ZONES

Deaths and injuries from mass public shootings (like Jonesboro AR, and Littleton CO) fall dramatically after RTC concealed-handgun laws are enacted. Where data was available both before and after passage of such laws, the average death rate from mass shootings plummeted by up to 91% after such laws took effect, and injuries dropped by over 80%! (2,13)

Armed with a hunting rifle, 16-year-old Luke Woodham killed his ex-girlfriend and her close friend, then wounded 7 other students, in 1997 at a high school in Pearl, Mississippi. Assistant Principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car, and interrupted Woodham's shooting spree, holding him at bay until police arrived. Earlier that morning, Woodham had stabbed his mother to death. (14)

A similar script played out in 1998 in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, when local merchant James Strand used his shotgun to "coax" 14-year old Andrew Wurst into dropping his gun, and surrendering to police. Wurst had just killed one teacher, wounded another and two classmates. (14)

The recent rash of public school shootings...raise[s] questions about the unintentional consequences of laws.

The five public school shootings [which occurred during the 1997-98 school year] took place after a 1995 federal law banned guns (including permitted concealed handguns) within a thousand feet of a school.

It is interesting to note that during the 1977 to 1995 period [of our study], 15 shootings took place in schools in states without right-to-carry laws and only one took place in a state with this type of law. There were 19 deaths and 97 injuries in states without the law, while there was one death and two injuries in states with the law." (13)

A July 1993 U.S. Department of Justice study found that "boys who own legal firearms...have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use [than those who obtained them illegally] and are even slightly less delinquent than nonowners of guns." It concluded that, "for legal gunowners, socialization appears to take place in the family; for illegal gunowners, it appears to take place 'on the street' ". (15)

The possibility exists that attempts to outlaw guns from schools, no matter how well meaning, may have produced perverse effects.


ACCIDENTS & SUICIDES

In 1994, fatal firearms accidents dropped 11% from 1993 figures, to the lowest annual number since record-keeping began in 1903. They dropped even lower by almost 7% in 1995. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, fires, drownings, poisonings, suffocation, and other accidents all accounted for more deaths than did firearm accidents. Among children aged 0-14 years, there were 185 fatal firearms accidents, vs. 500 per year in the mid-1970s. (16)

In 1993, there were 1,334 drownings and 528 firearm-related accidental deaths from ages 0-19. While firearms outnumber pools by a factor of over 30:1, the risk of drowning in a pool is nearly 100 times higher than from a firearm-related accident. From ages 0-5, the risk of drowning skyrockets to 500 times the risk from a gun! (16,17)

"Trigger-lock" laws don't equal safety. While California has such a law on the books, it saw a 12% increase in fatal firearm accidents in 1994. Texas doesn't have one, and experienced a 28% decrease, instead. (16) "Trigger-locks" do, however, render guns inaccessible for self-defense.

Accident and suicide rates are unaffected by the passage of Right-To-Carry concealed handgun laws. (2)

Suicide rates fluctuate independently of gun control laws and gun ownership. Banning guns will not affect the suicide rate - other equally deadly implements would only be substituted in their place. (18)


THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

The scholarship on the 2nd Amendment overwhelmingly agrees that it protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and not simply the right to arm the "militia". (19) In 1982, the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution evaluated the historical record, and unanimously concluded the same. (20)

On March 30, 1999, Texas Federal Judge Sam Cummings ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a protected individual right - not just a right belonging to an organized militia: "A historical examination of the right to bear arms, from English antecedents to the drafting of the Second Amendment, bears proof that the right to bear arms has consistently been, and should still be, construed as an individual right". Cummings further noted that the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 (in U.S. vs. Verdugo-Urquidez) that the "people" protected in the Second Amendment is the same "people" protected in the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. (22)



COMMENTS WELCOME

If you find any errors in the facts or logic of this web page, or simply differ in philosophy, I am interested in your feedback. Email Me. Please no unintelligible rants or raves. Sophomoric or un-referenced responses will be directed to the bit-bucket.



REFERENCES

1. Reynolds M, Caruth W; "Myths About Gun Control"; National Ctr for Policy Analysis, 1992
2. Lott J; "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws"; University of Chicago; 1998
3. Florida Department of State documents
4. "Kennesaw Update"; The New American, 6/10/96
5. Lott J, Mustard D; "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns"; Journal of Legal Studies; Vol 26(1); Jan 97
6. Kleck G, Gertz M; "Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun"; Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology; Vol 86#1, Fall 1995
7. Kleck G; Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control; Aldine de Gruyter; NY 1997
8. National Center for Policy Analysis, March 1999
9. Suter E; "Assault-Weapons" Revisited - An Analysis of the AMA Report;Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, May 1994
10. South v. Maryland, 59 US (HOW) 396, 15 L.Ed.433(1856)
11. Bowers v. DeVito, US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit 686F.2d 616 (1982)
12."Crime and Justice in the United States and England and Wales, 1981-1996"; U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics; October 1998
13. Lott J, Landes W; "Multiple Victim Public Shootings, Bombings, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handgun Laws: Contrasting Private and Public Law Enforcement"; University of Chicago,Working Paper #73, 1999
14."How to Stop Mass Public Shootings"; Lott J; The L.A. Times 3/25/98
15. U.S. Department of Justice
16. National Center for Health Statistics
17. National Spa and Pool Institute
18. Suter E; "Guns in the Medical Literature: A Failure of Peer Review"; Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, Mar 1994
19. Reynolds H, Kates D; "The Second Amendment and States' Rights: A Thought Experiment"; William & Mary Law Review; Vol 36 #5,8/955
20. Senate Subcommittee of the Commission of the Judiciary on The Constitution, 97th Congress, 1992
21. Kopel D; Guns - Who Should Have Them; Prometheus Books; New York 1995
22. U.S. v. Emerson; USDC No. 6:98-CR-103-C
Used with permission:
The Committee for Law-Abiding Gun-Owners
PO Box 354
Thiells, NY. 10984-0354
E-Mail: 70274.1222@compuserve.com

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