To begin, this piece is as much for those who don’t like guns, as much as it is for those that do. Now, considering the platform on which this is being read, I realize the number of the former compared to the latter will be quite low, but if one person reads something new they didn’t know before, it will have been worth it. I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind, I simply want to give information not otherwise known, and let you make up your mind for yourself. Anyway, let’s begin.
1: They’ll Let You Think Violence is on the Rise
It’s pretty common to read in ‘X’ article that gun violence is at epidemic levels, and the way the media fixates on it, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s the case; and in fact, 57% of voters in 2016 said crime had become worse since 2008. The reality is, violent crime has been on a downward trend since the early nineties, though admittedly that line has somewhat leveled out in recent years. Regardless, we are sitting at a national murder rate somewhat comparable to the early 1960s, when national gun laws were laxer.
2: They’ll Only Talk About ‘Gun’ Violence
Invariably you will read an article comparing the ‘gun’ violence rate of some state or country with strict gun laws versus some other state or country with loose gun laws, as this article from Vox shows. That however means nothing in the context of crime overall. You can live in a state or country with few guns and still have a high murder rate. For example, California has a lower gun death rate than New Hampshire, but the simple fact is you are more likely to get murdered in California, period. ‘Gun’ violence statistics mean nothing without context, and the media is typically keen on omitting it.
3: They’ll Only Compare the United States to High Income Countries
This one somewhat ties in with the previous point, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless. Whenever an article compares the United States, they typically only compare it to whatever they determine are high income or developed countries. Why? The United States only looks bad when compared in that context. It’s a completely arbitrary grouping, and frankly, it seems insulting to low income or developing countries, implying they are incapable of being civil when plenty of low-income countries have low murder rates too. Yes, the murder rate of the United States was 4.9 per 100,000 people for 2015, which is about 3 times higher than France’s rate of 1.6 for the same year. But that’s like saying three grains of rice is three times more than one grain of rice. It still isn’t a mouthful, especially considering on the high end of the scale in 2015, El Salvador had a murder rate of 108.6.
4: They’ll Fixate on Mass Shootings and AR-15’s
A mass shooting is also a somewhat arbitrary definition, but the one I see most commonly cited is the definition of four or more people injured or killed put forth by the Gun Violence Archive. According to them, there have been 320 mass shootings so far in this year, 2018, for a total number of deaths of 359, which sounds like a lot of people, but its low compared to the actual number of murders in any given year, 2017, for example, saw 17,284 murders. And if we assume this year’s numbers are comparable to last years, murders from mass shootings will only amount to at most, 3% of overall murders.
Similarly, the AR-15 and other similar rifles get blamed for an outsized amount of damage. In 2017, rifles of any kind were used in 403 murders. To put that into some perspective, handguns were used 7,032 murders, knives in 1,591, and 696 people were beaten to death with no weapons at all.
There are more than these four things you’ll see when you read an article about gun control, but almost certainly, you’ll see one of these points, and bare minimum it should be at least a flag to do some research and dig a little deeper on your own. Now there’s one final tidbit I’d like to leave you all with to chew over. Of the 10 states in the country with the lowest murder rates, half of them have some of the loosest gun laws in the country, and of those, the lowest consistently have murder rates comparable to Europe. I’m not going to tell you what to make of that, but in my mind, those states have essentially, intentionally or not, solved their violence issues, and they did it without gun control. Perhaps you may have a differing opinion, and that’s fine, but to me, knowing there is a solution to violence out there that doesn’t involve restricting rights, means that’s the only path we should pursue.