Elections are nearing and some of our friends are worried about guns. Measures are on ballots, votes are urged; that sort of thing. Nerves are raw, tempers are flared.
Now if your only experience with guns has been through the media, film, television, or video games, well, you’re likely to develop what psychologists call The Wrong Idea. How about looking at the actual numbers and see what they say? The picture above is from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports and shows the per capita homicide rate over time, along with the same rates due to handguns and other firearms (2012 was the last full year of data). For completeness, this link has a picture of all violent crime, which has exactly the same shape.
Notice anything? Right: where are the knives, blunt objects, hands and fists, poisonings, explosives, fires, narcotics, drownings, strangulations, asphyxiations, and other methods of dispatchment? The FBI lists them all. They all show the same shape as firearms. Excepting certain localities, we’re becoming a less violent, less murderous society.
Why? Don’t ask me. Maybe it’s because there’s fewer teenagers roaming around, maybe the cranks were right about fluoride, maybe blogs have made the populace less angry. Who knows? But given what’s been happening, there doesn’t seem to be a need to restrict the use and ownership of guns. To seek for a “solution” when there is no problem is to be a progressive—and who’d want that? So vote no on any confiscations or similar measures.
Now I have been shooting, killing, and eating with great relish animals of all kinds since I was a boy. Hunting provides the ultimate in free-range meat and is an environmentally sound practice. It also imbues a permanent sense that if it weren’t for farms and farmers, most of us would starve to death. Hunting isn’t so easy.
It’s true I don’t hunt as much now, but then the only animals that are fair game are subway rats and Central Park squirrels. Anyway, the rats do a good job clearing out the filth people dump on the tracks. And kill a squirrel and the French tourists who are endlessly fascinated with these flea-bitten beasties would turn on you and mime outrage.
Though I have owned and fired all kinds of weapons, I have never robbed even one store, took nary a hostage, and never shot at another human being who didn’t have it coming. Neither did any of the many gun-owning friends I grew up with do any of these things. I don’t recall ever hearing of a “home invasion”, but this was in Northern Michigan where the first day of deer hunting season was an official holiday. No school: no kidding. Would-be invaders were probably dissuaded by the thought that the home they wanted to bust into had gun-owning occupants.
Accidents? We used to play war with BB and pellet guns and there were, it is to be admitted, minor mishaps. Nobody died, and scars bring bragging rights. But don’t worry about that because these days rambunctious boys are medicated past interest or are sedated by glowing screens. One farmer down the road misused his shotgun and lost his head. Farming isn’t so easy, either.
Point is, guns are fun and useful.
So. Remember that NRA quip that if guns are illegal only criminals would have guns? Progressives love to sneer at that, but that is only because progressives are not friends with logic. The quip is a tautology, meaning it is true no matter what, even if you don’t want it to be.
Take Chicago, so long run by a Democrat machine that it’s not clear citizens there even know other parties exist. Guns are all but illegal there. And so the guns that are out in the street are owned primarily by criminals, just like our tautology predicted. Somehow—and the how is still a mystery to sociologists—banning guns has not eliminated them. Of course, robberies are banned, too, yet they still occur. Strange. Maybe we could have a double-extra secret ban on top of the ordinary ban?
Yet even in Chicago, though there has been a slight blip upwards, the murder rates are down from their peak in the early 1990s (data here). Certain neighborhoods in the Second City, however, are not advisable to enter unarmed.
Full disclosure: I am a long-time NRA member, a position which has not, so far as I have noticed, increased a homicidal tendency in me.
P.S. Please let’s don’t quote comparative statistics from some wee European nation which has a homogeneous population smaller than that of heterogeneous New York City on a hot day in August when everybody is on vacation.
Thanks to reader Nate Winchester for recommending this topic.