Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is The Public Crazy Not To Support Gun Control?

A number of opinion writers have taken the occasion of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado to express disgust with the fact that the American public shows little inclination towards increased gun control. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they "feel that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict" dropped from 78% to 44% during the period from 1990 to 2010.

Some of the more hyperbolic has claimed this is because the US is seized by a "death cult" or that it "worships violence", but I think the actual reason is quite rational.

If we look at the percentage of people supporting stricter gun control in relation to the percentage of people who say they own guns (also from Gallup) and the US homicide rate, we see that the homicide rate dropped by 49% from 1990 to 2010 while gun ownership rates have remained fairly flat.

Since people readily perceive that gun ownership remains common, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly since the height of the '80s and '90s crime wave, people seem to implicitly believe that restricting gun ownership is not necessary in order to deal with crime.

We can get a somewhat longer term view of this if we look at an older Gallup question which is available in the same study, the percentage of Americans who say they support a ban on civilian handgun ownership. The question has been asked somewhat sporadically by Gallup, so we have only a few data points from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but the pattern is still very interesting.

Gallup first asked the question in 1959 when the murder rate had just gone up from 4.1 in 1955 to 4.9 in 1959. Support for a ban was quite high as 60%. Support for a ban dropped rapidly while crime increased. In 1979 31% of Americans supported banning handguns and the murder rate was 9.8. Support for a handgun ban then rebounded, reaching a recent high of 43% of American in 1991, which was also one of the worst years for violent crime with a murder rate of 9.8. However, violent crime then fell sharply and has continued a gradual decline, and support for banning hand guns has declined along with it with only 29% of Americans supporting such a ban in 2010.

This suggests to me that Americans actually have a pretty reasonable approach to the question. Despite the occasional headline grabbing catastrophe, the current murder rate is down at the same level as the 1950s, despite the availability of Glock handguns and "assault rifles".


John Doe said...

Over 300 people have been killed by guns in Chicago this past summer. Chicago has one of the tightest gun control laws in the country.

Last year twice as many people were beaten to death as were killed by "assault rifles". Maybe we ought to have "fist control".

The problem exemplified by the Aurora shooting is not a problem with guns. It's a problem with crazy and how to identify it. Nobody, including the NRA want crazy people to be able to own guns.

When the guy killed all those people on the Long Island train, the call was for more gun control. It was the first time that it hit me that if there were less gun control, and a few people on that train were armed, the perp would have gotten off fewer shots and less people would have been injured or killed. When I articulated this to my friends, they were almost universally horrified! How could I talk like that? Was I making fun of the dead?

More and more I understand that "crazy happens" and can happen anywhere. As such I received my CCL three years ago and have been carrying ever since.

Concealed means nobody knows, that's why I'm using an alias. :)

-John :)

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in the heart of a city with tight gun control laws, I have a unique perspective on this. My parents lived in the city all of my life. We had a target on the front and back of the house - full body outline, with a grouping of shots in the head and in the heart.

Our neighbors were broken into numerous times - no one ever even tried our house, and we certainly were never robbed.

I tend to see events like what happened in Aurora as showing what happens when only criminals have guns. If one person, other than the perpetrator, in that theater had had a Desert Eagle the outcome would have been VERY different. I have a concealed carry permit, and carry a 0.44 and my load varies from steel jackets to dum-dums... If I have to draw it to use it, it will get the job done.

While a body shot is always preferable - taking the head is a viable option at the range in that theater. Of course, I whole-heatedly agree that if you feel people should not have guns, you shouldn't carry one as you aren't trained, nor willing to use it.

A gun is a tool - like any other. It can be used to harm or cure - it's all about the hand that wields it.

An armed society is a safe, and well mannered society...