Saturday, January 12, 2013


I need to clarify something that is part of the continuing discussion about gun violence in the USA. I have heard some of the anti-regulation folks say that more people are killed with baseball bats in the USA than with guns. This is just not correct!

The following chart is from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice. They accumulate data from all the police departments in the country concerning homicides. Baseball bats would fall into the "blunt objects" category.


There is an even more important fact in this chart: handguns are a much greater problem than assault rifles (included in "Other guns"). Our national discussion at the moment is focused on assault rifles, but we really need to deal with handguns. Based on the above chart, total homicides by all guns combined ranges from about 10,000+ to almost 20,000 per year for the period of record (1975 - 2005).

And yes, people use knives, other weapons and blunt objects to kill, and these weapons combined have been as much as half the number of deaths by gun. But a gun allows someone to kill without having to be within arms length of the victim (I doubt that there are very many deaths caused by someone throwing a dagger).

As long as we're at it, let's look at 2 more graphs from the BJS.

The graph below shows homicides by the age of the killer ("offender") and the weapon used. As usual, guns are on top. What is also noticeable is the increase in gun deaths by 18 to 24 year olds starting in the late 1980's. The numbers decreased between the early '90's to the early '20's, but has since increased again (you can see the beginning of the increase in 2005).

Ready for one more? OK then; the graph below shows that teenagers are the largest group of gun killing victims. Combine this fact with info from the graphs above, and we know that teenagers with handguns are killing teenagers. Why do teenagers have guns? Where and how do they get them?

And by the way, don't assume that all of these teen-on-teen killings are gang related. As I go through gun death statistics (look for a post in the next couple of days), a significant number of teens killed by gun seem to be suicides, boyfriend-girlfriend breakup related, and accidents ("just playing around").

There is one clear fact here: guns are too accessible in our society, and handguns are by far the biggest problem. So as the government struggles with how to regulate assault rifles, we need to also pressure our government to regulate handguns even more.

And please, don't give me any of that Second Amendment crap!

No comments: