The Heritage Foundation has published a booklet titled “8 Stubborn Facts on Gun Violence in America.” Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm, Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, and Amy Swearer, visiting Legal Fellow, Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, did a column after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in March 14, 2018 using the same title.
Both the booklet and column found that politicians are willing to rush to judgement about mass shootings without knowing all of the facts. In the case of the Parkland shooting, every level of government, from the Broward County School District, to the Broward County Sheriff to the Federal Bureau of Investigation knew that Nickolas Cruz was a threat and clear and present danger to his fellow students. Yet, at each level, government failed. Why?
John Malcolm and Amy Swearer note:
Here are eight stubborn facts to keep in mind about gun violence in America:
- Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
- The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
- A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
- Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
- Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
- There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
- Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
- Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.
Each of these facts is firmly based on empirical data.
Malcolm and Swearer state, “Murders in the United States are very concentrated. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, over 50 percent of murders occur in 2 percent of the nation’s 3,142 counties. Moreover, gun-related homicides are heavily concentrated in certain neighborhoods within those counties: 54 percent of U.S. counties had zero murders in 2014.” [Emphasis added]
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC):
Murders actually used to be even more concentrated. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73 percent of counties in any given year had zero murders. Possibly, this change is a result of the opioid epidemic’s spread to more rural areas. But that question is beyond the scope of this study. Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime” showed how dramatically counties within states vary dramatically with respect to murder and other violent crime rates. [Emphasis added]
John R. Lott, Jr. in the third edition of his book “More Guns, Less Crime” states,
There are certain points that are beyond dispute.
1. By any measure, concealed- handgun permit holders are extremely law abiding.
2. Even the number of anecdotal news stories of defensive gun uses completely dwarfs any possible bad actions by permit holders with their concealed handguns.
3. No refereed academic articles by economists or criminologists claim that right- to- carry laws have a significant bad effect on crime rates.
Lott concludes, “At some point the risk of gun- free zones is going to have to be seriously discussed. Whether one looks at city or country gun bans or even smaller gun bans involving malls or schools, bans increase violence and murder. The gun- control debate has changed dramatically over the last decade.”
CPRC notes, “According to a 2013 PEW Research Center survey, the household gun ownership rate in rural areas was 2.11 times greater than in urban areas (“Why Own a Gun? Protection is Now Top Reason,” PEW Research Center, March 12, 2013). Suburban households are 28.6% more likely to own guns than urban households. Despite lower gun ownership, urban areas experience much higher murder rates. One should not put much weight on this purely “cross-sectional” evidence over one point in time and many factors determine murder rates, but it is still interesting to note that so much of the country has both very high gun ownership rates and zero murders.”
Recently gun owners, particularly member of the National Rifle Association, have become the targets of the Democratic Party and their candidates running for president. Taking away guns is their mantra. Democrats regurgitate this without understanding how government has failed each and every time there has been a mass shooting. Governments at every level fail to understand that gun violence depends on: where one lives, who is your intimate partner, if you are a gang member and if are you a male between the ages of 18-34. The victims are predominantly women and children.
Government, especially in the case of Parkland, failed to see the numerous “red flags” when it came to Nickolas Cruz. In every mass shooting someone saw something, and in many cases, said something to government officials. The tragedy is that government officials often fail to take action, which is the greatest threat which leads to gun violence. It’s the government stupid!
Government cannot regulation or legislate morality. The answer is simple: Thou shall not murder!
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