The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer allows the public to discover information and data about violet crimes reported from all over the country. They received data voluntarily from 14,993 of 18,671 law enforcement agencies in the year 2019 alone. It is a tool that is more than likely not as widely known as it should be, and definitely one anyone with a computer should explore. Afterall, politics and legislation are something everyone should understand if possible, and what better than to be better informed on crime statistics when it comes to possible legislation that President Biden is proposing.
Biden touts in his gun safety plan on his website that gun violence is an epidemic.
After dealing with COVID-19 for over a year, I think the word epidemic is a bit strong to describe this situation. Let’s analyze the statistics:
When you maneuver your settings to homicide rates for the year 2019, they state, “In 2019, there were 6,096 homicide incidents, and 6,591 offenses reported by the United States by 8,536 law enforcement agencies that submitted incident-based (NIBRS) glossary lookup data, and covers 44% of the total population.”
Below that statement is several detailed graphs that analyze subjects of this data such as “Homicide Offender vs. Victim demographics” for gender, race, ethnicity and age.
Posted below that graph is another detailing “Homicide Victim demographics” for both the location of the homicide and the relation, if any, between the victim and the offender.
Finally, the last graph is “Homicide Offense characteristics” which analyzes both “Type of weapon involved by offense” and if the homicide is linked to another crime.
Is it any surprise that the number one method of homicide in 2019 was a firearm? No.
In fact, the highest rated weapon for homicides is the handgun coming in at 2,109 homicides from the total 6,096 incidents reported in 2019. The second highest rated weapon for homicides in 2019 was detailed as “firearm”. There were a whopping 1,886 homicides from this weapon in the same year.
Want to know what was not high on the list of weapons used in homicides in 2019? Automatic firearms of any sort. In fact, as listed on the graph, automatic firearms were responsible for the following number of homicides in the year 2019:
Handgun (automatic) – 100, Firearm (Automatic) – 25, Rifle (Automatic) – 12, Shotgun (Automatic) – 0 and Other Firearm (Automatic) – 0. More to the point, there were more people murdered by “blunt objects” than by automatic firearms in 2019.
The reason this information is important for you to know?
President Biden wants to “Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” It states this directly on his “gun safety” page on his campaign website which is still up and running. Generally, “assault weapons” are defined by Merriam Webster as “any of various automatic or semiautomatic firearms.”
Now analyze the details that most politicians do not bother to point out.
The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer informational graphs may list “automatic” weapons, but what they truly mean is semi-automatic weapons. Actual automatic weapons are in essence machine guns and those were banned from civilian use and ownership in 1934 in the National Firearms Act. This act was put into effect after gangsters such as Al Capone used them in their bank robberies, on police and on other gangsters, such as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of February 14, 1929.
For those who do not understand the difference between an automatic gun and a semi-automatic gun, pbs.org describes differences as, “A semiautomatic weapon fires one shot every time the trigger is pulled. An automatic weapon fires continually until the trigger is released.”
Semi-automatics firearms are not currently outlawed, however, at one time they were, part in thanks to Biden, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, or more commonly called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. This ban was allowed to expire under George W. Bush’s term as president in 2004.
Afterwards, a federally funded report by the National Institute of Justice at the Department of Justice found that the number of gun crimes involving semi-automatic weapons dropped by 17% in the six cities involved in the study during the ban. Specifically, the report pointed to a reduction in the use of assault pistols, but noted that there had not been a clear decline in the use of assault rifles.
Giffords Law Center cites three facts from the following publication, “Changes in US Mass Shooting Deaths Associated with the 1994–2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Analysis of Open–source Data,” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 86, no. 1, published in 2019.
1) Assault weapons have been used in the seven deadliest mass shootings in the last decade.
2) An analysis of a public mass shootings resulting in four or more deaths found that more than 85% of such fatalities were caused by assault rifles.
3) An assailant with an assault rifle is able to hurt and kill twice the number of people compared to an assailant with a non-assault rifle or handgun.
It is rather extraordinary, however, that Giffords Law Center fails to point out the statistical probability of someone dying in a mass shooting, or dying from a gunshot period, versus someone being killed by a heart attack is vastly different.
The National Safety Council Injury Facts website lists a graph for “Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2019”. The number one killer of all Americans in 2019 was a heart attack with a 1 in 6 chance. This was followed closely by cancer, which had a 1 in 7 chance causing death. Death by “gun assault”, with a 1 in 289 odd, came in at number 9 of the top 26 causes of American deaths in 2019.
The following causes of deaths, and their odds, came after heart attack and cancer, but before death by gun assault:
All preventable causes of death with 1 in 24, Chronic lower respiratory disease with 1 in 27, Suicide with 1 in 88, opioid overdose with 1 in 92, fall with 1 in 106 and a motor vehicle accident with odds of 1 in 107 all have higher death rates than “gun assault” deaths or even “accidental gun discharge” with odds of 1 in 8,571.
Are mass shootings heartbreaking?
Are homicides of any sort devastating?
Yes, they are. Whether it be by a gun or a blunt object. No one wants to lose those they consider near and dear. But the truth of the matter is you should be more worried about the Big Mac that your loved one eats on a weekly, or daily basis, rather than them getting shot to death by any gun, let alone an assault weapon or a semi-automatic gun.
The United States does have an epidemic. A couple of them actually. Obesity, drug use and a medical system that continually fails those with mental health issues.
Where’s the outrage for those issues?
Why focus on an issue that statistically kills less Americans than motor vehicle accidents do?