Gun Violence by the numbers. To ban or not to ban in the vicinities of our elections?
Updated: Mar 4
by Patrice Johnson
March 4, 2023
Few topics of discussion can evoke a more passionate (or politically charged) emotional reaction than the subject of mass shootings. While there is no question that mass shootings are horrific, opinions differ widely—particularly in the United States—on what causes mass shootings and what needs to be done about them.--WorldPopulationReview.com
Our hearts ache for the victims of the senseless Feb. 13 shootings on MSU campus. With three dead and two of the five who were injured still hospitalized, emotions are running high. President Biden is calling for anti-gun legislation, and Michigan's Democrat-controlled legislature has dusted off anti-gun bills in an attempt to turn election and drop-box locations into gun-free zones.
However, it is rarely wise to make decisions in the heat of the moment. Now is a time to examine the facts and come to reasonable and rational conclusions.
Assess the situation
The FBI’s 30-year definition of a mass shooting involves the fatal shooting of four or more people in a public place and unrelated to a gang, drug or other crime shooting. Given this definition, a stunning 96% of all mass shootings between 1998 and 2015 occurred in gun-free zones. (https://crimeresearch.org/2018/06/more-misleading-information-from-bloombergs-everytown-for-gun-safety-on-guns-analysis-of-recent-mass-shootings/)
In 2013, the FBI reduced its mass shooting qualifier to “three or more killings,” though the majority of academics are said to continue to use the four or more definition. Changing the qualifier changes the percentages. Per the New York Times, "There is no official consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting," so for consistency's sake, Crime Search used the FBI's pre-2013 definition.
As the heart-wrenching message on the rock on MSU campus stated after the horrendous shootings, "Allow us to defend ourselves & carry on campus." Who can wonder at students' frustration at being denied their constitutional right to bear arms and defend themselves?
“Allow us to defend ourselves & carry on campus.”(WILX News 10) https://www.wilx.com/2023/02/15/new-message-appears-rock-michigan-state-university/
Mass shootings are part of the larger issue of overall gun violence
There have been 94 mass shootings in 2023 (3 or more killed) in the United States, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
Data Sources Verified: March 02, 2023
Number of source verified deaths and injuries
Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified
Calculation based on CDC Suicide Data
Actual total of all non-suicide deaths plus daily calculated suicide deaths
But the Gun Violence Archive tracks only mass shootings within U.S. borders. Its information begs the question:
In perspective: U.S. gun violence compared to other countries
Source: World Population review
The U.S., with an average of 10.89 gun deaths per 100,000 population, does not appear on the top ten list of gun-death nations.
Countries with the Highest Rates of Violent Gun Deaths (homicides) per 100,000 residents in 2019:
1. El Salvador — 36.78
2. Venezuela — 33.27
3. Guatemala — 29.06
4. Colombia — 26.36
5. Brazil — 21.93
6. Bahamas — 21.52
7. Honduras — 20.15
8. U.S. Virgin Islands — 19.40
9. Puerto Rico — 18.14
10. Mexico — 16.41
Latin American countries hold all of the top-ten rankings of the most gun-related deaths.
It’s no small matter that “a majority of immigrants currently coming to the United States originate from the Central American Northern Triangle, which consists of El Salvador [listed as #1 above], Guatemala [#3], and Honduras [#7]” (University of Michigan)
Latin America: A perfect storm of factors contributing to gun violence.
The Inter-American Development Bank released a report highlighting economic deprivation, residential instability, family disruption, absence from school, the population’s age structure, and alcohol consumption as contributing to increased gun violence." (World Population Review)
“Transnational violence is often attributed to the countries’ locations between some of the world’s largest drug producers in South America and the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, the United States,” the U of M study stated.
The study’s original hypothesis was that “reducing the crime rates within Northern Triangle countries would in turn reduce immigration rates from these countries into the United States.”
But the study’s findings failed to support its hypothesis.
Despite the findings observed in this study failing to support the original hypothesis that reducing the crime rates within Northern Triangle countries would in turn reduce immigration rates from these countries into the United States….
Why the mass migration?
It’s rational to assume that not all of the people coming here have upstanding motivations.
Yuma, Arizona, residents, officials say Mexican cartels control US border
It is also logical to conclude that people tend to bring their problems with them, including gun violence.
So, the long-standing question remains:
Would disarming law-abiding citizens make them and others safer or would it put them at greater risk if the government disarmed them from carrying their legally authorized concealed weapons as they passed near ballot drop boxes or entered election locations to vote?
Most gun deaths in the U.S. occur as the result of suicide.
Chart: BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081
More than half (54.6%) of firearm deaths in the US during 2021 were suicides. Of 48,183 suicide deaths (14.5 per 100,000 population), the number of suicide deaths by firearm were 26,328 (7.9 per 100,000 population). Source: National Vital Statistics System – Mortality Data (2021) via CDC WONDER
Countries with the Highest Rates of Firearm-Related Suicide (per 100,000) in 2019:
1. Greenland — 16.36
2. United States — 7.12
3. Uruguay — 4.74
4. San Marino — 4.08
5. Montenegro — 3.40
6. Argentina — 2.67
7. Finland — 2.66
8. Monaco — 2.64
9. France — 2.64
10. Venezuela — 2.50
One could argue that, were a gun unavailable, the individual bent on suicide would have found another way.
The U.S. leads the developed world in typical (median) death rates from mass shootings
Definitions of mass shootings vary and account for a small percentage of gun deaths in the United States. Other countries suffer periodic spikes in horrific mass shootings, but the U.S. leads the world in the typical (median) annual death rate per million.
Typical (Median) Annual Death Rate per Million People from Mass Public Shootings (U.S., Canada, and Europe, 2009-2015):
1. United States — 0.058
2. Albania — 0
3. Austria — 0
4. Belgium — 0
5. Czech Republic — 0
6. Finland — 0
7. France — 0
8. Germany — 0
9. Italy — 0
10. Macedonia — 0
11. Netherlands — 0
12. Norway — 0
13. Russia — 0
14. Serbia — 0
15. Slovakia — 0
16. Switzerland — 0
17. United Kingdom — 0
Would banning assault weapons reduce the number of gun-related murders in the U.S?
According to PEW Research, "Rifles – the category that includes guns sometimes referred to as 'assault weapons'– were involved in 3% of firearm murders. Shotguns were involved in 1%. The remainder of gun homicides and non-negligent manslaughters (36%) involved other kinds of firearms or those classified as 'type not stated.'”
A researcher would be hard-pressed to find a gun expert or firearm owner who would describe a rifle as an assault weapon.
Automatic weapons are already illegal and are commonly defined as designed to feed cartridges, fire them, eject their empty cases and repeat this cycle as long as the trigger is depressed and cartridges remain in the feed system.
In order to better understand the factors contributing to gun violence and the heart-wrenching mass shootings occurring in this nation, it is important to examine the socio, economic, and political conditions that could be affecting them. While it is true that the U.S. typically leads the developed world in mass shootings, it is also true that, thankfully, these horrifying incidents are rare.
The highest rates of violent gun deaths occur outside the U.S. Gun violence in Latin America is exceptionally high, due to economic deprivation, residential instability, family disruption, absence from school, the population’s age structure, and alcohol consumption. Since the greatest numbers of immigrants entering this nation are coming from one of the top-ten countries with the highest rates of violent gun deaths, we may expect this violence to continue to increase. Disarming the legally authorized citizenry and increasing the number of gun-free zones to include ballot drop box areas and election locations would likely put residents at greater risk.
More than half of the deaths by gun in this country occur as the result of suicide. Sadly, these deaths would likely occur by other means if guns were inaccessible.
Assault weapons are already illegal. Rifles are not assault weapons, but even when rifles are erroneously included in the category of assault weapons, these firearms were involved in 3% of firearm murders.
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