Main Page / Articles / Links /Visit our News Page
Provided by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action - NRA-ILA
Why Americans Own Firearms
Firearms and Self-Defense
Crime Rates Lower With Weapons
Leading Causes of Death
Real Cause of Crime - Real Solutions
U.S. Compared With Foreign Countries
Semi-Automatics & So-called "Assault Weapons"
Notable Gun Law Failures
Second Amendment to the Constitution
GENERAL NUMBER OF Approx. 200 million firearms, GUNS IN U.S.: including 65-70 million handguns GUN OWNERS IN U.S.: 60-65 million, 30-35 million own handguns
FIREARMS USED 11% of firearms owners FOR PROTECTION: 13% of handgun owners
CRIMINAL MISUSE OF Less than 0.2% of firearms, FIREARMS YEARLY: Less than 0.4% of handguns Over 99.8% of U.S. firearms and 99.6% of U.S. handguns will not be involved in criminal activity in any given year. NRA voluntary firearm safety programs have helped reduce the accidental firearm fatality rate 67% over the last 50 years, while firearms ownership has risen 140%, and handgun ownership has risen 200%.
WHY AMERICANS OWN FIREARMS (Based on 1978 Decision Making Information surveys, with handgun data confirmed by 1978 Caddell survey.) Primary Reasons to Own/Use Firearms, Projected Number of Americans (Approx. 60-65 million owners of 200,000,000 or more firearms)
HUNTING: 51% 33,000,000 Americans
PROTECTION: 32% 21,000,000 " Used Gun for Protection: 11% 7,000,000 "
TARGET SHOOTING: 13% 8,500,000 "
COLLECTING: 4% 2,600.000 "
Primary Reasons to Own/Use Handguns Projected Number of Americans (30-35 million owners of 65,000,000 handguns)
HUNTING: 10% 3,500,000 Americans
PROTECTION: 58% 21,000,000 " Used Gun For Protection: 13% 4,600,666 "
TARGET SHOOTING: 18% 6,300,000 "
COLLECTING: 14% 5,000,000 "
FIREARMS AND SELF-DEFENSE Survey research indicates that there are more than 2.1 million protective uses of firearms each year, far more than the number of violent criminal gun uses reported by the FBI. Most self-defense uses do not involve discharge of a firearm. In only 0.1% of defensive gun uses is a criminal killed, and in only 1% is a criminal wounded. A Department of Justice-sponsored survey found that 40% of felons had chosen not to commit at least one specific crime for fear their victims were armed, and 34% admitted being scared off or shot at by armed victims. U. S. Department of Justice victimization surveys show that the protective use of a firearm lessens the chance that a rape, robbery or assault attempt will be successfully completed and also reduces the chance of injury to the intended victim.
CRIME RATES LOWER IN STATES THAT ALLOW LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS TO CARRY FIREARMS States with favorable concealed carry laws have lower rates of crime than states with restrictive concealed carry laws. Overall, the homicide rate for states with favorable carry laws is 31% lower, and the robbery rate is 36% lower, than for states with restrictive concealed carry laws. States which have recently changed their laws have experienced reductions in homicide rates. Since 1987, when Florida enacted a favorable CCW law, its homicide rate has dropped 22%, even while the national rate has risen 15%. Only .007% of Florida CCW permits have been revoked because of a crime after licensure.
BIAS MEDIA POLLS DON'T TELL THE REAL STORY Media polls conducted by national polling firms frequently use biased questions and also limit the responses of those questioned. A Luntz Weber Research & Strategic Services poll reflects an accurate view of public opinion, using open ended questions which allow respondents to express their real opinions, rather than be directed toward a desired result. When given the opportunity to freely express themselves, Americans reveal that they do not believe that "gun control" is effective at fighting crime; they prefer criminal justice reform, stiffer penalties, better enforcement and solutions aimed at the core causes of crime. Some of the significant findings of the Luntz Weber survey are: Which of the following proposals do you believe would be more likely to reduce the number of violent crimes? Mandatory Prison 70% More Gun Control 25% What do you think is the most important cause of violent crime in the United States today? Drugs/Alcohol 36% Breakdown of Family Values 13% Poverty 8% Guns 8% Judicial System 5% In your opinion, what do you think is the single most important thing that can be done to help reduce violent crime in the United States today? Preventative programs 30% Prosecution/Penalties 20% Stronger Values 16% Better Enforcement 16% Gun Control 9% Other than for the police and military, all guns should be outlawed. Total Disagree 78% Total Agree 21% Strongly 58% Strongly 14% Somewhat 20% Somewhat 7% 12
LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH IN U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (latest data)
ALL CAUSES 2,169,518
Heart Disease 720,862
Motor Vehicle 43,536
Poisoning (solid, liquid, gas) 6,434
Drowning (incl. water transport drownings) 4,685
Suffocation (mechanical, ingestion) 4,195
Fires and flames 4,120
Surgical/Medical misadventures* 2,473
Other Transportation (excl. drownings) 2,086
Natural/Environmental factors 1,453
Chronic pulmonary diseases 90,650
Pneumonia and influenza 77,860
HIV Infections (AIDS) 29,555
Homicide and legal intervention*** 26,513
Cirrhosis and other liver diseases 25,429
* A Harvard University study suggests 93,000 deaths annually related to medical negligence, excluding tens of thousands more deaths from non- hospital medical office/lab mistakes and thousands of hospital caused infections.
** Approximately 60% involve firearms.
*** Approximately 60% involve firearms. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck estimates 1,500-2,800 self-defense and justifiable homicides by civilians and 300-600 by police annually.
THE REAL CAUSE OF CRIME - AND REAL SOLUTIONS America fails to incarcerate violent criminals. In 1960, 738 criminals were sent to prison for every 1,000 violent crimes, but by 1980, the number of criminals sent to prison per 1,000 violent crimes dropped to 227, and the crime rate tripled. Over 60,000 criminals convicted of violent crime every year _ murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault _ are not sent to prison. Of America's 4.3 million convicted criminals, only 26% are in prison. The remaining 74% are serving "sentences" of parole or probation, free on the streets. Since lower incarceration rates are mostly due to prison overcrowding, CrimeStrike lobbied successfully to increase prison capacity in Texas, Mississippi, Virginia and nearly tripled the funds allocated for state prison construction in the 1994 Federal Crime Bill. Criminals who are incarcerated are freed too early, serving on average only one-third of their sentences. The average time served is: for murder, 7.7 years; rape, 4.6 years; robbery 3.3 years; and aggravated assault,1.9 years. Every day in America, 14 people will be murdered, 48 women raped and 578 robbed by convicted criminals on parole or early release from prison. CrimeStrike helped win passage of Truth-In-Sentencing laws in Arizona, Mississippi and Virginia, preventing early release by requiring violent criminals to serve 85% of their sentences. Additionally, CrimeStrike blocked the paroles of individual murderers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia. Juvenile crime has reached crisis proportions: Between 1980 and 1990, the number of juveniles arrested for heroin/cocaine rose 713%. Over the last five years, juvenile gang killings increased 208%. Yet only 1.5% of juvenile offenders were sent to adult or criminal court in 1991 and, of those, 85.3% were not sent to prison. CrimeStrike helped win passage of juvenile justice reform in Arkansas and Mississippi, requiring violent juvenile criminals who do "adult crime" to serve "adult time." Crime victims, or their survivors, are often treated as mere witnesses in court, unfairly barred from participating in the criminal justice process in any way. CrimeStrike worked for passage of Victims' Bill of Rights proposals in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico. Repeat offenders are a serious threat to public safety. The average criminal commits 187-287 crimes a year, resulting in over six million people becoming victims of violent crime _ murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault _ every year. CrimeStrike was instrumental in helping Washington State Initiative 593, the nation's first "Three Strike, You're Out" law, qualify for the ballot and then win passage by the largest margin in state history. CrimeStrike also provided grassroots support for the California "Three Strikes" law, which also won at the polls.
U.S. COMPARED WITH FOREIGN COUNTRIES * All criminologists studying the firearms issue reject simple comparisons of violent crime among foreign countries. (James D. Wright, et. al ., Under the Gun, 1983) "Gun control does not deserve credit for the low crime rates in Britain, Japan, or other nations.... Foreign style gun control is doomed to failure in America; not only does it depend on search and seizure too intrusive for American standards, it postulates an authoritarian philosophy of government fundamentally at odds with the individual, egalitarian . . . American ethos." (David Kopel, "Foreign Gun Control in American Eyes," 1987)
* Gun laws and firearms availability are unrelated to homicide or suicide rates. Most states bordering Canada have homicide rates similar to their northern neighbors, despite much higher rates of firearms availability. While the American homicide rate is higher than most European nations, and firearms are frequently involved in American homicides, America's violent crime rates are even higher for crimes where guns are less often (robbery) or infrequently (rape) involved. The difference is violence, not firearms, and America's system of revolving door justice.
* England now has twice as many homicides with firearms as it did before adopting its repressive laws, yet its politicians have responded to rising crime by further restricting rifles and shotguns. During the past dozen years, handgun-related robbery has risen 200% in Britain, five times as fast as the rise in the U.S.
* Japan's low homicide rate is accompanied by a suicide rate much higher than that of the United States, despite Japan's virtual gun ban. And Japan's low crime rate is attributable to police-state type law enforcement which would be opposed by Americans.
* Anti-gunners' comparisons of homicide in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., ignore the fact that non-Hispanic whites have a lower homicide rate in Seattle than in Vancouver, and that Vancouver's homicide rate, and handgun use in homicide, did not go down following Canada's adoption of a "tough" gun law.
SEMI-AUTOMATICS & SO-CALLED "ASSAULT WEAPONS"
* In a deliberate effort to have public policy made by deception, anti- gunners invented the "assault weapon" issue, noting that the public could not readily distinguish full-auto firearms _ sharply restricted by federal law since 1934 _ from semi-auto firearms. No legally-owned full auto firearm has ever been used in a violent crime by a civilian. Semi-autos are very difficult to convert to full auto and such conversion is a federal felony. Semi-autos which are "easy to convert" are not approved by the BATF for sale to the public.
* Data from states and big cities show that military look-alikes constitute 0-3% of guns used in crime and constitute only 1.5% of guns seized by police. Rifles, including semi-autos, are involved in only 3% of homicides.
* BATF traces tell nothing about the types of guns used by criminals, since only 1% of guns used in violent crimes are traced, and even that 1% is not randomly selected.(Congressional Research Service)
* Anti-gunners' hypocrisy: Claiming that handguns are not protected by the Second Amendment because they have no militia purpose, they support banning rifles and shotguns which do. Their ultimate goal is total gun prohibition.
NOTABLE GUN LAW FAILURES Since enacting a virtual handgun ban in 1976, Washington, D.C.'s murder rate has risen 200%, with a 300% rise in handgun-related homicide, as handgun use went from less than 60% of killings to 83%. No gun law in any city, state or nation has ever reduced violent crime, or slowed its rate of growth, compared to similar jurisdictions. With less than 3% of the U.S. population, New York City annually accounts for more than one-eighth of the nation's handgun- related homicides. Since it became a felony to go outside the city to evade its virtual handgun ban, the homicide rate in N.Y.C has risen three times faster than the rest of the country's. Gun rationing schemes have failed miserably. In 1975, South Carolina limited handgun sales to individuals to one per month. Since then, South Carolina's violent crime rate has skyrocketed over 100%.
SECOND AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Like all rights protected by the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms is individually possessed by the American people. The recent concept of a "collective right" is fraudulent because the Framers understood the concept of a "right" to apply only to individuals and used the word "states" when collective meanings were intended.
* In 1990, the Supreme Court observed in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, that the right to keep and bear arms, like rights protected by the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments, is an individual right held by "the people," which the court defined as all "persons who are a part of a national community."
* The National Guard, established in 1903 and subject to federal control, could not have been the type of body envisioned by the framers, even if the goal were to protect only an organized state militia. Under federal law, the militia consists of all able-bodied males of an age to serve, and some females and older men. (10 U.S.C. .311 and 32 U.S.C. .313)
* All five relevant Supreme Court decisions have recognized that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. No Supreme Court decision has ever held this right to be "collective." Lower federal courts have been divided on the question.
NRA Institute for Legislative Action
11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax,
Virginia 22030 NL00890 Rev.
-- This information is presented as a service to the Internet community by the NRA/ILA. Many files are available via anonymous ftp from http://ftp.nra.org via WWW at http://www.nra.org via gopher at gopher.nra.org and via WAIS at wais.nra.org
Be sure to subscribe to the NRA mailing lists. Send the word "help" as the body of a message to MailTo:listproc@NRA.org
Information can also be obtained by connecting to the NRA-ILA GUN-TALK BBS at (703) 934-2121.
Back to Top
Main Page / Articles / Links /Visit our News Page