Gun Control – The Answer?

Is Gun Control The Real Answer to Mass Shootings in the US?

Well the New York Times article of November 7, 2017 by Max Fisher and Josh Keller certainly laid out a persuasive case that gun ownership in the US was the problem.  Take away the guns and the problem would go away.  They assert, relative to other explanations that “…Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world…”.  So, take away the guns and the problems goes away.  A seemingly simple answer and people like simple answers.

Real data and real facts (versus manufactured data and facts) do not tell a story one way or the other.  After all they are just figures and facts.  However, those who analyze the data and facts can often time come to erroneous conclusions sighting data and facts to backup their conclusions.  In fact, two analysts looking at the same data and facts can come to very different conclusions.

Here is some data;

  • The number of guns per person in the US has from approximately 1 per 3 people in 1945 to approximately 1 per person in 2012 with the rate being relatively steady at 1 per person since 2000
  • The percent of households with guns has dropped from 47% in 1973 to 31% in 2014. The percent of households with guns was relatively steady at 47% through 1990 and then dropped from 1990 to 2014.
  • Background checks have increased from 8.5M in 2000 to 23.1M in 2015
  • There have been 23 mass shootings in the US since 1949 with over 70% of those shooting occurring after 1999

So one observation might be that the majority of mass shootings have occurred when the number of guns had stabilized and the percent of households with guns had decreased significantly.  That observation might lead someone (like me) to conclude that gun ownership is not the main issue in mass shootings.

Virtually all perpetrators of massing shooting since 1999 have had either mental issues that would have precluded them from purchasing a gun of any type or they are classified as terrorists.  That might lead to the question of, how were they able to obtain the guns they used for the shootings, especially since background checks have increased from approximately 8.5M in 2000 to 23.1M in 2015 (source FBI/Danielle Kurtzleben/NPR).  Excluding terrorists, some obtained them through their households but most obtained them legally by purchasing.  How could that be if they had mental issued that would have precluded then from purchasing guns?

The answer could be one that no one wants to entertain.  Maybe the real issue in the mass shooting is the decidedly liberal bent the country has taken since the 1990s.  According to a Gallop poll in 2016, conservatives declined from 43% of the US in 1992 to 36% in 2016 while liberals increased from 17% in 1992 to 25% in 2016.

So what does that have to do with mass shootings you might ask? Well, gun ownership per person has been essentially stagnant for the past 20 years, families owning guns have dropped significantly over the past 25 years, background checks have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Yet in that same 20 year period, over 70% of the mass shootings have occurred.  How much money is spent on mental illnesses is not a valid measure relative to gun violence but what we do with information gained is.  Maybe, just maybe it might be the inability to appropriately identify the individuals that are high risk for owning a firearm.

After all the 2nd Amendment has been around for a long time being adopted in 1791 and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in 1876 and again in 1939.  A much larger percentage of households had firearm in the 1970s and 80s than in 2009 so why have over 70% of the mass shootings occurred in the last 10 years?

Liberals, if you want to know the real answer for the mass shootings in the US look in the mirror.  It is not insufficient gun control laws but rather the inability to identify those individuals most at risk.