Definitions

impinge upon

Gun politics

Gun politics is a set of legal issues surrounding the ownership, use, and regulation of firearms as well as safety issues related to firearms both through their direct use and through legal and criminal use.

Domains

Various domains of gun politics exist. These can be broken down to international, national, state, community, individual, city, religious, and corporate domains.

International

National sovereignty

Nations hold the power to defend themselves from their neighbors, or to police within their own boundaries, as a fundamental power of a sovereign state. Yet, nations may lose their sovereignty by circumstances. Nations can be and have been forced to disarm by other nations, upon losing a war, or may have arms embargos or sanctions placed on them. Likewise, nations that violate international arms control agreements, even if claiming they are acting within the scope of their national sovereignty, often find themselves faced with a range of penalties or sanctions regarding firearms by neighboring states.

Enforcement

Interpol often serves as an authorized law enforcement body having jurisdiction investigating allegations of international weapons smuggling.

National and regional police and security services also conduct their own gun regulations. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATFE) supports the United States' International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) program "to aggressively enforce this mission and reduce the number of weapons that are illegally trafficked worldwide from the United States and used to commit acts of international terrorism, to subvert restrictions imposed by other nations on their residents, and to further organized crime and narcotics-related activities."

Worldwide politics and legislation

There are many areas of debate into what kinds of firearms should be allowed to be privately owned, if any, and how, where and when they may be used.

In 2003 the Center for Disease Control published a review of studies from several countries. They state that they found "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence".

Australia

For every firearm, a purchaser must obtain a Permit To Acquire. The first permit for each person has a mandatory 28 day delay before it is issued. In some states, such as Queensland, this is waived for second and subsequent firearms of the same class, whilst in others, it is not. For each firearm a "Genuine Reason" must be given, relating to pest control, hunting, target shooting, or collecting. Self-defense is not accepted as a reason for issuing a license. Only single-shot or bolt action rifles,double barrel shotguns, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols with a barrel length of 120mm or longer are legal for purchase. Exemptions are available for primary producers and professional shooters to use semi automatic rifles and shotguns

Brazil

Canada

Canada requires all firearms to be registered with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and all firearms owners to be licensed with the Canadian Firearms Centre. The licensing requires extensive background checks, that applicants take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course, and that all firearms must be stored locked and unloaded. There is concern in Canada about the smuggling of handguns into Canada across the border from the United States where firearms are more easily purchased.

East Timor

Under East Timorese law, only the military and police forces may legally possess, carry and use firearms. However, despite these laws, East Timor has many problems with illegally-armed militias, including widespread violence in 2006 which resulted in over 100,000 people being forced from their homes, as well as two separate assassination attempts on the Prime Minister and President in early 2008.

However, in late June 2008, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, introduced a proposed gun law to Parliament for "urgent debate", pushing back scheduled budgetary discussions. This has sparked heated scenes in the East Timorese parliament between the parliamentarians who support the new law and those who oppose it. The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force deployed in the nation, also expressed concern over the new law. However, State Secretary for Defence, Julio Tomas Pinto, defended the proposed law in Parliament on Monday, saying many countries in the world allowed citizens to own guns.

European Union

In late 2007 the European Union lawmakers adopted a legislative report to tighten gun control laws and establish an extensive firearms database. Passed with overwhelming backing, the tough new gun control rules were "hoped to prevent Europe from becoming a gun-friendly culture like the United States".

United Kingdom

The UK and the United States share a common origin as to the right to bear arms, which is the 1689 Bill of Rights. However, over the course of the 20th century, the UK gradually implemented tighter regulation of the civilian ownership of firearms through the enactment of the 1968, 1988, 1994 and 1997 Firearms(Amendment) Acts leading to the current outright ban on the ownership of all automatic, and most self loading, firearms in the UK. The ownership of breach-loading handguns is, in particular, also very tightly controlled and effectively limited (other than in Northern Ireland) to those persons who may require such a handgun for the non routine humane killing of injured or dangerous animals. Each firearm owned must be registered on a Firearms Certificate (FAC) which is issued by the local police authority who will require the prospective owner to demonstrate a "good reason" for each firearm held (e.g. pest control or target shooting) and may place restrictions on the FAC relating to the type and amount of ammunition that is held and the places and the uses the firearms are put to. Self defence is not considered an acceptable "good reason" for firearm ownership. The police may amend, or revoke, a FAC at any time and refuse a FAC for any reason.

Finland

Germany

Since the sanctions imposed on it in World War II, Allied Forces demanded complete disarmament of Germany, including its police officers. Private gun ownership was not permitted until 1956. In 1972, Germany enacted its main gun control act through the Waffengesetz, or Weapons Act. Under the act, a person can own a gun at 18; however, a firearms ownership license must be obtained before the gun can be purchased. The license is only valid for three years. Maintaining and storing the gun in a secure place is also regulated.

Japan

Japan, in the postwar period, has had gun regulation which is strict in principle, but the application and enforcement has been inefficient. Gun licensing is required, but is generally treated as only a formality. There are background check requirements, but these requirements are typically not enforced unless a specific complaint has been filed, and then background checks are made after the fact. As is common in Japan, "regulations are treated more as road maps than as rules subject to active enforcement. Japan is still a very safe country when it comes to guns, a reality that has less to do with laws than with prevailing attitudes".

The weapons law begins by stating "No-one shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords", and very few exceptions are allowed. The only types of firearms which a Japanese citizen may even contemplate acquiring is a rifle or shotgun. Sportsmen are permitted to possess shotguns or rifles for hunting and for skeet and trap shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure. Without a license, a person may not even hold a gun in his or her hands.

Recently in Japan the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party, in response to violent crimes by minors and gangsters, has called for rewriting the constitution to include new more stringent firearms control measures. In January 2008 Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in a policy speech called for tighter regulations on firearms.

Mexico

Mexico has strict gun laws. Mexican citizens may purchase arms for self-protection or hunting only after receiving approval of a petition to the Defense Department, which performs extensive background checks. The allowed weapons are restricted to relatively low-caliber and must be purchased from the Defense Department only. President Felipe Calderón has recently called attention to the problem of the smuggling of guns from the United States into Mexico, guns which are easily available both legally and illegally in the United States, and has called for increased cooperation from the United States to stop this illegal weapons trafficking.

Norway

While having a large amount of civilian owned guns, Norway has a low gun crime rate.

South Africa

Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, coupled with one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths. In recent times political opposition has expressed a desire for tighter gun regulations. Switzerland practices universal conscription, which requires that all able-bodied male citizens keep fully-automatic firearms at home in case of a call-up. Every male between the ages of 20 and 42 is considered a candidate for conscription into the military, and following a brief period of active duty will commonly be enrolled in the militia until age or an inability to serve ends his service obligation. During their enrollment in the armed forces, these men are required to keep their government-issued selective fire combat rifles and semi-automatic handguns in their homes. Up until September 2007, soldiers also received 50 rounds of government-issued ammunition in a sealed box for storage at home. In addition to these official weapons, Swiss citizens are allowed to purchase surplus-to-inventory combat rifles, and shooting is a popular sport in all the Swiss cantons. Ammunition (also MilSpec surplus) sold at rifle ranges is intended to be expended at the time of purchase, but target and sporting ammunition is widely available in gun and sporting goods stores.

United States

Background

The issue of firearms takes a high-profile position in United States culture and politics. Michael Bouchard, Assistant Director/Field Operations of ATF, estimates that 5,000 gun shows take place each year in the United States. Incidents of gun violence in 'gun-free' school zones, such as the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007 have ignited debate involving gun politics in the United States.

The American public strongly opposes bans on gun ownership, while strongly supporting limits on handguns and military-type semi-automatic weapons.

There is a sharp divide between gun-rights proponents and gun-control proponents. This leads to intense political debate over the effectiveness of firearm regulation.

On the whole, Republicans are far less likely to support gun control than are Democrats. According to a 2004 Harris Interactive survey:

Republicans and Democrats hold very different views on gun control. A 71% to 11% majority of Democrats favors stricter gun control, whereas Republicans are split 35% to 35%.
The division of beliefs may be attributable to the fact that Republicans are more likely to own guns, according to General Social Surveys conducted during the last 35 years. The graphs, below, show that gun ownership has generally declined; however, Republicans - especially men - are far more likely to own "guns or revolvers.

Incidents of gun violence and self-defense have routinely ignited bitter debate. About 10,000 murders are committed using firearms annually, while an estimated 2.5 million crimes may be thwarted through civilian use of firearms annually. The American Journal of Public Health conducted a study that concluded "the United States has higher rates of firearm ownership than do other developed nations, and higher rates of homicide. Of the 233,251 people who were homicide victims in the United States between 1988 and 1997, 68% were killed with guns, of which the large majority were handguns. The ATF estimated in 1995 that the number of firearms available in the US was 223 million.

Gun-rights proponents question whether any firearm registration requirement violates the Second Amendment under the individual rights theory. Some perceive that firearms registration — by making it easier for Federal agents to target gun owners for harassment and confiscation — constitutes an easily exploited encroachment upon individual personal privacy and property rights.

In contrast, in a 2008 brief submitted to the United State Supreme Court, the Department of Justice advocated that reasonable regulation of weaponry has always been allowed by the Second Amendment in the interests of public safety. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to own and possess handguns in a home for self-defense. See below.

Fully-automatic firearms are legal in most states, but have requirements for registration and restriction under federal law. The National Firearms Act of 1934 required approval of the local police chief and the payment of a $200 tax for initial registration and for each transfer. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited imports of all nonsporting firearms and created several new categories of restricted firearms. The act also prohibited further registry of most automatic firearms. The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 imposed restrictions on some semiautomatic weapons and banned private ownership of machine guns manufactured after it took effect.

The result has been a massive rise in the price of machine-guns available for private ownership, as an increased demand chases the fixed, pre-1986 supply. For example, the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine-gun, which may be sold to law enforcement for about $1,000, costs a private citizen about $20,000. This price difference dwarfs the $200 tax stamp.

Political scientist Earl R. Kruschke states, regarding the fully-automatic firearms owned by private citizens in the United States, that "approximately 175,000 automatic firearms have been licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (the federal agency responsible for administration of the law) and evidence suggests that none of these weapons has ever been used to commit a violent crime."

District of Columbia v Heller

On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held that American citizens have an individual right to own guns, as defined by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court stated that an absolute firearm ban was unconstitutional. The Court further determined that its decision in Heller does not impinge upon existing statutes and regulations, such as those that prohibit felons and the mentally-ill from owning or possessing firearms.

Arguments

Gun ownership and rates of suicide involving guns

Several studies have sought to examine the potential links between rates of gun ownership and rates of gun-related suicide within various jurisdictions around the world. Martin Killias, while stopping just short of asserting causality, concludes that more guns usually means more victims of suicide and homicide.

Rich et al., however, found that increased gun restrictions, while reducing suicide-by-gun, resulted in no net decline in suicides, because of substitution of other methods. Japan is often cited as another counter-example to Killias's assertion, as Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world while private firearm ownership is almost non-existent.

Resisting tyranny

Advocates for gun rights often point to previous totalitarian regimes that passed gun control legislation, which was later followed by confiscation. Totalitarian governments such as Fascist Italy during World War II, as well as some Communist states such as the People's Republic of China are examples of this, although most rural Chinese citizens had rifles for small game and protecting their farms from pests. Bolshevik Russia and the Soviet Union did not abolish personal gun ownership during the initial period from 1918 to 1929; the introduction of gun control in 1929 coincided with the beginning of the repressive Stalinist regime There are several countries that have had gun control in place for many years—the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada for example—that are not totalitarian governments. Some make the argument that in order for a population to successfully fight a repressive government small arms would not suffice, but resistance would require heavy weaponry: tanks, airplanes and artillery. A counterargument is that some guerrilla movements have had success using only small arms and improvised explosives (e.g. Vietnam and Iraq)..

While many democracies in Western Europe have adopted gun control, there are democratic countries that allow their citizens to own firearms such as the United States, New Zealand and Switzerland. However, other democracies like Japan have very strict laws against citizens owning firearms and don't reveal totalitarian tendencies. The best known example of a country which was democratic prior to becoming totalitarian, the Weimar Republic, had restrictive gun laws, which the Nazis changed with the Reichswaffengesetz in 1938, though they prohibited possession of weapons by Jews shortly thereafter.

Other countries that were briefly democratic before becoming totalitarian are: countries of the former USSR (e.g., Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, etc.) and many African countries (e.g. Zimbabwe, Angola). All have (and had) restrictive gun laws. In such countries as South Africa and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), the black majority was prevented from legally owning guns by the white minority, aiding in the establishment of white rule.

Firearms-rights advocates also point to the example of Japan. During the early Middle Ages, there was a high percentage of weapons ownership within the general populace, and this hindered the Japanese Imperial government in establishing totalitarian control within the country. The Japanese populace was eventually disarmed, and weapons ownership was strictly limited to the elite and their Samurai bodyguards. Peasants, without any access to arms, were at the mercy of powerful warlords.

Some also oppose registration of guns or licensing of gun owners because they believe that if captured, the associated records would provide military invaders with the locations and identities of gun owners, simplifying elimination of resistance fighters. Location and capture of such records is a standard doctrine taught to military intelligence officers; and was widely practiced by German and Soviet troops during World War II. Once the Nazis had taken and consolidated their power, they then proceeded to implement gun control laws to disarm the population and wipe out the opposition. Genocide of disarmed Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables followed. The Battles of Lexington and Concord, sometimes known as the Shot heard 'round the world, in the 1770s, were started in part because General Gage sought to carry out an order by the British government to disarm the populace.

Self-defense

The economist, and opinion editorialist John Lott, in his book More Guns, Less Crime, claims to have identified a positive correlation between gun control legislation and crimes in which criminals confront citizens— that is, an increase in the number or strictness of gun control laws is correlated with an increase in the number or severity of violent crimes. Besides showing a drop in crime correlating with shall issue laws, Lott's results also show that increasing the unemployment rate is statistically associated with a drop in crime and that a small decrease in the population which is black, female, and between 40 and 49 would result in a big decrease in homicide. Lott's results suggest that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms deters crime because potential criminals do not know who may or may not be carrying a firearm. The possibility of getting shot by an armed victim is a substantial deterrent to crime and prevents not only petty crime but physical confrontation as well from criminals. Lott's data comes from the FBI's crime statistics from all 3,054 US counties.

Criminologist Gary Kleck criticizes Lott's theories as overemphasizing the threat to the average American from armed crime and therefore the need for armed defense. Paradoxically, Kleck's work speaks towards similar support for firearm rights by showing that the number of Americans who report incidents where their guns averted a threat vastly outnumber those who report being the victim of a firearm-related crime..

The efficacy of gun control legislation at reducing the availability of guns has been challenged by, among others, the testimony of criminals that they do not obey gun control laws, and by the lack of evidence of any efficacy of such laws in reducing violent crime. In his paper, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt argues that available data indicate that neither stricter gun control laws nor more liberal concealed carry laws have had any significant effect on the decline in crime in the 1990s. While the debate remains hotly disputed, it is therefore not surprising that a comprehensive review of published studies of gun control, released in November 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was unable to determine any reliable statistically significant effect resulting from such laws, although the authors suggest that further study may provide more conclusive information.

Thirty-nine U.S. states have passed "shall issue" concealed carry legislation of one form or another. In these states, law-abiding citizens (usually after giving evidence of completing a training course) may carry handguns on their person for self-protection. Other states and some cities such as New York may issue permits. Only Illinois, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have explicit legislation restricting personal carry, although gun-control laws in the District of Columbia were ruled unconstitutional by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on March 9, 2007. Vermont and Alaska place no restrictions on lawful citizens carrying concealed weapons. Alaska retains a shall issue permit process for reciprocity where allowed.

Supporters of gun-rights consider self-defense to be a fundamental and inalienable human right and believe that firearms are an important tool in the exercise of this right. They consider the prohibition of an effective means of self defense to be unethical and to violate Constitutional guarantees. For instance, in Thomas Jefferson’s "Commonplace Book," a quote from Cesare Beccaria reads, "laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

Opponents of lawful arming of individuals for self-defense argue that potential victims who present their weapons likely would escalate a confrontation and suffer greater injury than had they been unarmed. However, the opposite has been found to be true: armed potential victims have a significantly greater likelihood over unarmed or totally weapon-less victims of escaping criminal assault uninjured. The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that "A fifth of the victims defending themselves with a firearm suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended themselves with weapons other than a firearm or who had no weapon.

Domestic violence

Gun control advocates argue that the strongest evidence linking availability of guns to injury and mortality rates comes in studies of domestic violence, most often referring to the series of studies by Arthur Kellermann. In response to public suggestions by some advocates of firearms for home defense, that homeowners were at high risk of injury from home invasions and would be wise to acquire a firearm for purposes of protection, Kellermann investigated the circumstances surrounding all in-home homicides in three cities of about half a million population each over five years, and found that the risk of a homicide was in fact slightly higher in homes where a handgun was present, rather than lower. From the details of the homicides he concluded that the risk of a crime of passion or other domestic dispute ending in a fatal injury was much higher when a gun was readily available (essentially all the increased risk being in homes where a handgun was kept loaded and unlocked), compared to a lower rate of fatality in domestic violence not involving a firearm. This increase in mortality, he postulated, was large enough to overwhelm any protective effect the presence of a gun might have by deterring or defending against burglaries or home invasions, which occurred much less frequently. The increased risk averaged over all homes containing guns was similar in size to that correlated with an individual with a criminal record living in the home, but substantially less than that associated with demographic factors known to be risks for violence, such as renting a home versus ownership, or living alone versus with others.

Critics of Kellermann's work and its use by advocates of gun control point out that since it deliberately ignores crimes of violence occurring outside the home (Kellermann states at the outset that the characteristics of such homicides are much more complex and ambiguous, and would be virtually impossible to classify rigorously enough), it is more directly a study of domestic violence than of gun ownership. Kellermann does in fact include in the conclusion of his 1993 paper several paragraphs referring to the need for further study of domestic violence and its causes and prevention. Researchers John Lott, Gary Kleck and many others dispute Kellermann's work. Kleck agrees only with Kellermann's finding that contrary to widespread perception, the overall frequency of homicide in the home by an invading stranger is much less than that of domestic violence. Kellerman's work has also being criticized because he ignores factors such as guns being used to protect property, save lives, and deter crime without killing the criminal—which, Kleck and others argue, accounts for the large majority of defensive gun uses.

Armed forces' reserves and reservist training

In several countries, such as in Finland, the firearm politics and gun control is directly linked on the armed forces' reserves and reservist training. This is especially true in countries which base their armies on conscription; since every able-bodied male basically is a soldier, he is expected to be able to handle the gun reasonably and be able to practice for the time of need.

Switzerland is a noted example of a country in which, due to the country's conscription and militia traditions, firearm ownership is widespread. Owing to Switzerland's history, all able-bodied male Swiss citizens aged between 21 and 50 (55 for officers) are issued assault rifles and ammunition in order to perform their annual military obligations. Because of this, Switzerland is one of the few nations in the world with a higher rate of firearm ownership than the United States. Also, Switzerland has a relatively low rate of gun crime. The comparatively low level of violent crime, despite the liberal gun laws, is demonstrated by the fact that Swiss politicians rarely have the same level of police protection as their counterparts in the United States and other countries, as was noted following the fatal shooting of several government officials in the Swiss canton of Zug in September 2001. According to many historians, Switzerland's militia tradition of "every man a soldier" contributed to the preservation of its neutrality during the Second World War, when it was not invaded by Nazi Germany. Despite Switzerland being a thorn in Germany's side, it was not invaded because the military cost to the Nazis would have been too high, although this is meanwhile considered a legend regarding the existence of detailed invasion plans, which rated the Swiss defense capacity as overall low.

Likewise, it is very difficult to get a licence for a pistol or revolver in Finland, but relatively easy for a rifle or shotgun. The rationale is that long firearms are awkward to use in robberies and other felonies, but they are almost exclusively used in war; therefore practising or hunting with a long firearm is both relatively safe for the general populace and especially beneficial when the situation of crisis arises.

Civil rights

Jeff Snyder is perhaps the best known spokesman for the view that gun possession is a civil right, and that therefore arguments about whether gun restrictions reduce or increase violent crime are beside the point: "I am am not here engaged in...recommending...policy prescriptions on the basis of the promised or probable results [on crime]...Thus these essays are not fundamentally about guns at all. They are, foremost, about...the kind of people we intend to be...and the ethical and political consequences of decisions [to control firearms]. He terms the main principle behind gun control "the instrumental theory of salvation:" that, lacking the ability to change the violent intent in criminals, we often shift focus to the instrument in an attempt to "limit our ability to hurt ourselves, and one another. His work discusses the consequences that flow from conditioning the liberties of all citizens upon the behavior of criminals.

Some of the earliest gun-control legislation at the state level were the "black codes" that replaced the "slave codes" after the Civil War, attempting to prevent blacks' having access to the full rights of citizens, including the right to keep and bear arms. Laws of this type later used racially neutral language to survive legal challenge, but were expected to be enforced against blacks rather than whites.

A favorite target of gun control is so-called "junk guns," which are generally cheaper and therefore more accessible to the poor. However, some civil rights organizations favor tighter gun regulations. In 2003, the NAACP filed suit against 45 gun manufacturers for creating what it called a "public nuisance" through the "negligent marketing" of handguns, which included models commonly described as Saturday night specials. The suit alleged that handgun manufacturers and distributors were guilty of marketing guns in a way that encouraged violence in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. "The gun industry has refused to take even basic measures to keep criminals and prohibited persons from obtaining firearms," NAACP President/CEO Kweisi Mfume said. "The industry must be as responsible as any other and it must stop dumping firearms in over-saturated markets. The obvious result of dumping guns is that they will increasingly find their way into the hands of criminals.

The NAACP lawsuit was dismissed in 2003. It, and several similar suits--some brought by municipalities seeking re-imbursement for medical costs associated with criminal shootings--were portrayed by gun-rights groups as "nuisance suits," aimed at driving gun manufacturers (especially smaller firms) out of business through court costs alone, as damage awards were not expected. These suits prompted the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in October, 2005.

Martin Luther King said, "By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim... we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.

Statistics

The specter of the private ownership of guns and their relationship to domestic violence casualties is a very significant variable used for political leverage in the policy debate. While many shootings occurring in the course of a heated mutual argument of passion, others occur where a partner or family member of a "romantic" or familial relationship, who is an ongoing victim of domestic physical abuse or sexual abuse uses the force of a firearm in self-defense action against the perpetrator who also happens to be known to or related to the victim. As a corollary, in such policy advertising campaigns, the comparison of "domestic" gun casualties is usually not accompanied by murder and assault prosecution numbers stemming from the shootings occurring in that context. In many of the latter cases, the victim firing in self-defense is frequently a woman or youth victim of a more physically powerful abuser. In those situations gun rights advocates argue that the firearm arguably becomes an equalizer against the lethal and disabling force frequently exercised by the abusers.

In 2002 in the U.S., 1,202 women were killed by their intimate partners, accounting for 30 percent of the 4006 women murdered that year. 700 women were killed by intimate partners using guns. The same year, 175 men were killed by intimate partners.

In a similar fashion, many gun control advocates point to statistics in advertising campaigns purporting that "approximately 9 or so children are killed by people discharging firearms every day across the US, and argue that this statistic is seldom accompanied by a differentiation of those children killed by individuals from unintentional discharges and stray bullets, and of those "children," under the age of majority—which is 18-21 in the U.S.—who are killed while acting as aggressors in street gang related mutual combat or while committing crimes, many of which are seen as arising from the War on Drugs. There is further controversy regarding courts, trials, and the resulting sentences of these mostly "young men" as adults despite them not having reached the age of consent. A significant number of gun related deaths occur through suicide.

According to statistics available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention of nearly 31,000 firearm-related deaths in 2005, suicides account for 55 percent of deaths in the United States whereas homicides account for 40 percent of deaths, accidents account for three percent, and the remaining two percent were legal killings. Public Health researchers have concluded that the likelihood of someone dying from suicide or homicide is greater in homes where guns are present.

There has been widespread agreement on both sides that the importance of gun safety education has a mitigating effect on the occurrence of accidental discharges involving children. There is somewhat less agreement about vicarious liability case law assigning strict liability to the gun owner for those firearms casualties occurring when a careless gun owner loses proper custody and control of her or his firearm.

The National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank, reported the following statistics:

  • New Jersey adopted what sponsors described as "the most stringent gun law" in the nation in 1966; two years later, the murder rate was up 46% and the reported robbery rate had nearly doubled.
  • In 1968, Hawaii imposed a series of increasingly harsh measures, and its murder rate tripled from a low of 2.4 per 100,000 in 1968 to 7.2 by 1977.
  • In 1976, Washington, D.C., enacted one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. Since then, the city's murder rate has risen 134% while the national murder rate has dropped 2%.

In addition:

  • Over 50% of American households own guns, despite government statistics showing the number is approximately 35%, because guns not listed on any government roll were not counted during the gathering of data.
  • Evanston, Illinois, a Chicago suburb of 75,000 residents, became the largest town to ban handgun ownership in September 1982 but experienced no decline in violent crime.
  • Among the 15 states with the highest homicide rates, 10 have restrictive or very restrictive gun laws.
  • Twenty percent of U.S. homicides occur in four cities with just 6% of the population—New York, Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C.—and each has (or, in the case of Detroit, had until 2001) a virtual prohibition on private handguns.
  • UK banned private ownership of most handguns in 1997, previously held by an estimated 57,000 people—0.1% of the population. Since 1998, the number of people injured by firearms in England and Wales has more than doubled. In 2005-06, of 5,001 such injuries, 3,474 (69%) were defined as "slight," and a further 965 (19%) involved the "firearm" being used as a blunt instrument. Twenty-four percent of injuries were caused with air guns, and 32% with "imitation firearms" (including soft air guns). Since 1998, the number of fatal shootings has varied between 49 and 97, and was 50 in 2005.
  • Australia forced the surrender of nearly 650,000 personal firearms in 1997. A study published in 2001 shows a 47% decrease of firearms-related deaths from 1991 to 2001, 24% 1991-1995, pre-Port Arthur massacre.
  • Violent crime accelerated in Jamaica after handguns were banned.

The FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report ranking of cities over 40,000 in population by violent crime rates (per 100,000 population) finds that the ten cities with the highest violent crime rates for 2003 include three cities in the very strict state of New Jersey, one in the fairly restrictive state of Massachusetts, whereas the rest have recently adopted laws that allow for the carrying of a handgun with a permit:

# City State
1 Saginaw MI
2 Irvington NJ
3 Camden NJ
4 Alexandria LA
5 Detroit MI
6 East Orange NJ
7 Atlanta GA
8 Springfield MA
9 Fort Myers FL
10 Miami FL

See also

Gun political groups

References

External links

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