Reasonable Americans will agree that violence in our society must not be tolerated. Most will also acknowledge that poverty in America and violence have a close correlation that require comprehensive solutions. Where we differ, however, is in how to accomplish this.
Overwhelmingly violent crimes occur disproportionally more in urban America compared to the rest of the country. Unfortunately, the regularity with which we hear of shootings in high crime neighborhoods desensitizes the public to the point of apathy. While the use of firearms is prevalent in violent crimes, it is important to understand the underlying causes in order to implement the right fixes.
Liberals argue that more gun control is necessary to stop violent crimes. But would that really work? Is there any evidence gun laws reduce gun crimes? Or will more gun control simply render lawful citizens defenseless. Do we once again compromise Constitutional liberties and trounce on the rights of the many because of the crimes of the few?
The 2nd Amendment in the US Constitution grants every American the right to bear arms. This is a fundamental right and is foundational to our American liberty. Today, there are already numerous laws that restrict and control legal gun ownership. Yet despite these curtailments of freedom, gun crimes persist. In fact, roughly 12 thousand firearm homicides occur every year in America. So, do the gun laws actually work? Clearly they do not.
Studies show that armed criminals usually acquire guns through illegal means. In research sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), The Armed Criminal in America by James Wright, focused on 1,874 felons incarcerated for violent crimes. This comprehensive study was based on extensive interviews of subjects from prisons across the country. NIJ found that more than 80% acquired firearms through illegal means, from gangs, the black market or family members. It is estimated that there are approximately 300 million legally owned guns. Although 30 thousand deaths annually are attributable to firearms, the overwhelming majority of law abiding gun owners enjoy safe gun ownership and pose no risk to the public. In order to understand why that is, let’s look at available studies to see the real picture of guns in America.
According to the NIJ study, 80% of the criminals acquire guns illegally. These criminals account for the 12,000 firearm homicides annually. Assuming each death is caused by one gun, then 9,600 guns are illegal and 2,400 guns were acquired through legal means. Therefore out of the 300 million legally owned guns 2,400 are used in homicides. This suggests that every legally owned gun has a 0.0000008 chance of being involved in a shooting death. Consider the 18 thousand firearm deaths not related to homicides, assuming those guns are legal, adding the 2,400 would then yield a slightly higher risk ratio of 0.000092 per legal gun.
The risk-ratio calculated from these numbers suggests that the overwhelming number of guns owned by law abiding Americans represent virtually no threat to public safety. That said, of course even one accidental shooting is unacceptable. Gun ownership is a serious responsibility and requires proper training and strict adherence to safety. Responsible leaders should stress proper firearm education and training rather than willfully perpetuate a social taboo through fear mongering and misinformation for political purposes.
Progressive liberals routinely attack the 2nd Amendment. With a compliant liberal media, they exploit news of gun crimes to undermine legal firearms sales and ownership. But did you know that there are up to two million cases* per year where lives are saved because law abiding citizens were armed? Most cases go unreported where the mere presence of guns in the right hands prevented potentially violent crimes. Gun owners routinely scare off intruders with home defense weapons and stop violent criminals before they could do harm. On average, it takes 20 minutes for police to respond to a typical 911 call. Defenseless victims would have no chance against violent criminals unless they have a firearm. Disarming Americans and removing the deterrence to violent criminals is clearly not a solution at all.
Violence and poverty are serious problems that require real solutions. In all studies concerning firearm violence the data show that it affects young people disproportionately. Overwhelming, homicide victims in America are youths between ages 15 to 24. As alarming as that is, however, there is a bigger story beneath those numbers. Gun-control advocates will site these statistics to justify draconian gun laws, but what they won’t tell you is digging deeper in the data reveals a more horrifying story which is not about guns at all.
Statistical data from the CDC and the Firearm & Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania, show that of all firearm homicides in 2002 (more studies show similar results in successive years) the overwhelming majority of cases involve minority black males of all ages with the greater number of cases involving back youths ages 15 through 34. (See fig. 1)
These alarming statistics reveal something much deeper and more profoundly troubling than the availability of guns illegal or otherwise. Legal gun ownership is clearly not the culprit here. Guns by themselves do not kill, troubled people with bad intentions do. So why is this happening to young black men? Could it be because there has been a complete breakdown of good moral behavior? Is it due to the complete absence of family support and values? What about the loving father figure who inspire, provide proper guidance and keep them out of trouble? Instead of vilifying legal gun ownership why not focus on America’s urban blight epidemic? Where are those community leaders who claim to have the black youth’s best interest at heart?
Hey, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama, where are all you people? Have all of you completely abandoned these kids? Where the Hell is the cavalry? It’s certainly not the money, America has been most generous. Since Lynden Johnson’s War on Poverty Act of 1964, America has spent over $16 Trillion Dollars to fight poverty. Nearly one half century later, it barely moved the needle.
If $16 Trillion didn’t work, throwing more money at the problem defy reason. Food stamps and welfare do not buy self-respect or self-esteem, to the contrary. In fact, promoting dependency has clearly contributed to the dismantling of the urban family, and that is at the heart of the problem. Yet liberal politicians ignore the obvious and insist on repeating the same failed policies.
Instead of coming to terms with reality, progressive-liberals routinely deflect blame. They blame the inner-city problems on racism. They blame the rest of America for being unfair. And they blame gun rights for urban violence. But the evidence is clear that after generations of failed liberal social engineering, all they have to show for their redistributive welfare policies are dead young black men. It is profoundly shameful, truly heart breaking and utterly unacceptable.
So progressive-liberals persist in deflecting from their failures by denying the vast majority of law abiding Americans our constitutional right to bear arms. What is happening in urban America is the result of the big government entitlement state that we have become. Government intervention into urban America rendered the father figure obsolete and contributed to the breakdown of families. Young back men as a consequence are left to fend for themselves and we wonder why we have an inner-city criminal violence problem.
Consider the vast resources expended, not only has progressive-liberal social engineering failed, it accomplished the exact opposite of its intent plunging urban America instead into deeper poverty and deadly dysfunction. Rather than supporting family values and promoting good behavior, progressive liberalism succeeded in decimating urban families and in the process erecting virtually insurmountable social barriers in the path to success for urban America’s young black men.
So ask yourself which is more deadly, guns or liberalism?
* Every year there are more than two and a half million cases that are reported of lives or property saved because of armed citizens. These are accounts by actual “Armed Citizen” sources reporting to the NRA-ILA as published in the Riflemen.