Homicide Data by Weapon

Here is FBI homicide data by weapon for 2014:


In 2014, 248 people were killed by rifles. Rifles would include “assault weapons”. Thus, more people are killed by knives than by assault weapons. Indeed, more than twice as many people are killed by “hands, fists, feet, etc.” than by assault weapons. (Some of these numbers could change slightly with “Firearms, type not stated” although most of these are probably handguns).

The data may be uncomfortable to both left and the right. The left because banning “rifles” would obviously not save many lives even if one assumed no substitution effect towards other weapons and banning “assault weapons”, however defined, would do even less. The right because handguns are by far the primary weapon used to kill.


Only 5 by poison?

Only 5 (or 7) by poison *that was detected*.

Just for the record it was 5 in the 2010 figures that were originally posted, 7 in the updated figures. So murder by poison has increased by 40% in just four years - alarming!

Because the number is so small it's not a significant datapoint.

I think Urso was using sarcasm.

It's hard to do a drive by poisoning, or walk up to a car and poison the passengers to death.

Of course, tossing poison into the air to scare off a poisoner is not a crime in Chicago, but firing a gun into the air after the person beside you has been shot by someone walking up and shooting your fiancé.

Not many drive by knifings of people in bed, nor many knifings of people sitting in their cars.

No poisoning of police, nor many knifings of police in their cars.

"Only 7?" etc. were my thoughts on poison, strangulation, etc. How powerful availability bias is. Probably have seen 50 movies/TV dramas/true crime documentaries and read a half-dozen books where poisoning was the method. Who knew it is so rare.

I've read that women are the primary ones who murder by poison-don't know if it's true but I'm sure the number is probably higher as it's a bit harder to tell if someone was poisoned then if their head is blown off. I recall a medical mystery reality show that had a case of a man slowly being poisoned with something but they couldn't figure out where the poison was coming from and it turned out that even in the hospital, his wife was poisoning tea she brought in with rat poison. What I find confusing is why rat poison wouldn't make the tea taste a bit odd.

The program was Forensic Files and she poisoned him with arsenic. After he died, they were able to delineate a dosing history from residues in his hair. They've had a couple of programs devoted to wives poisoning their husbands with arsenic and one with anti-freeze. In that particular case, the investigators were sidetracked ruling out industrial exposures as a source of his illness. He worked for a building contractor and they'd been refurbishing a laboratory that had had a mass of toxic material therein; they were also sidetracked investigating co-workers; it seemed the man had been promoted over the head of some more senior employees.

They had another program on a man poisoning his business partner. IIRC, the two men ate together often and he was slipping it in at lunch time.

firing a gun into the air puts peoples lives at risk as the round has to land somewhere, that is why it is illegal. Any time it is advisable to fire a gun in the air it is already time to shoot the person you are trying to warn off. If you feel the need to shoot into the air then it is already time to fire at the person. shooting into the air has killed innocent people in the past when the round lands. If someone shoots someone then you are wasting time firing into the air anyway and giving that person more time to attach someone else.

Most homicides are about asserting machismo. Ain't nothing badass about poisoning your enemy.

Murder mysteries had led me to believe otherwise.

Poisoning is coldly premeditated and requires you be the one who prepares food and drink for the other person. It's the sort of thing done by a woman who wants to kill her husband for the insurance money. Fortunately for most married men, such women are a great deal more common on Forensic Files than they are in everyday life. If that statistic is correct, I'd wager every last one in the last 20 years has been profiled there or on Dateline, &c.

Except in Crouching Tigers Hidden Dragons

Muh guns

But note - how many were killed by machine guns, mortars, or missiles? These are things strictly regulated under the 1934 firearms law. If gun control doesn't work, why does almost one who wants to inflict harm on others use them?

Even if they were legal, machine guns, mortars, or missiles would be far more expensive and far less targeted than a pistol. Almost anyone can afford a pistol smuggled in from Mexico and plenty of ammunition. A mortar would be something like $2000 a shot, and would attract a lot of attention, something your average murderer tries to avoid.

@JayT - Well, one of the reason machine guns are so expensive is because regulations vastly reduce both the supply and demand. So that would be a success of gun control. If machine guns had as few restrictions on manufacturing, ownership, transfer as an AR-15 (or name your variant), they'd be much cheaper. And to be clear, I'm only talking about people intent on mass murder, not your average homicide.

Nothing says LOOK AT ME quite like the thump of a mortar or the loud constant chatter of a machine gun.

One reason is that there aren't (and never were) hundreds of millions of machine guns, mortars and missiles already floating around in private hands. Any new gun control measure has to consider the current state of affairs, not a blank slate.

@Adam, I agree, I'm arguing against the many people who seem to believe gun control has never worked in practice, and entertaining it is pointless. Since they (presumably) don't want machine guns freely available, I'd say they already believe in gun control and are seeing it successfully working every day.

No, I'm not seeing it 'successfully working'. I'm seeing no legal trade in machine guns. I'm also seeing a great many poseurs bleating about 'mass incarceration' and police 'misconduct' who don't give a rip about police manpower or deployment. I'd wager a Venn diagram would show a great deal of overlap between the kvetchers and the gun control enthusiasts.

It's arguable that it DIDN'T work, in practice.

The 1934 National Firearms Act was, like what we're seeing attempted today with the AR-15, a knee-jerk reaction to a Hollywood- and media-driven public hysteria about exceedingly rare shootings like the Valentines Day Massacre -- a gangland shooting brought about by..dundundun...Prohibition! AKA, the war against alcohol.

Machine guns were around before the Act (mainly brought back from the war) and machine guns were around after the Act. There were rare instances of mass shootings before the Act, there were rare instances of mass shootings after the Act. The only NET EFFECT was to penalize ordinary law-abiding citizens.

I can personally attest that the ban did NOTHING to stop gangbangers, vying for control of MacArthur Park in Los Angeles in the 1990's, from obtaining them. I lived in that shit.

I don't mean this as insulting as it sounds, im going out on a limb to say you have never fired either weapon in a combat situation. A machine gun is typically best utilized as a crew service weapon. You don't use something like a 240B to single handedly assault an objective, Rambo movies have given you the wrong idea. The best machine gunners I've known (who are top class) couldn't single handedly walk into a nightclub with those banned weapons and be (for lack of a better term unfortunately) nearly as successful. Therefore saying "because machine guns are banned we have saved countless lives" is ridiculous. It's a logical fallacy. Those weapons aren't designed for that (Thompsons and m16's being fully auto I don't count, they were a product of their time and there is a reason the m16 isn't fully auto in the military anymore and no it isn't because it makes it safer for the enemy). I believe that we need more stringent laws without question. If you want an assault rifle, I believe you should have to submit your mental health and criminal records for review by an established authority. This isn't a personal violation, you are evaluated to get health insurance and loans etc, a background check for a weapon isn't some fascist precedent being set, it's a precaution. I'm with you 100 percent on that. To further the point, "i can be on a no fly list but I can buy a weapon" shit is beyond the scope of ridiculous to me as well. In the same vein, "we dont let people have mortars and there hasn't been any mortar attacks" is just as inane of an argument. Just personally google what would go into pulling off a mortar strike on something like a nightclub to understand why it's hilarious (not "haha" but "are you dumb") to anyone who has been around an 11C. I've been going on too long already,you can do that part. These sick people were going to kill others regardless of laws. Timothy Mcveigh didn't need a gun, nor did those cowards with box cutters that took down the towers.You know the adage "where there is a will there is a way". That shit has been around forever for a reason. We need to focus on mental health care being accessible for everyone and ease up on the "he may be violent and mentally unstable but we can't force him to take meds". Why is that good for anyone? He is mentally unable legally to decide a plethora of things yet he can choose not to take medication? Back to topic for the maybe one person still reading this. Why would you not want trained and responsible people that can react in a situation when it happens and posses the tools to do so. These so called "gun nuts" will gladly adhere to the 0 drinking policy for carry permits and they go to the range and practice on their own dime. Im moving to Florida for school, I have been in firefights and do not want to bring my innocent, sweet wife into one. I was nervous about their reported "lack of control". I researched and have to admit I was impressed. I didn't think that was possible from what has been reported on the new.Read up on their sites. Not all of them, some of them have hate agendas and it is disconcerting to say the least. That is just going to happen in a large sample group. Im not part of any of their clubs either way but frankly the dedication the majority of them expressed towards being responsible and practiced in case they needed to respond was admirable. They appeared well informed and up to date on laws and respectful of them. Even when talking about a topic such as carrying in a place that doesn't allow them to, the prevailing attitude was along the lines of, "They can't enforce that at x place technically, so I carry. If they ask me to leave, that is their right and I do immediately". Most other comments revolved around making sure not to drink at all and stay practiced. Not giving out blanket trust to people I haven't met but frankly I would have no problem with them carrying anywhere if they are being truthful. I'm a combat veteran and I will carry when im licensed to do so, legally, once im in Florida. I, however, will leave my weapon at home when I go out for a drink. Which at the moment is a little too often so hopefully that law might cut my drinking down ( another perk!). It's a no brainer law and it's enforced. While reading these aforementioned articles, I was impressed that a great many of them,trained extensively on their own dime, stay sober and carry so they can respond if the need arises. Police officers are not an instant guarantee that just appears when trouble occurs. You want to strip a person who is willing to pay to train themselves and give up drinking on their night off just to protect the public against active shooters their right to carry? I can't understand that motivation. The "we dont need a well regulated militia anymore" idea is flawed. Maybe we don't against invading armies or even the government but maybe we need vetted, trained citizens who are willing to be held accountable for their actions, deterring a mass shooter. If we can find a way to make even a small portion of our large populace akin to the idea behind the air marshals ( nobody is surrounded by people brandishing weapons but there is a chance that random man next to you is trained and armed) we can make the idea of a mass shooting drastically less appealing. These gunmen are created in a large part by the media sensationalizing body counts and 24 hour hysteria. It's documented and how could that be anything but true? Psychopaths, as I understand them, thrive on that fear and the power it brings them. If they thought their name would headline along with " idiot pulls out a weapon to kill many, instead fatally shot by vigilant and trained bystander ". He not only is stripped of his sick interpretation of "fame" but is now seen as weak. These other cowards don't want to be exposed for what they are. That article headline is a deterrent for the next misanthropic dick that wants to inflict harm on innocent people.

Updated to 2014 data (from 2011).

CDC has different numbers.
See table 18.

18% of all firearms are "Firearms, type not stated" which could include rifles. Handguns are pretty easy to identify specifically as handguns. Rifles would seem to be a bit harder to classify given the huge variety of weapons that are rifles. Doesn't change the fact that handguns are really only good for killing people but it might skew the statistics of rifles vs. knives a bit.

It's a bit curious that the bulk of the ire directed at firearms of late is about rifles.

Not really. Folks were a bit more honest back in the day. At the time of the AWB it was understood, indeed stated by some, that AR's were considered more easily targeted - as a first step toward achieving more wide-ranging control. Few wanted to go after handguns first. Rifles are not seen primarily as defensive weapons by the general public whereas pistols are. Secondly, because they've been the focus for so long, semi-auto rifles, AR's particularly, have become symbols in a war of cultures. No mystery at all.

The left is not saying "ban assault rifles" because they think it will solve the problem once and for all or is the most important thing to do before all else. They're saying "ban assault rifles" because they realize that's the only area where they're likely to be able to get any leverage towards a policy change actually happening. They would rather take a first step than no step and are talking up the benefits of banning assault weapons instrumentally to try to at least get the ball started rolling downhill on gun control.

They'd (speaking for myself and many others here) very gladly call for banning the other categories of guns too if it was in any way politically feasible to do so!

The trouble is, by going after "assault weapons", they are losing credibility with people who are knowledgable about firearms. Civilian AR-15s are not machine guns, and aren't any different than grandpa's old semi-auto hunting rifle, except for the fact that they look different. When you pretend that Americans are able to buy military weapons, you come off either as an idiot, or that you are lying.

Where as, if you went after handguns, I would strongly disagree with you, but you would actually have facts to back you up so you wouldn't sound like a moron.

To be fair, the people who are so into guns that they would get upset by these narrow terminology distinctions related to AR-15s that you bring up were never going to support the proposed gun control measures anyway. Those aren't the voters the gun control advocates need to convince to get these policies passed. Respectfully, there's no real political cost to "losing credibility" with someone like you, as you would not have supported any of these proposals to begin with (as you state above). You're not the pivotal voter here. You're firmly on one side of the debate. We don't need universal consensus for policy change, and its naive to think we'd ever get it. We just need a big enough majority to get it done and gun control advocates already have that clear majority in public opinion secured as it is (as shown in many many polls over many years) and now just need to translate that into actual political and lobbying influence.

That's too much theorizing without evidence. State and local governments fill out the forms and the FBI has to interpret them and the biggest problem in the FBI records is that state/local governments are filling out the form for their purposes not the FBIs. Here they are writing down "gun" or "firearm" and there is no reason to think that is inaccurate, though not specific.

It could also be that "victim has a gunshot wound" doesn't always leave it obvious what made the wound.

It's hardly "theorizing without evidence" to suggest that “Firearms, type not stated” might include a fair number of rifle murders.

He is speculating that law enforcement personnel in charge of filling out the form do not know the difference between a handgun and a rifle.

As someone who has worked with similar administrative data in the past, I would *strongly* speculate that the "type not stated" category is not due to the police officers not knowing what type of gun to list for a given murder but due to entire states or other large jurisdictions not maintaining a category for "gun type" on the standardized form they use to record these events.

The FBI then can't code the smaller-order categories by default. No ex ante reason to expect that the proportions in that category differ from the overall proportions in the rest of the sample.

It is certainly theorizing without reason to suggest a higher rate of rifles in the unknown category than exists in the known category. Is everyone serious? Is this Marginal Revolution? Why do IQ scores drop by 20 points for supporters of gun control, when discussing guns?

What reason is there to assume that the ratio of rifles/handguns among the unidentified gun types is any different than among the identified gun types?

I think you would have to assume that, in the absence of further evidence, the proportion of rifle homicides to handgun homicides would remain constant in the type not stated category.

Assuming any of them really care about the effects of an assault weapon ban and they aren't just supporting it to make themselves feel better about "doing something".

I think many of the people who support such a ban realize it is a small thing, but even if it saves one life, etc.

AT LEAST 248 people were killed by rifles. An unknown number of the 1959 "firearms, type not stated" homicides were rifles too.

Stands to reason, absent any contrary evidence, that they'd be at least roughly proportional to the known figures.

As I stated above -- handguns are fairly obvious to classify. Other firearms are not as easy and many more weapons that are technically rifles will be considered "firearms, type not stated" than handguns because of that distinction.

Rifles are also easy to classify. Hunting rifles, sport rifles, assault rifles are all rifles. It's more likely cases where they didn't recover the weapon or where the form didn't ask them to classify it.

Assuming that the unclassified guns are disproportionately rifles is pure conjecture.

Anyone who thinks rifles are not easy to recognize should have a very small voice in this conversation.

Who are these people in law enforcement that can't tell the difference between a rifle and a handgun? I'd really like to meet one so that I gave give him a wedgie.

Might be that they dont have access to the weapon, only the victim.

Probably the data missing data is at random or if anything biased towards missing handguns because they are the norm. You forget to write down the obvious.When it's not a handgun is when you write it down in the log.

As someone who has worked with similar administrative data in the past, I would *strongly* speculate that the "type not stated" category is not due to the police officers not knowing what type of gun to list for a given murder but due to entire states or other large jurisdictions not maintaining a category for "gun type" on the standardized form they use to record these events.

The FBI then can't code the smaller-order categories by default. No ex ante reason to expect that the proportions in that category differ from the overall proportions in the rest of the sample.

It is possible compositional effects matter to the public debate, even if they do not matter in a moral sense.

To be explicit, it could be that rich people are shot rarely, but those who do get shot are mostly shot by crazy people with AR-15 offshoots. However, poor people may be shot more often and with handguns walking around the neighborhood.

Perhaps we should institute means testing for gun purchases as a political middle ground? Rich people are rarely interested in throwing their lives away trying to shoot 50 people and are less likely to live in neighborhoods where violence is common.

"Perhaps we should institute means testing for gun purchases as a political middle ground? "

Would this include putting a large tax on a gun purchase?

"WASHINGTON, D.C. – A $1,000 per gun tax should serve as a “role model” for states, according to the governor of the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, which imposed the $1,000 gun tax earlier this month. An idea first endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993, steep gun taxes have now taken hold in Cook County, Ill. the city of Seattle, and now a U.S. territory."


Cool story bro

I'm warmed to know that you appreciated it. Bless your little heart.

Something like that, but perhaps higher.

I see some argument for switching to a permit system off W2 income instead though. Above some threshold => buy guns. Below some threshold => no guns. The two differ in that participants in the "informal" economy may not have much W2 income but a lot of cash.

By the way, I freely acknowledge there are moral issues with that idea. I do wonder whether it might have an impact though.

It would certainly have an impact. But I think it would certainly be struck down on Constitutional grounds. I'm pretty confident even the ACLU would come out against it.

There are already systems like that in place. For instance, in California Nancy Pelosi and Mark Zuckerberg get armed security but almost no one else does. We could substantially reduce gun crime by implementing your W-2 solution and expanding stop-and-frisk nationwide, but those two steps are simply proxies for targeting black people. The left cannot do that and so must uniformly target guns, despite the vastly different rates of gun crimes by gun owner by demographic.

Assault weapons bans are especially convenient, because there is an implicit lie/suggestion that the guns to be banned are automatic fire, these guns are overwhelmingly owned by political enemies of the gun control party, and the proposed distinctions between assault weapons and other long guns are arbitrary and subject to change for maximum political benefit.

The assault weapons ban would have less actual effect then order to allow men in little girls restrooms. The important part is that they manipulate low-information voters and demonize opponents.

Fun comparison. But aren't there restrictions on these guns at the state and city level and there aren't any on knives? I see 10 states with a ban or restriction on assault rifles (not counting cities). Not sure the exact timing here for the laws. But regardless:

Also any reason you are showing a snapshot here? Seems like there is a general decline in the use of rifles over time as a murder weapon. Not sure what you are getting at by showing a single year. The trend would help you more with your point (you know showing that assault rifles cause fewer deaths than knives).


Plenty of states ban carrying knives, but I think they've lightened up quite a bit in the last few years.

I see 10 states with a ban or restriction on assault rifles (not counting cities)

Why would any state have a ban or restriction on assault rifles, given the federal ban that's been in place for 30 years?

No matter where you stand on the gun debate: I think it's pretty clear that it is substantially easier to kill someone with a gun (of whatever type) than it is with your bare hands, feet, a blunt object or even with a reasonably sharp knife. What we should really be trying to think about here is how many homicides would really be prevented on the margin if guns were more difficult to obtain. I would argue that many homicides that take more deliberation, a longer time and a lot more effort on the perpetrators part would likely still occur (there are homicides even in countries with almost no guns in the civilian population, like Japan, but there are many, many fewer). However, it's ludicrous to argue that because more people are killed by blunt objects than AR-15s that banning the latter would have no effect.

We are arguing that banning them would have no effect, and it is not absurd.

How many people were killed by assault rifles in Europe last year? They're banned there. And compare that number to the US. It's a similarly sized number.

After Paris and Belgium, why would anyone think that banning assault weapons would curtail their use? That's what is so absurd.

You are trying to reason with an emotional response.

As a relation of mine said 'assault' is an act, not a gun.

Clearly then they never served in the military - where assaulting as an act is done using assault weapons.

He's a gun smith. Nice try.

There is a difference between "curtail" and "eliminate". I don't think anyone thinks it is possible to completely eliminate mass murders by banning assault rifles. But it would likely reduce the rate of mass murders (at least mass murders committed with assault rifles, which I suspect is a large proportion of all mass murders). Furthermore, given the difficulty in other means of mass murder (it is not trivial to make a working bomb, for example, given how tightly controlled the ingredients are), I suspect that there would not be a lot of substitution. You may still get attacks with knives or other less lethal weapons but they are surely not going to results in large numbers of deaths in a single incident.

"at least mass murders committed with assault rifles, which I suspect is a large proportion of all mass murders" I doubt that. Depending on how you classify mass murder, you can still catch a lot of gangland shootouts (3 or more people). Plus just look at the recent history of mass shooters, a lot of them used handguns, we just kind of forgot about them.

I may very well be wrong; I don't know. I would love to see data like what Alex posted for all homicides specifically for mass murders (or ideally a table with weapon, deaths, and incident date so we can see what the effect of a particular cutoff for # of deaths to be considered a mass murder is).

The Boston Globe has a cover article on this point today. Since the assault weapon law expired in 2004, there have been 14 mass murders by gun committed with assault rifles and 33 without.

What were numbers while the ban was in effect?

Not stated. It's a very large graphic timeline. I counted the bars, so forgive me if I'm off by one.

14/(14+33) = ~30% (percent of mass shootings involving an assault rifle per Boston Globe)
248/(248+5562) = ~4% (percent of all homicides involving a rifle per Alex's stats above)

Small sample size, but it does seem pretty likely that assault rifles are disproportionately (albeit not exclusively) used in mass killings.

The thing is, to anyone with the slightest knowledge of firearms, it's very hard to tell why. The features that make an AR-15 an assault rifle and a Glock a handgun seem cosmetic. If anything, it's easier to carry multiple handguns than multiple assault rifles. And probably cheaper, too.

So we're left with "style" or "look" as an explanation, which seems like a pretty weak basis for impinging on an important right that a bunch of law-abiding people care about.

Since the assault weapon law expired in 2004, there have been 14 mass murders by gun committed with assault rifles and 33 without.

14, 0, same thing. An assault rifle is a thing that is not the same as an assault weapon. FFS, this is not a complex point.

"But it would likely reduce the rate of mass murders (at least mass murders committed with assault rifles, which I suspect is a large proportion of all mass murders)."

Are you somehow less dead if you're shot with a gun that is not an "assault weapon"?

Tim keeps saying "assault rifle", which is a select-fire gun. Assuming Tim is not lying about assault rifle usage and assuming he isn't uneducated in this debate, perhaps assault rifle victims ARE more dead, after being shot with a 3 round burst, of course.

"How many people were killed by assault rifles in Europe last year? "

That's a really good question. 20 minutes of googling couldn't turn up any data.

Perhaps there's an opportunity for a "Grand Bargain" on gun control and immigration.

No such opportunities. Federal judges collaborating with lawfare artists will allow the Democratic Party to welsh on any deals.

That's a bit nihilistic. The Us government is still basically functional.

Imagine a ban on sales of repeating action long rifles in exchange for a significant reduction in immigration.

"Imagine a ban on sales of repeating action long rifles in exchange for a significant reduction in immigration."

AD, has a point. It's easy to believe a future administration would just ignore deportations of illegal immigrants. It's harder to believe a future administration could ignore illicit sales of guns to the same degree.

Imagine a ban on sales of repeating action long rifles in exchange for a significant reduction in immigration.

"We'll oppose immigration, but only if you agree to bring about the outcomes that you were worried immigration would lead to!"

No thanks jeff

I think increased gun control is not the only outcome of immigration people are concerned about.

But yes, this would be right-wing statists teaming up with left-wing statists. I'm not one of either, but it seems like they've got something to trade.

To be clear, I'm not advocating this. I'm not at all convinced gun control is helpful, and I've long advocated an immigration price that is relatively high and discriminates among immigrants based on their characteristics.

@Art Deco No need for ethnic slurs!

What, only illegal immigrants are allowed to buy assault rifles?

The proposal on the table is to ban a specific type of rifle ("assault weapons"). Gun controllers repeatedly disclaim any intent to ban all guns. To argue that banning "assault weapon" would have any effect, you have to believe either 1) a would-be murderer with an "assault weapon" won't simply switch to another type of gun, or 2) "assault weapons" are somehow more deadly than other guns. The first is plainly ridiculous, and the second is contrary to the facts.

2) seems like common sense and supported by the data in the post. The table indicates that a small share (4%) of total murders are caused by rifles, but as Lord Action pointed out mass murders are disproportionately carried out using assault rifles (30%). In other words, they are rarely used, but when they are used, lots of people die.

There's also a 3) it's easier to take someone down using a handgun with smaller magazines than rifles, and hence need to be reloaded more often. (Yes you can put a high-capacity magazine on a handgun, but technically these are included under the definition of "assault weapons" and hence subject to the AWB.)

Instead of this stupid semantic argument about what constitutes an assault rifle, how about we just limit clip size across all firearms? Seems like an easy, non controversial way to know a would-be mass murderer down. Talk about low hanging fruit

So you propose to confiscate the (approximately) umpteen-bajillion privately-owned magazines in the US? I don't see that as low-hanging fruit. The original 1994 AWB limited weapons to 10-round magazines, but understandably "grandfathered" magazines in excess of 10 rounds already privately owned.

All it really did was drive up the price of the grandfathered mags to "stupid" levels, and fuel a manufacturing push for pistols designed around the 10 round limit, thus leading to a virtual "renaissance" of compact, concealable pistols.

@Jay, you don't necessarily have to confiscate. Australia used buybacks.

*Mandatory* buybacks.

Which, in a country with the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, is the functional equivalent of confiscation.

I don't want to post it a third time, but limiting clip sizes increased the kill count of spree killers.

It's fine to know nothing about guns. But stop trying to write gun legislation.

You realize that the difference between a 20 round "clip", and a 10 round "clip", is a tiny metal pin that can be removed with a pair of pliers, right?

This doesn't follow and its certainly not common sense to anyone familiar with guns. Since assault weapons are functionally the same as many other rifles (same types/caliber of rounds, same rate of fire, same muzzle energy, etc.), there's no reason to think they'd be more deadly. Assault weapons are defined purely by cosmetic characteristics (i.e. a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip, bayonet mount; flash suppressor). None of these affect the gun's function. I have yet to hear any coherent theory for why these guns would be more deadly than rifles without these characteristics. Do you have one?

A lot of people seems to have been convinced by a combination of our incompetent news media and various anti-gun outlets that they really are using assault rifles to commit these crimes, not semi-auto weapons

Motor vehicles would thus seem included in the catch-all-other category "Other weapons or weapons not stated".

Challenging to think that more Americans are murdered annually with poisons and explosives than with motor vehicles and that motor vehicles do not merit their own explicit category.

That occurred to me also. I imagine cars exceed poison most years.



Deaths by car accident in 2014: 32,675 (wikipedia)

Deaths by "unintentional injury" of all types: 130,557 (CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm )

Intentional violence isn't that high up on the list of problems.

Death by medical mistakes? On the order of 90k per year. Doctors kill more people than guns do.

You go (or not) to the doctor voluntarily.

You can avoid most of the gun violence, too, by not owning one or hanging out with criminals.

Or by making sure you're properly armed. The nightclub crowd was highly irresponsible by not going out prepared and yet no one talks about that

Or not, because the risk of dying in a mass-shooting, even taking Orlando into account, is nil.

If you go to a nightclub, make sure you know where all the exits are, especially if Great White is playing. That's more likely to save your life.

We must ask ourselves if it's even worthwhile being concerned with what happened to antisocial cultural degenerates. Would Presidential candidates be so "outraged" about a murder at an opium den?

The comment at 5:28 is by an ass appropriating my handle (and with little doubt posted by the person who has repeatedly lied when caught doing this previously). It should be deleted.

Sorry, Cliff, gun-free zone.

How much of "unintentional injury" is due to alcohol use?

How much unintentionality is intentional?

If family members died in a mass shooting, every few days there's a new headline to remind you of that fact.

"The right because handguns are by far the primary weapon used to kill."
many on the right have been making this point for quite a while

This is an argument I seem to get into a lot. The MSM are always pushing a narrative in which the problem is basically rednecks shooting each other with rifles from their pickup trucks, when in fact the overwhelming problem is urban handgun homicides. So not surprisingly, red states react poorly to more gun control from up top.

Disclaimer: I'm a Democrat, but this issue is not discussed properly.

Pretty much. Gun control is the white left trying to assert control over the white right when the problem of gun-homicide essentially belongs to black america (gun-homicide on the other hand is white america's problem).

Australia is cited as successful on gun control, 2013 and 2014 had 245 and 238 homicides, a rate of 1.06 and 1.01 per 100k.

Non-black homicide victims in the US in 2013 was 3202, a rate of 1.171 per 100k.
Non-black homicide offenders in the US in 2013 was 2755, a rate of 1.0076 per 100k.

Source: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls

Interesting data, but it seems to be limited to single victim / single offender homicides, and also has the caveat that "when the offender age, sex, and race are all reported as unknown, these data are excluded from the table." The overall sum appears to be ~6k (compared to ~12k in Alex's numbers), so if the excluded data is demographically at all similar, the per capita rates are going to be well off.

Also, I think the 2755 number you cite is just the sum of White offenders, not the sum of non-Black offenders.

Oops, you're right. I went a little too quickly.

*Gun-suicide is white America's problem

No, suicide is characteristic of people from particular cultural backgrounds (e.g. Celtic, Scandinavian, Hungarian), as is alcoholism, as is schizophrenia. American blacks have low suicide rates, without regard to the implement.

AD: he was amending his previous comment (see bold)

"Pretty much. Gun control is the white left trying to assert control over the white right when the problem of gun-homicide essentially belongs to black america (gun-homicide on the other hand is white america’s problem)."

damn it, now I screwed it up

"Pretty much. Gun control is the white left trying to assert control over the white right when the problem of gun-homicide essentially belongs to black america (gun-homicide on the other hand is white america’s problem).

Wow, 12,000 homicides in a country of 330 million. Pretty darn safe. Maybe we should be LESS concerned about murder?

You know, this all started with Lee Harvey Oswald, who, despite all the conspiracy theories, killed JFK on his own in order to become infamous. It's all been downhill since then.

A more plausible hypothesis is that he killed JFK by accident in a botched attempt to kill Gov. Connolly, whom he blamed for his dishonorable discharge from the Marine Corps (as Connolly had done a tour as Secretary of the Navy). Members of the Russian emigre population in greater Dallas in the social circle of Ruth Payne and Marina Oswald told Newsweek decades later that Oswald had been virulent on the subject of Connolly and did not say much about JFK. Marina Oswald has also said he was not agitated about Kennedy.

If that was the case, it would be one hell of a history changing mistake.

How much was history really changed though? LBJ followed up on pretty much all of JFK's policies and initiatives, for good or bad. Compare that with Lincoln's assassination which really did change the future direction of the country.

Assassinations have been fairly common. So it wasn't Lee that was the progenitor, but Whitman at UT Austin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman

We should really ban engineering given how a lot of the muslim terrorists are also engineers.

Well you have to be reasonable about these kind of things. Let's just ban all new engineers. And let the market sort the situation out.

/From the Current engineer

What about number of victims by incident data? We've got a lot of people in this country, so people are dying all the time in slip and fall or knife or gun, but which implements lead to high body count per offender? My guess is it's not going to be bath tubs or fists of fury.

That's sort of like driving for your vacation because plane crashes are so spectacular.

We've all got to travel for vacation and statistically flying is safer, so the argument for driving fails. So since we all have to be shot...wait, you lost me there. The point is, if certain weapons are associated with significantly higher body counts, it's reasonable to think about restricting those specific weapons. Unless you really think we need these in general circulation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSizVpfqFtw

The take away from the chart is that of the 11,961 murders in 2014 68% (8,124) were committed with a firearm.

If Tabarrok's point is that it's irrational to obsess about being killed by an assault weapon in a mass killing, since the risk is minuscule and other risks that people don't obsess about are much, much greater, then I agree with Tabarrok. On the other hand, guns, and motor cycles, cause enormous pain and suffering throughout the land! Here's my comment to Cowen's blog entry about murders per gun: In the past 50 years, a little less than 1,000 people have been killed [by firearm] in the U.S. in mass killings (defined as four or more deaths, excluding the shooter). There are about 10,000 suicide deaths by firearm each year in the U.S., and about 15,000 unintentional, non-fatal firearm injuries each year in the U.S. There are almost 5,000 deaths a year from motor cycle accidents in the U.S., and over 92,000 non-fatal injuries a year from motor cycle accidents in the U.S. Over a 50 year span, that would total about 500,000 suicide deaths by firearm, 750,000 unintentional, non-fatal firearm injuries, 250,000 deaths from motor cycle accidents, and 4,600,000 non-fatal injuries from motor cycle accidents. My advice: don't buy a gun or motor cycle. As for so-called assault weapons, weapons for hunting people rather than game, since their only purpose (other than identifying the owner as an imbecile) is to hunt people, my advice is not to buy one, unless of course you intend to hunt people.

a) Better is not the enemy of the best: reducing any line item on this list would be a step in the right direction.

b) How many mass killings are done with, for example, "hands, fists, feet, etc."? Since the press / society focuses disproportionately on mass killings, a reduction in weapons used for mass killing arguably would have a disproportionate impact on society's perception of safety, esp. for targeted groups. Certainly it would help deny a platform to would-be mass killers: it's hard to be as effective a terrorist when you have to terrorize retail rather than wholesale.

I'm surprised by the numbers of people killed by hands, feet etc. I'd think killing someone without a weapon would be pretty hard to do. Unless maybe the victims are mostly children or disabled people who can't fight back or get away, which would be pretty horrifying if true.

The writers of the Constitution had an original intent. The arms they were talking about were the arms that existed when the document was written. Those are the ones we have Constitutional rights to bear - for use in the militias. Once we interpret the Constitution and try to divine their intent, then the line could be placed anywhere or nowhere. But we've banned citizens from owning nuclear arms. I'm fine with that. The line should be drawn where the majority wants it. Except for blunderbusses and other arms that existed by the 1780's.

The writers of the Constitution had an original intent. The arms they were talking about were the arms that existed when the document was written.

We have a real commenter here named Bill, with a capital B. Please don't impersonate him and suggest he believes dumb things like this.

Freedom of the press applies to communication methods that didn't exist in 1789. You can practice religions that didn't exist in 1789. Unusual punishment is still unusual punishment if it didn't exist in 1789.

And you hare-brained logic would still be arguing for the private ownership of cannon

But at the time of ratification, privately owned cannons were totally a thing...don't leave port without them!

Thomas Jefferson literally thought he could run a navy by having little ships pluckily hauling one or two cannons into battle against British frigates. He felt it was a more fitting approach for a democracy I guess?

I think a reasonable line is that a private citizen should be able keep and bear any weapon that the police department keeps. Current day technology pistols, shotguns, and rifles seem to pretty clearly fall into the reasonable category. I'd agree nukes fall outside that category - for both.

By existing Federal law, all males between 18 and (IIRC) 50 are members of the militia today anyway.

Agreed. And it might even get the police departments to (reluctantly) give up their more exotic weapons.

Should that thinking also apply to the first amendment? Do you have the right to speech and assembly via means that were available in the 1780s? If you say the line should be drawn where the majority wants it, why even have a constitution?

Also, how do you know the the writers of the constitution only intended the 2nd amendment to apply to the arms that existed at the time?

Good question. Was not the original intent of letting citizens own single shot, 40 yd max range, 5 min. reload muskets to fight possible government tyranny?

How can a citizen reasonably defend themselves against the world's premier military (though with a shitty track record for the past 40 years, optimized for high intensity, kinetic warfare) with small caliber, automatic or semi-automatic rifles?

Isn't every red blooded American's secret fantasy is to conduct a domestic insurgency Red Dawn style?

If the Framer's were alive would they not agree that US citizens should have the right to 155mm artillery pieces and nuclear weapons to put the fear of God in the government with parity of combat power and capabilities?

I unironically agree with this post.

But we’ve banned citizens from owning nuclear arms. I’m fine with that.

A nuclear arm is a destructive device which is not covered by the second amendment. There was a semi-automatic shotgun called a Streetsweeper that was legal to own until a few years ago. It was reclassified as a destructive device and banned.

The streetsweeper looked menacing so it was banned, but was a poor pump-action shotgun. The streetsweeper is gun control in a nutshell.

Can suicides be broken out from homicides?Also, I remember years ago, Israel had a problem with terrorists in schools, so they banned guns. The terrorists switched to bombs and never looked back.

I am pretty sure that suicides are tabulated differently, but the homicide figures above would include justified homicides, which is the non-criminal killing by a private citizen (including off-duty police officers).

What about the severely wounded? Isn't leaving a victim a paraplegic considered a negative outcome?

There are also costs to banning guns:

CDC Study: Use of Firearms for Self-Defense is ‘Important Crime Deterrent’

"The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released the results of their research through the CDC last month. Researchers compiled data from previous studies in order to guide future research on gun violence, noting that “almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”"


People don't really care about total murders: they care about murders that seem random and unavoidable. Most politically active people do not live in bad city neighborhoods where they are likely to get killed by a handgun in a gang shootout. Nor do they worry about being murdered by a family member, another source of many handgun deaths, I'm sure.

Break the data down this way: weapons used in murders, by strangers, of victims who live in upper-income households. That's the type of killing that scares the people who really matter politically, and could lead to assault-gun bans.

The data we need are the weapons used for incidents in which a substantial number of people are killed. I've seen definitions of mass killings that use >= 4 people killed as a cutoff, so that seems reasonable. I would expect (but don't know, the data could prove me wrong) that mass killings are almost exclusively the result of gun violence, and are disproportionately the result of particular kinds of guns.

Gun safety and gun violence is complicated, made more so by effective bans on CDC research on the topic. But I think that the focus on assault rifles is due to a desire to reduce as much as possible the number of mass shootings in this country. Since mass murders are a low proportion of all homicides the overall effect of an assault rifle ban on the homicide rate would likely be low, but the effect on mass murders could be substantial (per for example the comparative research I've read, especially on the Australian case).

I suppose an argument could be made that reducing mass killings should not be a public policy priority, given the low impact it would have on overall death rates. However if that is the argument you want to make that should be the argument you make. It is pretty irrelevant to claim that an assault weapon ban will have little effect on the overall murder rate when the goal of an assault weapon ban isn't to reduce the overall murder rate (except as a second-order effect of reducing the number and severity of mass killings).

There is plenty of research on gun violence of varying quality. There is nothing magic about the CDC that would make them better at it then the people who already do it.

I've read conflicting things on the impact of the limitations on CDC research into gun violence. Obviously they aren't magic, but also obviously they are very good at epidemiological studies and provide crucial data for many other public health issues.

I think this is symptomatic of the larger gun control debate. Yes, giving the CDC freer reign to do research won't be a magic solution to anything (nor would an assault rifle ban, or stricter background checks, or more restrictions on who can buy guns). But at the same time, there seems to be no logical reason for the restrictions. Part of the reason for a focus on assault rifles is that it is hard for people who are in favor of gun control to see what the cost of an assault rifle ban could possibly be (aside from of course people being upset because they like owning assault rifles).

Being good at epidemiological studies is useless in studying gun violence. The tools and thinking used is radically different. Gun violence is not a disease, at least not in any useful definition of the word, its a sociological problem and needs to be studied by specialists.

Historically, the lowest quality gun research typically comes from the medical community who have no knowledge of things like confounding variables and so on, with the results being useless research.

There is a very logical reason why the CDC is sort of forbidden from doing gun research, they are a Disease fighting organization, not a "any problem which causes human death" fighting organization. Fighting diseases is pretty non-partisan, not too many people are pro-malaria, so as long as they do that, they should enjoy support of the whole political spectrum. Once you make part of their mission political, the entire organization becomes subject to the whims of the political majority. The whole reason the CDC is forbidden from doing gun research is that when they did, many on the pro gun side felt that they were packing their research groups with anti-gun people and were ignoring pro gun research that didnt suit them. The ban didnt come from nothing, you may not agree with it, but it has a history that is important.

The primary source of data on all causes of death is the CDC, as far as I know, as part of the National Center for Health Statistics (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/). This very much includes non-disease-related causes of death, and as far as I'm aware the CDC is definitely involved in efforts to track and monitor injury-associated mortality, both intentional and unintentional. So clearly the CDC is not just a disease fighting organization.

Your other point, however, is well-taken, even if I may disagree.

If their mission is really disease control, why didn't they put that in the name!? Zing! I gotcha on that one!

Good points. I think most people feel safe from most threats of violence, because they aren't married to a thug, don't engage in the drug trade, move to a safe neighborhood, or know not to resist giving your money in a holdup, etc. Mass killings propelled by a concerted plot to shock the conscience unhinges a lot of assumptions about personal safety. That's it part of a global movement to inspire increasing levels of violence means that future incidents are anticipated.

That said, what is the feature of assault rifles that make them more useful for mass killings? I can see semi-automatic features would be useful, but are included in most or all handguns. I also think magazine capacity could be useful, but not crucial.

"I also think magazine capacity could be useful, but not crucial."

Magazine capacity is the crucial feature. It's harder to have a mass shooting with a bolt action rifle than with a semi-auto pistol. However, there's no realistic way to limit magazine capacity without banning guns that use detachable magazines. And you'd probably have to ban revolvers also since speed loaders are trivial to obtain or create.

Shooters get around magazine capacities by bringing more guns. This has improved their kill rates, as jammed guns no longer end the mission.

I don't know, and I could certainly be wrong about links between mass killings and assault rifles. I've read some popular press articles that seem to suggest AR-15s and similar weapons are "commonly used" in mass killings, but that is all I've personally read.

My main point though was that the data Alex posted is not necessarily as relevant as it seems to the current debate, which for various (perhaps debatable!) reasons seems to focus mostly on mass killings.

The NYT is running a 'discussion' as to whether Christians are to blame for the Orlando shooting. In related news, mass shootings are 'more important' than the thousands of handgun deaths each year.

What is the connection between these two things?

Many of the features of assault rifles are simply cosmetic, but it certainly could be true that mass killers are attracted to guns that look like combat weapons. Jihadists in particular attempt to frame their actions as part of a military campaign.

The one feature assault rifles have over handguns is their usefulness at range. That is generally not a relevant feature in the shootings at issue. For the type of thing we're discussing, the differences between assault rifles and handguns seems purely cosmetic.

If there was some campaign to ban semi-automatics or repeating firearms, I'd kind of understand it. The current buzz is hard to explain.

I suspect this is right. I can and do arrange my affairs in such a way that I am at very low risk of being murdered, by not hanging around with violent people, not associating with criminals, not dealing drugs, staying out of really nasty neighborhoods, etc. But there's not really an obvious way to avoid a crazy person who has decided to get even with life by shooting a bunch of strangers in my favorite coffee shop or my church.

Now, the actual risk to me is extremely small--mass shooters are like terrorists in that their actual threat to anyone inside the US is tiny. But that's still a risk I can't control for by avoiding high-crime areas and people.

This is a biased and hypocritical argument. First, the CDC is not banned from researching gun violence, they are banned from paying for anti-gun advocacy. If they aren't researching gun violence, it is because they aren't interested in 'research' that consists of something other than handing out cash to anti-gun activists. As for the importance of mass deaths, what a splendid argument you've made against Syrian immigration, except that Obama said we ought to be more concerned with bathtubs than mass-killing terrorism disproportionately committed by a minority.

I have not seen any credible research suggesting that Syrian immigration in the US is associated or likely to be associated with an increase in mass deaths. Indeed, at least based on reading news reports, it seems like most mass murders in the US are committed by US citizens.

You're right, Tim. There is absolutely no risk imposed by importing people who belong to an ideology, members of which globally support attacks on the US at a rate of something like 20%. Also San Bernardino and Orlando were committed by US citizens. You are so right, Tim. It's pretty clear that the solution to ending mass murders is taking guns away from rural Republicans, absolutely correct Tim, thanks for your brilliant analysis.

If you follow the logic further upthread it's the import of *automobiles* that we should be concerned about.

Particularly Mazdas and Nissans - http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/driver-death-rates

But note - how many were killed by machine guns, mortars, or missiles? These are things strictly regulated under the 1934 firearms law. If gun control doesn't work, why does almost one who wants to inflict harm on others use them?

How many were there before the 1934 NFA?

I don't quite follow the spin here. The vast majority of homicides are one individual targeting one other individual. A handgun usually does that job as well as anything. People don't use Caterpillars to haul their raked leaves and they don't use machine guns to murder their spouses. It's economics, dude. An assault rifle ban is aimed at protecting people from mass shooters who do tend to use machine guns. So what that the numbers that could be saved from them are less than handgun homicides?

Private ownership of machine guns was prohibited by federal statute in 1934.

How can people be involved in this debate for any period of time and not realize that automatic rifles are illegal? Does Tom Warner not know what he's talking about or is he dishonest?

I think half the country thinks assault weapons are fully-automatic. I think the term "assault weapon" is the first to blame.

I suspect a lot of other people don't understand that "semi-automatic" simply means the firearm self-reloads between firings, but will only fire once per trigger pull. To them, a "semi-automatic" is a machine gun.

It's shocking how many otherwise intelligent people believe that anyone can buy a fully automatic machine gun thanks to an NRA-supported "gun show loophole".

No wonder they're so supportive of new gun control laws.

I'm confused by the number of people who think gun control could never work, yet don't question why mass murders almost always use semi-auto rather than fully auto weapons. Could it be because automatic weapons are difficult to acquire?

Maybe I'm the one who's confused, but isn't that evidence of gun control not working?

Logic, it's hard: if the goal of gun control is to reduce homicides, does a reduction in gun homicides after gun control legislation demonstrate effectiveness? A. Yes, B. No, C. Not enough information.

@LordAction - It shows one gun control policy working (regulating automatic weapons) but the lack of gun control policies dealing with other guns failing to take further advantage. If you want to see a country that has most successfully implemented gun control, in terms of reducing gun homicides (and suicides) see Japan. Of course, it's impossible to get to their level given the number of weapons we have floating around, but that's because we didn't follow the path Japan did decades ago.

we didn’t follow the path Japan did decades ago.

Centuries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_hunt

I’m confused by the number of people who think gun control could never work, yet don’t question why mass murders almost always use semi-auto rather than fully auto weapons. Could it be because automatic weapons are difficult to acquire?

I'm confused by people who ignore the homicide rate in small towns and rural areas awash in guns (1.14 per 100,000 where I've lived) and ignore New York City's successful restoration of order (a reduction in homicide rates from 27 per 100,000 to 5 per 100,000 without any notable changes to New York's gun laws) and ignore the day to day toll from homicide in favor of events with eclat (instances of homicide with > 2 victims account for 3% of all homicides). It's almost as if they're trying to stick gun hobbyists with the blame for the crime problem because gun enthusiasts are part of the category of people they despise.

but that’s because we didn’t follow the path Japan did decades ago.

Switzerland is awash in firearms. The homicide rate last year was assessed at 0.5 per 100,000. (That in Japan is 0.3 per 100,000). 'Confounding variable' is a concept you have trouble getting your mind around, I take it.

@ArtDeco - not banned, just highly regulated.

IF, the crime would not have happened if guns had never been invented THEN the gun could be considered "at fault". But most handgun shootings are by thugs aimed at drug dealers and/or drug users. Their desire to cause serious harm or death has ZERO to do with a gun it is motivated by greed/anger/hate/drugs and if a gun were not available they would have used a knife, bat, two or more additional thugs, etc.

There are two important things to know in the gun debate:
1. The constitution reaffirms our natural right to own and bear arms. It doesn't at the whim of some politician or despot "allow" us to. It reaffirms our right to as humans to protect ourselves.
2. Guns save lives. Guns prevent crimes. Far more lives are saved thanks to guns in the hands of law abiding citizens than are taken by thugs in their drug stupor.

Where would I found information on the impact of gun ownership on lives saved/crimes prevented?

Check Gary Kleck's work, esp Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America

The "guns save lives" statistics are going to be inaccurate. I know concealed weapon permit holders who pulled their gun to stop a criminal who then fled. The gun owner didn't report it to the police because he had nothing to gain by doing so, and the criminal certainly didn't report it.

See my comment above: CDC Study: Use of Firearms for Self-Defense is ‘Important Crime Deterrent’

Iwould be interested in seeing average number of murders per weapon. Since handguns are smaller, cheaper, and more ubiquitous I would assume they would constitute the majority of firearm murders. However I would expect the majority of multiple murders and "mass murderer" would be from assault weapons. Assault weapons are higher powered, longer range, semi automatic, and easy to reload and make mass murder easier compared to handguns.

You'd think so, but mass murderers are not entirely rational. The use of rifles in mass shootings is kind of a recent thing and not necessarily a trend. Remember Virgina tech, columbine and Charleston were all done with handguns.

More fundamentally: focusing on high-profile mas shootings ignores the vast majority of gun violence in the US. You could eliminate every mass shooting you've ever heard of on the news and barely affect the US's outlier status as a locus of gun violence. So it stands to reason that high-profile mass shootings as a policy rationale (i.e. applying the litmus test "would this law have prevented incident X?") will not lead to rationally designed policy if the goal is to prevent gun violence overall.

I did not know that. Thanks.

Handguns can be high caliber and rifles can be low caliber. Most popular handguns today are both semi-automatic and detachable magazine fed. There is no logic in a assault weapons ban. You've already demonstrated that you don't know anything about guns. The only reason rifles are the focus it's because they appear to look like military weapons, and aren't used disproportionately by a group that votes 90% for the gun control party.

I didn't say that handguns are not semi auto or high caliber. I said that assault weapons are semi auto and high caliber and that they are higher power than a handgun (which they are). I'm also not saying an assault weapons ban is "the" solution or even a solution, but if someone is logically thinking of killing a bunch of people they are the logical choice. The question I have is how much capacity to do harm in a given time frame do we want one individual to have?

Can you even define assault weapon? After you fail that task, can you explain to me how .223 out of a rifle is 'more powerful' than .50 out of a handgun.

Assault weapons are generally not high caliber, and they may or may not be higher power than handguns. You are drawing a distinction which doesn't actually exist.

The real distinction is that they are longer, and therefore easier to aim at a distance. Which doesn't really matter much in the current context.

Not always.

A semi-automatic pistol was used in the Ft. Hood attack in 2009 - 13 dead and 32 injured.

In this case (as well as the Orlando case), the shooter's views were widely know before the shooting, but due to islamaphobia accusation phobia - a definite career killer as a matter of policy - nothing was done to prevent the attack. The attack was officially classified as workplace violence.

One could as well credit these all deaths to political correctness.

In the 2013 Boston attack, the weapons of choice were IEDs - 3 dead, 264 wounded, including 14 amputations.

I wonder if Tyler Cowen (I know this is an AT post) prefers that his attacker from 2014 was armed with pepper spray instead of a handgun. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/tyler-cowens-attacker-thought-the-professor-was-controlling-his-mind-cowen-testifies/2014/04/29/a4c5b9f4-cfb9-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_story.html)

I don't understand Professor Tabarrok's assertion that this information should be discomfiting to the left at all. I carried an M16 downrange, but, domestically I've long thought the US should move to an Australia position on guns -- _all_ guns. I generally have figured most of my fellows on the left only advocate "assault rifle" bans as a step towards that and indeed the right seems to correct intuit that fact. Sure, given a choice I'd ban handguns over AR15's. But I think that's true of more people on the left than not.

Banning "assault" rifles has political viability.

My understanding is that as a result, Frank Luntz is working on making them popularly known as "freedom rifles".

So much political viability that it was done decades ago, and remains the law of the land today

Assault rifles are already banned. Why do you insist on using dishonest terms? Also do you live in a city or live out in a rural area? Could you imagine that the utility of a gun could vary .. somewhat between New York City and the middle of nowhere?

Sanjay, can you legally and constitutionally ban guns in the U.S.? There are differing opinions but the answer is no. You can do it but not legally as California has proven. The question then becomes if someone, the police or sheriff shows up at a gun owners door and tries to forcibly take the gun under the unconstitutional law WHO is justified in shooting the other person? That seems real straight forward but it isn't. If it goes to trail and 12 people MUST vote guilty what if only one of them actually believes in and understands the constitution? What if that same scenario plays out ten times or 100 times or more? That is a sheriff shows up to take the gun, the owner shoots in self defense and a court finds the gun owner not guilty. At what point does the unconstitutional law either get over turned OR the government doubles down and declares war on their own citizens? So why would a rational government do this (create and oppressive unconstitutional law and then use deadly force to implement it)? Why, why, why??? Well the answer is they wouldn't, unless their real motive is to oppress the citizens and throw out the constitution. This isn't Australia or Canada. The constitution is the supreme law of the land and the 2nd amendment is clear; "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

can you legally and constitutionally ban guns in the U.S.?

Once Hillary replaces Scalia, sure.

The answer here is pretty clear -- firstly, the meaning of the second amendment has been interpreted differently over time and as many many sources have documented it's only quite recently that it has been interpreted to mean, anyone can have a gun. So there's no _solid_ Constitutional ban -- interpretation can (and has) changed (personally, given that the impetus for the Constitution was Shay's rebellion, and given the opening of the Second Amendment -- which I notice you elide -- I've always found the "anyone can have a gun" interpretation moronic).

But more importantly, Australia doen't "ban guns" either. You can have a gun.

The case you're presenting is odd. If the law says you can't have a gun, and the Supreme Court agrees it's goodlaw -- and, again, there's no reason to believe they may not -- then the cops can in fact come take your gun. Period. There's no ambiguity about how a court can rule there.

given the opening of the Second Amendment — which I notice you elide — I’ve always found the “anyone can have a gun” interpretation moronic).

Not too hot on reading comprehension, are you

Again, it is at this point very well documented that for most of American history, lawmakers and the courts agreed with me that the Amendment does not read that way. So you neither read my post, nor did you even address the bit you quoted about the elision.

Something about reading comprehension?

We wacky statements about guns, and murders per gun and murders per kitchen knife.

How about we look at a country that banned or restricted gun ownership and see what happened. Here is the experience in Australia described in WAPO:

"But one of Howard's other lasting legacies is Australia's gun control regime, first passed in 1996 in response to a massacre in Tasmania that left 35 dead. The law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons.

On Wednesday, Howard took to the Melbourne daily the Age to call on the United States, in light of the Aurora, Colo., massacre, to follow in Australia's footsteps. "There are many American traits which we Australians could well emulate to our great benefit," he concluded. "But when it comes to guns, we have been right to take a radically different path."

So what have the Australian laws actually done for homicide and suicide rates? Howard cites a study (pdf) by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provides strong circumstantial evidence for the law's effectiveness.

The paper also estimated that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people results in a 35 to 50 percent decline in the homicide rate, but because of the low number of homicides in Australia normally, this finding isn't statistically significant.

What is significant is the decline the laws caused in the firearm suicide rate, which Leigh and Neill estimate at a 74 percent reduction for a buyback of that size. This is even higher than the overall decline in the suicide rate, because the gun buybacks' speed varied from state to state. In states with quick buybacks, the fall in the suicide rate far exceeded the fall in states with slower buybacks:"

Here is the link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/08/02/did-gun-control-work-in-australia/

No one denies that banning and confiscating guns will reduce homicides by gun. Thanks for adding nothing to the conversation.

No one denies that your comment makes no sense. What you are saying is that you agree that banning guns would be effective. That adds something to the conversation.

Banning X reduces death by X. Amazing insight, Bill. I don't mean the one you may have intended, I mean the one you betrayed: you don't care about deaths, you care about guns.

Hmmm....Australia.. Sure. Fantastic model for all sorts of things. As long as we are outlawing self-defense, lets go aheadand dump all of our illegals on an island 3000 miles from our shores too and maybe adopt the old White Australia policies while while we are at it for a six or seven decades. That would guarantee a huge reduction in gun violence. Might be distasteful, but its for the children.

Gun control is a battle in the culture war. The proposals wouldn't have stopped Orlando, don't address the vast majority of gun homicides, create out of thin air a category of weapon called assault weapons which is defined by cosmetic features, and conveniently effects mostly law abiding rural gun owners. It's a bullshit story bought only by the type of people who think machine guns and assault rifles are currently legal (see: clueless commenters in favor of enacting gun control enacted in 1934).

Alex, I wonder if John Lott or one of his aliases argued that those liberal wussy kindergartners and 1st graders that got slaughtered should would have stopped their massacre if they had concealed carry pistols?

Well the New York Times is arguing that Orlando wouldn't have happened if only Christians had been nicer to LGBT. I really am fortunate to be a white male in that I am the only demographic in the world with agency according to the left.

I'm glad the US allows weapons to be procured to people on terrorists watch lists. Now that's the epitome of freedom.

That's nonsensical even for the NYT. There's some evidence that Mateen was a self-hating closet-case gay guy, also angered over striking out in the scene. But his putative self-hate would have come from his own religious tradition, not Christianity.

This is why I love MR: data, fair comment. You'll never see this in the NY Times.

So instead of banning assault rifles, we should ban handguns. 47% of homicides done with handguns as the murder weapon, and on top of that they have the flimsiest defenses in terms of personal need unless you're a security guard or police officer.

they have the flimsiest defenses in terms of personal need

A gun ain't much good if you don't have it with you.

What a bunch of stupid discussion. Who cares about the Second Amendment written in the 18th century. Ok, so the assault weapon ban will not prevent gun deaths in the short term...it is an incremental step in putting manufacturers out of business...and banning imports. Next step ban all semi-automatic firearms because they are functionally the same as assault weapons. So we prevent 11,000 innocent (non-gang drug related, non-criminal) deaths per year and the pro-gun folks give up the ability to plink cans in desert while pretending to be Seal Team 6.

I don't understand the uproar about possible encroachment on the 2nd Amendment when the 5th is essentially gutted. The terrorists did win or MAYBE the Framers realized that the Constitution is not written in stone and can be amended based on the reality on ground.

Why does the US have so many mass murders? Does having these weapons easily enable such acts? Are Americans more violent? Both? Something else?

Someone once called the gun debate effectively over once it was alright to massacre Kindergartners and 1st graders because of a supposed higher good.

Who cares about the Second Amendment written in the 18th century.

I dunno, Mike. Some of us have the idea that the law might mean something and be binding. And that people should be allowed to pursue their hobbies even if Mike doesn't care about those hobbies. And that the notion that technology drives the homicide rate is stupefyinly naive.

If you are for a rifle ban are you doing your part by carrying the 30 foot pepper spray (link below). You are probably not because when the expence is on you, you realize that you are very very unlikely to see a mass shooting but if you create a black market and young men go to prison that is no cost to you.330 million is a very large number.


"Protection at a safe distance against multiple threats - up to 30-foot range with 32 bursts in a powerful stream of gel - ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, as it helps prevent wind blow-back and makes indoor cleanup much easier"

I believe you mean

Rifles would include those semi-automatic rifles tarted up to look like what are labelled "assault weapons" instead of historical "hunting" designs.

You're misinterpreting this. This is not uncomfortable for the left. The left is not saying "ban assault rifles" because they think it will solve the problem once and for all. They're saying "ban assault rifles" because they realize that's the only area where they're likely to be able to get any leverage towards a policy change actually happening. They would rather take a first step than no step and are talking up the benefits of banning assault weapons instrumentally to try to at least get the ball started rolling downhill on gun control.

They'd (speaking for myself and many others here) very gladly call for banning the other categories of guns too if it was in any way politically feasible to do so!

I would imagine that those 1,567 knife murder victims were probably killed by around 1,400 - 1,500 murderers. Have you ever heard a story about a knife murder spree where one person killed 50 people? So, my takeaway from that is that I'm glad those knife wielders could only get to a handful of people instead of a whole magazine's worth.

If guns were completely removed from the country (Theoretically! Nobody important is actually proposing this as policy!), my guess would be a small increase in the the other types of murders, more than offset by a large decrease in the amount of firearm murders.

I agree. If we could completely remove guns from society, that would be a positive change for society. I'd say the same with with alcohol or most recreational drugs. Yet, legal prohibition of alcohol and drugs was/is a complete disaster and I would expect the same for guns.

*35.5% of all firearms in the US are Rifles.
*36.8% of all firearms in the US are Handguns
*27.7% of all firearms in the US are Shotguns
*Rifles accounted for only 3.37% of all firearm related US homicides
*Handguns accounted for 68.4% of all firearm related US homicides
*Shotguns accounted for 3.64% of all firearm related US homicides
Which means...
Rifles, like the AR-15, are the firearm -least- likely to be involved in a homicide, by far.

Also, heres the info from all mass shootings from 1982 to 2016. Notice that the overwhelming majority of shootings involved handguns. Even when you take into account the most recent and most deadly Orlando shooting, which involved one semi-automatic rifle AND one handgun (and where police have admitted to being responsible for some of the deaths), the majority of deaths are still from handguns, not rifles.

I doubt handguns will be banned. I suspect many elites keep one in their nightstand. Very few elites own an AR-15. Those are owned by the millions of rubes in flyover country (who never intend to use them illegally). But the elites have no use for an AR-15, so with the media hype and propaganda, they very well may get the political will to ban them again.

Re mass shootings. Despite the media hysteria following every mass shooting, criminologist James Alan Fox claimed in a 2012 column (and also in a CNN interview which aired in 2014) that mass shootings are not increasing. He has studied them since 1979, and according to his data the U.S. averages about 20 per year with the average number of peopled killed per incident of 5.

Beware of the mass shooting numbers now being reported in the media. A couple of years ago anti-gun groups invented new ways to inflate the number of mass shootings to help with their political agenda. The media now often use their grossly inflated numbers. The methodology the anti-gunners use show there are "hundreds" of mass shootings per year. But the standardized methodology used to track mass shootings that professional criminologists have used for decades shows only an average of about 20. Dr. Fox wrote an article about that deception, too, if you'd like to Google it.

Mass shootings are obviously a big story that must be reported when they happen, and Orlando was a huge story. But there is no question the media is doing everything in its power to turn public opinion against guns.

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