Free Markets, Free People


Perspective: Are firearm murders a significant statistic?

We’ve been told for some time that violent crime in America is actually at its lowest point since the 1970s.

But we’re also being told by a certain element that gun deaths are out of hand and we need to reconsider tightening our gun laws.

So lets take one of those “perspective” looks shall we? 

First a chart that takes us through 2004 showing murders by firearms:




As an aside, the Assault Weapons ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004.  Assault weapons would be found under “other guns”.   You’ll note that “other methods” and knives, for the most part, were involved in more murders than “assault weapons” (further note that not all “other guns” were “Assault Weapons”, but may have been hunting rifles or shotguns).  Rifles of any sort just aren’t the usual weapon of choice for murders.

Also note that murders of all types have been trending down over the  years.  If you hit the link in the first sentence, it will show you that in 2004 the number of violent crimes per 100,000 was 463.2 and in 2010 it had fallen to 403.6.

If you add handguns and “other guns” from the chart in 2004, you see approximately 10,500 to 11,000 murders by firearms.

The latest stat available?

The most recent FBI figures show just 358 of the 8,775 murders by firearm in 2010 involved rifles of any type.

By the way, the article that was pulled from noted that in 2010, more people were beaten to death by fists (758) than were killed by “other guns”, aka rifles of any sort.

Michael Wade does the math:

So, based on these two sites ( there were approximately 115 million households in 2010, and between 41% and 49% (depending on how you do the numbers) had firearms in them.

That’s a minimum of 57.5 million arms (if we assume one firearm per household, which we know isn’t even close to the right number).

If we then assume that each of the 8,775 murders was committed by a separate firearm from a different household each time (again, an assumption we know is wrong but increases the number of households involved), then approximately 0.015% of American households who owned guns were involved with murder by firearm in 2010.

Again, these assumptions make that percentage much higher than it actually is since (a) undoubtedly more households have firearms but don’t report them, (b) households with firearms will typically have more than just one, and may have several, (c) one firearm likely accounted for more than one of the 8,775 murders, and (d) the vast majority of the murders were likely committed with firearms that were illegally possessed!

Even so, slightly more than one one-thousandth of one percent of gun owners is the highest amount you are going to be able to implicate in murder by firearm, despite all the generous assumptions made in favor of the gun control side.

That does not speak to a winning argument IMHO.

No it sure doesn’t, not that they won’t try anyway.  Additionally, when you do the math about chances of being a victim of firearm murder, the figure 312.8 million is what you need to divide into the 8,775 yielding a terrifying 0.000028% chance of being a victim of a firearm murder in 2010 (if you’re a gambler, though, move to Chicago and you can quickly reduce the odds). 

In fact, you’re much more likely to die from one of these causes than a gunshot murder:

Chance of dying from any kind of injury during the next year: 1 in 1,820
Chance of dying from intentional self-harm: 1 in 9,380
Chance of dying from an assault: 1 in 16,421
Chance of dying from a car accident: 1 in 18,585
Chance of dying from any kind of fall: 1 in 20,666
Chance of dying from accidental drowning: 1 in 79,065
Chance of dying from exposure to smoke, fire, and flames: 1 in 81,524
Chance of dying in an explosion: 1 in 107,787

Life is perilous, but for the most part, not because of guns.

As someone recently said, we don’t need gun control, we need idiot control.  Not sure how we control the idiots, but I’m sympathetic to the idea.  Statistically though, the number of firearm murders per year simply doesn’t justify any renewed call for banning or restricting the sale or possession of firearms.


Twitter: @McQandO