Gun Control Statistics: Arguments from Both Sides

In the early 1980s, Chicago enacted gun laws that basically banned handguns. Unfortunately, while the murder rate in Chicago declined, the percentage of Chicago murders that were committed using handguns rose by 2%, to about 40%. More seriously, while the percentage of murders from 1968-2010 using handguns was 48%, the percentage of murders by handgun during the ban was 59%.

The ban didn’t stop murders. Citizens were still able to use handguns illegally, keep handguns from before the ban, or legally buy them in other cities or states.

Gun control is a very complex issue with strong feelings from both camps—those who want to reduce gun sales and ownership and those who want to promote gun ownership. Let’s review the gun control statistics and gun violence facts that each side uses.

Anti-Gun Arguments

The US has suffered 1,363 mass shootings, in which four or more people were shot or killed, since 2014. Since 2013, the US has suffered 291 school shootings. In mass shootings over the last three decades, shooters purchased 82% of the weapons used legally.

When the Second Amendment was written, people had muskets that could fire one round per minute. Today, people have access to some firearms that can shoot 60–100 rounds per minute.  Machine guns can shoot hundreds of rounds per minute (though they’re difficult to get).

There are 89 guns for every 100 people in the US, according to some estimates. But it could be as high as 113 guns per 100, using one of the highest estimates of 357 million firearms in the US.It is believed that less than 1% of all civilian weapons are registered.

In 2013, there were about 10.6 deaths by firearms per 100,000 persons in the US. That breaks down to:

  • 11,208 homicides
  • 21,175 suicides
  • 505 accidental deaths or deaths due to negligence
  • 281 deaths because of “undetermined intent”
  • 467 deaths in legal intervention or war

There were also 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries, which is 23.2 injuries per 100,000 persons. In total, about 107,141 Americans are shot every year.

Private sellers at gun shows don’t have to follow federal regulations that commercial sellers follow. There are about 5,000 gun shows every year in the US, and about 1,000 firearms are sold in 2 days at the largest gun shows. So, some of those sales are through unregulated private sellers (although most are through large commercial sellers).

Pro-Gun Arguments

The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The gun violence facts in America are true even with 300 or more gun laws already on the books. So, it doesn’t make sense to create even more laws just to make people feel safe, when the 300 gun laws haven’t worked.

Part of the reason gun laws don’t reduce crime is that criminals will always be able to get guns on the black market.

There are stand-your-ground laws in more than 21 US states, which have been passed by the state officials and the votes of the citizens. These allow citizens to use deadly force with a firearm without attempting to retreat. Citizens can do this in self-defense when threatened.

Many times per year, citizens use firearms to deter criminals or to directly defend themselves. Firearms also prevent crimes just by being present, even when they’re not discharged. Justifiable homicides, when people use firearms to fight a criminal in the act of a felony, rose between 2005 and 2010.

Legal substances kill far, far more people per year than guns do:

  • Cigarettes kill about 480,000 Americans per year
  • Alcohol leads to about 88,000 American deaths per year
  • Firearms caused 33,636 American deaths in 2013

Firearms caused less than half the number of deaths than alcohol caused and far, far less than the number that cigarettes caused. Cigarettes and alcohol are legal but are not particularly useful, whereas Americans can use firearms for self-defense.

Guns in themselves are not the problem. Criminals are the problem. We need more education, more law enforcement, and more people who know how to defend themselves and use guns lawfully in other ways.

A Balanced View on Law

Laws are meant to limit the use of firearms by people who are underage and to prevent criminals from obtaining weapons. However, many criminals buy firearms on the black market. Therefore, laws should not take away from law-abiding citizens their ability to obtain firearms, because they may still need them for self-defense against criminals.

It’s possible that a standard background check is enough to reasonably deter criminals from obtaining weapons legally. At least, it can make us as safe as we can possibly be in this world in which firearms are a reality and are not going away.

At the same time, anti-gun folks have legitimate reasons to want laws and strict enforcement of laws, because firearm deaths can be very tragic and terrifying. Having no laws at all would lead to chaos, and of course both sides agree that less unnecessary violence is the goal of every American.

Concealed Carry Tips

Education may increase the safety of law-abiding citizens. After learning gun violence facts, a good education includes learning to handle a gun safely. If you want to carry a concealed weapon, it’s vital to do it in a lawful way.

Be sure you’re following federal laws and the laws of the state you’re in. In every situation, follow the four cardinal rules of carrying a concealed weapon:

  • Always treat your weapon as if it’s loaded.
  • Only put your finger on the trigger when you put your sights on a target and decide to fire.
  • Be sure of your target, always.
  • If you point your firearm at anything, you have to be willing to destroy it.

Second, when you’re in public, don’t take your weapon anywhere it’s not allowed, even if you have a CWP: the Post Office, other government buildings, airport security, and some school campuses (without written permission). Even some places of employment outlaw weapons.

Third, make sure your weapon is truly concealed. Even if you can carry legally, many states outlaw unnecessarily frightening other citizens by displaying a weapon openly. You need a holster that lets you carry comfortably, safely, and invisibly. Plan your clothing and activities around these needs.

We don’t believe you can twist gun control statistics to “say anything you want.” For example, the fact that thousands of Americans commit suicide every year with a gun is just true. We can’t use those numbers to say just anything we want.

Many of those suicide deaths are veterans—our American heroes. So, we need to take better care of our veterans. We need to help them get the benefits they deserve. We need to examine the legal drugs and other substances they’re given. We need to support them. We need to help them get into good groups they can belong to in civilian life.

We live in a reality in which guns exist and some people want to use them, some for criminal acts and others for defense and lawful recreation. Should we pretend we can just make all guns stop existing because they’re frightening?

Of course not. We need to build gun laws on a realistic view of gun violence facts and to strive for what is best for all of our citizens. Learn more about VA loans and other veteran issues on our blog.

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Gun Control - YEA or NEA, Arguments From Both Sides by Low VA Rates
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Gun Laws

With all the mass shootings happening in the United States the country is in an uproar about gun laws. Should there be more restrictions? Fewer restrictions? In a generalized statement, it seems the nation is divided between those who believe giving citizens more freedom to carry guns will offer more protection to the general population and those who believe placing stronger restrictions on who carries will prevent shootings. Both sides present strong arguments, but a huge, and more specific, controversy surfacing now is whether or not people who are suspected of terrorism should be permitted to legally purchase firearms.

Gun Laws


An FBI Investigation

The FBI first started investigating Omar Mateen in 2013 after learning that at work, Mateen spoke about al-Qaeda connections and becoming a martyr. As part of this investigation, Mateen was interviewed twice about his involvement in terrorism, but by the following year, FBI agents decided he was not a potential threat. However, just a few months later, Mateen again made his way into an investigation, this time as a link to an American suicide bomber in Syria. Suspicions were settled then too until the Boston Marathon bombing when Mateen’s case was opened yet again. Overall, Omar Mateen had been investigated 3 times by the FBI as a potential terrorist threat before he actually committed an act of terror on June 12th when he killed 49 and wounded 50 other people in a gay nightclub.

All of the three guns in Omar’s possession that night were bought legally in the state at the St. Lucie Shooting Center. Many argue that the tragedy might have been avoided if Mateen had been barred from purchasing the firearms while others bring up the point that he would have found another way to commit the same act of terror with or without gun rights. The previous FBI investigations raise several questions with no easy answers. One of the biggest is should Mateen have been allowed to purchase those firearms.

Regardless of how that night may or may not have played out, this is an important issue that should be addressed: should any person on the terrorist watch list be banned from purchasing firearms? Currently, this is perfectly legal.


Who Is Barred Now

There are several factors that put a person on a watch list for the FBI, and 10 categories will disqualify a person from purchasing a gun, essentially blocking their weapon transactions. However, being on the terrorist watch list is not a disqualifying category, meaning that even if someone is a known terrorist, they can still legally purchase a gun in the U.S. Only if they were to fall into one of these other 10 categories would they be barred from purchasing.

Gun rights also vary from state to state. California, for example, has strong restrictions over issuing carry permits and recent legislation has tightened these restrictions even further. Just one that has been in place requires a Firearm Safety Certificate for any gun purchases. This certificate is obtained through passing a written test. Concealed carry permits are also extremely rare and difficult to obtain for residents and visitors of California. A few states in the U.S. have almost no restrictions at all, but this may change in the near future.


Recent Federal Legislation

Following the June 12th shooting, Congress voted on 4 bills regarding gun laws and gun control which would have strengthened firearm background checks and prevented anyone suspected of terrorism from purchasing weapons. None of the 4 bills passed. In fact, 2007 was the last time a gun bill was passed in Congress. Even though these bills have not passed, that doesn’t mean government officials will give up on further gun control. It is likely that more control will be proposed in the future in response to the latest national tragedies.


What do You Think?

Should there be fewer restrictions on firearms or more? Could preventing people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns prevent future tragedies? At Low VA Rates, we believe every person in America should feel safe and secure in their homes. As just one part of the national goal to achieve this, we strive to offer low VA home loan interest rates.



Gun Control is About Control

If guns really were the problem we would have seen a spike in violent incidents across the US since 2008 when Obama was elected the president. Since Obama’s first term, sales of guns and ammo have been hard to keep in stock all across America. Conspicuously absent are the violent incidents that should be consequential to so many new firearms being sold into the public quarter.

If guns are the problem then why has gun violence NOT risen proportionally to gun sales? Just the opposite has occurred: violent crime rates have fallen in much of the country as gun ownership has risen. If you take some of the most heavily populated city centers out of the equation you begin to see a revealing truth: citizens uniformly conduct themselves within the law and do not use firearms to harm others. What is also clear is that a disproportionate amount of gun violence is conducted in urban areas by criminals.

Let’s Fix What’s Broken

Want to know what is really happening out there? Americans have been purchasing guns by the millions each year for the last two decades and firearm-related homicides and suicides have dramatically diminished. What slanted and biased sources am I quoting here for my statistics?  One set of statistics was compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other was reported by the Pew Research Center.

According to DOJ statistics, U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased a staggering 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first decade of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006 and then declined again through 2011. Nonfatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004 and has since fluctuated.

On a national level, we have this hue and cry to restrict Second Amendment rights, with tremendous pressure originating in the media and along political lines—pressure to enact stricter laws around guns and gun ownership. When the federal gun control legislation failed earlier this year, Obama and those of his mindset vowed to wage a war on those who voted down his gun-control measures.

Are you taking notes? Millions of new guns sold in the last decade and millions more Americans have chosen to arm themselves. Gun violence has decreased in that same period. People, simply put, guns are NOT the problem. Let’s take a walk into Obama’s own Chicago to get a sense of what is the problem.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, was recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he drew attention to a study done by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data-gathering and research organization run by Syracuse University. The 2012 TRAC study found that out of 90 federal jurisdictions, Chicago ranked dead last for prosecuting bad guys with guns. LaPierre’s question to the press was “Why is Chicago dead last in enforcement of the gun laws against gangs with guns, felons with guns, drug dealers with guns?’”

We have all of these journalists, who write institutionally for a living, and almost none of them is asking the right questions about gun control. There are laws on the books making it illegal for criminals to have guns in Chicago. Chicago leads the nation in gun violence and murders. We know who is committing these crimes. There is a striking lack of enforcement of those laws. Why?

Why are journalists choosing to lend their influence to theatrics – largely emotional reactions to tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine High School and the incessant campaign to restrict gun rights and gun ownership? Why aren’t these people talking about inner city violence, which comprises as much as one-third of all gun violence? Why isn’t someone getting real about changing things in the inner cities? Start there.

The most obvious place for reformation is within the pockets of the criminally minded—felons killing other felons in a round-robin of turf wars conducted over illegal activities. Bad people who live by a creed of violence and destruction are the problem. Criminals whose methods are violent will always find access to tools of violence to conduct their business. So, again, let’s ask, “why won’t Chicago prosecute its criminals that are daily committing violent crimes?” And why do gun control advocates seek to legislate for all of America when they have put virtually no effort into solving the decadent city centers where crime is real and existing gun law violations are rampant?

In 2004, the DOJ conducted a survey of state prison inmates to find out where they got their guns to commit their crimes. Two percent of those who owned a gun at the time of their offense bought it at either a gun show or flea market. Roughly 10 percent purchased their gun from a retail shop or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.

The March Pew study (referenced earlier) uses numbers obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Pew study noted a dramatic drop in gun crime over the past two decades. Their accounting shows a 49 percent decline in the homicide rate and a 75 percent decline of non-fatal violent crime victimization.

So, let me say it again: these “gun control” efforts are a lot more about control than they are about guns. Just last December the FBI recorded a record number of 2.78 million background checks for purchases that month, a nearly 40% increase from the 2.01 million conducted the month before. FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record, and an increase of 19 percent over 2011.

Millions of more guns are being sold every year and LESS gun violence is the result. If we want to be real about this, if we want to talk the truth about guns and gun ownership, we are seeing that Americans opening their homes to more guns is a deterrent to the criminal element—to those who conduct violent crimes. These facts move you in the opposite direction the gun control enthusiasts are shoving you.

One of the largest and most prevalent arguments used by those who support legislation to restrict gun rights, is that these monstrous and inhuman tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine are the reason we need to start somewhere and that by passing these restrictions everyone will be safer and better off. The argument is fallacious, built upon a non sequitur. The people who do these hellish things have been and will always be unaffected by legislative fiat.

Every single time a nut job goes on a senseless rampage, killing just to kill, out scurry the legislative brigands by the dozens, insisting that more laws will prevent such senseless acts. They won’t. Guns are not the problem. Those who seek to restrict Second Amendment rights will continue to add legislative act upon legislative act until they have achieved absolute control. Gun control is not about guns – it is about control.

Brick-by-brick, those who tout gun control are building their wall. Whatever its present and public face, if you think current gun legislation is the sum of the matter, I am here to remind you that it is not. Brick by thieving legislative brick, the sum of the matter is meant to be the removal of a right guaranteed in this Nation’s Bill of Rights – the right to keep and bear arms.

The 2013 NRA Convention and Gun Control

The National Rifle Association’s annual convention started today and its president-elect, James Porter, told members they are fighting a “culture war” that stretches beyond gun rights. Approximately 70,000 NRA members are expected to flock to Houston to attend the three-day “Stand and Fight”-themed convention, which includes a gun trade show, strategy meetings, and a political rally.

Porter told those in attendance to the opening session, “(You) here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors.” The NRA is enjoying a huge victory over President Barack Obama on gun control, defeating a U.S. Senate vote on a major gun control bill introduced after December’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school have been a lightning rod for gun control activists. These are the people speaking about “sensible” limitations to gun ownership, and who then produce and support legislation that is anything but. The new sweeping “reforms” passed in New York state recently come to mind. If you doubt the idealogy and intent behind those passing such laws, just take a look at the 15 measures that New York State Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said were taken out of the law last minute to ensure its passage.

Those rallying in Houston this weekend know something that gun control advocates don’t think they know: that this “culture war” is indeed a war. Those championing gun control aren’t really much interested in just passing a few minor refinements to the laws related to the Second Amendment. The end game is and always has been to abolish second amendment rights. Americans by the millions have been and continue to be willing to stand up and refuse these attempts on the right to bear arms.

You might be interested in a recent article by Daniel Greenfield for Frontpage Mag. He explains where a disproportionate number of gun deaths and incidents of gun violence occur: in major cities perpetrated by criminal gang members against other criminal gang members.

Greenfield breaks down the murder numbers in 12 major urban areas, arriving at the astounding observation that these dozen places “account for nearly 3,200 dead and nearly a quarter of all murders in the United States.” He concludes that approximately 75% of murder victims in these cities had criminal records and as many as 80% of the homicides were gang related.

Any reasonable person, when attempting to fairly frame this debate on gun control, will separate what is going on in most of America (on a county-by-county survey) with what criminal gangs are doing. Local snapshots of this country largely reveal peace, prosperity, and responsible interaction among the diverse populations. No region is without its problems and with most people I agree that we are less respectful and less civil to one another than we were 50 years ago.

But the idea that we have to restrict gun ownership and limit second amendment rights to fix the horror and the tragedy in our inner cities is sort of like saying we can change the violent history of a pit bull by dressing him up in nice clothes. Such focus is entirely on the wrong thing. Likewise, when we propose that restricting every citizen’s right to bear arms will somehow “fix” the criminal mind and intent of those whose work is illicit and whose method is murder, (I’m speaking of gang members), we are just toying with this problem instead of seriously searching for a solution.

If you want to know how Americans truly feel about this issue, just look at what they are currently doing.

US citizens are buying up guns and ammunition at record paces. According to FBI statistics, last year was a record-setting year for gun sales in the US. There were more than 19 million background checks conducted in 2012, and that trend has continued right into 2013. The FBI says that the number of background checks is the nation’s best indicator of actual guns purchased.

With 19 million guns purchased in 2012 we might ask who is doing the buying. Criminals? No. They can’t legally do so. People like you and I are purchasing guns for the simple reason we feel a growing threat to our way of life and our own safety and security.

Will we see a sudden increase in the ratio of gun violence because of these gun purchases? No, we will not. And that reveals something important and true to this debate on gun control.

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The Nation’s Gun Control Debate Continues

All across our nation the debate over Second Amendment rights continues. Should the right to bear arms be limited? If so, in what ways? Passionate groups on both sides of the issue are making their cases in private conversation, in print, and in public forums.

The Senate is in the middle of a spirited debate over gun control and background checks. The latest news updates indicate that the measure appears to not have the 60 votes it needs to pass in the Senate. It is all but certain to fail in the House. So, fueled by the emotion of the tragic Sandy Hook shootings, the largest push in the last 20 years on gun control appears to have come up short.

There is a minor provision in a compromise bill that is stirring up veterans groups working to return gun rights to former service members who’ve been barred from owning firearms. According to officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs, if a veteran is appointed a fiduciary (someone to handle their VA benefits for being deemed incapable of handling his own finances) he is also defined by the department as “mentally defective” and banned from owning a firearm.

The background check compromise bill drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., includes a provision that would expand the Second Amendment rights of veterans to purchase firearms. The bill would close a loophole banning military personnel from buying guns in their home states and give veterans a chance to clear their names out of NICs.As of July 2012, an estimated 129,000 veterans had been entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by the VA. Under the current system, a veteran assigned a fiduciary to handle his military benefits is entered into the background check system as someone who cannot purchase a gun and must turn over any firearms  currently in his possession.

New York’s New Gun Law in Effect

New York’s tough new gun law is in effect. Owners of firearms now reclassified as assault weapons are required to register the guns. There are also new limits on the number of bullets allowed in magazines. New York’s NRA affiliate said it plans to head to court to seek an immediate halt to the magazine limit, with plans to contest other parts of the law later. New York State’s new gun restrictions limit state gun owners to no more than seven bullets in magazines, except at competitions or firing ranges.

The toughest part of the New York law requires gun owners to register an estimated 1 million guns previously not classified as assault weapons by April 15, 2014. The new classification of “assault weapon includes military-style features on guns, such as pistol grips on semi-automatic rifles, folding or thumbhole stocks, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors, or a second grip held by the non-trigger hand. The assault weapon definition also applies to some shotguns and handguns that have the noted or similar features.

Supreme Court Mute

Just this week the Supreme Court said it would not weigh in on a Second Amendment question that the lower courts have not been able to agree on: May states strictly limit or ban the carrying of guns in public for self-defense? The justices refused to hear the case of a New York State law that requires people seeking a permit to carry a gun in public to demonstrate that they have a special need for self-protection. The refusal surprised some authorities, given the New York Law is in conflict with a recent ruling by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, which struck down an Illinois law prohibiting the carrying of guns in public.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns, and it struck down a District of Columbia law that prohibited keeping guns in homes for self-defense.

“We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in the decision, District of Columbia v. Heller. “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

In the Heller ruling, the Supreme Court said total bans on the right to keep guns at home for self-defense are unconstitutional. Since then, the court has been silent about what other laws may violate the Second Amendment. Very few challenges to gun laws and gun prosecutions in the lower courts have succeeded since the Heller decision.

Thoughts on Gun Control

I want to talk about the bottom line: Does gun control reduce crime? I want to first approach this on a level of hypothetical reasoning, then go into some of the facts and statistics on this topic. All facts and statistics are quoted from, while the link is available at the bottom of the article.


The Logic of Gun Control

First, let us reason together. In a society, we have three types of people: those who use their firearms legally and for non-violent purposes, those who use their firearms illegally and for violent purposes, and those who don’t use firearms at all. The theory behind gun control is that by making it  more difficult to purchase weapons, the number of violent crimes committed will go down. So, we make it more difficult to legally purchase say… a handgun. In fact, we ban handguns all together. So with handguns illegal to purchase, violent crime involving handguns should go down, right?

Chicago disagrees.

(explained below)


Think about this logically. If you were going to rob, murder, or rape someone, and you wanted to use a handgun, would you walk into a gun store, show them your papers, properly register the gun, buy the ammo at the same store using a credit card under your name, then go commit your violent crime? Let’s be serious. Those who intend to use a handgun illegally tend to also acquire the handgun illegally. So by making it more difficult to legally purchase a handgun, all you are accomplishing is removing the type of person who uses their firearms for non-violent purposes from the equation and turning society into a place where the only people who have guns are the police and the criminals. I wouldn’t feel very safe in that society.


The Facts of Gun Control

Now that we’re done reasoning, let’s look at the facts. Chicago was mentioned above because they did an experiment on eliminating handguns in their city. Here’s what happened, from


* Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the Chicago murder rate has averaged 17% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 25% lower


*Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the percentage of Chicago murders committed with handguns has averaged about 40% higher than it was before the law took effect


So, to sum up, while the murder rate did in fact go down, we know that it had little to do with the handgun ban because the percentage of murders committed with handguns went up a whopping 40%. Based on these stats, we can conclude that the lower murder rate in Chicago was due to an extraneous circumstance independent of the ban on handguns.


On the flip-side, we have to ask, does the prospect of a potential victim being armed deter crime? Well, according to, yes.

Check out these numbers:


* A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found:

. 34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”

. 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun”

. 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”


What this means is that a full third of all convicted felons would not have been caught if gun control laws had been stricter. I’m not sure this can be made more plain. In conclusion, it can be stated that a standard background check previous to being able to purchase a firearm is sufficient and optimal for maintaining a system that can help innocent victims become innocent heroes.


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