Guns, Gun Ownership, & RTC at All-Time Highs, Less "Gun Control," and Violent Crime at 30-Year Low

Posted on November 1, 2005

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Guns.

The number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) estimates that there were about 215 million guns in 1999,1 when the number of new guns was averaging about 4.5 million (about 2%) annually.2 A report for the National Academy of Sciences put the 1999 figure at 258 million.3 According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 60.4 million approved (new and used) NICS firearm transactions between 1994 2004.4 The number of NICS checks for firearm purchases or permits increased 3.2% between 2003-2004.

Gun Owners.

The number of gun owners is also at an all-time high. The U.S. population is at an all-time high (294 million), and rises about 1% annually.5 Numerous surveys over the last 40+ years have found that almost half of all households have at least one gun owner.6 Some surveys since the late 1990s have indicated a smaller incidence of gun ownership,7 probably because of some respondents' concerns about "gun control," residually due, perhaps, to the anti-gun policies of the Clinton Administration.

Right-to-Carry.

The number of RTC states is at an all-time high, up from 10 in 1987 to 38 today.8 In 2004, states with RTC laws, compared to other states, had lower violent crime rates on average. Total violent crime was lower by 21%, murder by 28%, robbery by 43%, and aggravated assault by 13%.9

"Less Gun Control."

Violent crime has declined while many "gun control" laws have been eliminated or made less restrictive. Many states have eliminated prohibitory or restrictive carry laws, in favor of Right-to-Carry laws. The federal Brady Act's waiting period on handgun sales ended in 1998, in favor of the NRA-supported National Instant Check, and some states thereafter eliminated waiting periods, purchase permit requirements, or other laws delaying gun sales. The federal "assault weapon" ban expired in 2004. All states now have hunter protection laws, 46 have range protection laws, 46 prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing gun laws more restrictive than state law, 44 protect the right to arms in their constitutions, and 33 prohibit frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry.10

Studies by and for Congress, the Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress, the National Institute of Justice, the National Academy of Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even researchers who support "gun control," have found no evidence that "gun control" reduces crime.11

Crime.

The FBI reports that the nation's total violent crime rate declined every year between 1991 2004.12 In 2004, the violent crime rate fell to a 30-year low, lower than any time since 1974. The murder rate fell to a 39-year low, lower than any time since 1965. The 2004 robbery and aggravated assault rates were lower than any time since 1968 and 1984, respectively. Since 1991, total violent crime has decreased 39%; murder and non-negligent manslaughter, 44%; rape, 24%; robbery, 50%; and aggravated assault, 33%.13 Between 2003-2004, the violent crime rate declined 2.2%.14 Concurrently, the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics crime victimization survey found that violent crime is lower than anytime since 1973, when the first such survey was conducted.15

Notes

1. BATF, "Crime Gun Trace Reports (1999) National Report," Nov. 2000, p. ix (www.atf.gov/firearms/ycgii/1999/index.htm).
2. BATF, "Firearms Commerce in the United States 2001/2002" (www.atf.gov/pub/index.htm#Firearms).
3. National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, National Academies Press, 2005.
4. BJS, "Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2004" (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/pub/pdf/bcft04.pdf).
5. Bureau of the Census (http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html).
6. Gary Kleck, Targeting Firearms, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, pp. 94, 98-100.
7. E.g., BJS Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2002, Table 2.58, (www.albany.edu/sourcebook/).
8. See NRA RTC fact sheet (within www.nraila.org/Issues/Filter.aspx?ID=003).
9. See FBI, Crime in the United States 2004 (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#cius) for state crime statistics.
10. See NRA-ILA Compendium of State Firearms Laws (www.nraila.org/media/misc/compendium.htm). Also, note that in October 2005, federal legislation prohibiting such lawsuits was signed into law.
11. Federal "assault weapon" ban: Roth, Koper, et al., Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, March 13, 1997 (www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=406797); Reedy and Koper, "Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes: a comparison of gun assaults involving semiautomatic pistols and revolvers," Injury Prevention 2003, (http://ip.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/9/2/151); Koper et al., Report to the National Institute of Justice, An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003, June 2004 (www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/jlc-new/Research/Koper_aw_final.pdf); Wm. J. Krouse, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, "Semiautomatic Assault Weapons Ban," Dec. 16, 2004. "Gun control," generally: Library of Congress, Report for Congress: Firearms Regulations in Various Foreign Countries, May 1998, LL98-3, 97-2010; Task Force on Community Preventive Service, "First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws," Morbidity and Mortaility Weekly Report, Oct. 3, 2003 (www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm); National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, National Academies Press, 2005 (http://books.nap.edu/books/0309091241/html/index.html).
12. Note 9 and BJS (http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/). See also FBI (http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel05/crimestat101705.htm).
13. Note 10. Condensed at www.nraila.org, click on "Research," then "Crime Statistics."
14. Note 12.
15. BJS (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/pub/press/cv04pr.htm).

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