By now, most people know that on June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States, in McDonald v. City of Chicago—a case challenging handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois—ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for self-defense nationwide. The Court declared, “We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States. Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States.” Also, by now, most people who are familiar with the Violence Policy Center (VPC) know that the Court's decision appears to doom the very thing for which the little anti-gun fringe group was formed—a total ban on handguns.
As it happens, this also appears to have sent Josh Sugarmann, Kristen Rand and their one or two fellow VPC employees into conniption fits. After the Court's decision became known, at least the Brady Campaign pretended to address the decision's substance, claiming it gave a green light to the states to impose every form of gun control short of a total ban on handguns. But VPC, used to living fat off the dole from the Joyce Foundation, hysterically claimed that “People will die because of this decision” and “areas of the country with the highest concentration of gun ownership also have the highest rates of gun death.”
Scary sound bites indeed. But VPC's religiously-held belief that increasing the number of privately-owned guns necessarily causes firearm-related deaths to increase is proven false by the fact that, since 1991, as the number of firearms in the U.S. increased by about one-third, the firearm-related death rate decreased by more than one-third. The best estimate is that guns are used for protection 3-4 times more often than to commit a crime, and the disparity between defensive uses and criminal homicides with guns is much greater. Also, there is no correlation between state gun ownership rates and firearm-related fatality rates. For example, Maryland, California and Illinois, with strict firearm laws, have higher firearm homicide rates than gun-ownership-friendly Texas and Oklahoma.
Venting about corporate America, a habit of the left-of-center that’s been getting more exposure than usual for more than a year now, VPC adds, “It [the McDonald decision] is a victory only for the gun lobby and America’s fading firearms industry.” Well, the decision is certainly a victory for the NRA, in that the Supreme Court agreed with NRA that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause makes the Second Amendment enforceable nationwide. However, as an organization that represents gun owners, NRA considers the victory to belong to the American people, because the decision about whether to acquire a handgun is now guaranteed as their choice, not the choice of a politician, judge or bureaucrat. As for the second part of VPC’s claim, suffice it to say that NICS Firearm Transaction Data make clear that firearms continue to be bought in huge quantities, and firearm manufacturing statistics published by the BATFE make clear that most of these firearms are of the types that VPC most wants banned—handguns, and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, which VPC calls “assault weapons.”