Nov 22, 2010


The new BATF boss-designate likes to crow  about his achievement in arresting "18 people who bought and traded 'illegal' guns at a shop in Rockford, Ill."  He extrapolates; "Every illegal firearm removed from the hands of an unlawful possessor represents one or more potential violent crimes that was not and will not be committed..."

"Was not?" So, if you seize a gun at midnight there will not be a violent crime committed with it the previous noon? (Do you happen to drive a DeLorean?)

Look, Traver, we can create a better dialogue here if you familiarize yourself with some simple tenets of logic. Among other things, if  the firearm is "illegal" then its owner is by definition "unlawful," and there's no need for the repetition  -- beyond the euphonic requirement of cheap and redundant  rhetoric.

Never mind your reliance again on "potential" for violence.  We've all had enough of our Masters' protecting us from potential by any means their propaganda arms can shove down our throats.  Two ounces of apple juice in a baby's sippy-cup is a potential  911 replay.   Driving my pickup to the lumber yard creates a potentially tropical antarctic.  Every Viagra tab is a potential geriatric rapist.


As you might expect, Paul Helmke is conducting the Traver-As-Second-Coming Hallelujah Chorus:

"Apparently the gun guys are upset that Traver did a TV interview where he helped demonstrate the lethality of an AK-47, while explaining, 'Pull the trigger and you can mow down people'.” 

Get an Escalade. Push the accelerator and you can mow down people.

Then Traver added that, “the growing frequency of gang members and drug dealers using heavy caliber military-type weapons” is a problem we should be concerned about.

I don't know if the tendency is growing or not, and neither do you.  Point 1: We don't know how many "gang members and drug dealers"  exist. Point 2: We don't now how many of them use "heavy caliber military-type weapons." and neither do you. As a matter of fact, when  objective and hard-working scholars who have investigated for years  are asked about the the total number of guns in the country they reply, "Uhh, we really don;t know. We think about 200 million, or maybe 290 million, possibly 300 million but, but, but...".

So forgive us, Messrs. Helmke and Traver if we pee on your colongenic data about  trends in tiny unknown subsets of an uncertain total number.


Just one more thing. You guys keep whining about "heavy caliber military-type weapons"in civilian hands, and you like to use the AK47 round -- 7.62 x 39 -- as an example.

Ballistic charts are free. They're on the internet. You can use them without applying for a big research appropriation.  If you do, you'll discover that the AK47's heavy caliber is about the same as my great-grandpa's .30-30 lever gun.

(H/T Tam)


Jinglebob said...


benEzra said...

The thing is, we *DO* have data on how commonly modern-looking rifles such as AR-15's, civilian AK's, and what are used in crimes. The FBI tracks homicide by class of firearm (handgun, rifle, shotgun) and publishes it every year in the Uniform Crime Reports.

Homicide data by weapon type for 2009, the latest year for which full data are available, can be found in Table 20, Murder, by State and Type of Weapon:

If you download the Excel version and sum the columns, you find that the totals reported to the FBI were as follows:

Overall murders: 13,636
Handguns: 6,452
Firearms, type unknown: 1,928
Other weapons (non-firearm, non-edged): 1,864
Edged weapons: 1,825
Hands, feet, etc.: 801
Shotguns: 418
Rifles: 348

To put it another way, all rifles *combined* accounted for less than 2.6% of reported murders in the United States last year---348 of 13,636---despite the fact that more Americans own so-called "assault weapons" than hunt (taking H.R.1022 as the operative definition).

If you go back to prior years in the UCR, you can see that the rifle homicide numbers aren't increasing, either; they are DECLINING:

Rifle homicides from the FBI UCR, 2005-2009:

2005: 442
2006: 436
2007: 450
2008: 375
2009: 348

Even the late Pete Shields, head of what is now the Brady Campaign 1978-1989, had this to say back when rifle homicide was considerably higher than it is now:

"(O)ur organization, Handgun Control, Inc. does not propose further controls on rifles and shotguns. Rifles and shotguns are not the problem; they are not concealable."

--Nelson T. "Pete" Shields, Guns Don't Die--People Do, Priam Press, 1981, pp. 47-48.

All this "assault weapon" hysteria was foolish enough in 1994, but is even more ludicrous now that modern-looking rifles dominate the market. Helmke et al actually argue, in all seriousness, that the most popular centerfire sporting rifles in the United States have no sporting purpose; that the rifles which dominate competitive and recreational target shooting in the USA are useless for target shooting; and that the most common defensive carbines in U.S. homes can't be owned for defensive purposes; and that the LEAST misused class of firearm in the United States (rifles) are the "weapons of choice" for murder. The stark contrast with reality is downright laughable.

Jim said...

benEzra: That's very nice summary of the numbers. I especially liked seeing that feet and hands were used in more homicides than rifles and shotguns combined.

I was trying, however awkwardly, to make a much narrower point, that Helmke is prone to pull statistics from his dark place.