According to crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), knives are consistently used to kill people far more often than rifles are used. And the numbers aren’t even close: five times as many murders were committed with knives than were committed with rifles last year.
The FBI statistics show that knives have been used as a murder weapon far more often than rifles — even those evil “assault weapons” we hear so much about — for quite a while. In 2013, knives or other cutting instruments were used to kill 1,490 victims. In contrast, rifles were the cause of death of 285 murder victims. Shotguns were used in 308 murders. In 2009, the ratio was very similar: knives were used in five times as many murders as rifles.
The 2013 numbers are even more interesting when you compare them to data from 2003, the last year in which the 1994 federal “assault weapon” ban was in effect. In 2003, 390 people were murdered with a rifle. That’s right. The number of rifle murders is 27 percent lower today — ten years after the expiration of the “assault weapon” ban — than it was in 2003, the last year “assault weapons” were banned by the federal government.
“But what about handgun murders?” you might ask. “They’re responsible for the majority of gun murders, so why don’t we just ban them and stop worrying about rifles?”
Easy: because gun bans and strict gun control don’t really prevent gun violence. Take, for example, Illinois and California. In 2013, there were 5,782 murders by handgun in the U.S. According to FBI data, 20 percent of those — 1,157 of the 5,782 handgun murders — happened in Illinois and California, which have two of the toughest state gun control regimes in the entire country. And even though California and Illinois contain about 16 percent of the nation’s population, those two states are responsible for over 20 percent of the nation’s handgun murders.
Chicago is a perfect example of the total failure of gun controllers to prevent gun violence. Until recently, the city basically banned any and all transfers or sales of handguns. It was virtually impossible to get a concealed carry permit. Did that do anything to stem the tide of gun-related bloodshed? Of course not. Chicago was the murder capital of the U.S. in 2012.
In 2013, however, Chicago’s murder rate fell to its lowest level in 48 years. What could have possibly led to such a drastic change? This might help explain it.
Gun owners in the nation’s third-largest city will no longer have to register their firearms with the local authorities, ending a policy that has helped the police track guns here for decades.
Chicago’s City Council voted to make the change on Wednesday, modifying the municipal code to comply with a new state law that will make Illinois the last in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public. While the city’s strict bans on assault weapons and gun dealers remain, the loss of control over its own registry, in effect since 1968, was another setback for gun control proponents — this time in President Obama’s hometown, in a state run by Democrats.
The 2013 law passed by the Chicago city council didn’t just kill the city’s gun registry. More important, it also removed a ban on gun possession outside the home, a much-needed change that finally gave law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves throughout the city. And earlier that year, the state legislature in Illinois finally passed a law allowing lawful citizens to carry concealed weapons to protect themselves.
Meanwhile, new polling data from Gallup suggests that the American public increasingly believes that guns are necessary to keep Americans and their homes safe from criminals. Over the past 15 years or so, Americans have become more and more supportive of basic gun rights:
While Gallup figures on U.S. gun ownership have not shifted much since 2006, the percentage of Americans who say that having a gun in the home makes that household safer has drastically climbed over the past eight years.
Americans own guns for a wide array of reasons, but the increase in the perceived safety value of owning them suggests that guns are taking on more of a protective role than they have in the past.
Baseless gun control laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Instead, those laws keep lawful, innocent Americans from being able to protect themselves from the very same criminals who regularly violate the nation’s gun laws. Thankfully, that’s a fact that more and more Americans understand.