Analysis of crime data reveals faulty arguments of gun prohibitionists

DAVE and Ruger AR
Northwest gun control groups want to ban so-called “assault rifles” but crime data shows such guns are used in a tiny percentage of murders in Washington, Oregon and nationally. (Dave Workman photo)

Ten years’ worth of FBI crime statistics on firearms-related homicides in the Pacific Northwest provides hard arguments against a joint effort by gun prohibition lobbying groups in Oregon and Washington to push for a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

According to TheGunMag.com (TGM), rifles of any kind, including those dubbed “assault weapons,” are involved in a tiny percentage of slayings in the two states. This on-line and print publication is owned by the Second Amendment Foundation.

Overall, TGM reported, firearms of all types were responsible for just roughly 53 percent of the murders in Oregon and about 57 percent of slayings in Washington in the years 2004-2014.

Washington Ceasefire and Ceasefire Oregon announced they will pressure the legislatures in both states starting in January 2017. If that doesn’t work, they hinted strongly there will be initiative campaigns launched in both states to let the public vote on bans.

But the data doesn’t support their contention that private ownership of these rifles is a serious problem.

In 2014, the most recent year for which complete FBI data is available, Oregon reported 39 firearms-related slayings out of 73 total murders. Of those, 16 involved handguns, only two were committed with rifles and two more with shotguns. Fourteen were committed with knives or other cutting instruments and 18 were committed with “other weapons.”

In neighboring Washington 94 of the 172 homicides in 2014 involved firearms, including 54 with handguns, only six with rifles of any kind and four with shotguns. That same year saw 25 slayings committed with knives or other sharp instruments – more than four times the number killed with rifles – and 42 involved “other weapons.”

According to the FBI data, Oregon saw 19 slayings committed with firearms of an undetermined type, while 30 Washington murders involved an “unidentified” firearm.

But there is more. Across the country that year, according to the FBI crime report, there were a total of 11,961 murder victims including 8,124 who were killed with firearms. Of those, 5,562 people were murdered with handguns, another 248 with rifles, 262 with shotguns, and 1,567 with knives or other sharp instruments. Another 2,052 were killed with firearms of an unknown type.

This translates to just over two percent of all homicide victims nationwide being identifiably killed with rifles of any kind. It begs the question: Why is there such an emphasis on banning a type/class of firearms that are involved in such a tiny percentage of homicides?

Adding to the emotion-laden anti-gun rhetoric, Washington Ceasefire has posted a message on its Facebook page that argues, “In the wake of the terrible tragedy at Orlando that took 49 lives and the 220+ other mass shootings this year Washington Ceasefire is taking the lead to ban military style assault weapons in our state as well as limit the number of bullets in a magazine ammunition clip to no more than ten. Common sense life saving measures that don’t violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights.”

But the organization does not offer any details about these 220-plus alleged “mass shootings.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility – the group responsible for Initiative 594 in 2014 and this year’s Initiative 1491 – have been using e-mail blasts to raise money.

In their Thursday appeal, AGR repeated the myth that “the gun violence epidemic that claims more than 30,000 people every year.” That organization fails to mention that two-thirds of those deaths are suicides, not the results of criminal violence. They also toss in the victims of accidental and negligent shootings to pad the numbers. FBI Uniform Crime Reports over the past few years show fewer than 9,000 murders committed with firearms on the average.


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