From: The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know – Philip J. Cook and Kristin A. Goss

1.  Who owns the guns?

a. One in every four adults owns a firearm

b. 37% of men and 12% of women have said in polls that they own guns

c. Whites are twice as likely as blacks to own guns

d. Republicans are twice as likely to own guns as Democrats

2.  Why do people in America choose to own guns?

a. According to a 2013 Pew survey:

i. 48% gave protection as their first reason. (In a similar 1999 survey, only 26% gave protection as their reason and yet crime rates have increased considerably since then)

ii. 39% cited hunting or target shooting

3.  Is gun ownership increasing?

a. No. In 1980, half of American households owned at least one gun. In 2010, household gun ownership had dropped to 35%

b. However, the top 20% of firearms owners possessed more than 10 guns on average

4.  Is the sport of hunting growing?

a. No. In 2011, 33% of hunters were 55 or older, up from 14% in 1991

Guns and Self Defense

1.   What are the risks of keeping firearms in the home?

a. The risks include:

i. Accidental shootings

ii. Suicide

iii. Domestic Violence

The Costs of Gun Violence

1.  How many Americans are killed or injured by gun violence?

a. Approximately one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds in homicides, accidents, and suicides during the last three decades – more than all American combat deaths in in U.S. history

b. About one in six shootings results in the death of the victim

2.  What are the common elements in mass shootings?

a. The shooters are almost exclusively males who act alone

b. They are not random:

i. 33% of mass public shootings between 1983 and 2012 occurred at the shooter’s current or former workplace

ii. In 57% of mass shootings between 2009 and 2012 the shooter killed a current or former intimate partner, along with others

iii. Roughly half the time, mass shooters take their own life at the scene

Causes of Gun Violence

  • 10 Categories of people banned from possessing a firearm by the federal gun control Act of 1968

a. Anyone convicted of a felony

b. Under indictment for a felony

c. Is a fugitive from justice

d. Has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence

e. Is subject to a restraining order

f. Is an illegal alien

g. Has been adjudicated “mental defective”

h. Is a drug abuser

i. Has been dishonorably discharged from the military

j. Is under the age of 21 (handgun) or 18 (rifle or shotgun)

Israel and Switzerland

1.  Israel and Switzerland are often used by gun activists as evidence of a heavily armed public in combating crime and terrorism. But the reality is that firearms are more closely regulate in those countries and scarcer than in the U.S.

Israel:

  • Since 2006, Israeli Defense Forces no longer carry their weapons while on leave. The intended result was to reduce suicide. Otherwise Israel has a low rate of firearms ownership and possession. Only about 20% of suicides are now committed with firearms compared to about 50% in the U.S.
  • The Israeli government requires all civilian gun owners to be licensed and keeps a registry of licenses which must be renewed every three years. All gun transfers are to be registered with the government.

Switzerland:

  • In Switzerland, gun ownership is more common than in Israel, but still comprehensively regulated.
  • All able-bodied Swiss men are required to perform military service until age 34. The commitment is reflected in the fact that target shooting is a national sport. The celebrated purpose of good marksmanship is national defense, not home defense.
  • While in the reserve, men are issued a personal weapon, usually an assault rifle, to be stored at home or in an armory.
  • Automatic weapons are banned.
  • Private transfers require that the seller determine the identity of the buyer and keep detailed records about the transaction.
  • Seeking a permit to carry requires passing a series of tests demonstrating gun safety knowledge and a reason that the firearm is needed in response to a specific risk.
  • Only 20% of suicides are committed with firearms due to the relative scarcity of firearm ownership.

Size of Gun Industry in America

  • In 2012, firearm shipments from domestic manufacturers were $3.3 billion.
  • Ammunition shipments were $3.7 billion (most of which were exported).
  • Imports of firearms were $1.9 billion, and of ammunition $1.1 billion.
  • In 1960, about 2 million guns were sold in the U.S. In 2011, that had increased to about 9.5 million.
  • In 1960, about one-quarter of guns sold were handguns; by 2011, handgun sales had increased to about one-half.
  • Smith & Wesson. Remington, and Ruger account for about 40% of domestic manufacturer sales.

Supply Chain for Guns Used in Crime

  • Almost all firearms that end up being used in crime originate with a sale by a licensed dealer. After that first sale, the firearm may be transacted several more times before being used in a crime.
  • Source of guns used in crimes that put them in prison based on a 2004 inmate survey found that:
    • 41% from friend/family member
    • 32% off the street
    • 12% from gun shop or pawn shop (presumably licensed)
    • 4% stolen by inmate
    • 2% from gun show
    • 2% from victim
    • 1% from burglary
    • 5% all other

How Many Gun Laws Are There?

  • The National Rifle Association and other gun rights activists claim that there are 20,000 gun laws on the books.
  • Wayne LaPierre claimed that there were 9000 federal gun laws alone.
  • After an exhaustive search, scholars in the early 2000s counted perhaps 400.

What Are The Key Gun Violence Prevention Laws

  1. In 1927, Congress banned shipments of handguns via the U.S. Postal Service.
  2. In 1934, the National Firearms Act required that machine guns and sawed off shotguns be registered and any transfers would be taxed.
  3. In 1938, a national licensing system for gun dealers, manufacturers, importers was created.
  4. The same act (Federal Firearms Act) barred sales to felons, fugitives, those under indictment, and those prohibited by state law.
  5. In 1968, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act banned the shipment of handguns to individuals across state lines and prohibited people from buying handguns outside their state of residency.
  6. Also, in 1968, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968. The law:

a.  Extended the ban on interstate shipments of handguns to include rifles and shotguns and ammunition.

b. Created penalties for using a gun while committing a federal crime.

c. Imposed new rules on federally licensed firearm dealers.

d. Extended list of prohibited users to include people “adjudicated as a mental defective” or ‘committed to a mental institution;” unlawful users of certain drugs; and minors under 21 for handguns and under 18 for long guns.

7.  In 1986 the conservative firearm agenda began to take hold. President Reagan signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act which:

a. Changed the definition of dealers “engaged in business” of firearm sales.

b. Allowed dealers to sell at gun shows.

c. Limited inspections of gun dealers by the ATF to no more than one per year.

d. Facilitated purchases across state lines.

e. Provided protections to gun owners traveling into states with strict firearm laws.

f. Prohibited any federal system of registration.

g. Some concessions were given to gun violence prevention advocates:

i. Private possession of machine guns was banned except for those already registered.

ii. Federally licensed dealers were made to report multiple weapon sales.

iii. Gun sales to illegal immigrants, dishonorably discharged servicemen, and those who had renounced U.S. citizenship were prohibited.

8.  In 1993, under President Clinton, Congress passed the Brady Violence Prevention Act which:

a. Required dealers to do background checks for handgun purchases (later also extended to rifles and shotguns).

b. Added to the prohibited list persons convicted of violent domestic violence misdemeanors or under restraining orders.

9.  In 1994, Congress followed the Brady bill with a ban on Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines. People who already owned them were allowed to keep them and to transfer them to other legal gun owners.

10.  In 2004, when by law the Assault Weapons ban had to be renewed by Congress or it would expire, the Congress voted against renewal and the federal ban was allowed to expire.

11.  In 2005, Congress passed the “Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and the Child Safety Lock Act” which granted immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers for any damages caused by their product. This law effectively doomed any litigation attempts to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable. The law also required that secure storage or safety devices be distributed with new handguns sold. In 2007, after the Virginia Tech shooting, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 that provided funding for states to update mental health and other records in the NICS federal database system of prohibited gun purchasers.

12.  During the first Obama Administration, Congress allowed the carrying of loaded guns in National Parks and then the storing of unloaded weapons in Amtrak luggage compartments.

Effectiveness of Gun Laws

  1. What we would like ideally is direct evidence that the adoption of a new law caused a change in the rate of homicide or suicide. Unfortunately, that sort of direct evidence is not always available or is hotly contested.
  2. Congress failed to renew the ban on assault weapons and magazines holding more than ten rounds. Between 2007 and 2012, there were twelve incidents with eight or more casualties where the shooter used a large capacity magazine – including the infamous massacres at VA Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown.
  3. There are about 500,000 automatic weapons registered now (sales of new fully automatic weapons were banned in 1934). Only 3 in 1000 crime guns now are automatic. Bans work over time.
  4. In Great Britain, which banned handguns outright in 1998 following the massacre of school children in Dublane, Scotland, gun suicides are down to 1.5% of total suicides, compared with around 50% in the U.S. The UK suffers about 3 dozen gun homicides per year.
  5. Only federally licensed gun dealers can receive interstate firearm shipments, and they are barred from selling handguns to anyone from out of state.

Why Increase Prohibition for Violent Misdemeanors

  1. A study of adult murder defendants in Chicago found that only 43% of them had a felony conviction on their record.
  2. Another study of inmates sentenced for a firearm related felony found that most of them lacked federal disqualifying characteristics.
  3. In both circumstances, these groups could purchase a gun legally, making the case for violent misdemeanors a prohibiting factors.

What is an Assault Weapon?

Website

There has been a lot of confusion about exactly what an assault weapon is, especially how assault weapons are differentiated from machine guns.

Here is some background information from the Violence Policy Center with good information about assault weapons. Click here to see the Violence Policy Center Background Information.


Ever wonder which colleges allow guns on campus?

Nine states now have laws requiring their colleges to allow the carrying of guns on campus.

Given the increasing number of campus shootings, we think this is a very bad idea.

If someone in your family or circle of friends is about to be applying to colleges, you may want to know where the various states and their colleges stand on the issue of carrying concealed weapons on campus.

A Web site called Armed Campuses has an illustrative map showing which states require their colleges to allow guns and where all of the other states stand on the issue.

To see that information click here.


General Polling and Statistics

64% of Connecticut residents support stricter gun laws (C)

  • In 2011, guns killed 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. This would be the equivalent of more than 85 deaths every day and more than three deaths every hour (1).
  • A study reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 found a strong correlation between, “the legislative strength of a state’s firearm laws – as measured by a higher number of laws – and a lower rate of firearm fatalities”. The association was significant for firearm fatalities overall and for firearm suicide and firearm homicide deaths. Furthermore, the study found a statistically significant relationship between a higher percentage of household firearm ownership and higher rates of overall firearm fatalities (2)
  • There is a 7.4 to 1 ratio of female firearm suicides between states deemed High-Gun States”, such as West Virginia and Wyoming, and states deemed “Low-Gun States”, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut (3)
  • In both region and state level analysis, higher rates of household firearm ownership have substantially higher rates of homicide than regions or state with lower rates of household firearm ownership (4)
  • The gun murder rate in Connecticut has doubled since 2005 from 1.3 per 100,000 persons to 2.6 per 100,000 (5).
  • Around 16% of all privately owned firearms were stored unlocked and loaded, and slightly more than 50% of all firearms were stored unlocked (6).
  • In 2011, guns killed 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. This would be the equivalent of more than 85 deaths every day and more than three deaths every hour (1).
    A study reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 found a strong correlation between, “the legislative strength of a state’s firearm laws – as measured by a higher number of laws – and a lower rate of firearm fatalities”.  The association was significant for firearm fatalities overall and for firearm suicide and firearm homicide deaths. Furthermore, the study found a statistically significant relationship between a higher percentage of household firearm ownership and higher rates of overall firearm fatalities (2)
    There is a 7.4 to 1 ratio of female firearm suicides between states deemed High-Gun States” , such as West Virginia and Wyoming, and states deemed “Low-Gun States”, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut (3)
    In both region and state level analysis, higher rates of household firearm ownership have substantially higher rates of homicide than regions or state with lower rates of household firearm ownership (4)
    The gun murder rate in Connecticut has doubled since 2005 from 1.3 per 100,000 persons to 2.6 per 100,000 (5).
    Around 16% of all privately owned firearms were stored unlocked and loaded, and slightly more than 50% of all firearms were stored unlocked (6).

Background Checks

93% of Connecticut residents support universal background checks (Q)

  • Since federal law does not require background checks for firearm sales between private parties, 40% of all gun sales can be completed without background checks (7).
  • People who had been arrested for nontraffic were significantly more likely to own firearms than those who had not been (8).
  • According to Federal Bureau of Investigation data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, in 2012 there were 237,496 background check applications to purchase a gun in Connecticut, the highest number of applications in the last fifteen years (9).

 Suicide

76% of Connecticut residents support having stricter gun storage requirements (Q).

  • More than 50% of all suicides are committed with a gun (10).
  • A study conducted of California residents who purchased a handgun found that suicide was the leading cause of death among the buyers in the first year after the handgun was purchased (11).
  • There is a 7.4 to 1 ratio of female firearm suicides between states deemed High-Gun States” , such as West Virginia and Wyoming, and states deemed “Low-Gun States”, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut (12).

Crime

72% of Connecticut residents support requiring registration of all handguns with annual renewal (Q)

  • According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, nearly half of its gun trafficking investigations involve straw purchasers. In the first six months of the 2014 fiscal year, there were 42 prosecutions in which the straw purchase violation was the lead charge, and many others in which it was a charge secondary to another crime, according to the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
  • Researcher David Hemenway found that a gun used in self-defense is no more likely to lessen the chance of injury during a crime than other forms of protective action (13).
  • The leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 1-44 is firearm homicide (14).
  • In both region and state level analysis, higher rates of household firearm ownership have substantially higher rates of homicide than regions or state with lower rates of household firearm ownership (15).

Youth

73% of Connecticut residents believe that stricter gun control legislation will be either “very effective” or “somewhat effective” at preventing mass shootings at schools (C)

  • Every day, an average of 50 children and teens are shot in murders, suicides and suicide attempts, accidents, and police intervention (16).
  • Firearm homicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 20 (17).
  • U.S. children and young adults have more than 10 times the risk of being killed by unintentional gunshot compared to their peers in other OECD nations (18).
  • Over two-thirds of all murders with victims under age 22 have been committed with a gun (19).
  • The risk of suicide connected with a household firearm concerns not only the gun owner, but all household members. In fact, the relative risk for adolescents in the household is larger than that for the gun owner (20).

Citations:

  1. http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html
  2. Fleegler EW, Lee LK, Monuteaux MC, Hemenway D, & Mannix R., “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States”, March 2013.
  3. Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael, and David Hemingway, “Firearms and Violent Deaths in the United States”.
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/
  5. http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_20.html
  6. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf
  7. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf
  8. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/165476.pdf
  9. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/nics-firearm-background-checks-1998_2013_state_monthly_totals-070213.pdf
  10. http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html
  11. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199911183412106
  12. Matthew Miller, Deborah Azrael, and David Hemingway, “Firearms and Violent Deaths in the United States”.
  13. Hemenway, David. Private Guns, Public Health. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004. Print.
  14. http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/dataRestriction_lcd.html
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/
  16. http://www.bradycampaign.org/sites/default/files/GunDeathandInjuryStatSheet3YearAverageFINAL.pdf
  17. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html
  18. Richardson EG, Hemenway, David, “Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States with Other High-Income Countries”, 2003.
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20571454
  20. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-9

(C) 2013 Hartford Courant Poll
(Q) 2013 Quinnipiac Poll