Do We Have a Gang Problem or a Gun Problem?


Hey friends,

Devin and I just published an article over at the HuffingtonPost. It has been reproduced below.

Guns, Not Gangs

In a scathing critique of ABC’s recent report “Young Guns,” Dana Loesch stated that most gun deaths were the result of gang violence; therefore, America has a gang problem, not a gun problem. Her claim appears to be supported by sites positing that “a staggering 80 percent of gun homicides are gang-related.” As it turns out though, not only is her statement factually incorrect, as the majority of gun deaths are suicides, but there is not a shred of evidence to support her characterization that gangs are the driving force behind firearm violence.

Unfortunately, Dana Loesch’s sentiment is shared by many gun advocates, including the Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who, when opposing firearm background checks said, “President Obama should be as committed to dealing with the gang problem that is tormenting honest people in his hometown as he is to blaming law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers.”

So, do we have a gang problem or a gun problem? Data collected by the National Gang Center, the government agency responsible for cataloging gang violence, makes clear that it’s the latter. There were 1,824 gang-related killings in 2011. This total includes deaths by means other than a gun. The Bureau of Justice Statistics finds this number to be even lower, identifying a little more than 1,000 gang-related homicides in 2008. In comparison, there were 11,101 homicides and 19,766 suicides committed with firearms in 2011.

According to the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the number of gangs and gang members has been on the rise for some time now, increasing by more than one-third in the past decade. Between 2010 and 2011, for example, there was a 3 percent increase in the number of gangs, but an 8 percent decrease in gang-related homicides. If gang violence was truly driving the gun homicide rate, we should not see gang membership and gun homicide rates moving in opposite directions.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control study on this subject lends further credence to our claim. It examined five cities that met the criterion for having a high prevalence of gang homicides: Los Angeles, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; and Newark, New Jersey. In these cities, a total of 856 gang and 2,077 non-gang homicides were identified and included in the analyses. So, even when examining cities with the largest gang problems, gang homicides only accounted for 29 percent of the total for the period under consideration (2003-2008). For the nation as a whole it would be much smaller.

The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem (even excluding suicides) is caused by gangs.

In spite of this, LaPierre’s proposed solution to gun violence is to “contact every U.S. Attorney and ask them to bring at least 10 cases per month against drug dealers, gang members and other violent felons caught illegally possessing firearms.”

That same CDC study, however, also refutes LaPierre’s claim that the drug trade is fueling gun-violence, saying, “the proportion of gang homicides resulting from drug trade/use or with other crimes in progress was consistently low in the five cities, ranging from zero to 25 percent.”

Furthermore, a 2005 study done by Cook, Ludwig and Braga found that nearly three in five homicide offenders in Illinois in 2001 did not have a felony conviction within the 10 years prior to the homicide. Looking at just violent felons excludes a huge subset of potential criminals that become violent in the presence of a firearm.

Gun advocates’ blind focus on gangs, drugs and violent felons overlooks the larger gun problem facing America. It is irresponsible and disingenuous for some of us to brush off our staggering death toll from firearms merely as the product of gangs or even violent criminals. Recognizing America’s high homicide rate for what it is — a gun problem — is the first step in solving it.


There were some misconceptions in the comments section of our HuffPo article that we wanted to clear up for our readers.

–“The 80% of gang violence number includes suicides.  When you exclude suicides, that number is correct.”

As the article states: “more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related.” This doesn’t include any firearm suicides, just firearm homicides (the calculation is quite straightforward with the numbers and sources provided in the article).

–“National Vital Statistics Report, which is much more accurate than the data cited in the article, confirms that 80% of violence is gang related.”

This line is taken from the following link.  If you follow the source to that 80% citation in the linked source, it will take you to a CDC study that doesn’t even mention gangs.  I talked with gun scholar Dr. Phillip J. Cook about this citation, and he confirms that it is just made up out of thin air.  There’s precisely zero evidence to support it.   The fact that conservative websites have to lie about their citations in order to make a point is all too damning.

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  • Sevesteen

    Few of us are insisting that most gun crime is related to some sort of officially recognized organized gang. The idea we are trying to get across is that normal law abiding people rarely start with killing people, and that most murderers have a criminal history before their murder. According to US government stats that I’m too lazy to look up yet again, roughly 3/4 of murderers and a bit less than half the victims have a criminal record.

    A stat I’d love to see from a reliable source is the percentage of gun murders where the perp was not breaking a gun law beforehand…like Felon in Possession for instance.

  • Western Gunowner

    How refreshing! An admission by the victim disarmement community that a LOT of those 30,000 gun-deaths every year are suicides. As to “lying” of course, usually the victim disarmement community ignores that fact when arguing for more “reasonable restrictions”.

    Be that as it may. If there is a point to this post I guess it is trying to once again claim that an awfull lot of those deaths from criminal gun-use activity are by people who really wouldn’t have done the crime except for the gun being present so if we just fix the “gun” problem we’ll fix a big part of the crime problem . Which of course is pretty much blather.

    See –

    AND EDWIN H. CASSEM, M.D.*****

    in the Tennessee Law Review in 1994


    One of the many “money quotes” therein (the “numbers” reference the footnotes) –

    “The problem is that it simply is not true that previously law abiding citizens commit most
    murders or many murders or virtually any murders. Thus, disarming them would not, and could not,
    eliminate most, many, or virtually any murders. homicide studies show that murderers tend not to
    be ordinary law-abiding citizens, but rather extreme aberrants.277 The great majority of murderers
    have life histories of violence, felony records, and substance abuse.278 These facts are so firmly
    established that they even appear in medico-health discussions of violence,279 yet they are never
    discussed in connection with the health (pg.580) advocate sages’ mythology about ordinary citizens
    murdering relatives and acquaintances with guns.

    Looking only to official criminal records, data over the past thirty years consistently show
    that the mythology of murderers as ordinary citizens does not hold true. Studies have found that
    approximately 75% of murderers have adult criminal records,280 and that murderers average a prior
    adult criminal career of six years, including four major adult felony arrests.281 These studies also
    found that when the murder occurred “[a]bout 11% of murder arrestees [were] actually on pre-trial
    release”—that is, they were awaiting trial for another offense.282

    The fact that only 75% of murderers have adult crime records should not be misunderstood
    as implying that the remaining 25% of murderers are non-criminals. The reason over half of those
    25% of murderers don’t have adult records is that they are juveniles.283 Thus, by definition they
    cannot have an adult criminal record. Juvenile criminal records might well show these murderers
    (pg.581) to have extensive serious criminal records. “The research literature on characteristics of those
    who murder yields a profile of offenders that indicates that many have histories of committing
    personal violence in childhood, against other children, siblings, and small animals.”284 Though
    juvenile criminal records are not generally available, they occasionally become known in connection
    with some high-profile cases. In one recent case which generated nationwide publicity, a
    five-year-old boy was thrown from a fourteenth story window by two other boys because he had
    refused to steal candy for them.285 Police revealed that both killers, ages ten and eleven, had prior
    arrests for theft, aggravated battery, and unlawful use of a weapon.286 At the time of the murder, one
    of the perpetrators was supposed to be confined to his home on a weapons conviction.287”

    Of course, one needs to read the whole thing, but it is 65 pages with 360+ footnotes, not something most of the victim disarmement community wants to tackle.

    But if one does one will find out that it matters not whether the claim is 80% of gun-homicides are gang-related or other, the fact is nearly all homicide (with a gun or not) is committed by a criminal, and with very few exceptions a criminal with a pretty serious history of various crimes, usually escalating in severity.

    But you will find NONE caused by a gun. So it is obvious that we don’t have a “gun” problem.

    And, since 1994 when this article was written it is clear the evidence since then only re-inforces that conclusion (ie, increasing numbers of guns, people carrying concealed, increasingly liberalized gun laws etc, while at the same time decreasing rates of violent crime).

    On that note, consider the following quote from the above law review article –

    “Fixating on guns seems to be, for many people, a fetish which allows them to ignore the more intransigent causes
    of American violence, including its dying cities, inequality, deteriorating family structure, and the
    all-pervasive economic and social consequences of a history of slavery and racism.”256 In this
    context, we note a Marxist criminologist’s (pg.576) suggestion that the function, or at least the effect,
    of gun control advocacy is diverting attention from urgently needed social and political change.257”

    I like that – “fixating on guns”, a “fetish”. Pretty much explains what I read here.

    • Great points! Thanks for your reply.

      One thing I would check out is a recent analysis on the subject here

      Unfortunately, I can’t copy any of the sentences, but the article makes a couple of points:
      1) Focusing exclusively on felons would exclude 70% of first-time homicide offenders
      2) The fact that the majority of violent crime tends to be committed by someone with a violent history doesn’t really matter. Nowhere did we claim that gun violence rates are being driven by ordinary citizens going berserk. We just claimed gun violence was not primarily a consequence of gangs.

      The question is whether or not violent histories and future crimes are made more dangerous and lethal BECAUSE of a gun. The answer is unequivocally yes. We have demonstrated this in earlier posts.

      Consider this thought experiment: Let’s say the use of private rocket launchers suddenly becomes popular in 2014. Everyone starts buying them, using them in their backyards to detonate boulders, accidentally killing themselves and their children, stockpiling in the event that Armageddon happens, and so forth. Let’s also assume we start seeing a rise in mass explosions whereby people are taking rocket launchers to school and places of work to kill lots of people. Drive-by rocket launchings become the new thing. Criminals are able to prolong robberies and violent acts by annihilating entire police forces from afar. And so on.

      The government steps in and tries to prohibit the sale of rocket launchers. A bunch of rocket launcher advocates come in and argue: “but the majority of murderers in 2014 had a criminal record. Why are you punishing law-abiding citizens for the acts of criminals?” Notice how facile this argument is upon inspection. The point of regulating rocket launchers has almost NOTHING TO DO with the past history of citizens–it has everything to do with how new methods augment the POTENTIAL of future crimes. We’re not trying to eliminate crime; that’s impossible. We are trying to minimize it’s scope and impact.

      3) Your data simply point to the need to restrict gun access of those communities most likely to commit another crime. Which is why we need more robust background checks and licensing regimes.

      • Evan, Felons are prohibited from possession of any kind of firearms on the federal level, and every state that I’ve ever looked into their books have copied those laws.

        So it’s not an issue of LAWS it’s an issue ENFORCEMENT of those laws. When you have an enforcement problem more laws will NEVER have a positive effect.

        • Western Gunowner

          It seems you are determined to continue to believe the myth that a significant number of murderers were previously law-abiding citizens despite almost 50 years of research now that shows that is flatly not the case. Oh, and the artlicle linked above doesn”t contradict that at all (for among other reasons its a pretty small study and the 10 year window seems to limit its real relevence to the question).

          But, be that as it may.

          You say “Your data simply point to the need to restrict gun access of those communities most likely to commit another crime. Which is why we need more robust background checks and licensing regimes.”

          I assume you mean “universal background checks”, that is making it a Federal felony for not going thru an FBI gun-store background check when i sell or give a gun to my sister, son, or friend.

          So tell me – how would that change the fact that in 2012 Chicago had a muder rate of 18.8 while my Phoenix has an 8.3 murder rate that year? You know of course that despite Heller and MacDonald Chicago still makes it very difficult to LEGALLY own a gun (that may change quicker now that the 7th Court has forced Illinois to become a concealed carry state – so now all 50 states have some sort of concealed carry opportunity). But, my Phoenix (the whole state of course) doesn’t require me to even have a permit to carry concealed.

          But in Chicago, with their restricve laws, 2 Sandy Hooks occur among young black men every month.

          How will making ME comply with your “more robust” background check and licensing laws change that?

          Be specific.

          Also, you cannot rely on your above assertion that 70% of first time homicide offenders are not felons because (besides ignoring the Kates article referenced above) –

          1. Prior Felony Record of Murderers
          The FBI’s annual crime reports do not regularly compile data on the prior criminal records
          of murderers, and no such data are otherwise available on a national basis. But in a special data run
          for the Eisenhower Commission, the FBI found that 74.7 percent of murder arrestees nationally over
          a 4-year period had prior arrests for violent felony or burglary.162 In another 1-year period 77.9
          percent of murder arrestees had priors.163 Over yet another 5-year period nationally, arrested
          murderers had adult criminal records showing an average prior criminal career of at least 6 years
          duration, including four major felony arrests; 57.1 percent of these murder arrestees had been
          convicted of at least one prior adult felony; and 64 percent of a national (pg.47) sample of convicted
          murderers who had been released were rearrested within 4 years.164
          These data have been confirmed by numerous local studies over the past 40 years.165 For
          instance, a profile showed that a typical murderer in Washington, D.C., had six prior arrests,
          including two for felonies, one for a violent felony.166 Note that these data do not begin to reflect the
          full extent of murderers’ prior criminal careers—and thus cannot illustrate how different murderers
          are from the ordinary law-abiding person. Much serious crime goes unreported. Of those crimes that
          are reported, a large number are never cleared by arrest; of those so cleared, many are juvenile arrests
          that are not included in the data recounted above. At the same time we know that most juvenile,
          unsolved, or unreported serious crimes are concentrated in the relatively small number of people who
          have been arrested for other crimes.167

          159 Lindsay, “The Case for Federal Firearms Control,” p. 22 (1973) (emphasis added). Citing Lindsay, the National
          Coalition to Ban Handguns pamphlet, “A Shooting Gallery Called America,” asserts that “each year” thousands of “gun murders [are]
          done by law-abiding citizens who might have stayed law-abiding if they had not possessed firearms” (emphasis in original); and “that
          most murders are committed by previously law-abiding citizens where the killer and the victim are related or acquainted.” See also
          Edwards, “Murder and Gun Control,” 18 Wayne State U. Law Rev. 1335 (1972).
          160 Kairys, “A Carnage in the Name of Freedom,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 12, 1988 (emphasis added). Mr. Kairys
          is a lawyer and part-time teacher of sociology.
          161 See discussion below and Lane, “On the Social Meaning of Homicide Trends in America,” in T. Gurr, Violence in
          America, v. 1, 59 (1989) (“… the psychological profile of the accident-prone suggests the same kind of aggressiveness shown by most
          murderers”). For discussion of gun accident fatality, see the next section of this paper.
          162 Set out in tabular form in D. Mulvihill et al., Crimes of Violence: Report of the Task Force on Individual Acts of
          Violence (Washington, D.C.: Govt. Print. Off., 1969) at 532.
          163 FBI, Uniform Crime Report, 1971, at 38.
          164 FBI, Uniform Crime Report, 1975, at 42ff.
          165 In addition to the studies reviewed in Kleck & Bordua, “The Factual Foundation for Certain Key Assumptions of Gun
          Control,” 5 Law & Pol. Q. 271, 292ff. (1983); and Kleck, “Capital Punishment, Gun Ownership, and Homicide,” 84 Am. J. of Soc.
          882, 893 (1979). See for example, R. Narloch, Criminal Homicide in California 53-54 (Cal. Bur. of Crim. Stats., 1973); A. Swersey
          & E. Enloe, Homicide in Harlem (Rand, 1975) 17 (“We estimate that the great majority of both perpetrators and victims of assaults
          and murders had previous arrests, probably over 80 percent or more”).

          2. Prior Violence History of Wife Murderers
          Intrafamily murderers are especially likely to have engaged in far more previous violent
          crimes than show up in their arrest records. But because these attacks were on spouses or other
          family members, they will rarely have resulted in an arrest.168 So domestic murderers’ official records
          tend not to show their full prior violence, but only their adult arrests for attacking people outside
          their families. Therefore, only about “70 to 75 percent of domestic homicide offenders have been
          previously arrested and about half previously convicted.”169 As to how many crimes they perpetrate
          within the family, even in a relatively short time, “review of police (pg.48) records in Detroit and
          Kansas City” shows that in
          90 percent of the cases of domestic homicide, police had responded at least once to
          a disturbance call at the home during the two-year period prior to the fatal incident,
          and in over half (54 percent) of the cases, they had been called five or more times.170
          A leading authority on domestic homicide notes: “The day-to-day reality is that most family
          murders are preceded by a long history of assaults …” Studies (including those just cited) “indicate
          that intrafamily homicide is typically just one episode in a long-standing syndrome of violence.”171
          Nor is “acquaintance homicide” accurately conceptualized as a phenomenon of previously
          law-abiding people killing each other in neighborhood arguments. The term “acquaintance
          homicide” covers, and far more typically is exemplified by, examples such as a drug addict killing

          166 Data reported to the Senate Sub-committee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, 19th Congress; see Hearings, Second
          Session 75-76.
          167 NIJ Felon survey above, chap. 3; J. & M. Chaiken, Varieties of Criminal Behavior (1982); M. Wolfgang et al.,
          Delinquency in a Birth Cohort (1972).
          168 Police have traditionally been loathe to arrest in such situations; moreover, in upwards of 50 percent of relatively
          serious cases, the police have no opportunity to make an arrest because the victim fails to report the matter (out of belief that the
          matter is a private affair, or that the police will not take action, or out of fear of retaliation). See the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics
          releases, “Family Violence” (April 1984); “Preventing Domestic Violence Against Women” (Aug. 1986); and “Violent Crime by
          Strangers and Non-Strangers” (Jan. 1987), all based on survey responses rather than reports to police.
          169 “Policy Lessons” above, 49 Law & Contemp. Probs. at 40-41, emphasis added.
          170 Browne & Williams, “Resource Availability for Women at Risk: Its Relationship to Rates of Female Perpetrated
          Partner Homicide,” a paper presented at the 1987 annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology (available from the authors
          at the Family Research Laboratory, U. of New Hampshire).
          171 Straus, “Domestic Violence and Homicide Antecedents,” 62 Bull. N.Y. Acad. Med. 446, 454, 457 (1986); and Straus,
          “Medical Care Costs of Intrafamily Assault and Homicide,” 62 Bull. N.Y. Acad. of Med. 556, 557 fn. (1986). For a detailed review
          of relevant studies, see Browne & Flewelling, “Women as Victims or Perpetrators of Homicide,” a paper presented at the 1986 annual
          meeting of the American Society of Criminology (available from the authors at the Family Research Laboratory, U. of New

          There is a LOT more of course from that at but I guess you won’t bother with it either. You appear determined to ignore anything that contradicts your meme.

  • Homeless Australian Dude

    couple quick points:

    wow, Western Gunowner’s points are soooooo impressive… until you realize the data he is citing comes from 1971-75 (aka 4 DECADES ago). once you realize that, his “impressive” citations merely look like a joke. data from the 2000s, no problem. 90s, no problem. late 80s, still ok. but relying on data from the 1980s crime wave or before, that’s just pathetic. and you’re right, the link Evan presented with data post 2000 (which makes it infinitely more reliable than what you have provided by that fact alone) does nothing to dispute your argument, aside from debunking your main point that felons are mostly responsible for gun homicides.

    and Evan’s main point went completely over your head (rather unsurprisingly). the main point of gun control is to keep guns out of the hands of the violent and insane. if a person has a violent history, that’s all the more reason that person shouldn’t have a gun, and we should do our utmost as a society to prevent them from getting these firearms. this is what universal background checks do. all of this is in direct contrast to the gun lobby’s current efforts to make it as easy as possible for the violent and insane to get these weapons. as for your “woe is me” story about having to do a background check to give a gun to somebody, what is more important: preventing the violent and insane from getting the weapon of their choice, or a little inconvenience on your part? hmm, what a conundrum…

    As for accusing the author of ignoring contradicting evidence; pot, meet kettle:

    my guess is you have a tad more reading to do than the author does, but won’t bother as you are obviously set on staying in your fantasy world and ignoring any contradictory evidence.

    i could go further, but debunking the rest of your argument would be child’s play, and what would be the fun in that?

  • Western Gunowner

    So, homeless, are you a paid shill for these people? What, you come in with the concescending attitude, the snide remarks, the oh-so-subtle insults, and the overall boorish attitude so that the ‘armed with reason’ people can pretend to be above the fray? Is that it? They pay you much? I read thru your other comments in other posts. That seems to be your MO so i have to assume “armed with reason’ doesn’t care that you so quickly violate their comments policy.

    Me, miss the point? Right.

    These people are spinning the meme that the majority of first time homicide offenders have no felony history, ergo focusing on “criminals” will be missing a lot of potential criminals in an effort to justify their desire for “universal” background checks and “licensing regimes”.

    Problem is their first claim is bunk. And when you have 50 years of research supporting their claim get back to me. Until then your being an ass doesn’t make your arguments any stronger. Relying on 1 small study which only looked back 10 years at the criminals history (what, has Cook never heard of criminals getting out of jail after serving YEARS and then committing violent crimes?) is silly in the face of 50 years worth of evidence that indeed the great majority of murderers are aberrants and most have serious criminal histories. That is not debatable, the “science is settled’.

    Now, try a little “thought” experiment. I know, that will be tought, but try.

    If focusing on felons is going to miss so many “potential criminals” how is universal background checks or even ‘robust:’ licensing schemes on the ones who are non-felons going to impact potential murderers?

    Remember, most of the recent mass shootings were done by people who got their guns either legally by buyin them by passing the background check or stole them, or had someone who could legally buy them committ a felony by doing a straw purchase.

    So NONE of the recent “common sense” proposals would have prevented Tucson, Columbine, CO, or CT, or as far as I can tell ANY other shooting. So what is the point of making me a felon (oh yes, ‘woe is me”) because I don’t want to obey a stupid law that won’t have changed a thing? Passing laws that make me a felon that WON’T have the slightest effect on the criminals is morally abhorrent.

    The REAL point of those laws is to make it harder and harder for lawfull citizens to own guns and I can’t believe you are stupid enought to believe otherwise, but i could be wrong.

    So come on, show me how easy your “childs play'” will be in in showing me how Devin’s ‘common sense’ proposals for universal background checks and robust licensing schemes will actually work.

    • Homeless Australian Dude

      “So, homeless, are you a paid shill for these people?”

      your tinfoil hat is slipping. but that is actually a great idea though, getting paid for commenting. didn’t realize that was a thing. now that it has been brought to my attention (and apparently you feel really dumb conspiracy theories are ok), i am forced to speculate whether you are in fact begin paid to comment on here to make gun advocates look bad (not that they needed any help). if so, well played and you are doing a terrific job mate.

      and, you got me. that is my modus operandi. when i see people make extremely dumb and disrespectful comments on this site, and the authors don’t reply, i do (as long as it is relatively coherent). if you are exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger effect, and the authors don’t call you out on it, i will. i don’t tend to bother with respectful and thoughtful comments, as where is the fun in that? think of it this way: if i’m replying to a comment, that comment should have broken the site’s comment rule (which is very loosely enforced) and should have never been allowed up in the first place. now that you know where your comments fall in the pecking order, let’s proceed.

      “… so i have to assume “armed with reason’ doesn’t care that you so quickly violate their comments policy.”

      oh, goody! it’s time for round 2 of “pot, meet kettle.” if you think my comment was disrespectful (it was), your previous comments were downright insulting. accusing the authors of a gun fetish… have standards mate. here is the pertinent part of their comment rule: “We welcome all coherent, respectful comments.” your comment clearly doesn’t pass the respectful part, and the coherent portion is rather dubious in your case. if you have a problem with my comments, that’s fine. just don’t be an ignorant douche in the comments and you will never hear from me.

      “Me, miss the point? Right.”

      this is really funny, as you clearly missed my main point as well:

      “Problem is their first claim is bunk. And when you have 50 years of research supporting their claim get back to me.”

      son, your ego is writing cheques your brain can’t cash. all you have provided to support this specific claim is a paper that cites a couple FBI reports from 1971 and 1975, 4 DECADES AGO. if you think these stats alone present an accurate picture of what is occurring today, you are delusional (highlight this as my main point, which you have a really bad habit of missing). that you claim your 4 decade old data represents “50 years worth of evidence” is pathetic and laughable. the one study Evan cited trumps your data in any logical universe. if you have an academic study (or FBI report) from 2000 or after, showing that felons are the main perpetrators of gun deaths, by all means provide. once you have that you can get back to me. the scientific fact is that this is an ongoing debate without much research supporting either side (the data showing that the majority of perpetrators are not felons happens to be more recent), and you saying it isn’t merely highlights your ignorance here. this was explained in the Cook study, which you obviously didn’t bother reading.

      all this being said, i don’t doubt that people with assault on their records are far more likely to commit homicide than those who don’t. in fact, if you hadn’t let your ego run away from you and couched your language to include violent misdemeanors (how most assaults are classified), i would be forced to agree most homicides are probably carried out by violent people with a criminal record (that included misdemeanors). while this may sound like an empty distinction, its not. many “normal” people have misdemeanors. having a criminal record like this doesn’t automatically make you a career criminal. your main problem here (aside from the disrespect) is that you are seeing the world in black or white terms. either somebody is a good guy or is a bad guy. this childish world view is distinctly unhelpful.

      “Now, try a little “thought” experiment. I know, that will be tought, but try.”

      yay, a thought experiment! i especially enjoy these, especially when the person coming up with the experiment can’t spell “tough.”

      “If focusing on felons is going to miss so many “potential criminals” how is universal background checks or even ‘robust:’ licensing schemes on the ones who are non-felons going to impact potential murderers?’

      oh, i thought you said this was going to be “tough.” kind of disappointing. news flash: felons represent only a subcategory of people with criminal histories. if we expanded these checks to include people with any violent history, it would catch far more would be criminals. same if we started including mental health history. insane people shouldn’t get guns. kind of obvious. will this stop ALL homicides? obviously not. would it prevent many? just as obviously yes. don’t believe me? here’s a collection of more than 100 studies, some of which talk about this very question once you read all of them, then you can get back to me.

      and most people who commit crimes with guns (or at the very least a large portion of them) either got them by contacting a private seller online or from a friend. this is why making background checks universal is important, so your woe is me story of giving a gun to your friend (who in this case is a violent criminal) doesn’t happen.

      “So what is the point of making me a felon (oh yes, ‘woe is me”) because I don’t want to obey a stupid law that won’t have changed a thing?”

      going through a background check makes you a felon in the same way that going through a metal detector a terrorist, or getting a driver’s license makes you a criminal with abysmal driving skills. such a thought process is just dumb.

      “The REAL point of those laws is to make it harder and harder for lawfull citizens to own guns and I can’t believe you are stupid enought to believe otherwise, but i could be wrong.”

      rule: if you are going to call somebody stupid, make sure the sentence in which you are doing so is not littered with spelling and grammatical errors. the irony just overwhelms all your other points. and yes, having to go through a 5 minute background makes it soooooo much more difficult for people with no criminal history (aka good guys) to get guns because background checks only stop people with criminal histories from getting guns… *facepalm*

      • Western Gunowner

        LOL. So I can’t spell is it?

        “you are in fact begin paid to comment”

        Maybe you should check your own posts before you complain about mine. What a joke. And, what? Throwing my own lines back at me? How old are you?

        So you aren’t a paid shill. That means you are just an ass because you want to be. Fine.

        Back to the main point(s).

        First, I’ll note that the idea that 75% of first-time homidice offenders aren’t felons actually cuts AGAINST the argument that “universal” background checks will stop more criminally intent people from getting guns. I’ll leave you to think that thru since that is what you are so good at.

        Now, non-felons are legal to buy guns at a dealer or from a private party. (I note for clarification that some violent misdemeanors are also dis-qualifying so not just felons are stopped at the gun store.)

        “universal background” checks won’t change that.

        So they won’t catch anybody new. How can they? The Tucson shooter bought his weapon from a dealer, passed the FBI background check and would have if “universal background checks” had been the law then.

        If you want to argue that we should change the law so that more people are either felons or are somehow tagged into the FBI database as being prohibited then do that. But don’t claim that “universal background” checks will magically stop anybody other than felons (and those tagged by the Lautenberg amendment on certain violent misdemeanors as above) from “legally’ buying a gun. That is a non-sensical argument that Devin was making.

        Now, you’ve said “if we expanded these checks to include people with any violent history, it would catch far more would be criminals. same if we started including mental health history. insane people shouldn’t get guns.” But thats not “universal’ backrgound checks – thats changing the laws (and penalties for violating the laws) so that more people will be stopped at the point of the FBI backround check.

        And that is not what Gabby Giffords or Devin here is arguing for when they push the idea of “universal background’ checks. No, they just want ALL sales to go thru the FBI instant check at a gun store regardless of the ample evidence that it won’t move the needle on crime. Indeed, both the CO theatre shooter, the Navy Yard shooter, and the Tucson shooter could have all gotten their guns from a private seller under the “universal’ scheme because non of them were prohibited purchasers at the time.

        But thats the mantra. “Univerasal background” checks are “common sense’, yet upon examination they are revealed as a shibboleth.

        A small aside. You said (I said) “going through a background check makes you a felon in the same way that going through a metal detector a terrorist, or getting a driver’s license makes you a criminal with abysmal driving skills. such a thought process is just dumb.”

        But I didn’t make that point. i said “So what is the point of making me a felon (oh yes, ‘woe is me”) because I don’t want to obey a stupid law that won’t have changed a thing? Passing laws that make me a felon that WON’T have the slightest effect on the criminals is morally abhorrent.”

        Maybe if you weren’t so insistent on making insults you would better understand what you read.

        Passing a law that makes me subject to a Federal Felony for failing to get an FBI background check when I sell or give a weapon to a friend or relative when it is OBVIOUS said law will have no impact on the supposed targets (supposedly criminally intent people) is MORALLY ABHORRENT.

        And, if one makes this argument, as you and Devin do,

        then, you are either stupid, or willfully ignorant by refusing to simply think it thru, or,

        you know exactly that it won’t change a thing but want it anyway, which means,

        that you don’t really want to solve a problem, you either,

        want to just make it harder (and more dangerous from a legal standoint) for lawfull people to own guns, or,

        to simply advance the cause, so that you can proceed to the next ‘step’.

        And when it is clear that “universal background” checks haven’t changed a thing we’ll hear what that is.

        Could that be the more ‘robust’ licensing schemes Devin mentions?

        Truly inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately all one will get here is the hysterical bleating for more “common sense’ proposals that don’t pass the “common sense” test.

        Well, its been fun homeless, but it is obvious that you are not serious, your sole intent here is to be insulting, and my proferring links to law review articles that destroy Devins claims here are a wasted effort.

        It’s evidently wasted on Devin and co too.

      • Homeless Australian Dude

        i’ll try to keep this relatively brief.

        “LOL. So I can’t spell is it?”

        yes, it is. in the past two comments you have misspelled: condescending, tough, buying, commit, lawful, enough, homicide, through (though to be fair i think you are intentionally misspelling this one), nonsensical (no apostrophe), background (twice), universal, standpoint, none, lawful (again, one “l” not two), and proffering. learn to spell mate, or at the very least learn how to use spell check.

        and we finally see each other in the light of day: i’m an @$$ because I want to be (mostly because i find it amusing when gun nuts are confronted by the same degree of @$$holeness they themselves presented and throw a little temper tantrum about it. also because i’m sick of self-righteous ignorant jerks such as yourself pushing generally polite gun control advocates around on comment threads, so i fight fire with the same degree of fire i see.), and you are an ignorant douche, and whether you want to be or not is largely irrelevant.

        onward to your main points:

        “First, I’ll note that the idea that 75% of first-time homidice offenders aren’t felons actually cuts AGAINST the argument that “universal” background checks will stop more criminally intent people from getting guns.”

        40% or so of firearm transactions are done through private-parties, meaning no background checks. this is where felons are largely getting their guns. extending background checks to include these transactions would block them from getting weapons by this method. “universal background” by definition would change this. period. will these checks stop as many criminally intent people if the proportion of homicide offenders being felons is 25% instead of 70%? no. will “universal background” checks stop more people than the current system does? obviously yes. you can ponder this rather easy logic for as long as you need.

        now, will this system stop ALL felons from obtaining firearms? no, but it will make it more difficult for them. will it prevent ALL people with criminal intent from obtaining firearms? no, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expand the background check criteria to stop other people with violent histories or mental illness from obtaining firearms. the vast majority (i can’t speak for all) of gun control advocates see “universal background” checks going hand-in-hand with expanding the criteria the background checks use. and the idea that “several mass shooters passed background checks, therefore background checks never work” is absurdly faulty logic.

        side note: Devin hasn’t posted on this thread. Evan has. at least have the courtesy to know who you are debating with.

        “But I didn’t make that point. i said “So what is the point of making me a felon (oh yes, ‘woe is me”) because I don’t want to obey a stupid law that won’t have changed a thing? Passing laws that make me a felon that WON’T have the slightest effect on the criminals is morally abhorrent.””

        hmmm, ok. see, there were two ways to interpret your statement. i gave you credit for the more intellectual of the two interpretations: i.e. background checks operate under the assumption that everybody is guilty and therefore treats them as felons. this line of thinking is popular among gun advocates, although it doesn’t hold up under any scrutiny. the other interpretation, which is what you are saying, is that you feel you are above the law and get to choose which laws you follow, no matter the consequences. kind of like driving 80 mph in a 25 mph zone. “who cares about the safety of society? i only follow the laws i like, my convenience matters more than the lives i am putting at risk.” the one time i give you the benefit of the doubt you let me down.

        you did make a secondary point in your last quote, which you reiterated here:

        “Passing a law that makes me subject to a Federal Felony for failing to get an FBI background check when I sell or give a weapon to a friend or relative when it is OBVIOUS said law will have no impact on the supposed targets (supposedly criminally intent people) is MORALLY ABHORRENT.”

        ah, I see what the problem here is, you think your position is “obvious” and that reality supports your little tirade. allow me to dispel this illusion:

        first, evidence about how the the criminally intention get their weapons of choice:

        next, evidence about whether stricter gun laws would help (whether they be in the form of background checks or other measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals):

        the evidence overwhelmingly shows that if we gave your argument an enema, we could bury its remains in a matchbox. further, it makes clear that you are either willfully ignorant or utterly lack anything resembling a moral compass. i’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.

        “Well, its been fun homeless, but it is obvious that you are not serious, your sole intent here is to be insulting, and my proferring links to law review articles that destroy Devins claims here are a wasted effort.”

        please, the only destruction your claims were involved with was your argument self-imploding under the weight of its own ineptitude. using 4 decade old data and nothing more to bolster your tenuous arguments is a joke. but if you want to measure who presented more evidence here, by all means let’s do so. let’s even disregard the 10 studies i just provided. i provided a link to 100+ academic peer reviewed studies. you provided 2 law review articles that relied on ancient data.

        100+ > 2

        gg no re

        • Sevesteen

          I’m certain that background checks won’t make a dent in crime, but it may be possible to compromise with gun owners and get some form of universal background check–that is, if your idea of compromise is “give both sides something” and not “we want all of your gun rights, but we will compromise and only take some of them”.

          First, your universal background check system has to be JUST a background check, not able to be used for registration, not a way to shut down sales, and a minimal burden on gun owners. The system should also be able to be used for other purposes. Example–Joe Bloe wants to do something where a NICS check would be useful. He enters his permission, states whether the check is limited to who may view it or if anyone can. Additionally, an active gun license, FIOD card or carry license could be used to bypass the check. If the government can’t keep the system running, then sales can proceed. If your goal is background checks rather than registration or adding hurdles, this should be sufficient, if not quite perfect.

          Second, give up something. Out of state purchases, (especially appropriate if we get a background check) concealed carry reciprocity, restricted imports where domestic versions are legal, silencer regulation, short barreled rifles are all areas where compromise would have no affect on crime but would make things easier on gun owners.

          Unfortunately, it is obvious that the majority of anti-gun activists want gun ownership as difficult as possible, and claim “background checks to prevent criminal ownership” but what they are really after is registration of the law abiding owner.

  • Kyle

    Japan has no guns but a higher suicide rate than the United States, so suicides are not tied to guns per se. And also, gang-violence is a problem unto itself as opposed to guns. Chicago and Washington, D.C. have some of the worst gang violence in the country, yet some of the strictest gun control laws. Some say that they get the guns from outside of the cities, but then why aren’t the gun violence levels outside of those cities even worse? Why aren’t they worse in cities with more lenient gun control laws, such as Austin, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, etc…?

  • Some interesting homicide stats taken directly from the Bureau of Justice and Statistics:

    Here’s a summary of the above report taken from 2011:
    Table 1, shows that a disproportionate percentage of the offenders who committed a homicide (48.1 %) were in the age of 14-24; this represents only 16.4% of the U.S. population. Not too far away is the age range of 25-34, which is responsible for 28% of homicides and representing only 15.6% of the U.S. population. So essentially, we have a situation in this country where more than three quarters of the homicides are being carried out by teenagers and young adults, much of which is being perpetrated by minors.

    Table 2, shows that nearly 70% of the homicides which are related to either gang or drug violence were in the age range of 18-34. The 18-34 age group is responsible for 48.2% of all felony murders. Furthermore, the 18-34 age group is responsible for nearly 60% of the gun homicides.

    So from Table 2, we see an incredibly disproportionate number of gun homicides being committed by the young adult age group (18-34) which only comprises 26.2% of the U.S. population. It’s interesting how an age demographic representing only 26.2% of the U.S. population is responsible for 60% of all gun homicides.

    Table 5 drills even deeper into the data, all pointing into more circumstantial risk factors broken down by sex. Nearly 90% of homicides are perpetrated by males; 92% of gun homicides are perpetrated by males. Approximately 78% of all felony murder victims are also male. Nearly 83% of all gun homicides are toward male victims. 88% of homicides involving multiple offenders are perpetrated toward male victims; 91.6% of these offenders are male. Nearly 95% of all gang-related homicides are perpetrated toward male victims; 98% of these offenders are male. Nearly 90% of drug-related homicides are perpetrated toward male victims; 95% of these offenders are male.

    So from Table 4, we clearly we see a staggeringly disproportionate tendency toward both male perpetrators and male victims of homicide.

    Table 7 looks at homicide by race. Whites are the perpetrators of 38% of all felony murder. Blacks are the perpetrators of 60%. Whites are the perpetrators of 41% of gun homicide; Blacks are the perpetrators of 57%.

    I don’t interpret Table 7 to suggest that Whites are less violent than Blacks, but perhaps there is a discrepancy in circumstantial risk factors (i.e., prevalence of gangs and illicit drugs) that are affiliated with neighborhoods that are either primarily white or primarily black.

    Figures 40 and 41 show homicides tied to circumstance. Precise data points aren’t provided and it’s difficult to make sense of the data derived from Argument, Other, and Unknown. However, when one combines numbers from Felony (14%, based upon visual estimate) with Gang related (6%, as quoted by BJS report) homicides, this accounts for what appears to be close to about 20% of all homicides for 2008 (the latest year on record for that report). Figure 41 reveals that 92% of all homicides committed by gangs in 2008 are by guns, which is far higher than any of the other circumstantial groups being examined.

    If you weight the data in table 40 by percentage involving guns, you see a different picture. For example, for 2008, here’s what we can derive from these statistics: 24% is related to the cumulative effects of Felony and Gangs, 23.7% is from Arguments, 11.7% is from Other, and 40.2% is Unknown.