Gun stats don't support claims of anti gun left
Gun violence has dropped dramatically nationwide over the past two decades, but nearly three-quarters of all homicides are still committed with a firearm, the Justice Department said in a report released Tuesday.
The report, by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, painted an encouraging picture of long-term trends at a time of divisive political debate over guns and legislation to regulate them. Firearms-related homicides declined 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the report said, while nonfatal firearms crimes fell 69 percent during that period.
Yet the document also made clear that when people are killed, it is still most likely to be with a gun. In 2011, as in the past two decades, about 70 percent of all homicides were committed with a firearm, and the majority of those firearms were handguns.
The report, which echoes earlier findings of reductions in violent crime from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, comes amid an intense divide over guns, especially since December’s massacre of of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn.
Newtown thrust gun control to the top of President Obama’s second-term agenda, and the White House pushed hard for a series of gun-control measures. But the effort unraveled under pressure from the gun rights lobby, and every major proposal was rejected on the Senate floor.
The biggest setback for the White House was the defeat of a compromise measure to expand background checks for firearms purchases. Gun-control proponents have since mobilized to revive the push for stricter gun laws, but gun rights groups might seize on one finding in Tuesday’s Justice Department report to argue against enhanced background checks.
Fewer than 1 percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun when they committed their offense obtained the firearm at a gun show, the report said. Gun shows were central to the measure recently rejected in the Senate: It would have extended the current background-check requirement for firearms purchases from covering only sales at licensed dealerships to any sale that takes place at a gun show or was advertised in print or online. (Emphasis added.)
About 40 percent of state prison inmates obtained their firearms from illegal sources such as theft or through a drug deal, the report said, while 37 percent got their guns from a family member or friend. Those findings are based on data from 2004.
...The so called gun show loophole seems pretty narrow. That 40 percent of criminals acquired their weapons through illegal means also supports the claims of opponents of the anti gun bill. Gun deaths have dropped dramatically in recent years from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011.