The current discussion on gun violence is totally disconnected from reality. That reality is the actual data on the FBI website (go to fbi.gov, do a search on “expanded homicide data 2011” and select Table Eight). There you will find annual data for murder victims broken down by weapon type.
In 2011 (the latest data): 12,664 people were murdered, of which 6,220 were murdered by “handguns,” 323 murdered by “rifles” and 356 murdered by “shotguns.” There are 16 categories broken out. That includes 1,694 murdered by “knives or cutting instruments,” 496 murdered by “blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.)” and 728 murdered by “personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.).”
Our political class is at this very moment obsessing on the control of “assault-style weapons.” From the FBI data, a maximum of 323 people were murdered in 2011 by such weapons. Of course, if you were one of those people, or one of their family members, that is one too many. But in the broader societal context, more than five times as many were murdered with knives, and almost 20 times as many were murdered with handguns. Significantly more people were simply beaten to death, literally at the hands (or feet) of the criminal. So why all this focus on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines?
The obvious conclusion is that we are spectators at a political charade. The primary focus of controlling gun violence should be on reducing handgun murders. But that would require raising questions embarrassing to the political class as to the “who” and “where” of handgun murders. That would require a totally different focus than today’s meaningless Washington kabuki theater (with my profound apologies to the honorable, ancient art of kabuki).
Michael V. Gregory