The Problem with Guns
Sources and Resources
There are approximately 200 million guns in America, owned by
about 35% of all households. These guns greatly affect the quality of life in
Greater gun availability increases the rates of murder and
suicide. The chance that a moment of anger will end up in someone being severely
injured or even killed is much larger when a gun is present. The chance that a
suicide attempt will actually succeed is also much larger when a gun is used.
Many people are losing their lives each year, and even more people are losing
Greater gun availability also increases the likelihood of them
entering illegal markets. Guns used in violent crimes are usually stolen or
transferred between individuals. The availability of a gun can encourage a
criminal to perform a crime he or she wouldn't have committed otherwise.
It is especially sad how children are affected by so many guns
circulating in society. Guns are the method of choice for both homicide and
suicide of our children. We also lose many children to unintentional gun
deaths. What follows is a review of a study that was done about these issues.
"Firearm Availability and Unintentional
Firearm Deaths, Suicide, and Homicide among 5-14 Year Olds"
Mathew Miller, MD, MPH, ScD, Deborah Azrael, PhD, and David Hemenway, PhD.
Published in the Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 52(2):267-275, February 2002.
vehicle crashes and cancer claim more lives among children than guns. This
study attempts to determine whether the availability of guns affects the
rates of unintentional gun deaths, suicides and homicides among children.
cross-sectional time-series data from 50 states between 1988 and 1997 were
used to estimate the association between gun availability and the rates of
suicide, homicide and unintentional gun deaths among children 5-14 years
1988 and 1997 there were 6,817 children 5-14 years old killed with guns in
the United States: 3,447 gun homicides, 1,588 gun suicides and 1,782
unintentional gun deaths.
A comparison was made between the rates of homicide,
suicide and unintentional gun deaths among children 5-14 years old of
states with a high gun availability (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi,
Arkansas and West Virginia) and a low gun availability (Hawaii,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware).
Suicide and Unintentional Gun Deaths among 5-14 Year Old
for the High-Gun and the Low-Gun States between 1988 and 1997
Compared to children living in low-gun states, children
living in the high-gun states were 16 times more likely to die from
unintentional gun injury, 7 times more likely to die from gun suicide and
3 times more likely to die from gun homicide.
study found a positive and statistically significant association between
gun availability and state-level rates of gun suicides, gun homicides and
unintentional gun deaths among children 5-14 years old.
Another study that clearly shows that there is a positive
correlation between the availability of guns and the homicide rate is "The
Kansas City Gun Experiment". What follows is a short review of this study.
"The Kansas City Gun Experiment"
Lawrence W. Sherman, James W. Shaw, and Dennis P. Rogan. Published by the
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute
of Justice, January 1995. (7)
crime is increasing rapidly throughout the nation. This study aimed to
find out whether greater enforcement of existing laws against carrying
concealed weapons could reduce gun crime.
Important Note: This
study could not eliminate all competing explanations of the results and
could therefore not prove that an increase of gun seizures results
in reduced gun crime. This study was designed to study the hypothesis that
gun seizures and gun crime are inversely related.
80 by 10 block area in Kansas City was chosen as the target beat. In 1991,
this area had 8 homicides, 14 rapes, 72 armed robberies and 222 aggravated
assaults (142 with guns). A second area, similar to the target beat in
many ways, was chosen as the control beat.
Between July 7, 1992 to January 25, 1993, police
officers put in an extra of 4,512 patrol hours in the target beat,
focusing exclusively on gun detection through proactive patrol. These
officers seized a total of 29 guns. An additional 47 guns were seized in
the target area by other police unites. The total number of guns seized
was 76, an overall increase of 46 guns compared to the first half of 1992.
There were 72 guns seized in the target area, 13 less than in the first
half of 1992.
Gun crime was compared between the target beat and the
control beat during the extra patrol period (7/7/92-1/25/93) and the six
months prior (12/17/91-7/6/92).
Results: During the
extra patrol period, gun crime decreased significantly in the target beat
and increased just slightly in the control beat. None of the target's
seven contiguous beats showed any significant change in gun crime. The
target area showed a significant decrease of both driveby shootings and
homicides during the extra patrol period. There were no significant
changes in driveby shootings and homicides in the control beat and the
target's contiguous beats. Neither the target nor the control areas showed
any significant changes in non-gun related offenses.
Number of gun
crimes before and during the extra patrol period
Conclusion: A small
increase in the number of guns seized can have a substantial impact on the
percentage of gun crimes. An important secondary conclusion is that the
police can increase the numbers of guns seized in high gun crime areas at
relatively modest cost.