We keep hearing that law-abiding gun owners who’ve never harmed anyone “have blood on their hands” because of the big rise in mass shootings, and they need to stop bitterly clinging to their guns and let liberals repeal the Second Amendment because our kids are too terrified to go to school, where they might be killed at any minute. For instance, in an op-ed in the so-called “paper of record,” the New York Times, Margaret Renkl, who is married to a teacher and has a son who’s a teacher and two kids in college, writes of her paralyzing dread every day that they’ll be killed in the classroom because "Americans are now more likely to be shot to death than to die in a car accident."
But as terrible as such shootings are, is there any truth to Ms Renkl’s claim, or any of the claims behind all this widespread fear, hysteria and finger-pointing? A nod to Jacob Sullum at Reason.com for digging into the numbers. Here’s what he discovered:
FBI numbers show that in 2016, the risk of being killed by a gun in the US ticked up slightly from 4.4 murders per 100,000 people to 5.3. But that’s still a huge drop from the rate of about 10 per 100,000 in the early ‘90s. Both violent and nonviolent crime rates have plummeted over the past 20 years, until the murder rate is now about what it was in the early 1950s (those “Leave It To Beaver” years that liberals keep telling us we can’t turn back the clock to.) And this somehow happened as the number of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens greatly increased...coincidentally.
According to the CDC, in 2015, slightly more Americans were killed by guns than car crashes. However, two-thirds of those gun deaths were suicides. People determined to kill themselves will find some other way if a gun isn’t handy. Only one-third were homicides, meaning you’re actually three times more likely to die in a car crash than to be murdered by someone with a gun. But there’s more.
If you filter out such incidents as inner city gang members shooting each other and just count the type of killings Ms Renkl is writing about – someone shooting multiple innocent victims – then your kids are 1,000 times more likely to die in a car crash. As Mr. Sullum notes, your chances of dying in a mass shooting are about the same as being killed by a dog or a bolt of lightning. It’s actually more likely that you will die from an insect sting than a mass shooter.
So not to dismiss the tragedy of mass shootings, but if we’re going to get so hysterical with fear that we blame and attack law-abiding gun owners, then why aren’t we equally hysterical over all the liberal environmentalist, mosquito-loving “bug-nuts” with blood on their hands who keep bitterly clinging to their ban on DDT?
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