"Gun Control Facts.?By James D. Agresti. Just Facts, June 10, 1999. Revised 6/27/08.
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This listing of facts is derived from over 200 hours of research and analysis of more than 100 articles, documents, and books. Every statistic from a given year was chosen based on availability, and not to slant the results by singling out a specific year that was different from others. Especially when dealing with statistics, the determination of what constitutes a credible fact and what does not, can contain elements of personal subjectivity. It is our
mission to minimize subjective information and to provide highly factual content. Therefore, we are taking the additional step of giving our readers a tool to determine for themselves the viability of our work. To that end, we have provided four examples to illustrate the type of
material that was excluded because it did not meet Just Facts' Standards of Credibility.
* Private Firearm Ownership in the U.S. as of 1993/1994:
Households With a Gun Adults Owning a Gun
Percentage 49% 31%
Total number 47,600,000 59,100,000
* The National Rifle Association is the largest gun rights lobbying organization in the United States. From 1997 through 1998, their political action committee gave $1,330,111 to Republicans and $285,700 to Democrats. (10)
* Handgun Control, Inc. is the largest gun control lobbying organization in the United States.
From 1997 through 1998, their political action committee gave $136,892 to Democrats and $9,500 to Republicans. (11)
Crime and Self Defense
* In the United States during 1997, there were 15,289 murders. Of these, 10,369 were committed with firearms. (2)
* In the United States during 1997, there were approximately 7,927,000 violent crimes. Of these, 691,000 were committed with firearms. (12)
* As of 1992, for every 14 violent crimes (murder, rape, etc? committed in the United States,
one person is sentenced to prison. (62)
* As of 1992, average length of imprisonment for:
Murder 10.0 years
Rape 7.6 years
Aggravated Assault 3.4 years
* In the early/mid 1990's, criminals on parole or early release from prison committed about
5,000 murders, 17,000 rapes, and 200,000 robberies a year. (3)
* Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year. This figure is the lowest among a group of 9 nationwide surveys done by organizations including Gallup and the Los Angeles Times. (16b)
* In 1982, a survey of imprisoned criminals found that 34% of them had been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim." (16c)
* Washington D.C. enacted a virtual ban on handguns in 1976. Between 1976 and 1991,
Washington D.C.'s homicide rate rose 200%, while the U.S. rate rose 12%. (1)
* Right-to-carry laws require law enforcement agencies to issue handgun permits to all qualified applicants. Qualifications include criteria such as age, a clean criminal record, and
completing a firearm safety course. (13)
* In 1986, nine states had right-to-carry laws. (14)
* As of 1998, 31 states have right-to-carry laws, and about half the U.S. population lives in these states. (3)
* Florida adopted a right-to-carry law in 1987. At the time the law was passed, critics predicted increases in violence. The founder of the National Organization of Women, Betty Friedan stated:
"lethal violence, even in self defense, only engenders more violence." (13)
* When the law went into effect, the Dade County Police began a program to record all arrest and non arrest incidents involving concealed carry licensees. Between September of 1987 and August of 1992, Dade County recorded 4 crimes committed by licensees with firearms. None
of these crimes resulted in an injury. The record keeping program was abandoned in 1992 because there were not enough incidents to justify tracking them. (13)(15)
* Florida adopted a right-to-carry law in 1987. Between 1987 and 1996, these changes
Florida United States
homicide rate -36% -0.4%
firearm homicide rate -37% +15%
handgun homicide rate -41% +24%
* 221,443 concealed carry licenses were issued in Florida between October of 1987 and April of 1994. During that time, Florida recorded 18 crimes committed by licensees with firearms. (15)
* As of 1998, nationwide, there has been 1 recorded incident in which a permit holder shot someone following a traffic accident. The permit holder was not charged, as the grand jury
ruled the shooting was in self defense. (7)
* As of 1998, no permit holder has ever shot a police officer. There have been several cases in which a permit holder has protected an officer's life. (7)
* The Brady Bill was implemented on February 28, 1994. This law established a national 5 business day waiting period on handgun purchases through licensed dealers. It also required local authorities to conduct background checks on handgun purchasers. The majority of Democrats voted for this bill and the majority of Republicans voted against it. Bill Clinton signed it into law. (18)(19)
* In July of 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to require states to perform Brady Bill background checks. At that point, 27 states
had laws requiring similar background checks and 23 states did not. (20)
* As of December of 1998, an amendment to the Brady Bill replaced the five business day waiting period with a national "instant" felon ID system. Dealers are required to conduct this
background check on all gun purchases, not just handgun purchases. This amendment was added to the Brady Bill before the law was voted out of Congress. The majority of Republicans voted for this amendment and the majority of Democrats voted against it. (18)(19)
* During the first 17 months of the Brady Bill, 7 people were convicted of illegal attempts to buy handguns. (17)
* Between implementation of the Brady Bill in March 1994 and year end 1997, there have been
242,000 background checks that have denied prospective purchasers permission to buy a handgun from licensed gun dealers. Out of these, 9 people have been convicted of illegal attempts to buy handguns. (21)(22)
* In the early 1990's, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported that 7% of armed
career criminals obtain firearms from licensed gun shops. (3)
* The Brady Bill was implemented in February of 1994. In 1997, the number of violent crimes committed with firearms had fallen 25% since 1994, while the overall number of violent crimes
had declined 14%. (18)(23)
* The "Assault Weapons Ban" was enacted on September 14, 1994. The majority of Democrats voted for it, and the majority of Republicans voted against it. Bill Clinton signed it
into law. (24)(19)
* This bill banned the manufacture, possession, and importation of semiautomatic assault weapons for civilian use. Guns manufactured before September 14th, 1994 were grandfathered. Guns manufactured after this date (for use by the military, police, and
government agencies) must be marked with the date they are manufactured. (24)(41)(47)
* To identify an assault weapon, this bill uses objective criteria, along with a list of 19 specific guns. (24)
* For example, semiautomatic rifles which accept a detachable magazine are classified as "assault weapons" if they have two of the five following features: folding stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount, grenade launcher, threaded barrel for flash suppressor. (24)
* An assault weapon, as defined by this bill, does not include fully automatic machine guns. Since 1934, a civilian must obtain permission from the U.S. Treasury to legally own a fully automatic weapon. (3)(64)
* In April of 1999, Bill and Hillary Clinton held a press conference on gun control legislation.
Hillary Clinton stated:
"And since the crime bill was enacted, 19 of the deadliest assault weapons are
harder to find on our streets. We will never know how many tragedies we've
avoided because of these efforts." (25)
* Assault weapons were involved in less than 1% of homicides before the assault weapons ban took effect in 1994. The same is true as of 1998. (3)
* As of 1998, about 13% of homicides involve knives, 5% involve bludgeons, and 6% are committed with hands and feet. (3)
* The Clinton administration prosecuted 4 people in 1997 and 4 people in 1998 for violating the assault weapons ban. (22)
Armor Piercing Bullets
* Armor piercing bullets have been referred to in the media as "cop killers." (37)
* In October of 1996, Bill Clinton met with the widow of Police Officer Jerome Harrison Seaberry. Later that day at a political event, Clinton stated:
揑 still think we ought to ban those bullets that are built only for one purpose, to
pierce the bullet-proof vests that our police officers wear. I don't see why we
need those things out there. Let me tell you, we just started this program two
years ago, as I said, when I signed the Crime Bill in 1994. Today, I met with the
first -- the family of the first one of the police officers hired under our Crime Bill,
killed in the line of duty. I met here in Louisiana, in Lake Charles I met with that
officer's widow and two beautiful, beautiful young sons. And I thought to myself,
you know, if people like these folks here are going to put their lives on the line for
us, the least we can do is tell them if they put on a bullet-proof vest, it will protect
them from being killed. That's the least we can do for them.?(66) (67)
* Officer Seaberry was killed in a car crash. No guns or bullets were involved. (68)
* As of 1998, no law enforcement officer has ever been killed because an armor-piercing bullet
defeated a bulletproof vest. (3)
* Federal law 18 USC Section 922 generally prohibits anyone under 18 from possessing a handgun. It also prohibits licensed firearm dealers and collectors from selling handguns to anyone under 21 years of age. (41)
* Laws in the United States generally prohibit the sale, possession, or use of cocaine. About 200,000 American children, age 12-17 used cocaine in 1997. About 2.5 million 12-17 year olds
(11.4%) used an illicit drug in 1997. (37)(43)
* Federal law 18USC Section 922 generally prohibits civilians from having guns in school zones. (41)(51)
* Seven days after the 1999 Columbine school massacre in which 12 students and a teacher were murdered, Bill and Hillary Clinton held a press conference on gun control legislation. Bill
"And we smile about that, but there are some people who would be on this
platform today who lost their seats in 1994 because they voted for the Brady Bill
and they voted for the assault weapons ban, and they did it in areas where
people could be frightened."
"Do we know for absolutely certain that if we had every reasonable law and the
ones I'm going to propose here that none of these school violence things would
have happened? No. But we do know one thing for certain; we know there would
have been fewer of them, and there would have been fewer kids killed in the last
several years in America. We know that for certain. We know that." (Applause)
* In about 5 years since enactment of the Brady Bill and Assault Weapons Ban in 1993, there have been 9 "school massacres." (53)
* About 6,000 children were caught with guns at school in 1997 and 1998. Out of these, 13
were prosecuted by the Clinton administration Justice Department. (52)
* In October of 1997, sixteen-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed his mother to death and then went to school with a rifle where he shot 9 students, killing 2 of them. Assistant Principal Joel
Myrick raced to his car, retrieved a .45 caliber handgun, and used it to subdue Woodham until
police arrived. (51)(53)
* 1995 Fatal Accident Totals
Motor Vehicles 43,900
Firearm 1,400 (1.5% of fatal accidents)
* For Children 14 and Under
Motor Vehicles 3,059
Firearm 181 (2.7% of fatal accidents)
* There were 259 fatal firearm accidents for 15-19 year olds in 1995. (8)
* There were 6,319 fatal motor vehicle accidents for 15-20 year olds in 1996. (9)
* As of 1998, 37,000 National Rifle Association (NRA) Instructors and Coaches are conducting firearm safety and proficiency programs that reach nearly 700,000 participants a year. (8)
* In 1988, The NRA developed a gun safety program for schoolchildren (pre-K through 6th
grade). As of 1998, the program has reached about 10 million children. The goal of the program is to teach children what to do if they should encounter a firearm. Children are taught to "STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult." (8)
* The NRA's 3 rules of gun safety are:
1) Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction (whether loaded or unloaded).
2) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3) Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot. (8)
* In the Bill of Rights, the second amendment to the Constitution reads:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right
of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
* Gun control proponents have argued that the use of the word "people" in this Amendment, refers not to the civilian population of the United States, but to the State National Guard Units. (54)
* Gun rights proponents have argued that the use of the word "Militia" in this Amendment,
refers not to the State National Guard Units, but to the citizens of the United States. (54)
* James Madison was responsible for proposing the Second Amendment and was one of three authors of the Federalist Papers, a group of essays published in newspapers to explain and lobby for ratification of the Constitution. (55)(56)
* In Federalist Paper 46, James Madison argued that a standing federal army could not be capable of conducting a coup to take over the nation. He estimated that based on the country's
population at the time, a federal standing army could not field more than 25,000 - 30,000 men.
"To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves,
fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence."
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the
military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." (56)
* Quotes from Thomas Jefferson, the author of The Declaration of Independence:
"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." --Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787.
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and
others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks." --Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1785.
"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the
people; that they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent..., or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are
entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press." --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824.
1. "TEN MYTHS ABOUT GUN CONTROL." Viewed in January of 1999 on the National
Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/
2. "1997 Uniform Crime Reports." Federal Bureau of Investigation. Table 2.11
3. "1998 NRA Fact Card." Viewed in January of 1999 on the National Rifle Association
web site, http://www.nra.org/
4. "1995 Firearms Deaths." Viewed in January of 1999 on the Handgun Control, Inc. web
5. Independent calculations performed with 1996 data from:
a. "Suicide in Japan : Present State and Future Directions for Prevention."
Transcultural Psychiatry, Volume 35 Issue 2, June 1998.
b. "U.S.A. SUICIDE: 1996 OFFICIAL FINAL DATA." Prepared for the American
Association of Suicidology by John L. McIntosh, PhD., 11/22/98.
6. Austin, Lana Kim White. "Heston stresses firearm safety, appreciation." Washington
Times National Weekly Edition, December 15-21, 1997.
7. Lott, John R. Jr. More Guns, Less Crime. The University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Pages 1, 11, 43
8. "ILA Research & Information Division Fact Sheet." National Rifle Association of
America ?Institute for Legislative Action ?Research & Information Division, 3/1/98.
Source Cited: The National Center for Health Statistics.
9. Cory, Lindsey V. "Graduate licensing: Life in the slow lane for teens?" Washington
Times National Weekly Edition, July 20-26, 1998.
10. "Gun Rights PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates, 1997-1998." Viewed in
February of 1999 on the Center For Responsive Politics web site, http://www.crp.org/
11. "Gun Control PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates, 1997-1998." Viewed in
February of 1999 on the Center For Responsive Politics web site, http://www.crp.org/
12. Calculations performed with data from:
a) "1997 Uniform Crime Reports." Federal Bureau of Investigation. Table 2.11.
b) "National Crime Victimization Survey - Criminal Victimization in the United States,
1997 Statistical Tables." United States Department of Justice. Table 66.
13. Editorial. "The case of the outgunned thug." Washington Times National Weekly
Edition, January 5-11, 1998.
14. "Less Crime in Concealed Weapons States." Fact-O-Rama. Conservative News
15. Lott, John R. Jr. and Mustard, David B. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry
Concealed Handguns." University of Chicago School of Law, 7/26/96.
16. Study: 揂rmed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with
a Gun.?By Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
(Northwestern University School of Law), 1995. Accessed at
a) The study states: 揟here are probably over 220 million guns in private hands in the
U.S., implying that only about 1% of them are used for defensive purposes in any one
year--not an impossibly high fraction. In a December 1993 Gallup survey, 49% of U.S.
households reported owning a gun, and 31% of adults reported personally owning
one.  These figures indicate that there are about 47.6 million households with a
gun, with perhaps 93 million, or 49% of the adult U.S. population living in households