In his latest blog, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Prez Paul Helmke attempts to push back on the idea that more guns equals less crime. He dismisses the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) assertion that declining crime stats prove that firearms make America safer. Surprisingly, his argument rests on the idea that American gun ownership is also down . . .
In truth, the average number of guns per owner has gone up, but the percent of American households with a gun? That’s right: it’s gone down. Gun ownership by household has gone down from a high in 1977 of 54 percent to 33 percent in 2009. But for the NRA bosses, any excuse to fear-monger is better than none.
Not so surprisingly, the link doesn’t take us directly stat’s source. Never mind. The Bradys use the same stats cited by the Violence Policy Center: the General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. [Click here to download the data dump]
Is NORC biased against guns? Do they have a dog in this race? Well, they are based in Chicago . . . How’s this for a smoking gun: the question they asked to ascertain support for an assault weapons ban in 2006.
Currently under federal law, very high power, 50-caliber rifles that can penetrate armor from a mile away are available to people on the same basis as standard hunting rifles. Should such very high power rifles be 1) restricted only to the police and military, or 2) available to civilians like standard hunting rifles as they are at present?
Click here to read the rest of Public Attitudes towards the Regulation of Firearms. Suffice it to say, other stats on American gun ownership paint a very different picture. According to.justfacts.com, 40 – 45 percent of American homes had at least one gun in 2009. That’s at least 10 percent higher than the Brady Bunch’s number.
And the “real” number is likely to be higher still; plenty of gun owning Americans aren’t likely to tell anyone that they have a firearm in their house. According to a survey quoted by justfacts, in 2005, the gun ownership level was 42 percent. It seems that gun ownership levels—as measured by gun owning households—are remaining steady.
As you’d expect. Anyway, The Brady Campaign really missed a trick here. It would be far easier to make a case that the decline in violent crime across America is attributable to other factors, rather than refuting the idea that there are less guns so more guns can’t equal less crime.
The basic problem with the Brady Bunch: they hate guns. I mean really hate guns. It leads them to mischaracterization and misinformation, rather than reasoned argument and civilized discourse. You can feel the reality field-distorting hatred oozing out of every metaphorical pore of their press releases.
The guys with the guns talk about loving their country, but if we examine their actions, it seems clear that above all, darn the bloody consequences: they love their guns more.
If Helmke could understand that love, he could love his enemy. If he could love his enemy, he might actually temper his goals and get somewhere in the gun control debate. At the end of the day, his “enemies” share his desire to end gun violence. It’s a crying shame that he refuses to explore that common ground.