Previous Post
Next Post


By now, everyone has heard or read some variation of the argument that ‘assault weapons’ should be banned in spite of the negligible public safety benefits that would result, because nobody ‘needs’ a semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine. This line of reasoning is particularly infuriating because the people who use it clearly don’t apply this logic to anything except guns.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to expose irrational hypocrisy is with objective analysis and hard numbers. So, as a resource for the Armed Intelligentsia, I’ve assembled an annotated list of some common objects and circumstances that no one really needs, but are more of a public danger than scary ‘military-style’ rifles. I anxiously await the anguished calls that they be banned . . .

People killed with ‘military-style’ rifles annually: Less than 350

According the the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, in 2011 there were 323 people murdered with rifles of all kinds. This number isn’t perfect – not all rifles are ‘assault’ rifles – but it will do. Not all ‘assault weapons’ are rifles either, but the media fixation is focused (for now) on rifles rather than ‘assault shotguns.’ For what it’s worth, this number is on par with the estimate by a Daily Kos article advocating an AWB, and with the numbers one would get by applying the findings of a DOJ-funded study on assault weapons (that before the 1994 AWB, they constituted ~3% of guns used in crimes) to the FBI’s numbers on gun homicide for 2011.

People killed by alcohol via drunk drivers: About 3500

Alcohol-related deaths are actually quite a bit higher than that – there are more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths per year, to say nothing of alcohol poisoning. But, to keep things fair, I’m only counting other people who were killed by drunk drivers. According to the DOT, in 2010 that added up to 2872 victims who were occupants of a vehicle, and 729 victims not in vehicles (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc). Yes, drunk driving is already illegal, but so is shooting someone with a modern sporting rifle (or any other firearm). But if we just banned alcohol, surely that would make drunk driving impossible. If it saves just one motorist . . . .

People killed per year by second-hand smoke: About 3000  

Again, this isn’t counting people who ‘kill themselves’ by smoking, just people killed by smokers using tobacco (secondhand smoke). Are there regulations about where people can and cannot smoke? Absolutely. But clearly they aren’t working, so more regulations are needed. You know what would really save some lives? Make tobacco a scheduled substance, illegal to use or possess. Not only would we save 3000 innocent bystanders a year, but it would take a load off the healthcare system.

People killed in cars traveling faster than 55mph: More than 1000 

There’s a large body of scholarly work that concludes several thousand lives per year (1000-3000, depending on the data sources and methods) could be saved by federal laws that would cap speed limits at 55 mph (or even 65 mph). You know what would work even better? A ban on cars capable of reaching higher speeds. No one needs to go more than 55 mph – if it’s an emergency, call an ambulance.

This ban could be enforced by mandating low power engines on street-legal cars, so that vehicles can’t get above a government-determined safe speed. Or by fitting cars with an electronic device that automatically reduces vehicle speed when it exceeds a certain limit. Technically, if we want an apples-to-apples comparison with the AWB, it isn’t really a question of street-legal – possession of an ‘assault car’ should be illegal even if you just drive it around on private property.

People killed in swimming pools and bathtubs: About 1000

According to the CDC, an average of 683 people per year drowned between 2005 and 2009 in swimming pools and another 403 per year bought it in bathtubs. That’s about 1000 people per year – or 3 times as many as are killed by rifles. Anyone who wants to do something for the children might start with these especially dangerous devices which are disproportionately likely to kill infants and small children. What’s that? You enjoy taking a bath or a swim every now and then, and have no children? Tough. Showers are good enough for anyone and you won’t be sitting in a tepid stew of your own filth.

People killed by unarmed attackers: More than 700

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2011, 728 people were beaten to death by “fists, feet, etc.” Like the number for rifles, this has been consistent through the last five years or so.

That’s right, every year twice as many people are beaten to death as are killed with a rifle. This one doesn’t actually come with a prescribed ban – even Schumer or Cuomo would have trouble finding a way to ban ‘assault fists.’ This example is just thrown in to illustrate how remarkably deadly assault limbs are.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that all of these deaths aren’t tragic. They are, but safety has to be balanced against freedom. In striking that delicate balance, decisions need to be based on numbers and facts, not on anecdotes, feelings or platitudes about saving ‘even a single life.’ Not to mention the fact is that our society has demonstrated that it’s comfortable with a certain amount of risk in order to preserve personal freedoms.

So the next time you hear someone call for a ban on ‘military style rifles,’ ask them if they drink alcohol, own a car that can go more than 55 mph or have a bathtub in their home. If they do, you can politely point out that their freedom to use these items is more of a danger to society than your sporting rifle is ever likely to be.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Excellent and telling statistics, but as we all know AWBs have nothing to do with saving lives or “the children”. If they were truly interested in saving lives they’d 1) ban any and all tobacco products, 2) ban any and all processed foods that are high in fats, carbs and empty calories, 3) ban the automobile, 4) ban stair usage for the those under 5 and over 60, 5) ban alcohol, whoops tried that… 6) outlaw war, whoops tried that too…

    Here in Progressive Utopia (TM) we had a pretty spectacular killing on Lake Shore Drive this morning.

    If only the automobile was banned, this would have never happened.

  2. Technically, if we want an apples-to-apples comparison with the AWB, it isn’t really a question of street-legal – possession of an ‘assault car’ should be illegal even if you just drive it around on private property.

    Not only that, but Ferraris that are capable of going 200 MPH all have wings, scoops, big wheels and paddle-operated transmissions. Your chances of surviving a crash at 200 MPH are almost zero. Therefore, we must ban wings, scoops, big wheels and paddle-operated transmissions from all vehicles to make them less deadly.

  3. “People killed per year by second-hand smoke: About 3000”. Uh, … does “about 3000” mean a number between zero and ten?

    I have a little bit of experience in medical research (37 years), and I’m calling bullshit! This is not the sort of morbidity/mortality that is amenable to diagnostic or statistical analysis. Hell, you can’t even prove statistically that smoking causes death! I’d ask what quack came up with this crap, but I’m sure it’s the quacks at CDC.


  4. I believe you could easily add motorcycles to that list. There is no *need* to own a motorcycle. The feeling of freedom, connection with the road, and wind in your face are entirely unnecessary. Good Lord, you could have men and women driving down canyon roads for the sheer enjoyment of it! I own two.

  5. “People killed in cars traveling faster than 55mph: More than 1000”

    I know this specifies >55mph but last year in Tennessee alone there were just over 1k roadway related deaths according to TDOT. That’s not broken down, I’m sure the numbers are online I’m pulling this one from the electronic traffic signs.

    I heard an ad today that says automobiles are the number one killer of children in the USA. I kind of laughed because it was an ad for a service station but the irony of recent circumstances contributed also. And yes I know driving is a privillege not a right.

    • As a certified child safety seat technician, and former child safety seat event coordinator, I can tell you that traffic vehicle accident / collision deaths are the #1 cause of non-natural deaths in infants as of 2007. I just got a Graco SafeSeat to mitigate that, which will be clamped down tightly. I’ve also personally installed and inspected more than 400 child safety seats. Approximately 85% of those seats had a demonstrable safety issue including improper installation, defect, and / or recall.

      Of course, the best way is to drive well, and not be involved in a collision in the first place. Current child safety seats, when properly installed, offer good protection in rear-end crashes. I could write an article on this, but it would be pretty challenging to tie it in to firearms.

      • I don’t doubt that for a moment it just seemed a little less genuine a statment being put in an advertisment for a mechanic.

        I see people driving in my area all the time with kids sitting in laps, babies especially, kids climbing and jumping around. Memphis is hardly a city for inexperienced and leisure drivers

    • …”privilege not a right.” That idea came about around 1910 from an ego inflated cop trying to do his best to restrict sovereignty. Just because it is not written in so many words in the Constitution doesn’t mean it is any less of a right than free speech, owning and using firearms, or crossing the street. In today’s society undefined rights are as necessary as the defined rights…and they are NOT privileges unless one is a sheeple.

  6. Your logic is flawed. Driving over 65 MPH and smoking in bars/restaurants is already illegal (in most places). As for alcohol and water in bathtubs (I can’t believe I’m actually entertaining this example), those are things that serve some benefit, but when abused can be deadly. Assault rifles have only one purpose – to kill people wholesale. Simple math – take away the assault rifles, take away the mass killings- somethings that can characteristically not be done without assault rifles.

    • Guns also serve a benefit. The most conservative of the handful of studies performed have put the number of defensive gun uses per year over a couple hundred thousand. The clinton DOJ put it at around 1 million. I don’t have the sources readily available and I’m on my phone, but they’ve been cited plenty of times on this site. Gun homicides per year are below 25thousand. There hasn’t been a study in almost a decade as well, and conceal carry laws have gained a lot more freedom in that time, likely increasing those numbers. In that time crime has also decreased.

    • “take away the assault rifles, take away the mass killings- somethings that can characteristically not be done without assault rifles”

      Wrong. Gasoline, fertilizer bombs, automobiles, knives, sarin gas. Mass killings have been committed with all of these and more.

    • That’s amazing.

      My “Assault rifle” has never killed anyone.

      Not even retail.

      Can you explain that to me, Chris?

    • Then please explain why the feds and police need them? I guess they want to “kill people wholesale” Huh! Your logic is astounding.

      • Ah. The police need them to defend against the nuts who have them and are shooting people “wholesale”. Granted, in a post-2A world, none of the people being shot at would be able to defend themselves like the police can. Therefore, logically, gun control is really victimization. Or forced dependency. Whichever shyte sandwich tastes better to you, you little peons.

        But, since Big Sis came out and said that in the event of a shooting, we only need to grab our trusty Fiskars scissors, I expect to see the local PD put in a request for blacked-out, picatinny-railed scissors. You know. For defense.

    • “Assault rifles have only one purpose – to kill people wholesale.”

      Chris, I can’t believe you actually entertained that example.

      Semi-automatic civilian versions of the M-16 (the AR-15) have been available for 50 years so please explain to me how they are all of the sudden THE problem especially when they are much harder to get now than ever before. The tragic part of your argument is that it eschews any and every other factor save the weapon.

      To the complete detriment of our Constitution and our nation as a whole that is the same idiotic focus of too many legislators and others like them who either lack the ability of complex thought or have that ability but are too lazy or gutless to tackle a complex issue.

      Something bad happens and Group A wants to ban guns which fires up Group B that won’t stand for it and in all that fighting true progress is never made. It’s a sick cycle where every one loses.

    • Chris, I’m afraid that it is your logic that is flawed. Assuming that the popular definition of an assault rifle is a semi-automatic rifle firing an intermediate round from a magazine capable of holding multiple cartridges and styled to superficially appear like a weapon in past or present use by a military organization, assuming that, you can still not identify the motive of the user. To switch from logic to math, the end user is your x factor. Unfortunately, the value of x is i. Since you cannot define the value of x, you cannot control what x owns, either.

      Now, to return to logic from math, I’m going to take a guess that you are a strong advocate of Civil Rights. Like it or not, firearms ownership is a Civil Rights issue. So, either you support all Civil Rights, or you only support the ones that you like. If the former is the case, and you apply your disdain for firearms equally to all Civil Rights, should we limit the bus seats minorities can sit on? Didn’t think so. If the latter is the case, like I would wager it is, then you really are not an advocate for Civil Rights, and only pay lip service to them.

      Chris, the sad truth is that life is always messy and rarely fair, and no amount of legislation can make it clean and fair.

      Badger 8-3

    • There you go, again.

      ‘Assault rifles’ are FULLY-AUTOMATIC SELECTIVE-FIRE MILITARY WEAPONS that are intended to both lay down a field of suppressive fire when needed and to provide single aimed shots for precision work. The name comes from the German ‘Sturmgewehr.’

      ‘Assault rifles’, as with all machine guns, are strictly controlled and only those licensed to do so may possess one.

      If you are going to pontificate on something on which you have no knowledge, you should try some simple research before doing so, else you look the fool, Diane.

      Oh, maybe you mean ‘assault weapons.’ Those don’t exist, so we can dismiss that possibility.

      • You said, “‘Assault rifles’, as with all machine guns, are strictly controlled and only those licensed to do so may possess one.”

        That fact NEEDS to be changed if civilians are to maintain the right of preserving our Constitution from tyrannical government. We seem to have drawn the line on semi-auto, when we should be demanding repeal of 2d amendment limitations.

  7. Joe Biden would say that if it saved one life it would be worth it. Even if it saved one life and presumably cost 100,000 others. Water drowns and fire burns, but we’d have pretty grim and short lives without them.

  8. So if I drive drunk at 100 miles an hour while swimming in a bathtub with a stairway while my passenger smokes as we escape from an unarmed attacker with a rifle, I’m totally fracked.

    I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.

  9. You all forgot, unless I missed a post, the things that are undoubtedly the cause for the MOST untimely deaths of men the world over…………WOMEN.

    • I got out before becoming a part of that statistic but I’m still young *sigh*

      I did meet the other statistic though, marraige is the leading cause of divorce

      • True, true. I’ve also been reliably informed that 100% of home invasions occur at the home. Not sure about that one, since 60% of all statistics are fabricated…

  10. I’d love to have a car that drives itself. I’d love it if cars could only be driven by people on race tracks. I’d love it if, after cars that drive themselves come out, people realized it was dumb to own a car and just started using their smartphones to call a car whenever they wanted it, and car companies had subscription plans where you could buy a number of miles per month, just like you buy a number of minutes a month for your cell phone.

    But I will always be adamantly against government forcing citizens to give up their right to drive, even though it would save thousands of lives a year, because they have proven with this citizen disarmament and fast and furious nonsense that they will abuse any power they have, and reach for more and more. Should we ever see a day where self driving cars are the only cars allowed on public roadways, the day after that will be the day they start surveilling you in your car, invading your privacy, and redirecting cars as they like to prevent people from moving about the country freely or encountering government officials behaving badly.

    The government is why we can’t have nice things.

    • In a way, we used to have cars that drove themselves. They were called horses. You could be as drunk as you wanted, and as long as the horse knew where it was supposed to be going, you’d make it home safe. Unless you let your horse drink. Which is probably a bad policy.

      The ideal state would be for someone to invent horses that could go 60 miles per hour, and that would be convenient to keep in a city. And also, it would be great if they didn’t crap everywhere.

  11. Good gawd folks. Guns are not cars. This argument gets trotted out over and over and it convinces only those who are already convinced. W/o my car my quality of life would be immediately diminished (no reliable public transport and miles from even a grocery store). W/o guns my life **might** be *slightly* less happy and secure, but “the truth about guns” is that for most all of us they are merely hobby that we can justify as “practical” simply because we **could** have need to call upon our guns to defend our life–most of us would do better to spend our “gun money” on higher quality tires.

    • The greatest use of guns to insure the quality of life is as a “pre-tyranny” detector. Politicians who want me disarmed are not to be trusted.

      Think to your self: would you go to a lonely and wild spot, with a stanger who was armed and stronger than yourself, who insisted that you show up disarmed?

      That is what the citizen disarmament crowd is asking us to do.

    • You are saying we should give up a logical means of discussion by asking us not to compare cars with guns. One of the neatest tricks in left-wing argument is to remove a foundational underpinning. Analogies are used to illustrate a point, which is, in this case, cars kill many times more people than assault rifles. Go back to your socialist entitlements. You’re stinking up this web site.

  12. People who poo-pooh “second-hand smoke” are frequently found jogging along their town’s main roads (you know…. the one that gets really busy at rush hour and the one that buses and delivery trucks use….)

  13. You should do more research on second hand smoke. For someone who complains about Bullshit a lot, you don’t seem to read deeper into anything not gun related.

Comments are closed.