One of today’s most controversial topics in America is gun control. With what seems to be an increase in mass shootings and gun violence, discussing gun control has become almost a daily routine on the news and other media outlets. Many people are calling on Government to institute tighter regulations on the sale and purchase of firearms and ammunition in an effort to reduce the apparently increasing rate of violent crime in this country. These proponents of gun control often site the strict gun controls put in place in other countries such as Canada and Great Britain as perfect examples of how gun control can reduce violent crime. But are these proponents of stricter gun control correct in there assumption that more guns equals more violent crime? Are violent crime and gun deaths on the rise in the United States, or does the media just sensationalizing these crimes in an effort to attract viewers? What if violent crime is actually decreasing in America even though gun ownership is on the rise? What if higher percentages of guns actually decrease violent crime rates? The data and the statistics regarding the correlation between guns and violent crime may be surprising.
So what are the facts regarding guns and violent crime in this country? According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program , there were 1,203,564 violent crimes reported in 2011 (most recent data available). Although this number seems high, in reality it signifies the fifth straight year that the violent crime rate has decreased in the United States. In addition, the violent crime rate has decreased 25% in the past ten years and over 50% in the past twenty years. Regardless of what we see on the daily news each day, crime is not on the rise, and in fact violent crime rates are the lowest they have ever been in history.
The FBI data also show that there were 8,583 murders committed by a criminal with a gun in 2011. When we compare that to the United States population in 2011 which was 311,591,917 we find that chance of being murdered in this country by a criminal with a gun is .003%. Let’s put that in perspective by looking at some other statistics. In 2012, 36,200 people died in automobile accidents  in the United States and approximately 225,000 people die each year due to a physician’s activity, manner, or treatment. That means you are three times more likely to be killed by an automobile than a gun, and twenty-six times more likely to be killed by your own doctor than by a gun. Why are Doctors and Automobiles not being banned, when combined they kill 97% more people every year than guns do.
In addition, research performed by Florida State University criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck indicated that guns prevent 800,000 to 2,500,000 crimes each year. Even utilizing the smaller estimate of 800,000 indicates that you are 99% more likely to be saved from a violent crime by owning a gun then being murdered by one. We never see newscasts about guns being used by ordinary citizens to defend themselves from violent attacks, yet that happens significantly more often than guns being used to commit a crime.
Even after hearing these statistics, many people still hold on to the idea that guns should be banned. They believe that by banning guns, crime rates will drop. Great Britain is often used as the shining example of a country that successfully banned firearms. While it’s true that Great Britain has less gun deaths per 100,000 people than the United States, the reality is that since outlawing guns Britain has had a significant increase in violent crimes such as murder, rape, and assault and now actually has a higher violent crime rate than the United States . The chances of being a victim of a violent crime in the United States are .4% while the chances of being the victim of a violent crime in Great Britain are 3.6%. That means a person is almost ten times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime in Great Britain then in the United States. The only thing banning guns in Great Britain has accomplished is making it almost impossible for law abiding citizens to protect themselves from violent crime.
Here in the United States, we can examine the effects of gun control by looking closely at the city of Chicago which has the strictest gun laws of any city. The crime data for Chicago tells a disturbing story. The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program shows that the murder, rape, and assault rates in Chicago have remained unchanged for the past ten years. The murder rate alone is 15.2 murders per 100,000 people and the aggravated assault rate is an astounding 485 per 100,000 people. Chicago provides us a perfect example of the misinformation regarding gun control. Guns do not cause crime, and reducing guns does not reduce crime. On the opposite end of the gun control spectrum is the State of Texas where guns are easily accessed by law abiding citizens. The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program shows the murder rate in Texas is less than 5 people per 100,000. The aggravated assault rate in Texas is 265 people per 100,000. This means that you are over 46% less likely to be a victim of an assault in Texas, and 68% less likely to be murdered anywhere in the state of Texas than you are in the city of Chicago.
Interestingly, when violent crimes are committed with the use of a firearm, many people often blame the firearm, yet people almost never blame inanimate objects when they are also used to commit violent acts. In 2003 in Santa Monica California, an 86 year old man drove his Buick through a farmers market when he mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brakes . Nine people were killed, 14 were in critical condition, and 54 others were injured. A 3 year old girl was killed while two other children under the age of two were in critical condition. This tragedy made national headlines and erupted into a national debate over elderly drivers. Interestingly, no one blamed the Buick or called for a ban on vehicles.
In 2013 in Boston Massachusetts, two men detonated bombs during the Boston Marathon . Three people were killed including an 8 year old boy, and at least 144 people were injured. The bombs were made using pressure cookers, nails, and ball bearings concealed in black nylon bags. This tragedy also made national headlines yet once again blame was placed on the persons responsible, and no ban was called for on nails, ball bearings, pressure cookers, or nylon bags.
These two stories are perfect examples of blame being placed correctly on the people who commit these terrible tragedies and not on the inanimate object used during the crime. But why then is the logic of blaming the individual responsible for these tragedies lost when a crime is committed with a firearm? When a firearm is used to commit a tragedy, a national firestorm typically ensues with a huge push to ban all firearms to prevent these events from happening again. People often put aside the statistics regarding gun use and emotion takes over.
Clearly the evidence shows that gun control is not the solution to America’s violent crime problem. In order to address the violence present in today’s society, we must examine the facts from a logical point of view, put aside our personal beliefs, and determine the root cause of society’s issues. Guns are not that root cause. Although many people believe that removing guns from our society will prevent violent crimes, the data does not agree. Preventing law abiding citizens from legally protecting themselves with the use of a firearm does not make us safer. It makes us more likely to be a victim. Just as you cannot reduce drunk driving by limiting sober drivers from buying cars, you cannot reduce a criminals desire to commit crime by taking away a citizen’s right to carry.
 FBI Releases 2011 Crime Statistics. Lanham: Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc, 2012. ProQuest. 22 July 2013.
 Kleck, Gary. Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1991. Print.
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 Home Office Statistical Bulletin, . Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. 2011. Print.
 Joel Rubin, Daren Briscoe and,Mitchell Landsberg. “Car Plows through Crowd in Santa Monica, Killing 9; the 86-Year-Old Driver Apparently Loses Control and Speeds 2 1/2 Blocks through a Farmers Market. More than 50 are Hurt, 15 Critically.” Los Angeles Times: 0. Jul 17 2003. ProQuest. Web. 9 Aug. 2013 .
 Eliott C. Mclaughlin. “3 killed, more than 140 hurt in Boston Marathon bombing” CNN: Apr 15 2013. CNN. Web. 9 Aug. 2013 .