Whenever we get embroiled in an emotionally-charged political debate, it seems that the first things that disappear are facts. Here are some to consider:
1. The term “assault weapon” is a made-up term. It has nothing to do with the functionality or rate of fire of the weapon, and everything to do with its appearance.
2. It takes, at most, about 3 seconds to change out a clip. It will make no appreciable difference whether the next mass murderer has two 30-round magazines, six 10-round magazines, or (in New York) eight 7-round magazines.
3. Assault weapons are used in less than 2 percent of all homicides. In 2010, fewer than 400 homicides were committed with rifles of all kinds (not just assault weapons). Over 6,000 homicides were committed with handguns.
4. Overall, gun-related crime has been on the decline for years. It is lower now than it was four years ago when President Obama first took office.
5. Even with Aurora and Sandy Hook included, the average number of people killed in mass shootings over the past 30 years or so has been about 20 per year. Meanwhile, roughly 50 Americans are killed by lightning every year. You (or your child) are 2.5 times as likely to be killed by lightning as you are to be killed in a public mass shooting.
6. Most mass shootings take place in locations (such as schools) that are widely known as “gun-free” zones, where the shooter is assured of being able to kill at will with no effective resistance until the police finally show up. Common sense would suggest that maybe it isn’t such a great idea to go to such lengths to assure them that these targets are guaranteed to be gun free.
7. It is not true that half of all public mass shooting victims have been killed since the assault weapon ban expired in 2004. That number is about 20 percent.
8. It is not true that 40 percent of all gun sales take place without a background check. That number is roughly 10 percent to 15 percent.
9. Forty-nine percent of homicide victims in America are black Americans (who make up only 13 percent of the population). Ninety-three percent of them are killed by other black Americans. If the federal government really cared about gun violence, perhaps we should spend more time investigating the societal causes and cures of what truly is an epidemic.