facts on gun control
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
* 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:
* 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 occurred:
firearm homicide rate
handgun homicide rate
* 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:
�I 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 Clinton stated:
"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) (25)
* 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
1,400 (1.5% of fatal accidents)
* For Children 14 and Under
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. He wrote:
"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.
"TEN MYTHS ABOUT GUN CONTROL." Viewed in January of 1999 on the National Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/
"1997 Uniform Crime Reports." Federal Bureau of Investigation. Table 2.11
"1998 NRA Fact Card." Viewed in January of 1999 on the National Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/
"1995 Firearms Deaths." Viewed in January of 1999 on the Handgun Control, Inc. web site, http://www.handguncontrol.org/
Independent calculations performed with 1996 data from:
"Suicide in Japan : Present State and Future Directions for Prevention." Transcultural Psychiatry, Volume 35 Issue 2, June 1998.
"U.S.A. SUICIDE: 1996 OFFICIAL FINAL DATA." Prepared for the American Association of Suicidology by John L. McIntosh, PhD., 11/22/98.
Austin, Lana Kim White. "Heston stresses firearm safety, appreciation." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, December 15-21, 1997.
Lott, John R. Jr. More Guns, Less Crime. The University of Chicago Press, 1998. Pages 1, 11, 43
"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.
Cory, Lindsey V. "Graduate licensing: Life in the slow lane for teens?" Washington Times National Weekly Edition, July 20-26, 1998.
"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/
"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/
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.
Editorial. "The case of the outgunned thug." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, January 5-11, 1998.
"Less Crime in Concealed Weapons States." Fact-O-Rama. Conservative News Service, 11/24/98.
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.
Study: �Armed 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 http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/KleckAndGertz1.htm.
a) The study states: �There 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 with guns, and about 59.1 million adults personally owning a gun.�
b) The study states: �Eleven of the surveys permitted the computation of a reasonable adjusted estimate of [Defensive Gun Use] frequency. Two surveys for which estimates could not be produced were the Cambridge Reports and the Time/ CNN. Neither asked the [Defensive Gun Use] question of all [respondents]; thus, it would be sheer speculation what the responses would have been among those [respondents] not asked the [Defensive Gun Use] question. All of the eleven surveys yielded results that implied over 700,000 uses per year.� [Table 1 lists these studies and various facts about their methodologies. Eight of the 11 studies mentioned above were nationwide surveys. Among these, the range of defensive gun uses per year is 764,000 - 3,609,000. The 9th nationwide survey is the one this study is based upon. It was conducted with the most precise criteria off all such studies, and estimates that Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals between 1,900,000 and 2,500,000 times per year.]
c) The study states: �Nevertheless, in a ten state sample of incarcerated felons interviewed in 1982, 34% reported having been �scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim.��
"1997 NRA Fact Card." Viewed in January of 1999 on the National Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/. Sources Cited: Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Accounting Office.
"Summary of the Brady Law." Viewed in January of 1999 on the Handgun Control, Inc. web site, http://www.handguncontrol.org/
Project Vote Smart. Viewed in January of 1999 on the Project Vote-Smart web site, http://www.vote-smart.org/
Benshoff, Anastasia. "Brady Law Parts Struck Down." ABCNEWS.com, 1997.
"Presale Handgun Checks, 1997." U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 2, 1998.
Heston, Charlton. "Truth and Consequences." 1999.
"Year-End Crime Statistics Show Gun Laws Work, Says Sarah Brady." Handgun Control, Inc., January 4, 1999. Source Cited: "1997 Uniform Crime Reports." Federal Bureau of Investigation
"Summary Of The Firearms Provisions Of The Violent Crime Control And Law Enforcement Act Of 1994." Viewed in January of 1999 on the Handgun Control, Inc. web site, http://www.handguncontrol.org/
"Remarks By the President And The First Lady On Gun Control Legislation." The White House, April 27, 1999.
Editorial. "When in doubt, blame the gun." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, April 19, 1998.
Phinney, David. "Mixing Business with Weapons." ABCNEWS.com, 1998.
"Campaign Funds Investigator Targeted." Associated Press, March 23, 1997.
Scarborough, Rowan. "Key senator now backs banning Cosco from Naval base. Washington Times National Weekly Edition, October 6-12, 1997.
"Convicts / Sleazy Characters Meet Clinton & Gore." Republican National Committee, 1997. Sources Cited: The Detroit News, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times.
"Investigation on Illegal or Improper Activities in Connection With The 1996 Federal Election Campaigns." Majority Report, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. United States Senate, March 5, 1998.
"Cyberalert." Media Research Center, May 20, 1999. Source cited: Investor�s Business Daily.
"Individual Donors Name Search: Caudle-Green." Center For Responsive Politics, February, 26, 1999.
Grigg, William Norman. "The Price of Admission." The New American, November 10, 1997.
"About the Center." Center For Responsive Politics. Viewed in February, 1999 on the Center For Responsive Politics� web site, http://www.crp.org/.
"Individual Donors Name Search: Green, Ernest." Center For Responsive Politics, February, 26, 1999.
Known facts not in dispute:
"The campaign finance investigation is being run by the Justice Department.
"Bill Clinton appointed Janet Reno as Attorney General.
"Bill Clinton appointed Louis Freeh as head of the FBI.
"Armor piercing bullets referred to as "cop killers."
"Laws in the U.S. generally prohibit cocaine.
Editorial. "LaBella speaks but Reno�s not listening." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, August 3-9, 1998.
Seper, Jerry. "Reno warned to take LaBella�s advice on funds council." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, July 27 - August 2, 1998.
"Cyberalert." Media Research Center, July 21, 1998.
"18 United States Code Section 922." January 26, 1998.
Huffington, Arianna. "Unexamined contributors to youth violence." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, July 20-26, 1998.
Editorial. "Drug disaster." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, September 7-13, 1998.
"The Right to Carry." National Rifle Association of America � Institute for Legislative Action � Research & Information Division. Viewed in May of 1999 on the National Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/. Source Cited: FBI
Fables, Myths, & Other Tall Tales About Gun Laws, Crime, and Constitutional Rights. National Rifle Association of America � Institute for Legislative Action � Research & Information Division. Viewed in May of 1999 on the National Rifle Association web site, http://www.nra.org/
Barnes, Ken. "Pro-Gun FAQ." Talk.politics.guns, April 28, 1999. Viewed in May of 1999 on the Internet FAQ Consortium web site, http://www.faqs.org/. Sources cited: The Samarai, The Mountie, And The Cowboy, Lost Rights.
"The 1994 Clinton Crime Bill�s �Assault Weapons� and �Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device� Law." National Rifle Association of America � Institute for Legislative Action � Research & Information Division, March 22, 1999.
Hedges, Michael. "Arms OK preceded U.S. visit." Scripps-Howard News Service. Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 14, 1997.
"18 United States Code Section 921." January 26, 1998.
Daly, Michael. "This Prez donor a real pistol." New York Daily News, March 26, 1997.
Article: �Town tries to cope with school shooting.� Associated Press, October 12, 1997. Accessed at http://www.lubbockonline.com/news/101297/LA0540.htm.
Price, George Howard. "Governor sees charges against killers� moms, dads." The Washington Times, April 26, 1999.
"Recent School Shootings." The Washington Post, 1999.
Statements heard and read in multiple articles and debates.
Kelly, Alfred H. & Harbison, Winfred A. "The American Constitution. Its Origins and Development." W. W. Norton & Company, 1963.
"The Federalist Papers Online." Viewed in January of 1999 at www.mcs.net/~knautzr/fed/fedpaper.html
"The Founding Fathers." ConstitutionFacts.com. Viewed in May of 1999 at http://www.constitutionfacts.com/
"The Sovereignty of the People." Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government. Viewed in May of 1999 at etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/
"Civil Rights." Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government. Viewed in May of 1999 at etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/
"John Lott�s More Guns, Less Crime � An Alternative Q&A. Viewed in January of 1999 on the Handgun Control, Inc. web site, http://www.handguncontrol.org/
"America Deserves Honest Researchers." NRA-ILA Fax Alert. National Rifle Association of America, August 1, 1997.
Independent calculations performed with 1992 data from:
"1992 Uniform Crime Reports." Page 10. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"1995 Sourcebook Of Criminal Justice Statistics." Pages 468, 480, 497, 499. U.S. Department of Justice.
"1995 Sourcebook Of Criminal Justice Statistics." Page 507. U.S. Department of Justice.
Kopel, David B. "How Strict are U.S., Colorado, and Local Gun Control Laws." Independence Institute, August 20, 1999.
International Violent Death Rates. http://www.guncite.com/, Last updated January 23, 2000.
Article: �Clinton Cites Officer's Car Death In Opposing 'Cop-Killer Bullets'.� By Peter Baker. The Washington Post, October 26, 1996. This article states:
"During a campaign visit here this week, President Clinton met with the widow of a police officer killed in the line of duty and later during a political rally cited his death as a reason to outlaw armor-piercing bullets. � With nearly 20 uniformed officers flanking him on stage, Clinton boasted about legislation he pushed through Congress to put 100,000 more police on the streets and mentioned the first death of one of his program's officers. � Neither a bulletproof vest nor a ban on "cop-killer bullets," however, would have saved Officer Jerome Harrison Seaberry Sr., 35. He was responding to a radio call for backup on Christmas night last year when "he lost control of his vehicle, going too fast . . . hit a tree head-on and the vehicle burst into flames," said Lake Charles Police Chief Sam Ivey.�
Speech: �Remarks By the President to the People of the New Orleans and Marrero Areas.� White House: Office of the Press Secretary, October 24, 1996. Accessed at http://www.clintonfoundation.org/.
The Officer Down Memorial Page. Accessed at http://www.odmp.org/. The memorial page for Officer Seaberry states: �Officer Seaberry was killed in an accident while responding to an officer needs assistance call. During the response his cruiser went out of control on a rain-slicked road and struck a tree.