Fiction 5: Gun Ownership Is Declining
Klein cites one researcher who claims: “We are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States.” Klein relied on surveys to make his point. But surveys run risks of underreporting gun ownership. More curiously, Klein cited Gallup, which reported in 2011: “Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993.”
Klein would have us believe that a shrinking group of old white men are adding to their burgeoning arsenals, but media reports corroborate Gallup. CBS reported:
More women than ever are picking up rifles, shotguns, and handguns. And target shooting is one of the fastest-growing female sports.
After Newtown, one news outlet reported:
Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of respondents in the National Sporting Goods Association’s annual survey of firearms retailers reported an increase in female customers in 2011 over the previous year.
The Boston Globe reported growth in Massachusetts firearms permits despite the state’s “antigun reputation,” as “more people … seek personal protection” because of concerns over the economy, terrorism, and “intense news focus on horrific crimes.”
The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reports that since 2004, background checks have grown faster than population:
(The FBI notes: “a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.” For example, a small percentage are denied, and one check may represent multiple purchases.)
Even without December, 2012 has already exceeded previous years:
ATF data show that since 2005, civilian firearms inventory grew from an annual average of 4.8 million to 7.2 million. Meanwhile, with a growing number of Americans purchasing an increasing number of guns, violent crime declined (see graph below):
Fiction 6: The U.S. Is One of the Most Violent Countries
But the latest OECD crime data show the U.S. ranks 7th lowest in robbery out of 26 countries:
The U.S. ranks 8th lowest out of 25 countries when people were asked if they felt unsafe on the street after dark:
In 2011, the United Nations published homicide data for 189 member countries, all of them OEDC members. The U.S. only had the 92nd highest homicide rate, placing it in the 52nd percentile:
The Small Arms Survey (SAS) is an “independent research project” located in Geneva, Switzerland, providing information on “all aspects of small arms and armed violence,” and partnering with international gun-ban organizations including the UN. In 2007, SAS published estimated civilian firearms inventories for 172 UN member countries. The U.S. clearly has the most gun ownership:
The U.S. remains in the 52nd percentile among the SAS countries (see graph below).