The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 3, 2013

Statistics sometimes get lost in emotional debate over gun control

GENEVA — Despite the rhetoric from both sides over the need for stricter gun control regulations — and the fear instilled by a rash of random shootings in public places nationwide — statistics show relatively few people will fall victim to violent, firearm-related crimes committed by strangers, according to a new study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

That study shows strangers committed about 38 percent of non-fatal, violent crimes including rape, robbery and assault in 2010, the most recent data available. Of that amount, only an average of 10 percent used a firearm while committing the crime. In other words, fewer than four out of every 100 non-fatal, violent crimes were committed by an armed stranger.

Additionally, only about one-fourth of homicides are committed by strangers. The overwhelming percentage of homicides — and of all violent crimes, for that matter — is committed by a friend, relative or other acquaintance.

Those statistics, and that federal study, apparently have gotten lost amid the debate that has followed the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The study, released three days before the Dec. 14 tragedy, has not

been mentioned in any other newspaper, according to a Nexis database search, and only a handful of blogs mentioned the report.

Instead, the debate has focused on assault weapons — rarely used in violent crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation — and background checks at gun shows.

Ignoring statistics and focusing on emotion are typical tactics used by gun control advocates, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jacqueline Ott said.

“The debate is at an emotional high right now, and it’s not rooted in any crime statistics,” Otto told McClatchy Newspapers. “They (gun control advocates) are overhyping the risks and preying on fear, all in the argument that they are trying to protect children.”

Those who advocate more restrictive gun laws say the evidence is clear that tighter restrictions — such as prohibiting gun sales to substance abusers, the mentally ill and perpetrators of domestic violence and limiting ammunition capacity — can reduce firearm violence.

“Mass shootings bring public attention to the exceptionally high rate of gun violence in the U.S., but policy discussions rarely focus on preventing the daily gun violence that results in an average of 30 lives lost every day,” Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said in a news release. Webster was the author of an Oct. 26 study that showed overhauled gun laws could save lives.

“It is important to note that making these changes to our gun laws would not disarm law-abiding adults,” he said.

Erika Harrell, who wrote the Bureau of Justice Statistics study titled “Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers — 1983-2010,” said she cannot comment on government policy decisions or why the study might have been ignored by the media.

The national gun control debate has put a spotlight on the estimated 5,000 gun shows held each year, where firearms often are sold without the requirement of background checks. Thirty-three states do not restrict the private, intrastate sale of firearms at gun shows, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.

The C&E Gun Show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in South Carolina begins Feb. 9. Steven Elliott, the show’s sponsor, did not respond to requests for comments and his company website specifically bans media interviews at his gun shows. Elliott has been holding shows at the convention center for 20 years and the event has proven so popular that he now holds them twice a year.

“It has always been well attended,” Paul Edwards, the convention center’s general manager, said of the gun show. Edwards said he expects about 4,000 people to attend the two-day event.

Attendance at the Myrtle Beach gun show spiked after President Barack Obama first was elected in 2008, Edwards said, “for fear of changes in the gun laws,” adding that the current debate over tighter gun laws could boost attendance again this year.

“We had a pre-convention conference call to go over a few things and we discussed making sure that we don’t exceed the maximum capacity for the space - visually checking that if we get too many people in there at one time, we need to restrict entrance until some people leave,” Edwards said. “We haven’t had to restrict attendance like that in the past. Other than that, there have been no law changes or any other changes to the show.”

U.S. Attorney William Nettles, the lead federal prosecutor in South Carolina, said he isn’t opposed to gun shows and understands that people want to show off their collections and interact with others who share the same interests. But he can’t understand why state legislators won’t require background checks and registration of private gun sales.

Statistics indicate that many of the illegal gun sales are to people who are already involved in some other type of criminal behavior, particularly drug trafficking and gang activity. Relatively few of them are used in random, violent crimes against strangers. The number of stranger-committed non-fatal, violent crimes has been declining for nearly two decades, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics study.

In 2010, the most recent data available, strangers committed 1.8 million non-fatal, violent crimes nationwide — a 77 percent drop from the 7.9 million committed in 1993, the earliest data available. That mirrors an overall drop in firearm-related crime nationwide during that period - from about 6 victims per 1,000 residents to 1.4 victims per 1,000 residents.

The largest percentage of stranger-committed homicides — 19.3 percent — occur during robberies, according to the federal study.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lower-income teens don’t get enough sleep

    African-American high school students and boys in low- to middle-income families reported short, fragmented sleep, and that could play a role in their health risks, researchers reported Monday.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • Health agencies try to counter mumps outbreak

    Health agencies trying to stem a large and growing mumps outbreak are advising college, school and even day care leaders to make sure central Ohio students are immunized and to separate them from those who haven’t been vaccinated and those who are infected.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • An ocean of broken hearts

    Lee Byung-soo says he knew, when he saw his 15-year-old son’s body in the tent. It could not have been more horrifically obvious. But he wanted so much for him to be alive.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biden conferring with Ukranian leader over what to do
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday for talks with Ukraine’s embattled interim leaders as Russia’s top diplomat blamed Washington for instigating the crisis that threatens to escalate into armed conflict between the two former Soviet republics.
     

    April 22, 2014

  • Panel’s role in Cleveland police ruling questioned

    A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police — including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation — is questioning a grand jury’s role in a recent county prosecutor’s ruling.

    April 21, 2014

  • Gender gap under Ohio governor nearly $10 an hour

    A newspaper investigation has found the average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown to as much as almost $10 an hour, as it’s shrunk to under a dollar across the rest of state government.

    April 21, 2014

  • OBIT Rubin Carter Box_Lind.jpg Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

    Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died Sunday. He was 76.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MAG-kramer25p-Janae-O-Neal.jpg Kramer the labradoodle soothes students, staff at middle school

    Once upon a time there was a dog that went to middle school.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

    A record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the state Department of Health said as it released the newest available figures for a problem that’s been called an epidemic and a public health crisis.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Ohio’s jobless rate dips to 6.1 percent in March

    Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped in March to 6.1 percent, its lowest level in six years, according to state job figures released Friday.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video