Handguns, Not Rifles, Are the Problem

Source: 2018 Crime in the United States. (Figures do not include “Firearms, type not stated.”)

Governor Ralph Northam has just introduced his “Virginia 2020 Plan” outlining his legislative priorities for the 2020 General Assembly session. His summary of the plan says this about gun control:

Advance common-sense gun safety measures. Keep prohibited persons away from firearms. Universal background checks. “Red flag” law. Restore longstanding “1 handgun a month” law.

What? Nothing about bump stocks and assault weapons? Has Northam backed off the idea of restricting gun types in favor of keeping “prohibited” people (domestic abusers, the mentally ill) away from firearms? If so, that’s a move in the right direction.

From the national data above, taken from the 2018 Crime in the United States report, we can see that “rifles” — a much broader category than than assault weapons — account for only a tiny fraction of murders in the U.S. Americans kill other Americans more frequently with “blunt objects” (clubs, hammers, etc.) and “personal weapons” (fists, feet, other bodily parts) than with rifles. (Reminds me of the old joke, “I practice martial arts — I have to register my hands as deadly weapons.”)

Clearly, handguns are where the action is. If we’re going to enact gun control, that’s where we need to focus.

— JAB

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27 responses to “Handguns, Not Rifles, Are the Problem

  1. Now, why interfere with this political theater by citing facts? Word on the street is Bloomberg himself was in Richmond today, meeting with legislators who got his big dollars, making sure they know what he paid for. Let’s see if the MSM picks it up….

  2. I’d also bet that a quick look at “murders by rifle” in the context of race would show that rifles are proportionally far more likely to kill white people than minorities. If so, Northam’s assault rifle emphasis is just more racism designed to protect white people while ignoring the weapons which typically kill black people.

    • The gun control movement is driven mainly by fear of mass shootings, and that’s what the controls are mainly designed to prevent. The victims of mass shootings are disproportionately white. So, I would agree that there seems to be less concern about gun violence affecting blacks.

    • Well said! By the same logic, you could say that failing to forbid the manufacture and sale of all handguns (except for law-enforcement/military use) is racism at work, as we all know who will suffer the most from the presence of handguns ‘on the street.’

  3. re: ” The victims of mass shootings are disproportionately white.”

    as are the shooters, no? white males.

    black gun violence is different… I don’t know how much is directed at domestic partners and how much is involved in crime and I also wonder how much background checks would intercept.

    And I actually think lobbyists with hard data will have a better impact that the torch and pitchfork crowd.

    ” “Rural and small town voters don’t think either party is going to do anything for them, but they vote Republican because they think Democrats will do something to them: take their guns or raise their taxes, or enact an environmental law that will put them out of work,”

    Sherrod Brown

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-we-be-enemies–or-fellow-citizenswhat-sherrod-brown-gets-about-trump-and-polarization-that-others-dont/2020/01/05/4d1fe8bc-2e38-11ea-9b60-817cc18cf173_story.html

    • I do believe that’s what some less sophisticated rural voters believe. However, I think there are quite a few rural voters in Virginia who know full well that the Republicans have been running rural Virginia the same way the Democrats nationally run the inner cities – make them dependent as recipients of massive wealth transfers which keeps them loyal. The real question is whether rural Virginians are savvy enough to bow to their new masters in the Democratic Party in order to keep the money flowing. If rural Virginians stick with the Republicans even the snowflake liberal Democrats from Northern Virginia will eventually cut back on the regional welfare.

    • Looks like Senator Brown understands. And he’s also effectively predicted the 2020 session of the General Assembly in Virginia.

    • I almost regret when my allotment of free Washington Post articles refills at the beginning of the month. What an insipid article by EJ Dione. Trump fosters polarization while blessed snowflake liberals try to be a healing balm on society. Guess what? About 30 minutes ago CNN settled its defamation lawsuit with Nick Sandmann, the student from Covington Catholic. You remember the incident. The kid was doing nothing wrong when a wack job of the type you see daily in DC got in his face. An out of context video was paraded on national news outlets claiming the 16 year old was provoking the other protester. CNN made much of this child abuse on national news doing everything it could to polarize its viewers against a young man in a MAGA hat. Then came the longer video. Uh oh. Sandmann wasn’t doing anything as it turns out. In fact, he was being provoked. Time to pay up CNN for fanning the flames of polarization. Nest up – the protester who harassed the child, Gannett and The Cincinnati Enquirer.

      Yeah, it’s just the Republicans that think they benefit from polarization.

  4. Folks, this is not about gun control, but about citizen control. It seems to me that there are some zealous statists who believe that they can legislate the utopia in which will mitigate the evils of mankind. Those folks are blessed with a more superior intellect that us common rabble cannot even comprehend, and they see that their mission is to save us from ourselves. One of the strategies that they would like to employ is to remove the means of resistance. Then they can ban large sodas, socialize healthcare so it can be rationed to only those who need it, and do all of the other necessary evils to bring about peace and order to humankind.

  5. “Folks, this is not about gun control, but about citizen control. …”

    How right you are, matthurt92.

    More sure proof of the truth of your words is the new effort by the GA to take ownership and control of indoor shooting ranges away from private Virginia citizens and put control of ranges under the control of the state.

    Imagine that!

    But this is quite typical of how leftist operate. Yet another backdoor covert effort to strip American’s of their second amendment rights, taking those rights out of the US Constitution protecting citizens of their God given rights to protect themselves against harm, including harm from their own government, while the state lawlessly puts those ranges into the hands of itself, the same rogue government.

    Imagine too the brazen arrogance of this act that puts gun rights in the same category as selling whiskey in the state of Virginia, except with far tighter regulations.

    Meanwhile too, as we know now, if you have the right connections and pay off the appropriate state officials within the General Assembly with very large campaign contributions like to the “Speaker’s fund,” you can get a license to own and operate your own gambling casino in the state full of machines that intentionally and very carefully designed to addict citizens to gambling, stripping them of the wealth and mental health over long periods of time, so long was you pay their state their share of the ill gotten goods, stripped from addicted citizens.

    As to the guns, thank you CBuva for bringing the below bill in the Virginia General Assembly to our attention.

    “Offered January 8, 2020
    Prefiled January 6, 2020
    A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 18.2 a section numbered 18.2-511.2, relating to indoor shooting ranges; prohibited in buildings not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or federal government; exceptions; civil penalty.
    Patron– Helmer
    Committee Referral Pending

    Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

    1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Article 3 of Chapter 12 of Title 18.2 a section numbered 18.2-511.2 as follows:

    § 18.2-511.2. Indoor shooting ranges; prohibited in private buildings; exceptions; penalty.

    A. As used in this section, “indoor shooting range” means any fully enclosed or indoor area or facility designed for the use of rifles, shotguns, pistols, silhouettes, skeet, trap, or black powder or any other similar sport shooting.

    B. It is unlawful to operate an indoor shooting range in any building not owned or leased by the Commonwealth or the federal government unless (i) fewer than 50 employees work in the building or (ii) (a) at least 90 percent of the users of the indoor shooting range are law-enforcement officers, as defined in § 9.1-101, or federal law-enforcement officers, (b) the indoor shooting range maintains a log of each user’s name, phone number, address, and the law-enforcement agency where such user is employed, and (c) the indoor shooting range verifies each user’s identity and address by requiring all users to present a government-issued photo-identification card.

    C. Any person that violates the provisions of this section is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $100,000 for the initial violation and $5,000 per day for each day of violation thereafter.

    See: https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2020/hb567/fulltext/

  6. Reed, I don’t think that the leftist have cornered the market on authoritarianism. Anytime government intervenes in the choices a grown adult makes that does not directly harm others, government has exceeded its mandate. Whether its what gun I posses, what chemical I introduce into my body, how I procure carnal pleasures, and etc. is of no concern to our elected representatives. These are matters of conscience and personal values, not matters of law. However, once these behaviors become externally negative and infringe on the rights of others, then it’s time for the law to intervene.

    A good example of this is frequently used by folks who would like to impose more firearm regulations. They state that the First Amendment is not absolute because one cannot legally yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. Obviously that kind of behavior has significant negative external consequences, so everyone agrees with that line of thinking. However, we are still allowed in the theater with our tongue.

  7. re: ” Anytime government intervenes in the choices a grown adult makes that does not directly harm others, government has exceeded its mandate. Whether its what gun I posses, what chemical I introduce into my body, how I procure carnal pleasures, and etc. is of no concern to our elected representatives. These are matters of conscience and personal values, not matters of law.”

    Is this the essence of your philosophy, i.e. as long as what you do does not directly harm others – it’s not the purview of government?

  8. Yes sir, that is between you, your Maker, your conscience, or whatever higher power to whom you answer.

  9. That’s more consistent than some philosophies but the bug in the ointment is the word “harm” and what “direct” means…. eye of the beholder.

    In theory there is no harm to you or I owning an RPG or mortar.. that COULD be used to harm others.

    I think that’s where lack of agreement happens.

    • One more time. If a person follows the rules of the National Firearms Act, one can own an RPG or a mortar. There have been a number of cable shows featuring license-holders for NFA-regulated devices using those devices. Most people don’t have the time, money (cost of the weapon) or space to own and operate such devices.

      • one more time – is ownership of these weapons “restricted”?

        if so, is that “restriction” a restriction on their 2nd amendment rights?

        Does the 2nd amendment say that you have the right to own ANY weapon without restriction?

        If it does not say some are restricted then are rules that prevent most people from owning an RPG or mortar – restrictions on their “rights”?

  10. Following that line of argument, we should check out tongues at the door of the crowded movie theater, because someone COULD use them to shout “Fire!”

    • well it’s sorta like the “right” to own a deadly weapon – until you use it on others…….

      The reality is that most folks cannot walk into a gun store and buy an RPG like they could a gun.

      There’s more restrictions on the RPG.

      and my question is – if those restrictions are not in the Constitution then aren’t they violations of the Constitution?

  11. Larry, I guess you’d need to go to law school to understand all of the line-drawing and what is needed to support such line drawing. (Not that I’m wishing law school on anyone. It was a miserable three years of degradation.) And constitutional law is certainly more abstract than subjects like contracts or even taxation.

    • TMT – nope – I’m just asking how that line gets drawn… it sure seems arbitrary and contradictory.

      And no – when someone invokes the Constitution as a 2nd amendment –
      it’s a basic concept.

  12. What is written in the Constitution hasn’t seemed to influence enough judges over the years. Judicial activism has been with us for a long time. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, but I tend to see a lot of governmental activity that I really have a hard time reconciling with our founding document.

    • You might not a lawyer but you are a lot more perceptive than many lawyers and politicians who work hard today to undermine the Constitution and foundation on which it was built and must stand today.

      Why this destructive behavior? Here is my personal nutshell take on the question, likely a highly unpopular view today.

      Often it’s the pride, hubris, ill discipline, ignorance and anger of our leaders today, and how the US Constitution get in their way, and so limits their quest for private power and dominance driven by these ill humors of our would be leaders.

      So, for example, to be a great judge (like Clarence Thomas for one of many examples) requires iron self-discipline, a genuine and deep humility, a stern integrity and wisdom that is born of hard work and hard experiences of many kinds in life, particularly so as leavened by deep learning in the humanities of Western Civilization, and all its histories, cultures, and evolution in all its many disciplines, (where all of this comes from, and why and how it evolved and works in our world of yesterday and today). So it comes from the experience and teaching of the early Greeks and Romans, as inflected later through Judaeo Christian ethics and values (including St. Augustine’s fallen nature of man) and the later rise of human dignity in the individual and all of them, and all that this incrediable insight entails, such as property rights, natural laws, and representative government as it evolved primarily under English Common Law.

      The gut problem today is that our leaders, including many lawyers and evil cohorts, have forgotten all this or never learned it in the first place, or got it all twisted out of shape, so they now are working hard to destroy these great traditions so critical to the US Constitution, and its phenomenal and unrepresented success for our nation. Likely the only cure now is a period of hard hardship, a condition that used to be ubiquitous for all people, but no longer is for many Americans especially those running far too much of the show. We’ve got to fix this.

  13. Please answer the question – where, in the Constitution does it say you can’t own a machine gun or RPG, or mortar without “restrictions”?

    How come we DO have “restrictions” on some weaponry but not others?

    Didn’t the Heller Decision actually say that Government CAN restrict?

    ” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), is a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, and that the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and requirement that lawfully owned rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” violated this guarantee.[1] It also stated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that guns and gun ownership would continue to be regulated. ”

    so was the Heller decision an “activist court”?

    My point here is that if you do not define what “arms” is and you say that we all have a right to bear “arms” – then it would seem that we should all be able to own the full panoply of “arms” that are available – without restrictions.

    All I’m looking for is some kind of consistency in the claim that we have an unlimited “right” to “arms”.

    Once we agree, that there can be “restrictions” – THEN we can argue about what they should be…. but until then we have this pretend thing going on.

    We’ve effectively restricted things like automatic weapons – yes one can get them but not your average person who just wants them – whereas that same person CAN buy a weapon with a high capacity magazine that can kill just about as effectively as a full auto machine gun.

    One is restricted far more tightly than the other yet both are classified as “arms” as defined in the Constitution.

  14. Well, it says that you can’t own a machine gun or RPG, or mortar without “restrictions” in the paragraph above the section that allows states to ban “assault weapons”.

    Seriously though, think back to the days when the Constitution was being considered, and the rationale for adding the Bill of Rights. Several states refused to ratify the Constitution as it was originally written because it did not provide enough protections from GOVERNMENT that they had so dearly won not so many years prior. One of those protections that James Madison included in the Bill or Rights was the 2nd Amendment. Granted, like you, I wish it was more clearly worded. However, I strongly believe (though I’d be hard pressed to convince some) that this was included not for hunting, not necessarily for individual self protection, but precisely to ensure that the GOVERNMENT did not hold a superior balance of power over the citizenry.

    Think back in history a little prior to this. What was the spark that launched the American Revolution? It was the fact that the British marched on Lexington and Concord to collect the ARMS of the colonists so that the Crown would maintain the balance of power. Which ARMS were the target of the British expedition? Those ARMS were powder, ball, flints, muskets (the M-16 of the day), and cannon (the RPG of the day).

    If one were to grant this line of thought, it would not be entirely unreasonable to conclude that in the original sense of the text, any restrictions that would tip the balance of power to the GOVERNMENT would be unconstitutional. However, if a judge or legislator believes that the modern state can mitigate the failings of man, then they would refute this argument so the rabble would not stand in their march towards the Progressive Utopia.

    As far as the common man obtaining a fully automatic machine gun, he can. These weapons, along with silencers, short barreled shotguns, short barreled rifles, destructive devices (RPGs) and a few other classes of weapons are regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. This law was passed due to fear that Al Capone and others who earned great wealth and power due to the failed and criminally short sited prohibition of alcohol. The specific reason that the restricted firearms that were originally included in the law were those that the media sensationalized. While these weapons were used in some very famous events, they were not used as widely as other weapons. However, they were scary, and we have to ban scary things.

    Back to the availability of machine guns. You or I could obtain one within about 6-9 months of federal paperwork, providing we could pass the background check. Almost anyone who can pass a background check to purchase a single barreled shotgun at Walmart can also pass the check required for machine guns. The limiting factor to buying machine guns are subsequent laws that restricted the further manufacture and importation of such arms. The limitations have caused the price of these weapons to skyrocket wildly since 1986.

    I sincerely hope this has shed some more light on this subject. While most of my comments are based on observations and bias, they are at least food for thought for folks who think otherwise.

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