Guns and Control by Guy Smith

Guns and Control by Guy Smith

Author:Guy Smith
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510760080
Publisher: Skyhorse
Published: 2020-08-30T16:00:00+00:00

The critical take-aways

• Guns are the primary tool for homicides, and a minority tool for all other violent crime

• Repeat violent offenders (especially street gang members) make up a disproportionate number of homicides

• Homicides rates rise with city-wide population counts, but not with population density

The five bad actors

There are good people and bad. The former group we don’t much care about. From a purely statistical standpoint, most people who own guns don’t cause trouble at all, much less trouble with guns. As we noted in the chapter on Gun Availability, somewhere around fifty-one million American households have one or more guns, making them available to over a hundred million people. Yet there are not a hundred million shootings in a year. This means that subsegments of the population are responsible for gun violence.

There are five primary types of bad actors when it comes to guns. Accepting that each group has subgroups, this short classification list is useful in understanding the role guns play in violence, the motivations of those who misuse guns, how and why they acquire them, and what might be done to prevent future gun violence. The five groups are:

CRIMINALS: These are “career” thugs, mainly soloists, for who committing crime is a means of gain. This includes liquor store robbers, muggers, etc.

GANGS: Though active in crime for profit, gang members have defined group cultures (unlike the soloist criminal) that endorse and promote violence for non-profit purposes (e.g., disrespect, territorial boundaries, etc.).

TERRORISTS: People who seek to make political or societal change through fear.

LUNATICS: People with severe mental impairments that cause them to commit acts of violence due to an incomplete capacity for moral judgement. (As a clarification for this terminology, when the Gun Facts project stated codifying who shouldn’t have guns, we set the standard in public discussion with criminals, lunatics, terrorists, and hotheads. It is a Gun Facts meme, part of our branding, and now part of the public dialogue. It may sound harsh to some ears, but given how vested we are in the term, I want to keep it in the nomenclature and thus we have continued to use it both here and for the Gun Facts project.)

HOTHEADS: People with anger control issues who, given the right set of circumstances, will misuse a gun.

What is instantly apparent is that these are very dissimilar people; all bad actors, but with distinctly different end goals. They also have distinctive modes for obtaining guns. For example, criminals and gang members are quite adroit at navigating underground sources and acquiring firearms “off the radar.” Terrorists and hotheads most often acquire their guns legally. Lunatics—at least when we look into mass public shooting incidents—show a mixed sourcing between legal gun buys and stealing guns, typically from family members.

As we drill down through gun crimes, keep the five actors in mind as it helps inform you as to where the bulk of gunplay derives. Using gun trace data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) for 2017, and attempting to


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