Guns in America - Eugene VolokhPresentation Transcript
Guns in AmericaEugene VolokhUCLA School of Law
Some Facts About Guns in America 40-45% of all households have a gun. About 300 million guns. 12,600 intentional gun homicides/year (4.2 per 100,000 people) (2007 data). 17,350 gun suicides/year. 600 fatal gun accidents/year. Serious nonfatal injuries/year: 7000 accidents, 30,000 assault, 3600 suicide attempts. 300,000 nonhomicide gun crimes/year (25% of robberies, 5% of assaults, very few rapes). 80,000-2.5 million defensive gun uses year.
Some Facts About the Important Gun Laws in America Home possession of rifles and shotguns legal everywhere. Home possession of handguns was legal almost everywhere, except Chicago and D.C. Now legal everywhere, given Supreme Court decisions. ◦ but apparently a hassle in Mass., N.J., N.Y.
Right to Carry Concealed Handguns
Right to Carry Concealed Handguns
Asking the Right Question Ask: What are the costs and benefits of a proposed policy? Not “What are the costs and benefits of the regulated activity?” Not “Would we be better off in a __-free world?”
Considering Substitution Effects What happens if you ban “Saturday Night Specials” (cheap, small, mostly low-caliber handguns)? What would criminals who would have committed crimes with SNSs do? ◦ Naive view: They won’t commit gun crimes. ◦ Less naive view: Some won’t comply with the SNS ban, but others won’t commit gun crimes. ◦ Sounder view: Some won’t comply with the SNS ban, some won’t commit gun crimes, and some would switch to other guns, which might be more lethal.
Counting Actual Behavior Uniform Crime Reports (police data) vs. National Crime Victimization Survey (survey data). Newspaper stories about gun crimes vs. newspaper stories about defensive gun uses.
Disaggregating Possible Effects Don’t ask “how will handgun ban affect crime and death?” Ask how it will affect: ◦ Gun accidents. ◦ Gun suicides. ◦ Gun homicides and crimes at home. ◦ Gun homicides and crimes in public by small-time criminals by serious criminals by mass shooters. ◦ Homicides and crimes averted by defensive users at home in public.
Are Guns Effective for Self-Defense? Defender injury rates, by defender’s weapon: 45.0% 40.0% 35.0% 30.0% Total 25.0% 20.0% No 15.0% defense Knife 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% Robbery Assault Which deters more: “Protected by Armed Patrol” ◦ or “Protected by Unarmed Patrol”?
Who Are the Gun Killers? 80% of murder arrestees have adult arrest records. 70% have adult conviction records. Most gun killers are probably unlikely to abide by gun control laws. Gun robbers are also probably unlikely to abide by gun control laws.
Comparative Evidence? Killias et al., Guns, Violent Crime, and Suicide in 21 Countries, 43 Can. J. Criminology 429 (2001). No statistically significant correlation between gun ownership and total suicide, homicide, assault, robbery. Correlation for suicide with gun, homicide with gun (of women only), assault with gun, robbery with gun.
Comparative Evidence? Confounding factors—culture, demographics, etc. Famous Seattle/Vancouver study: ◦ Seattle 11.3 homicides per100,000 people ◦ Vancouver 6.9 But among whites ◦ Seattle 6.2 ◦ Vancouver 6.4 Other comparisons (2010/11 data) ◦ Manitoba 3.95 ◦ Saskatchewan 3.4 ◦ Alberta 2.45 ◦ British Columbia 1.85 ◦ Minnesota 1.4 ◦ N. Dakota 2.5 ◦ Montana 2.7 ◦ Idaho 1.8 ◦ Washington 2.35
Comparative Evidence? Even if greater gun ownership caused more homicide or crime, does it follow that gun control would decrease homicide or crime? Gun control laws may be followed by the otherwise law-abiding. But less likely by criminals, and where 300 million guns are already in private hands, criminals are likely to get them.
Regulatory Options—“What” Bans Fully automatic weapons. Semi-automatic “assault weapons.” Handguns. Cheap, small “Saturday Night Specials.” All guns except “personalized” guns.
Assault Weapons Bans “The term ‘semiautomatic assault weapon’ means— “(A) any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as— “(i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models); [other items omitted — ed.] “(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of— “(i) a folding or telescoping stock; “(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; “(iii) a bayonet mount; “(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and “(v) a grenade launcher ….”
Assault Weapons Bans “In fact, the assault weapons ban will have no significant effect either on the crime rate or on personal security. Nonetheless, it is a good idea .... “Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.” Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 5, 1996.
Regulatory Options–“Where” Bans Bans on concealed carry. Bans on carrying in particular kinds of places. ◦ churches; ◦ places that sell alcohol.
Regulatory Options— “How”/“When” Restrictions Requirements to keep guns locked. Possibly only when young children are present. The evidence “is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of the laws in reducing violence or unintentional … injury and other violent outcomes.” Waiting periods. “*T+he evidence is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of waiting periods.”
Treating Guns Like Cars No federal licensing or registration for cars. Any person may use a car on his own property without license or registration. Any adult may get a license to use a car in public places ◦ by passing a fairly simple test that nearly all can pass.
The Second Amendment “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.” Along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, originally written to bind only the federal government. Fourteenth Amendment, in 1868, has been interpreted as applying most of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments.
“The Right of the People” First Amendment: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Fourth Amendment: “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” Ninth Amendment: “shall not be construed to … disparage other* rights+ retained by the people.”
“To Keep and Bear Arms” “*N+o Papist … may have or keep in his House … any Arms.” “*T+he Prohibition contained ... in this Act, of having, keeping, bearing, or wearing any Arms or Warlike Weapons ... shall not extend ... to any Officers or their Assistants, employed in the Execution of Justice ...” Right of citizens to “bear arms in defense of themselves *himself+ and the state.”
“Being Necessary” “*T+he trial of facts in the vicinity where they happen, is so essential to the security of the life, liberty and estate of the citizen, that no crime ... ought to be tried in any other county than that in which it is committed” (N.H. 1784). “The freedom of deliberation ... in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution ...” (Mass. 1780). “In suits at common law, ... the trial by jury, as one of the best securities to the rights of the people, ought to remain inviolate” (Madison). “*T+he freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable” (Madison).
“Well-Regulated Militia” Militia Act of 1792: All free white male citizens age 18 to 45. Current Militia Act: All male citizens age 17 to 45. “Well-regulated” = well-functioning, well- governed.
Living Constitution Described as individual right in Fourteenth Amendment debates. Described as individual right by Congress, from 1866 to 2005. Pre-Heller survey (2008): 67% (to 30%) believe the Second Amendment protects individual right, after being read the text of the provision. Without being read the text, support is 73% (to 20%).
State Constitutional Rights Blue: Individual right (KS likely starting Nov. 2010). WI 1998: “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” Yellow: Unclear (HI, VA). Red: No individual right (CA; IA, MN; MA, MD, NJ, NY).
Three Kinds of Guns Handguns. Rifles. Shotguns.
Five Solutions to the ReloadingProblem One round per barrel. Pump/lever-action. Revolver. Semi-automatic. Fully automatic.