Gun Control: A Rush to Condemn Firearms?
A CBS article claims that a new gun control proposal in Congress will “require safe gun use”. Rufus Williams, Chicago Public Schools President, stated: “We’ve lost 31 children, 31 CPS students have died or have been murdered this school year and it's not OK.”1 This theme kicks off HB 2666, sponsored by Congressman Bobby Rush, who represents
What CBS doesn’t mention is that
Rush bases his justification for this new federal law in part on a recent tragedy where a criminal boarded a Chicago Transit Authority bus and began shooting students at a local high school. The shooter obtained the gun illegally from another person who knew the shooter’s murderous intentions. As noted above, concealed carry and private, unregistered transfers of firearms are already illegal in
For the Children?
Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “childhood” as: “The state or stage of life as a child…the time from birth to puberty.”5
Citing the latest Centers for Disease Control data available (2004) we find that 1,316 children died from all violence-related injuries. Of these, 285 died from firearms-related injuries. Since when did 21.7% become a “great majority”?
This is not a new ratio. Between 1994 and 2004, the percentage of all fatal injuries caused with firearms averaged 29.6%. More importantly, while all violence-related fatal injuries for children dropped 21.7% during this time period, fatal firearms injuries for children dropped over twice that rate: 56.6%. The rates per 100,000 population dropped 25.5% for all fatal injuries and 58.8% for firearms-related injuries. Looking at the raw numbers of fatalities, firearms injuries dropped from 39.1% to 21.7% of all fatalities.
In fairness, Congressman Rush may have been confused about the population group he is talking about: at one point, he discusses high school students; elsewhere, he mentions “children”. The Supreme Court defines an adult to be age 18 or older. In a recent decision, the Court abolished capital punishment for juvenile offenders, considered to be under 18.8 Examining fatal injuries for minors (ages 0-17), which includes high school students, the results are similar with one exception. Between 1994 and 2004, firearms-related violence caused 52.4% of all fatal injuries. This is a majority, but is not a “vast majority”. More importantly, while the total violence-related fatal injuries dropped 34.1%, firearms-related fatalities dropped 55.6%. The rates dropped 38.3% for all fatal injuries and 58.4% for firearms-related injuries. Examining only raw numbers, firearms injuries dropped from 65.6% to 44.2% of all fatalities.9
At issue is the 2004 reporting year, which recorded much lower-than-average rates for the 0-14 age group. Examining the time period of 1994-2003,
Considering these data and trends, where exactly, then, is the need to pass more laws? Rush’s stated goals are:
· to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth;
· to ensure that owners of qualifying firearms are knowledgeable in the safe use, handling, and storage of those firearms;
· to restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youth, and other persons prohibited by Federal law from receiving firearms…11
The only rationale for this bill lies in his desire “to facilitate the tracing of qualifying firearms used in crime by Federal and State law enforcement agencies” and in his desire to “implement a nationwide program of licensing all individuals who possess firearms and require all guns to be registered in a national gun registry”.12
Passing laws to enhance the safety of our children is always an emotionally satisfying activity, but using children as ideological human shields to justify legislation that only punishes law-abiding citizens is reprehensible. Rush wants to foist Chicago’s failed gun control program on the rest of the country: an egregious act that renders people even more defenseless against violent predators who will never obey gun control laws.
 Katie McCall, Blair’s Bill Will Require Safe Gun Use, CBS, June 10, 2007. http://cbs2chicago.com/local/local_story_161182751.html
2 1st District
4 Aiding and Abetting/Accessory, Findlaw. http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/aiding_abetting_accessory.html
5 The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Thumb Index Edition, 1993 Edition, page 386.
6 Ibid, page 2404.
7 Google search: definitions on puberty. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oi=defmore&q=define:puberty
8 5-4 Supreme Court Abolishes Juvenile Executions, ,
9 All fatality data referenced here was collected from the
11 Congressman Rush introduces gun legislation named after Blair Holt, the Julian High School hero, Office of Congressman Bobby Rush,