Gun Control: Coalition to Stop What?

In 2002, the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence (CSHV) published a report on the alleged merits of gun owner licensing, beginning with an unproven premise:

For years, polls have shown strong, stable public support for the idea of licensing access to handguns. The public intuitively understands both the concept of licensing and why it is appropriate to license people who want access to handguns.[1]

 Election results from 2004 show that gun controllers’ “public support” is mere fancy.[2] The people, by their voting record, show no such support for firearms licensing because they “intuitively” know that licensing leads to confiscation: an historically-proven fact.[3] Further reading of the CSHV report highlights the use of social engineering to prepare people for further gun control, in this case licensing:

In a sense, the federal government has “licensed” certain handgun buyers for decades. The handgun sales recordkeeping requirements of the Gun Control Act of 1968, supplemented by the Brady background check in 1994, constitute preconditions that must be satisfied before a person can buy a handgun from a licensed dealer. (Since 1998 the background check requirement has applied to long gun purchases as well.) All of these buyers must pass a criminal background check, attest to certain facts, and provide certain personal information. These basic federal requirements for purchases from licensed dealers enjoy virtually universal support. In other words, we need not debate whether we should have handgun licensing, because we already have it and all sides agree that we need it, at least in some form. Instead, we need to determine what the components of licensing should be and how to implement them. Before we get to that, however, we must understand in greater detail both the objectives of licensing and the extent to which current law meets those objectives.[4]  

Such verbiage shows how gun controllers use existing legislation to validate and justify the need for further, more restrictive legislation, without having to engage in any mental exertion to determine if earlier legislation benefited the people. Just for the sake of exercising our cerebrums, let’s go ahead anyway and “debate whether we should have handgun licensing.”Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Unless We Are Talking About GunsThe Coalition apparently cannot make sense of its own information. They at least admit that “gun deaths” are declining:

In the last decade, the number of gun deaths per year in America has ranged from a high of nearly 40,000 in 1993, to a low of just under 29,000 in 1999. Every year since 1995, more than half of these have been suicides, often involving young people and usually involving a handgun.[5]

 What they fail to do is frame an historical context that allows the reasoning person to make sense of the data. Since their report cites the Centers for Disease Control, we will use the same database on fatal injuries.Between 1981 and 2003, the earliest and latest data available, the overall death rate dropped 2.3% and the overall accidental death rate dropped 12.2%. (These data are important to create a framework for the rest of this analysis.) The homicide rate decreased 40.1% and firearm homicide decreased 37.7%. (While some may consider this an indicator that firearms are causative, please continue reading.)The suicide rate dropped 10%, but firearm suicide decreased 17.3%. Suicide by other means increased by 0.4%. Death from accidental firearms discharge dropped 69.2%, over five times the overall accidental death rate. This is also in stark contrast to other forms of accidental death: accidental falling mortality increased 7.7%; death from accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances increased 238.4%. More importantly, while 730 people died from accidental firearms discharge in 2003, 17,229 died from falls and 19,457 died from accidental poisoning (36,686 total). In 2003 there were 16,907 firearms suicides and 11,920 firearms homicides 2003 (28,827 total). If the folks at CSHV care so much about people dying, why don’t they act efficiently and form the Coalition to Stop Accidental Falling and Poisoning?[6]The final nail in the coffin of the “more guns equals more death” theory comes from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, another source cited by the CSHV report: Between 1981 and 2003, the number of handguns sold to American citizens increased the inventory over 86%.[7] During this same time, firearm homicide and suicide decreased, refuting the thesis that handguns are a causative factor in these deaths.The CSHV report states: “The ultimate goal of licensing, or of any other gun law, is to reduce the number of gun deaths and injuries.”[8] Were we to follow their suggestion and “not debate whether we should have handgun licensing,” we would not now realize that their criteria, “reduce the number of gun deaths,” is already met without licensing. For more corroboration on the lack of validity on adopting more gun control, let’s return to the CDC. After studying existing gun control laws, their task force concluded:

·        Bans on specified firearms or ammunition: “Results of studies of firearms and ammunition bans were inconsistent…”·        Restrictions on firearm acquisition: “Overall, evaluations of the effects of acquisition restrictions on violent outcomes have produced inconsistent findings…”·        Waiting periods for firearm acquisition: “Studies of the effects of waiting periods on violent outcomes yielded inconsistent results…”·        Firearm registration and licensing of owners: “the findings were inconsistent.”[9]  

We should also note that the CDC negates CSHV’s claim that existing federal legislation justifies “licensing.” The CDC states:

“At the national level, the Firearm Ownership Protection Act of 1986 specifically precludes the federal government from establishing and maintaining a registry of firearms and their owners.”[10]

 One final note: The report lists a set of objectives necessary to enact their licensing scheme. One objective entitled “Distinguishing the Qualified from the Unqualified” explains this criteria as: “Some preconditions…may pose a risk of fraud in the absence of strict controls…”[11]It appears, in the absence of “strict controls,” or perhaps reasonable self-control, CSHV has attempted to misinform the public on whether civilian firearms pose a risk to society. About the AuthorHoward Nemerov publishes with ChronWatch, News Busters and other sites, and is a frequent guest on NRA News. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign][1] Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence, Closing Illegal Gun Markets: Licensing Access to Handguns, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 2003, page 1.[2] Howard Nemerov, Gun Control: Campaign Finance and Historical Revisionism, News Busters, July 14, 2006. [3] Howard Nemerov, See Gun Control: Rebuttal to James Alan Fox, ChronWatch, August 22, 2006. [4] Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence, Closing Illegal Gun Markets: Licensing Access to Handguns, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 2003, pages 2-3. [5] Ibid, page 2.[6] CDC Data compiled into spreadsheets. Email request for Excel workbook. [7] Data compiled into spreadsheet from numerous ATF reports. Email request for Excel spreadsheet. Percentage is approximate because of rounding used in reports, please missing import data for years 1999-2003, which would increase the growth rate of handguns.[8] Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence, Closing Illegal Gun Markets: Licensing Access to Handguns, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 2003, page 2.[9] Task Force on Community Preventive Services, First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws, Centers for Disease Control, October 3, 2003.[10] Ibid.[11] Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence, Closing Illegal Gun Markets: Licensing Access to Handguns, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, 2003, page 3.