America’s Myth of Preventative Violence

You’ve probably heard the arguments from the American gun lobby. Most of them boil down to needing the potential of violence to be able to prevent violence. Anabaptists believe otherwise, siding with the apostle Paul’s claim that we should not fight evil with evil but instead overcome it with good (Romans 12:21). That sounds crazy and naive to many, but how about stats to back that up, courtesy of this Mother Jones article:

Nobody is coming for your guns. Current estimates say there are 310 million civilian-owned guns in America, vs 1 million by police and 3 million by military. So they would be outnumbered 79 to 1 if they ever tried to take away your guns by force.

Source: the Mother Jones article

Technically, a person is usually using the gun to kill people, yes, so “guns don’t kill people.” But the higher the rate of gun ownership, the more murders, so they at least make it a whole lot easier. For every 1% increase in gun ownership rate, there is a 1% firearm homicide rate.

Having an armed society does not make you more polite (out of fear, I presume). It does the opposite, not only increasing violent crime rates but also increasing things like bad driving.

Good guys with guns don’t stop bad guys with guns, at least not often, even if you can determine who the good guys vs the bad guys are. There has not been a single mass shooting in the last 30 years stopped by somebody else having a gun.

Having a gun in the house doesn’t make you safer. “For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.”

Guns almost always are used escalate arguments, sending leading to murder. These cases of murder in an argument are almost 10 times more likely than killing someone trying to stop a crime.

Guns don’t make women safer. Almost 6 times as many women were shot to death by men they knew – husbands, boyfriends, and exes – than were shot by male strangers.

There’s no proof that violent videogames live to violence. Japan spends more on videogames per capita (we’ll assume similar levels of violence in those games since most of the games are the same) but had a total of 11 gun homicides in 2008 vs 11,030 in the U.S. Even adjusted for per capita, that isn’t even close. The big difference between the two nations: 88 civilian guns per 100 people in the U.S. and 0.6 civilian guns per 100 people in Japan.

While more guns are owned in the U.S., a smaller percentage of people own them. So there’s that for a positive – some are slowly rejecting the violence myth.

The U.S. does need better gun laws. 40% of prison inmates for violent crimes got their guns without any kind of background check and 62% of sellers said they would sell to someone who openly admitted that they would not pass a check.

To see all of the stats, check out the original article.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.