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New Crime Statistics Show that Shotguns and Hunting Rifles aren’t the Problem. Handguns Are.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Government released detailed new crime statistics for the entire nation through its Crime in the United States report.  These statistics matter because they counter a great deal of hype by many on both sides of the gun control debate.  I find Expanded Table 8 to be particularly interesting, because it offers data on the count and relative share of homicides by various weapon types.  I’ve gone back through the Crime in the United States reports for the last eight years to look at trends in homicide by weapon type:

Homicides by Weapon Type, 2008 to 2015 (Uniform Crime Reports)


Year after year, it’s clear that firearms in general kill many more people than are killed by other methods.  Those who say “but you could choke someone… are you going to take away people’s hands?” aren’t dealing with that reality.  But the FBI’s data allows us to look more closely at this question.  What kind of firearms are used in homicides in this country?  Again, from Table 8:

Firearm Homicides, 2008 to 2015

The overwhelming majority of firearm homicides are carried out using handguns.  Hunters who worry that government is trying to take their guns away shouldn’t worry… if policymakers are being sensible.  Conversely, those who try to justify laws against background checks by making reference to a noble cultural heritage of family hunting are missing the point. Handguns, which are particularly ill-suited to hunting, are responsible for most gun deaths.

A postscript, useful to remember in these times when a presidential candidate is claiming on national television that “you walk down the street, you get shot”: according to the FBI, there were 13,455 homicides in the United States in 2015.  That’s 4 thousanths of 1% of the massive U.S. population.  In the meantime, 614,348 died of heart disease.  Both preventable.  Which covered?

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