11:55 PM EST, January 20, 2013
Handguns are biggest perpetrators of violence
To the editor:
I find myself agreeing, in part, with Steve McAbee (Jan. 14). While I am in favor of sensible gun control and other measures to curb violence, I find it counterproductive to legislate up the wrong tree.
According to the FBI, McAbee is correct in stating that rifles (including assault rifles) account for a low number of murders (2.55 percent in 2011). And he is correct in saying that other weapons are used to murder more people than are rifles (Knives and cutting instruments, 13.38 percent; punching and kicking, 5.75 percent; blunt objects, 3.92 percent: shotguns, 2.81 percent).
The statistics also show that the murder rate between 2007 and 2011 has decreased 15.1 percent, or about 3 percent a year. In terms of murders, the rate of violence is decreasing, not increasing. Tragic headlines aside, we are less likely to be murdered today than five years ago.
However, what McAbee and others fail to mention is that handguns account for a whooping 49.12 percent of murders. To have any meaningful impact on the murder rate, handguns should be the target, not assault rifles. The comparison is bleak — rifles; 321 murders; handguns, 6,220 murders.
By taking an unbalanced position on scary — but statistically less important, weapons — we squander any logical high ground we might have in our efforts to curb violence.
I don’t pretend to know the proper approach for balancing rights with safety, but let’s take aim at impact issues where we can make a strong case and a meaningful difference.
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