Facts and Myths About Gun Violence


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The Joyce Foundation, founded in 1948, focuses on public policies that benefit the Great Lakes community. For the first quarter century of its work, the Foundation awarded grants to health organizations and hospitals. Currently, the Foundation's grant making focuses on education, employment, the environment, gun violence, money and politics, and culture.

Here is the foundation’s fact finding on issues regarding gun violence.

Myth: There is decreasing public support for policy solutions to curb gun violence.

Fact: The majority of Americans support common-sense measures to prevent gun violence.

For example, 86% of Americans support a measure requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, while 63% of Americans support a measure banning military-style assault weapons. In fact, even 74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun. While public opinion polling by Gallup has shown decreasing support for "stricter gun laws," other polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support specific gun policy solutions. Prominent pollsters have also questioned the Gallup poll.

Myth: All we need to do is enforce the laws already on the books.

Fact: Better gun enforcement and stronger gun laws are both needed to reduce gun violence.

Gun enforcement is critical, and law enforcement agrees. But even law enforcement believes that enforcement, without stronger laws, is not enough. The guns and ammunition used by the suspect in the Aurora shooting were all legally purchased under current law – including a military-style assault weapon and 6,000 rounds of ammunition. That’s because existing gun laws are riddled with loopholes and gaps. For example, a 1994 law that banned the sale of military-style assault rifles was allowed to expire in 2004

There are also numerous steps that the federal government could take to step up gun enforcement.  But federal enforcement action on guns has been constantly hampered by the efforts of the gun lobby, which has left the federal agency responsible for enforcing firearms laws – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – under-funded and without permanent leadership.

Myth: Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.

Fact: More guns means more gun murders and more gun suicides.

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has accumulated a considerable body of evidence about the relationship between gun availability and gun violence, concluding that more guns means more gun murders and more gun suicides

Myth: America’s gun laws don’t work.

Fact: Research demonstrates the effectiveness of a wide range of gun laws, including:

Myth: Gun ownership is on the rise and guns are everywhere.

Fact: Gun ownership in America is in decline.

Actually, gun ownership is significantly in decline in America, according to the General Social Survey, one of the leading sources of data in social science research. A vast majority of the American public do not own firearms, but those Americans who own guns own more of them.

Myth: If someone had a gun at the scene of a mass shooting, tragedy could have been prevented.

Fact: There is no credible evidence that the carrying of hidden, loaded weapons decreases crime.

There is no credible evidence that the carrying of hidden, loaded weapons decreases crime. In fact, the argument that more guns equal less crime has been thoroughly debunked by a range of academic researchers.

Myth: The Second Amendment is a barrier to stronger gun laws

Fact: The Second Amendment and recent Supreme Court decisions do not block stronger gun laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Heller v. D.C. and McDonald v. Chicago do not prevent strong gun regulations.  Far from it.  In Heller v. D.C., Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Since the Heller decision, lower courts across the nation have found a wide range of firearms law constitutional. Put simply, the Second Amendment and recent Supreme Court decisions are not barriers to stronger gun laws.

Myths and Facts About Gun Violence in America


Visit your local library to obtain these resources:

Encyclopedia of Gun Control & Gun Rights, 2nd ed.
Glenn H. Utter, and Robert J. Spitzer, (2011 ).
Utter, a professor at Lamar University and author of the first edition (Greenwood, 1999), joins Spitzer, a professor at SUNY at Cortland, to combine their expertise in gun-control issues, updating and expanding this new edition from Grey House.
There are more than 300 entries in the book, with 36 new articles, including entries on the Virginia Tech shootings as well as the Tucson shooting involving U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
— REVIEW. First published December 1, 2011 (Booklist).Steve Stratton

Gun Control: A Documentary and Reference Guide

Robert J. Spitzer, (2009).
This resource will be very useful for the general public and students. The author, a political science professor who has written extensively on gun control, brings forward the historical and modern aspects of the topic in American history. Although there are other recent reference resources on the subject, this single volume brings together the most pertinent historical and contemporary documents in a very useful, well-organized, and objective manner.
— Excerpt of review by Arthur Meyers first published May 27, 2009 (Booklist Online).

Outgunned: Up against the NRA: The First Complete Insider Account of the Battle Over Gun Control
Peter Harry Brown and Daniel G. Abel, (2003).
It is no secret that gun control has been one of the most controversial political issues in the U.S. for the past several decades. What is less well known, however, is the extent of the dirty dealing that is commonly associated with this hot-button issue. Investigative reporter Brown and attorney Abel have chronicled the battle of the group of attorneys suing the gun industry and the NRA for “knowingly manufacturing and marketing lethal machines to criminals.”  During the course of this investigative account of these legal battles, the authors expose a wealth of information detailing NRA strong-arm tactics and the suppression of damaging information by the ever-secretive gun industry. This chilling account will add fuel to the already hot nationwide debate about guns. — Excerpt of review by Margaret Flanagan first published December 15, 2002 (Booklist).

Politics of Gun Control, 5th edition
Robert J. Spitzer, 2007
Robert J. Spitzer has long been the go-to guy on gun control, and his evenhanded treatment of the issue continues to compel interest and interviews by such luminaries as Terry Gross and Keith Olbermann. Where else will you find an author writing on this subject who is a member of both the NRA and the Brady Center? New to the Fifth Edition: Features a new, in-depth section on the movement to allow gun carrying on college campuses. Covers recent public shootings including that of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Includes such recent court rulings as D.C. v. Heller, McDonald v. Chicago, and others. Offers new data on gun ownership, gun deaths, school shootings, and public opinion on gun control. Looks at NRA politics in recent elections. Examines ATF role changes in light of increased border patrols and heightened Mexican drug violence. Explores phenomena related to social media including gun meet-ups.



FRONTLINE: The Wounded Platoon DVD, (2010).

Changing the Conversation



Janet Fitch, (2010).

National Geographic: Guns in America DVD

Also of interest:

Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy
Joan Burbick, 2006

Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control
Kristin Goss, 2006

A Good Fight
Sarah Brady, 2002

Lethal Logic
Dennis Henigan, (2009).

While We Were Sleeping
David Hemenway, 2009

Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea
Josh Horwitz and Casey Anderson, 2009
And when gun enthusiasts talk about Constitutional liberties guaranteed by the Second Amendment, they are referring to freedom in a general sense, but they also have something more specific in mind---freedom from government oppression. Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea reveals that the proponents of this view base their argument on a deliberate misreading of history.  The book discusses issues regarding the NRA, D.C. v. Heller, German gun laws for Nazis during the Holocaust, property rights, and "shoot first" laws. Challenging the proposition that more guns equal more freedom, they expose Insurrectionism---not government oppression---as the true threat to freedom in the U.S. today. Joshua Horwitz is Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

Beyond the Bullet: Personal Stories of Gun Violence Aftermath
Heidi Yewman, 2009

Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50 Cent
Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce, 2007

Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist
Richard Feldman, 2007

America’s Great Gun Game: Gun Ownership vs. Americans Safety
Earl McDowell, 2007





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Date :11 November 2012

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