Guns and Violence: What Does the Data Say?

It seems everyone has an opinion on gun policy in America.  Everyday news casters, political pundits, and anyone with a social media account spout off empty platitudes and make policy suggestions, but how many of them have actually taken a deep look at the statistics?  From what I can tell, almost none of them.  

For instance, while guns are used in the majority of homicides in the U.S., rifles account for less than 400 homicides each year.  That's a paltry 2% of the homicides in our country, yet many on the political left want to ban the ownership of rifles.  In fact, rifles have only been used in 1/3 of mass shootings, while handguns make up the majority of both homicides and mass shooting events.  To cap it off, knives are used in about 1,600 homicides each year or approximately 4-5x more than rifles.  If you added up every casualty from every mass shooting since 1982, you would find that the sum only accounts for 1/2 of the number of individuals killed by knife every year.  So, while one may understand the sentiment behind wanting an "assault weapons ban", the fact is that there is no statistical data to support the ban.  

When one digs further into the data, they find that every country used as an exemplar of gun policy, due to the reduction in homicides, has had the same statistical trend as the United States.  Canada, Australia, Japan, etc. have all had the same decrease in homicides since the late 80's/early 90's as the U.S. has, despite the fact that the U.S. has reduced regulations on firearms.  

As I argue in the video, focusing on the tools used does nothing to combat the acts committed.  Just like with addiction, attacking the drug does little to curb the use of illicit substances.  In fact, it often exacerbates the issues.  Any psychologist or addiction specialist will tell you that you cannot treat addiction without treating the underlying cause (e.g. trauma, depression, etc).  The same is true with violence in our country.  We are ignoring the real cause of homicides/violent acts, just as we are with addiction.