5 Facts About Guns, Schools, And Violence

What every legislator - and citizen - needs to know.

In the wake of December’s horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Vice President Joe Biden is chairing a panel of experts that will make gun-control recommendations to President Barack Obama by the end of the month. The president has said that enacting new restrictions on guns will be one of his highest priorities.

No one wants to ever again see anything like the senseless slaughter of 26 people – including 20 children - at a school. But as legislators turn toward creating new gun laws, here are five facts they need to know.

1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years.

The violent crime rate - which includes murder, rape, and beatings - is half of what it was in the early 1990s. And the violent crime rate involving the use of weapons has also declined at a similar pace.

2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.

Despite terrifying events like Sandy Hook or last summer’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings are not becoming more frequent. “There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Northeastern University, who studies the issue. Other data shows that mass killings peaked in 1929.

3. Schools are getting safer.

Across the board, schools are less dangerous than they used be. Over the past 20 years, the rate of theft per 1,000 students dropped from 101 to 18. For violent crime, the victimization rate per 1,000 students dropped from 53 to 14.

4. There Are More Guns in Circulation Than Ever Before.

Over the past 20 years, virtually every state in the country has liberalized gunownership rules and many states have expanded concealed carry laws that allow more people to carry weapons in more places. There around 300 million guns in the United States and at least one gun in about 45 percent of all households. Yet the rate of gun-related crime continues to drop.

5. “Assault Weapons Bans” Are Generally Ineffective.

While many people are calling for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons – an arbitrary category of guns that has no clear definition – research shows it would have no effect on crime and violence. “Should it be renewed,” concludes a definitive study, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is as horrifing a crime as can be imagined. It rips at the country’s heart and the call to action is strong and righteous. But as Joe Biden and his panel of experts consider changes to gun laws and school-safety policies, they need to lead with their heads and not just their hearts.

Over the past dozen years, too many policies – the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, the TARP bailouts – have been ruled by emotion and ideology.

Passing sweeping new restrictions on Second Amendment rights won’t heal the pain and loss we all feel but just may create many more problems in our future.

Written by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Amanda C. Winkler. Additional camera work by Joshua Swain.

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  • Shocked||

    These facts must be very hard to find. No major news outlet seems able to include them in the discussion.

  • DJK||

    The claims contain links to either original source data from the FBI or DOJ or to previous articles which contain these links. The data are readily available to anyone who would like to educate themselves on the facts.

    Sorry if you were being sarcastic.

  • Brendan||

    I think he was talking about news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, LA Times, etc

  • bocomoj||

    @Shocked: Thanks for making me grin. Needed that!

  • Chaos||

    Yeah, like the major news outlets would look for any proof or facts supporting a pro-gun argument or article. Lol.

  • Hilary||

    I completely want to believe the statistics of the decrease in violent crime and I do for the most part. But do you think any of the decrease has to do with fewer people reporting crimes? It's just something I wonder when I see those statistics.

  • DaveSs||

    If anything, compared to the 50s/60s I expect that reporting of crimes is increased.

    During the 50s/60s I suspect a lot of minorities probably didn't bother to report crimes because they knew the local police wouldn't even bother to investigate.

  • JD the elder||

    People are reporting less crime...by a factor of almost 5?! That would be far more incredible than the crime rate itself dropping that much.

    Also, homicide is often used as a benchmark for that kind of thing, because there's very little "underreporting of homicide". If homicide shows that kind of a drop (and it does) then chances are that the drop in other violent crime is not just a factor of reporting.

  • Chaos||

    I don't think so Hilary. I don't know how old you are, but 25 years ago it seemed like you read or heard about an incident of road rage every day. Then states starting enacting "Right To Carry" laws,and suddenly you didn't hear about "Road Rage" near as much. People quickly learned that you never know who is carrying a gun, and they also learned that it is futile to bring a Louisville Slugger or a tire iron to a gun fight! The expression "an armed society is a polite society" turned out to be very apropos.

  • Raven Nation||

    But, but, but...if you allow people to carry, then every instance of road rage will turn into a shoot out. I know that because very smart people told me so.

  • Henry||

    "do you think any of the decrease has to do with fewer people reporting crimes?"

    Tough to do with gunshot incidents, especially if you ever want your wounds repaired.

  • GregMax||

    The "freakonomics" guys argue that lower crime rates are the effect of greater abortions minimizing the number of "unwanted" births . . . I don't have stats but many abortions are performed in poorer urban areas and these are also where the VAST majority of reported gun (handgun) killings occur.
    Making some dude in Montana register his AK or AR is not going to do anything to lower the crime rate.
    Ironically, it's liberals who cry foul when police try "stop and frisk". They'd rather impose bogus "bans" on the rest of us.

  • Jake W||

    Let's not apply logic to our problems, people won't act on facts. Nice thought, though.

  • Hilary||

    Thank you Dave and JD, I think that reasoning quells my suspicions. I only wondered because of personal experience in my area where I know people that have not bothered reporting assault because of the police department not responding for 4+hrs (the running theory there was that any victim in that area, at that time of night, put themselves in harms way). I thought this might be symptomatic of a more prevalent problem. But maybe these issues have always been with us and would not pose any statistical significance.

  • Ron||

    In my neck of the woods two things have happened recently that makes people not want to call the cops.
    1. A person called about a gun theft so the police arrived and looked at where the gun was kept. The police decided to run a check on the remaining guns and found they weren't all register so the victim was arrested. Moral if your robbed of a gun don't tell the police. I know I won't.
    2. A person was pulled over and they found 10 grand on him. it turns out in California that if you have a large amount of money on you it is assumed you are a drug dealer and the police can confiscate your money until proven otherwise. I know lots of people who carry cash for other than drug purposes. So if your cash is robbed don't report it because they may accuse you of being a drug dealer.
    The moral of all this is we have to have guns because we can no longer trust our police state.
    BTW My neighbor was shooting at 1 am and his wife was yealing at him so I called the sheriff it took them 45 minutes to arrive. I still don't know what was going on but I was prepared.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Moral: don't live in a state or locality where you have to "register" your guns. What jurisdiction was this, where they checked the other guns to see if they were "registered"?

  • ||

    yea, that's some crazy shit

  • Ron||

    California where else

  • Ron||

    and to continue it might not matter where you live if the Dems get their way.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    You needed to tell 911 that you thought a vicious dog was attacking a LEO. They would have been there in a flash with the local SWAT team.

  • ArcaniteCartel||

    #5 is a distortion of the content of the report you claim to be citing in the "no effect on crime and violence" link.

    Go back and read the report.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: ArcaniteCartel,

    Go back and read the report.

    Fuck you. You go ahead and point out or paste whatever contradicts the author's interpretation of the results, but I am certainly not going to perform a fishing expedition hoping to stumble on whatever specific paragraph helped you arrive at your conclusion.

  • Hopfiend||

    I read the significant findings section and suspect that:

    since the report appeared to favor increased restrictions on LCMs and a greater period of time to continue statistical analysis, that cartel believes NG was suggesting the report writers said that the ban shouldn't be renewed.

    That is just my suspicion tho

  • ArcaniteCartel||

    If you don't care enough to get off your ass and read the damn report, you can go to hell.

    Now, I might have accommodated if you started out a tad friendlier. But Fuck You right back at you, you lazy bastard.

  • barfman2013||


  • Jordan||

    Well then why don't you humor the rest of us. I read the report, and it is clear that Reason's characterization was completely accurate.

  • Hopfiend||

    Glad it wasn't just me, hard to evaluate and agree or disagree if you don't know the specific point of contention in the first place.

  • ArcaniteCartel||

    Starting out with "fuck you" didn't help.

  • ArcaniteCartel||


    Here's a distortion: "no effect on crime and violence".

    Here's a section from the report pg 51

    6.4. Summary
    Consistent with predictions derived from the analysis of market indicators in
    Chapter 5, analyses of national ATF gun tracing data and local databases on guns
    recovered by police in several localities have been largely consistent in showing that
    criminal use of AWs, while accounting for no more than 6% of gun crimes even before
    the ban, declined after 1994, independently of trends in gun crime. In various places and
    times from the late 1990s through 2003, AWs typically fell by one-third or more as a
    share of guns used in crime.59, 60 Some of the most recent, post-2000 data suggest

  • Henry||

    "Crime and violence" != "crime attributable to AWs." There's your first gullibility failure. The whole category of "gun violence" is a chimera. If "gun violence" goes down by 50% and violent assaults on disarmed citizens doubles, Sarah Brady computes this as a win, but no thinking person does.

  • Brubaker||

    "Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence."

    That clearly appears to support the author and contradict your assertion. Perhaps you should go back and read the report--with a less biased eye.

  • JWnTX||

    10.2.1. Potential Consequences of Reauthorizing the Ban As Is

    Should it be renewed, the ban might reduce gunshot victimizations. This effect is likely to be small at best and possibly too small for reliable measurement. A 5% reduction in gunshot victimizations is perhaps a reasonable upper bound estimate of the ban’s potential impact (based on the only available estimate of gunshot victimizations resulting from attacks in which more than 10 shots were fired), but the actual impact is likely to be smaller and may not be fully realized for many years into the future, particularly if pre-ban LCMs continue to be imported into the U.S. from abroad. Just as the restrictions imposed by the ban are modest – they are essentially limits on weapon accessories like LCMs, flash hiders, threaded barrels, and the like – so too are the potential benefits.118 In time, the ban may be seen as an effective prevention measure that stopped further spread of weaponry considered to be particularly dangerous (in a manner similar to federal restrictions on fully automatic weapons). But that conclusion will be contingent on further research validating the dangers of AWs and LCMs.

    Sounds like presented here to me...

  • ArcaniteCartel||

    10.2.3. Potential Consequences of Lifting the Ban
    If the ban is lifted, it is likely that gun and magazine manufacturers will
    reintroduce AW models and LCMs, perhaps in substantial numbers.119 In addition, AWs
    grandfathered under the 1994 law may lose value and novelty, prompting some of their
    lawful owners to sell them in secondary markets, where they may reach criminal users.
    Any resulting increase in crimes with AWs and LCMs might increase gunshot
    victimizations, though this effect could be difficult to discern statistically.
    It is also possible, and perhaps probable, that new AWs and LCMs will eventually
    be used to commit mass murder. Mass murders garner much media attention, particularly
    when they involve AWs (Duwe, 2000). The notoriety likely to accompany mass murders
    if committed with AWs and LCMs, especially after these guns and magazines have been
    deregulated, could have a considerable negative impact on public perceptions, an effect
    that would almost certainly be intensified if such crimes were committed by terrorists
    operating in the U.S.

  • ||

    "But as Joe Biden and his panel of experts consider changes to gun laws and school-safety policies, they need to lead with their heads and not just their hearts."


  • Barely Suppressed Rage||


    Hehehehehehe.... woo.

  • ||

    well, marijuana has been legal here for a month. and as predicted, life goes on... virgins are not being forcefully deflowered in satanic rituals, hordes of marijuana frenzied crazies are not marauding in the streets. life is normal. and hopefully, we will set up a distribution network soon and start making some TAX money from it. mebbe Obama could work on convincing congress to legalize/tax and use that money to cut the recent social security tax increase.


    yea, right.

    oh, and the evul feds haven't cut off our highway fundz etc.

  • fish||

    and as predicted, life goes on... virgins are not being forcefully deflowered in satanic rituals, hordes of marijuana frenzied crazies are not marauding in the streets.

    But but but....those were the results I was counting on when I voted for the measure.

    Wussy satanists!

  • Generic Stranger||

    Anyone know what the shotgun shells at 1:36 are?

    They're uncrimped, with something that looks like a red slug in them. They look to be 20 gauge, but it could be an oddly colored 12 gauge shell; hard to tell when it's uncrimped like that.

    I'm guessing flare, bird bomb, or rubber slug.

  • ||

    It's a gay sex thing - you really don't want to know.

  • Chaos||

    They are 20 gauge Federal (brand) rifled slugs for deer hunting. You can tell they are 20 guage because they are yellow. You can also tell the are 3 inch shells, as opposed to the standard 2and3/4 inch. You can see the dimple in the center of the slug if you look close. As for the red, that must be a new feature. When I used slugs, they were uncolored lead gray. Most brands of slugs are not crimped. Hope this info answered your questions.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Yellow usually does mean 20 gauge, yes, but it's not a hard and fast rule, though I admit I've never seen a yellow shotgun shell that wasn't a 20 gauge.

    As for the crimping, what I meant is that the sides aren't rolled over. All the slugs I've ever used had them folded over back over inside of the shell to create a somewhat thicker rim and to help keep the slug in, but these aren't. Maybe they're reloads or non-factory loads by someone who doesn't have the proper machine for it.

    The red slug is still odd, though. The presence of the dimple doesn't mean much; they could have just molded a purpose-made projectile on a Foster slug. Searching on the internet led me to that claims they're "exploding tip shells" but gives absolutely no further information, so it's hard to tell if they're full of shit or not.

  • Generic Stranger||

    ...led me to a *website*....

  • Generic Stranger||

    Looking at the video again there is a brief moment where the focus allows the label to be read and they are 20 gauge shells.

    Now to find out what the hell the slugs are. The label also warns to use only an open choke and rifled barrel. A Foster slug requires neither. Curious.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Sabot slug

  • Generic Stranger||

    It looks too big for that, though, and I don't see a sabot. Also doesn't explain the red coloration.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Assault slugs, as opposed to salt slugs.

    You don't wanna touch that.

  • JohnathanStein||

    These shootings nearly always seem to involve psychiatric drugs -- why is this not being reported?

    See http://ssristories.com/

  • Hopfiend||

    Rhetorical question

  • Sebastian||

    Guns are important for self defense but it's always more important to remember that the reason the constitution gives us the right to bear arms is so that we can defend ourselves from government and foreign invaders. Of course the founders were thinking that americans would form militias and have more combined might than the military, but sadly this isn't so.

  • disptvet||

    I agree that the public does not outgun the military, but they are probably at least on par, if not above, local law enforcement. Should it ever come to the point where they overrule the Posse Comitatus act, I can assure you there are plenty of weapons to prevent the military from winning.

    As an example, Afghanistan was not conquered by Britain, USSR, nor the US. Having been there on numerous occasions, I can assure you that the folks fighting the listed powers were severely outgunned and outmanned in every occasion. yet they still have not been conquered. And that place is only roughly the size of TX.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    A large part of the right side of video was covered with a Carbonite ad. Even the "Full Screen" button was behind the ad. Couldn't enlarge the video to look closely at the numbers on the chart.

    The squirrels need to check their ad placements.

  • KamikazeBullet||

    Get Firefox then the AdBlock Plus add on. That will take care of your YouTube viewing problems.

  • The Dude||

    No amount of new gun laws will prevent the next, [perish the thought] Sandy Hook.

    You cant fix crazy when it goes untreated.

  • SusanM||

    Slightly OT but a fine example of law enforcement:


  • ||

    Some things must be banned in order to protect the public. Ladders cause 700 deaths a year because people fall of them and die. Should they be banned?

  • Winghunter||

    In the past 22 years with 'Gun-Free Zones' (Defense-Forbidden Zones) there have been 10 attacks. In the 22 years previous to that there were 2 attacks.

    So, why aren't we charging the ones responsible for gun-free zones with Accessories Before-The-Fact?? Why are we letting them control the narrative? Hold THEM Accountable!

  • ||

    Socialist democracies and its criminal gangs fear the wimp. With one small rock the wimp can beat a member of the toughest gang member into unconsciousness. But the wimp’s victory is short lived; it is seen as an insurrection which results in the wimp’s severe punishment.

  • 22Chuck||

    with 1-4 true, why do you or others care so much about #5? that is not the weapons people conceal and carry,nor hunt with. why do private citizens need weapons like this when we do not have organized militia's that store weapons at home?(ever since standing military that portion of constitution has been outdated) State National Guards have their own locked up armories, in addition to modern weapons of war, that luckily are not in our neighbors hands (tanks, RPGs, hand grenades,drones, ect). Why do we continue to supply this hemisphere directly and indirectly with these, then subsidize and negotiate their sales. My opinion, escalation from the war on drugs breeds all the fear and leads the spill out of violence. why do we continue to support the war on drugs that escalates all the violence levels and cold war paranoia. The criminals get better weapons, the police follow and raise the bar and insanity continues. The outcome, normal rational reasonable people think they need to stock these sort of weapons. its nuts. we have bans on most military equipment being sold to private citizens, that's good.

  • Mr Whipple||

    There used to be a lot of school shootings in Philadelphia. Mostly student on student. Then, they installed metal detectors.

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