JANUARY 31, 2013 9:46AM

Riben: Facts/Revelations re US Gun Control or Lack Thereof

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Mirah Riben has a provocative article on dissident voice entitled “Statistics, Politics and Solutions in the Gun Discussion.” The following is a listing of many of Riben's enlightening facts and revelations.

1. FBI statistics for homicides in 2011:

Total homicides:                                  12,664
Firearm homicides:                               8,583
Hammer and Club homicides:               496
Knife and other blade homicides:        1,694

2. "2009 findings for homicides by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes state that 66.9% of all homicides in the U.S. were from using firearms."

3. "More than a million Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 – more than in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and various smaller conflicts, combined."

4. "More than half of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides and not included in numbrers above. Nor are accidental fatalities by guns of all kinds included."  Re report from National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, January 2013.

5. “The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions.” Re report from National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, January 2013.

6. “The end of federal research into gun violence came in 1996 when Congress first passed a National Rifle Association-backed amendment to a CDC appropriations bill that prohibited spending federal dollars on research that could be used to “advocate or promote gun control.”"

7. “More restrictions on data came in 2003 when Congress passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., that barred the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from using an electronic database to record gun sales."

8. International firearm death rate comparisons gathered on Wikipedia :

The U.S. has 10.2 per hundred thousand gun-related deaths; Switzerland, 3.84; Finland, 3.64; France, 3.0; New Zealand, 2.66; Canada 2.13; Israel, 1.86; Norway, 1.78; Sweden, 1.47; Denmark, 1.45; Germany, 1.10; UK, .25; Singapore, .24; Japan, .007.

9. "It is estimated that there are 270,000,000 civilian-owned guns in America, ranking the U.S number 1 in private gun ownership of 178 nations, per GunPolicy.org. Not surprisingly, 15 of the 25 of the worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States, a “major” gun manufacturing nation with 5,400 licensed firearms manufacturers in the United States in 2011."

10. “...Finland has a higher rate of gun ownership than the U.S. with a far lower homicide rate.  While 41% of American households have guns, in Finland, 50% do. This indicates that it is possible to reach a goal of reducing homicides while upholding our second amendment right for gun ownership, by enacting stricter restrictions."

11. “...to apply for a gun ownership license in the United Kingdom, Finland and Germany, one must provide a valid reason to own a gun, such as hunting, target practice or collecting, and pass criminal, mental health and addiction background checks. Germany also requires that a gun safety proficiency test must be passed to receive a license, and in the UK, gun licenses must be renewed every five years. In the U.S., gun licensing laws vary by state.”

12. “Nations with the lowest gun homicide rates all have violent video games and none have achieved their levels of safety by having armed guards posted at their children’s schools.”

13. “In addition to all the suggestions on the table to reduce gun violence, could we not work toward making guns safer, at least child-proofing them?  A novel idea might be to utilize our engineering, design and technological skills to devise a weapon that would be accurate at a good distance and allow multiple, repeated shots – something current Tasers, or “stun” guns are not capable of – but which could paralyze rather than kill. ... It might also help reduce suicides and would certainly eliminate accidental deaths by gunshot – especially among children who gain access to their parents’ unlocked and loaded weapons."

14. "Polls and surveys have indicated that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is in conflict with their own membership on issues such as criminal background checks for sales at gun shows and between private owners. Yet the NRA remains a powerful lobby for gun manufacturers and ammunition dealers.  It even has congressmen within its ranks, such as Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) that have gotten legislation enacted that ties the hands of the ATF – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice."

15. "Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who allegedly accepted the NRA’s coveted Defender of Freedom Award in 2006, inserted legislation into the Patriot Act that same year that restricts the ATF by prohibiting them from creating a federal registry to track gun sales, and barred them from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor. But Sensenbrenner didn’t actually write the ATF clause; he simply inserted it into the Patriot Act. The person responsible for writing the clause was Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who claims the solution is to urge the ATF to enforce our existing 2,200 gun laws. Rackjite.com points out that many of the executive orders recently signed into law by President Obama were to overturn the Tiahrt Amendments, ”which Tiahrt admits were written for him by the NRA.”"

16. "40% of guns in the U.S. are sold through unlicensed, private sellers. This is in addition to sales from 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States. There are more than three times the number of licensed firearms dealers than grocery stores (36,569) and far more than the number of McDonald’s restaurants (14,098) in the U.S. (2011)."

17. "Bans on assault weapons, and restrictions on the number of ammunition clips that one person could purchase, have been put forth to help stem the tide of homicides."

18. "Other solutions call for stiffer penalties for those who violate gun laws, from illegal sales to procurement; harsher punishments for those who use firearms in the commission of crimes; as well, perhaps, for those who did not adequately lock up their weaponry in order to prevent them from being used in the commission of a murder. All have strong opposition. Yet civilian protections are continually enacted to meet current needs. We live with searches at airports, safety caps on medications, seat belts, and bike helmet laws. All of these infringements on our rights and freedom exist and are updated as needed ... There is thus no reason that our second amendment right to bear arms cannot have some restrictions as well, if we can get the lobbyists out of the business of writing our legislation, reversing not just the violence facing us but also our democracy becoming a Corporatocracy."

[cross-posted on correntewire]

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Not sure what your point is.

How 'bout you include the number of vehicular homocides caused by drunk drivers as a side-by-side with murders caused by firearms? It appears that the number of vehicular homocides would be more.

Would you advocate for the abolishing of alcohol or cars?

Again, what's your point?
Bill Quigley wrote an equally good snippet about Obama's political kabuki, titled, "Remember ALL the Children, Mr. President":

~ Remember the 20 children who died in Newton Connecticut.

~ Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.

~ Remember the 168 children who have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.

~ Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.

~ Remember the 400 other children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.

~ Remember the 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.

~ Remember the 1,770 US children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.

~ Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.

As horrible as the tragedy was in Newton, it was still just a symptom of the REAL disease.

The REAL disease is the Military–industrial complex's outright ownership of our government. Sure guns are too readily avialble. But who is selling them?

Do you realize that the economic decrease in 18 months was solely because we cut back on defense spending for one quarter? Doesn't that show people just what a strangle hold and how much control they have over our economy and our government?

THESE are the people who make and sell weaponry designed solely to kill people. These are the people who make and sell "Saturday night specials" that cause the majority of weapon deaths (and which is never discussed or mentioned by the "OMG GUNS! screamers"). THESE are the people who need to be stopped because THESE are the people who are killing ALL of the children, with the full aid and support of the Obama administration.

not rated


this font looks good on you!
The problem with using someone else's stats, unverified, is that others aren't always as meticulous as you are at checking the accuracy of information that comes your way.

According to the FBI stats, quoted above, there were no murders from unarmed beatings, poisons, drownings, electrical shock, vehicles, etc., for the whole year of 2011.

I'd have to consider that to be unreliable. If all the rest of the information in Riben's article are as sloppy as the ones in your first paragraph........????!

Amidst all the foofarah about guns killing people vs people killing people, and laying of blame on this or that supposed cause of deaths in the US, few of you will even consider that our weird, money-is-all, paranoid psychotic, societies are in any way a contributing factor to our high homicide/suicide death rates.

I note that the death by gunshot stats are not broken down to show what percentage of those deaths are the result of drug deals gone bad. How many deaths would not have happened if we had sensible laws about drug use, instead of laws that force distribution into criminal territory.

I can't recall where I saw it but I recently read that as much of 80% of all US shootings are drug dealer related. Have you asked yourself how your stats would look if that 80% could be prevented?

You can pass all the laws to restrict guns that you like, but until you develop a society that is nurturing and supportive of the individual as well as of the whole citizenry, you're still going to have your hands full.

My Canadian brother is right. I have seen the stats about drugs and gun violence. Drug addiction is a social disease and only a social disease. And, as Alexander Cockburn noted, the CIA was at one time drugging the minority community in the U.S. through its guns, drugs and money schemes.


You know, the British Empire made most of its money by drug running. Some of the fact-based historical books and accounts are mind boggling how they created addiction to feed their farming of opiates and elites looted all of the way to the bank. All, of course, enabled by private, for-profit bankers, corporations and the complicity of the British crown.

Given all of the covert operations of the CIA how do we know they aren't involved in wholesale drugging of Americans to fund them? If Cockburn was right, well, then it most certainly is a possibility. By the way, a few people ended up dead after getting to close to the CIA's drug running in the U.S. And, believe me, I do NOT like conspiracy theorists.

Regardless, our society is so wildly violent that if it's not guns, it'll soon be something else.
toritto, thanks so much. I was very grateful to read Riben's REVELATIONS, and they certainly were revelations.

I had an idea how obstructionistic the NRA was but had never read the details of it and the historical ongoing shenanigans. To pull at the puppet Congress to stop research on gun violence and to prevent the ATF (the F is for firearms for heaven's sake) not to have an electronic database of gun owners was and is insane. Plenty of money to monitor us and our emails who are protesting the crap going on. But not to monitor profit-making tragedy-making activities re guns.

Also, toritto, it seems like a no brainer looking at statistics of other countries with high gun usage but so fewer crimes -- homicides -- that universal gun regulation should be a given in this country instead of people going to loophole easy states with little regulation or a gun show to get a firearm without registration and license. Hello?

I really like his idea of non-lethal but temporarily debilitating weapons, especially in our trigger-happy police state. With racial profiling triggering too many mistakes of mistaken identity, etc., we hear about innocent people getting gunned down in the heat and high adrenalin of circumstances, I mean pummeled with bullets. Ooopsie.

Especially when our police has become so shoot to kill militarized and when such accidents are not prosecuted and the corporate media sweeps the tragedies under the rug after the initial titillation of reporting. We can invent the drone but we can't invent a more benign phaser type weapons to paralyze from afar so a person does not have to be killed?

As Riben says at the end, we are putting up with a lot of surveillance these days especially just getting on a plane. The incredible cronyism and outrage generated at touching a molecule of second amendment rights makes me angry. I wonder if people responding with anger to this blog will actually seriously read it or just see the title and show up to dis me for exploring the statistics at all.

I don't like our present government at all. And that government like past regimes is letting psychopathic gun lobbyists make weapons over-accessible for its obscene profiteering. Profits uber human welfare once again.

I think we can learn from foreign countries. Like with health care. The exceptional cowboy US is so in its own narcissistic bubble or bubbles it can't lower its automatic disdain to explore foreign systems that seem to be working.

Also, there is and will be even more "road rage" type reactivity in economically super-stressed Americans, ramping up alcoholism, drug use, and use of lethal force.

Yesterday I went out on my street to get groceries and the sidewalk was crowded with people walking south as I was trying to get north at evening rushhour. Suddenly a man started screaming at me to keep to the right, I was in his way. He was so insane in his violent gesture, voice and face, that I could picture him pulling out a gun if he had had one to shoot me for being in his way on a busy sidewalk. He was maniacally offended.

How many dangerous ones are out there given the mental health eroding pressures of this merciless one percenter robbing economy ready to pop -- and SHOOT?

best, libby
Amy, thanks for commenting. You know I agree with you and I saw the Quigley article and totally endorsed his perspective.

But I like what the author above is saying and I appreciate hearing the statistics and background especially of the NRA that isn't trying to protect our second amendment rights as much as its own profits. The author points out that the NRA bullies its own members who are more rational and want more universal regulation. Our economy's deregulation has caused misery to so many. The deregulation of sane licensing of firearms has, too.

Ever see the movie Runaway Journey about the gun manufacturers? It shows them up well.

Hearing how other countries have fared is helpful and emphasizes what I have always known, without universal gun laws in the US, guns will belong to dangerous people who will too readily use them.

America is a hyper-masculinized society now. The gun macho stuff is part of that. Vengeance was used by Bush to justify illegitimate wars and killing. We need a focus on humanism and justice and take responsibility -- sane responsibility -- for things that are out of control. Given the violence that is so ramped up on American streets, we do need to address it.

And yes, given the violence perpetrated by an insane and merciless government, we need to rally and deal with that, too, as a public.

best, libby
tr ig, I'm guessing you didn't read it.
Sky and TL -- you both have lost me.

If you access the article it has plenty of links to back up the statistics. This is a thoughtful article that reveals much about the psychopathic and obscenely successful lobbying of Congress by the NRA and about how violence is not as rampant in other countries, even Finland that has more gun ownership than we do, and why that may be. I like the idea of non-lethal temporarily debilitating weapons to save lives for the police use. And I have always believed that if gun regulations were not universal they were totally toothless.

best, libby
joisey, there ARE regulations with cars and with alcohol. Why shouldn't there be regulations -- and universal ones -- with gun ownership? what is this rampant spirit of exceptionalism, especially facing down the horrifying statistics of homicides in this country? Yes, they are connected with many other things. But when the NRA prevents explorations of this by pulling on Congressional leashes and certain states or gun shows get to side step ANY gun regulations, something is profoundly wrong with the system. I liked this article for its abundant statistics and effort to deal with REALITY not second amendment, macho "truthiness."

best, libby
Libby, I shouldn't have to tell you this, but Obama isn't on our side. The only reason he is raising the gun control issue at this time - when the US has far more urgent issues to address - is because of his own warped political agenda. I really find it vomit inducing that our President has all these tender feelings towards white middle class children, while he has no problem at all bombing brown-skinned ones into oblivion.

Something strikes me as terribly wrong when the extreme right is talking about using violence to overthrow a despotic federal government and progressives and liberals are talking about stopping them by enacting stricter gun control. We should be on the same side about doing something to restore the Bill of Rights.

Instead we are at each others' throats. After living through Cointelpro in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, I happen to know this is something our government security/propaganda apparatus is extremely good at - getting people with the same political goals to hate each others guts.

So why is your and my friend Obama making this the issue now? I believe there are 3 main reasons: 1) to prevent the right-left coalition that formed around Ron Paul's candidacy from resurfacing and 2) to solidify Republican opposition to progressive reforms his liberal supporters are howling for and 3) to set up a strong Democratic victory in 2014 by portraying the Republicans as Neanderthal intransigents.
of course I read it... who wrote it tho?
When you use stats such as these......

""The U.S. has 10.2 per thousand gun-related deaths; Switzerland, 3.84; Finland, 3.64; France, 3.0; New Zealand, 2.66; Canada 2.13; Israel, 1.86; Norway, 1.78; Sweden, 1.47; Denmark, 1.45; Germany, 1.10; UK, .25; Singapore, .24; Japan, .007.""

I have to question the accuracy here a bit. A gun related death toll of 10.2 per thousand is 1.02 out of a hundred or 1.02% of your population being killed by guns every year. Your population is about 330,000,000.

A gun related death rate of 1.02% would translate to over 33 million gun related deaths per year in the US. You'll pardon my skepticism, I'm sure.

I, as you know, strongly support certain forms of gun control. I DO NOT support banning guns - not even military assault types. But every person who wants a gun should be required to take, and pass, courses in proper gun handling. He/she should also be required to have an approved gun locker / ammunition locker before he is allowed to buy a gun. But no sort of national registry of guns is of any use except for when the feds want to disarm a population on the verge of revolution due to being just too badly abused by government for people to tolerate it any longer.

We tried a long gun registration here in Canada. It was to cost us one or two million dollars to set up. It was to be up and running in about a year. After 15 years of trying, it still isn't up and running. AND it has cost us over $8 BILLION!!! so far. Our present government has said it will dump it. I sure hope so.

I note also that you've been quick to post (inaccurate?) stats about gun deaths in the US as compared to other countries. Have you also compared other means of bringing about death? Some nations have "traditional" ways of committing suicide, for example. In the US this is very often done by gunshot. In Canada it is more often done by poison (carbon monoxide from car exhaust) and jumping. Japan might, perhaps, have high rates of self-inflicted knife wounds.

In order for the stats to work to inform us, we need to use them carefully and accurately. Those who are strongly 'anti' something or 'pro' something tend to use stats terribly, as you - normally very careful about your figures - have just proven.

That 33 million should read 3.3 million.....

Stuart, I agree that Obama is not following any moral compass, seriously ever, and your theory about pitting left and right against each other has been the MO of the ruling class rat bastards since forever, successfully. Look at how it has worked for bloodbath shiite and sunni divisiveness abroad! best, libby
tr ig, sorry for suspecting you hadn't read it -- your focus on font not the issues led me there, and you seemed a bit "snippy" (pun intended). The author is an activist who writes for dissident voice. focuses more on adoption issues. but I appreciated this take on the gun debate very much. different strokes I guess. best, libby
sky, mea culpa. The stats are for every 100,000 deaths not 1,000 deaths. Ulp. That is what I get for trying to zip up a blog in break-neck cut and pasting speed. I adjusted it within the blog. best, libby