Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D–NY) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky) got into a shouting match over gun control this week. The fireworks started when Massie asserted that “there has never been a mass shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry.” Bowman called the statement “nonsense. More guns lead to more deaths.”
Statistics don’t support Bowman’s claim. Gun ownership in the US has risen such that there are now more guns than people. However, federal crime data show that homicides committed with firearms have declined from 7 per 100,000 people in 1993 to to 4.3 per 100,000 people in 2018 (the latest complete year information available). Nonfatal crimes involving guns during this period also declined by 71%.
Bowman dismissed this data as “irrelevant. I’m not going to be sidetracked by a slew of numbers. My concern is people. Those that I have talked to are afraid of guns and will feel safer if they are made illegal everywhere. If no one has guns, no one can be shot.”
Massie pointed out that “there is a difference between making gun-ownership illegal and making guns disappear. Persons determined to commit crimes will arm themselves regardless of whether doing so is illegal. Mr. Bowman’s approach amounts to unilateral disarmament of the innocent and law-abiding members of society. The ‘gun-free zones’ Democrats have established in schools become favored targets of homicidal maniacs. If we want to deter massacres we need to arm more of the personnel in these target areas.”
Bowman expressed confidence that “Massie’s argument is too complicated for the average voter to understand. Our simpler message wins more votes. In the long run, the only legal guns will be owned by the government. Anyone else possessing a firearm will be shot on sight by police or troops. China has successfully used this approach and has much lower homicide rates than the US. It is the only sane option.”