Yesterday [Feb 27, 2013] in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the controversial topic of a proposed federal ban on “military-style assault weapons” for private owners, Senator Lindsey Graham (R, S.C) said that fewer than 3% of all homicides in the US are committed with rifles. “Twice as many are killed with bare hands,” he said.
He made the remark to support his opposition to a ban on assault rifles, mentioning also that he is the proud owner of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and that he passed a background check to obtain a permit for it.
His 3% claim is meant to minimize the importance of rifles in homicides. To further illustrate his point, he tried to get Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia to say what percentage of Philadelphia’s hundreds of annual gun homicides are committed with rifles. The mayor, of course, responded that guns are guns and dead is dead, but both missed the point I’d like to see addressed.
What percentage of the shooters in those horrific public mass killings such as those in Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook used automatic or semi-automatic weapons? If we could eliminate those, and in the process reduce the overall gun homicide rate as well, that would be a victory over the senseless killing of innocents, wouldn’t it?
Then we could get back to strangling each other, I guess.
Here you go, Lindsay Graham, the answer to the question you weren’t alert enough to ask: What percentage of mass killings use automatic or semi-automatic weapons? About half. What percentage would be outlawed by currently proposed legislation? About 1/3. My thanks to Mother Jones for the chart.