Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part analysis of Joe Biden’s newly released “Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic.” This installment is an in-depth analysis of the “facts” according to Joe Biden. In part two, we’ll look at what he plans to do about it.
Despite his alleged love of shotguns, Joe Biden is a well-known anti-gun politician. Now his campaign has released a plan – “The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic.” Before going into what the candidate would hope to accomplish as president, the plan lays out some “facts” to build on later – but there’s a problem: Team Biden’s truth isn’t exactly the truth. From misrepresented statistics to the fallacy that Biden supports the Second Amendment, the Biden Plan may have some sweating bullets.
From Violence to Death – Let’s Move that Goalpost
The second sentence in the plan claims: “Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded.” It links to a report from the CDC showing statistics for 2017. Let’s look at those actual stats:
- According to the CDC, there were 39,773 total gun deaths that year. Of those, only 14,542 (36.5%) were actual homicides.
- Suicides made up 60% of the firearms deaths, totaling 23,854.
- Then there were 486 accidental deaths (1.2%) and 553 (1.4%) that “involved law enforcement” – that is, 553 people shot to death by the police.
- And, finally, 338 deaths (0.8%) under “undetermined circumstances.”
Notice how the title sets the theme as gun violence and the opening line talks about all gun deaths, whether intentional acts of violence or not. Slick transition there, Team Joe. But even with suicides and accidents counted as if they’re violent crimes, firearms deaths still barely register on the causes of death list.
About three-quarters (74.5%) of all U.S. murders – 14,542 out of 19,510 – involved a firearm. About half (50.5%) of the suicides that year – 23,854 of 47,173 – were by gun. In 2017, 2,813,503 Americans died. When ranking the leading causes of death, it goes a little something like this:
- Heart disease: 647,457 (23%)
- Cancer: 599,108 (21.3%)
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936 (6%) – Now keep in mind that 486 (0.3% of total accidental deaths) were gun-related.
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201 (5.6%)
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383 (5.2%)
- Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404 (4.3%)
- Diabetes: 83,564 (3%)
- Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672 (2%)
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633 (1.8%)
- Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173 (1.7%) – suicide by firearm only accounts for 0.8% of total deaths in the U.S. for 2017.
Homicide comes in quite a bit farther down the list, accounting for only 0.7% of the total deaths, with firearms homicides coming in at 0.5%. Of the 2,813,503 who died in 2017, a total of 1.41% were killed by a gun in some manner (including suicide). Of that same total, 1.43% (40,100) were killed by a car.
Let’s do a little more math: In 2017, 2.4 times as many Americans killed themselves than were murdered using any method, and 2.7 times as many died in car accidents than were murdered using a firearm.
The statistics show that we have our share of health problems – but, contrary to Biden’s opening statement, gun violence really isn’t one of them. Hell, cars are more dangerous than guns, even when we pretend that the 60% that are suicide wouldn’t still happen if we take away the firearms.
Mass Shootings: Just a Small Slice of the Pie
Let’s pivot again back to actual violence. The third sentence in the plan establishes that some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Since 2010, there have been 156,171 murders. There have been 785 deaths in headline-grabbing “mass shootings,” and any shooter killed in the process (as many of them are) is counted in that number. Of the total murders, mass shootings get most of the attention despite accounting for around half a percent of the murders in the last decade. As for total deaths in the last decade, we’re looking at murders in general accounting for 0.17% with mass shooting deaths specifically (including the shooter, in many cases) coming in at, well, 0.5% of that 0.17%.
Still, mass shootings, as the Biden campaign rightly explains, grab the headlines. That makes them useful to the left’s war on guns.
Time to Toss Those “Weapons of War”?
Now we get to the many life-saving accomplishments of Joe Biden. He brags about the Federal Assault Weapon Ban he helped pass back in the 90s. To address this issue, we need to look at murders by year and even decade, going back. Using the FBI’s information, we can go back to 1960 and really see the bigger picture. Democrats like to talk about how “common sense” gun control works and point to the stats to back that up. During the decade-long assault weapons ban, the murder rate did drop – as did violent crime in general. But that’s only part of the story.
In 1960, there were 9,110 murders. By 1966, that had jumped to 11,040. The Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 didn’t help that at all, as the murder rate continued to rise: There were 14,760 murders in 1969. All told, 106,180 people were murdered in the 60s, coming out to an average of 10,618 per year.
The 70s were much worse – and the 80s and 90s even worse than that.
There were 192,230 murders from 1970-1979, averaging 19,223 per year. The 80s had a total of 206,439 and an average of 20,644. The 90s was the worst decade of all, but mostly due to the first half. There were 211,644 murders total and an average of 21,166 a year. Take a look at the annual totals:
- 1990: 23,440
- 1991: 24,700
- 1992: 23,760
- 1993: 24,530
- 1994: 23,330
- 1995: 21,610
- 1996: 19,650
- 1997: 18,208
- 1998: 16,914
- 1999: 15,522
Could it be that this new gun control measure succeeded where the last had failed? To find out, let’s keep looking. Here are the stats for the 2000s:
- 2000: 15,586
- 2001: 16,037
- 2002: 16,229
- 2003: 16,528
- 2004: 16,148
- 2005: 16,740
- 2006: 17,030
- 2007: 16,929
- 2008: 16,442
- 2009: 15,399
So how did the murder rate start creeping back up mid-ban – and why didn’t it skyrocket again once the ban expired? We have a total of 163,068 and an average of 16,307 per year for this decade, and for half of it, folks were buying what the left likes to call weapons of war. That’s the best violent crime rate since the pre-GCA 60s! But wait, there’s more. It got better in the 2010s, when folks were buying up 80% receiver kits and 3D printing their “ghost guns.” The total for the decade was 156,171 with an average of 15,617 per year.
What this information really shows us is that, most likely, the relatively minor changes in murder rate from year to year and the overall downward trend in violent crime since the mid-90s doesn’t have much to do with gun laws. This really should come as no surprise. After all, most gun crimes are committed by folks who already have criminal pasts and acquired their crime guns illegally.
Biden’s Forgotten Facts
As you read “The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic,” notice the carefully placed statements. While not necessarily untrue taken individually, they do paint a very deceptive picture, as only a small portion of the 40,000 people who died of gunshot wounds were actually victims of violent crime. Some incidents are, in fact, in mass shootings, though that represents an incredibly small portion. Biden did help pass some gun laws, and overall violent crime did drop – but those two facts don’t appear to be linked.
After laying out his preferred way of interpreting the facts and his accomplishments to date, the Biden Plan goes into what the candidate plans to do, should he win the upcoming election. The transition from past to future is quite the statement:
“It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies.”
A Frightful Future
It should be painfully clear to anyone paying attention that no amount of gun control is ever enough. If the National Firearms Act actually worked, the Gun Control Act wouldn’t have been necessary. Had that worked, there would have been no need for a Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Former President Obama said that if there’s even one thing we can do to prevent gun deaths – if we can save even one life – we’re obligated to try. What does that mean? Well, it means that each ineffective gun law simply leads to the next, until the Second Amendment is drained of all power to protect the people. But that’s the point; gun control was never about saving lives. It’s about control.
Tune in to part two for an in-depth examination of Biden’s so-called “constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies.”
Read more from James Fite.