Handgun Ban BackgrounderAmerica's gun problem is a handgun problem. Handguns exact an inordinate toll on American lives. The vast majority of gun death and injury�in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings�is carried out with easily concealable pistols and revolvers. The public health model as well as the traditional approaches employed in protecting consumer health and safety lead to one inevitable conclusion: handguns should be banned.
There are an estimated 192 million firearms in civilian hands.1 Yet, fewer and fewer Americans own more and more guns.
Surprisingly, only 25 percent of adults own a firearm. Of these, three out of four own more than one gun.2
About 10 percent of the adult population owns 77 percent of the total stock of firearms.3
There are about 65 million handguns in the United States. Handguns make up 34 percent of all types of firearms.4
Of all firearm-related crime, 86 percent involved handguns.5
Only one in six Americans own handguns.6
Unlike manufacturers of other consumer products, the industry that makes handguns is unregulated for health and safety.
Since 1962, more than one million Americans have died in firearm homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. Handguns were used in more than 650,000 of these fatal shootings.7
In 1997�the most recent year available�there were 89 firearm deaths per day, or a firearm death every 16 minutes.8
In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to gun-free homes.9
On the average, if someone gets shot and killed, four out of five times it will be with a handgun. In 1997, for example, handguns were used in 79.4 percent of all firearm homicides.10
From 1990 to 1997, handguns were used in a majority (55.6 percent) of all homicides; that is, they were used in murder more than all other weapons combined.11
From 1990 to 1997, there were 293,781 firearm deaths�homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings.12
From 1990 to 1997 in the United States there were more than�
As part of an overall drop in crime, in 1997 handgun homicides fell to 8,503.15
The largest category of firearms fatality is suicide, not homicide. In 1997, 54 percent of all gun deaths were suicides, and 42 percent were homicides.16
About six out of 10 suicides are committed with firearms.17
For firearm suicides, it is estimated that handguns are used twice as often (69 percent) as rifles and shotguns.18
For all suicides, it is estimated that more than four out of 10 were committed with handguns.19
From 1990 to 1997�
For every time a gun in the home is used in a self-defense homicide, a gun will be used in�
For every firearm death, there are nearly three gun injuries requiring emergency medical treatment.25
By conservative estimates, gunshot injuries cost about $4 billion a year in medical expenses.26
Polls over the past 20 years have consistently shown that one out of three Americans support a ban on handgun possession (except by law enforcement officers).27
Several polls taken in 1999 show this level of support reaching as high as 44 percent to 50 percent.28
No gun control law has ever been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on Second Amendment grounds. Such laws include federal bans on machine guns and semiautomatic assault weapons as well as local community bans on the sale and possession of handguns.
Every federal Court of Appeals that has considered the meaning of the Second Amendment has held that it protects the right of states to maintain a militia, not an individual right to own a gun.
1) Cook, P. and Ludwig, J. Guns in America. Police Foundation, 1996.
2) Cook, P. and Ludwig, J. Guns in America. Police Foundation, 1996.
3) Cook, P. and Ludwig, J. Guns in America. Police Foundation, 1996.
4) Cook, P. and Ludwig, J. Guns in America. Police Foundation, 1996.
5)Zawitz, M. Guns Used in Crime: Firearms, Crime and Criminal Justice�Selected Findings. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1995.P> 6) Cook, P. and Ludwig, J. Guns in America. Police Foundation, 1996.
7) Data sources: Fatal Firearm Injuries in the United States 1962-1994. Violence Surveillance Summary Series, No. 3, 1997. And Deaths: Final Data for 1995, Deaths: Final Data for 1996, Deaths: Final Data for 1997. National Vital Statistics Report.
8) Hoyert, DL, Kochanek, KD, et al. Deaths: Final Data for 1997. National Vital Statistics Report, 1999.
9) Kellermann AL, Rivara FP, et al. "Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home." NEJM 329:15 (1993):1084-1091.
10) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1978-1997.
11) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1990-1997.
12) Hoyert, DL, Kochanek, KD, et al. Deaths: Final Data for 1997. National Vital Statistics Report, 1999.
13) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1990-1997.
14) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1978-1997.
15) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1978-1997.
16) Hoyert, DL, Kochanek, KD, et al. Deaths: Final Data for 1997. National Vital Statistics Report, 1999.
17) CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Fact Sheet. Suicide in the United States, www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/suifacts.htm.
18) Wintemute, GJ, Teret, SP, et al. "The Choice of Weapons in Firearm Suicides." Am J Public Health. 78:7 (1988):824-826.
19) Violence Policy Center estimate taken from CDC fact sheet and the Wintemute, Teret, et al. study noted above.
20) CDC Wonder. wonder.cdc.gov
21) Kellermann, AL, Rivara FP, et al. "Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership." NEJM 327:7 (1992):467-472.
22) Kellermann, AL and Reay, DT. "Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home." NEJM 314:24 (1986):1557-1560.
23) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1997.
24) FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, 1997.
25) Annest JL, Mercy JA, et al. "National Estimates of Nonfatal Firearm-Related Injuries: Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg." JAMA 273:22 (1995):1749-1754.
26) Kizer, KW, Vassar, MJ, et al. "Hospitalization Charges, Costs, and Income for Firearm-Related Injuries at a University Trauma Center." JAMA 273:22 (1995):1768-1773.
27) For example, see: National Gun Policy Survey of the National Opinion Research Center: Research Findings.
28) Pew Research Center, poll May 12-16, 1999; CBS News Poll, poll April 9, 1999; Newsweek Poll, poll April 21-22, 1999.
29) Sugarmann, J. and Rand, K. Cease Fire: A Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Firearms Violence. Violence Policy Center, 1997.