L/D – Jan/Feb ’16 – Handgun ban

Judged several LD rounds on this topic Fri/Sat; some thoughts.

Numbers are being tossed around rather casually. There are around 30,000 gun deaths each year, with about 2/3 of those being suicides. One article listed a recent year at 33,000+ deaths, with 11,000+ being homicides. Other articles list gun suicides as 20,000-21,000/yr, (around 55% of all suicides) and suicides with guns are 85% successful. Citing the 30,000 figure as murders/homicides is misleading, and not recognizing the suicide numbers skew the subsequent argument.

Some debaters cited increases in violent crime related to handguns. Bluntly, that’s irrelevant, and is more of a correlation than a causation. Violent crime fluctuates for a lot of reasons, rarely related to guns. The key is that decreasing handguns would decrease violent deaths via guns. Violent crime is certainly to be regretted, and guns are connected to a fair percentage of violent crimes, but the safety issue is the death rate.

Several Negs asked why criminals wouldn’t continue to get guns on the black market even if handguns were banned. Statistics here really matter; the question is where do those black market guns come from? Our gun ownership rates have gone up from upper 80s per 100 people to over 115 per 100 people. Our current population is 315-320 million or so. That’s a lot of guns. One source said 300,000 guns are stolen each year; another gave a figure of almost 500,000 per year stolen. Add to that things like straw purchases (someone able to buy a gun gets one for someone who legally can’t get a gun) and sales without background checks, and that’s a lot of black market guns circulating. The thing is, if a handgun ban goes into effect, then there won’t be handguns to steal, nor handguns to be sold with or without background checks. What illegal handguns remain will likely cost a whole lot more (supply and demand kicking in), perhaps pricing them out of the range of many criminals.

Race matters when it comes to gun deaths. White = 77% suicide; Black = 82% homicide.

Comparing the U.S. to other countries isn’t cutting it in actual rounds. No one cited state vs. state statistics. You can find them in the Kristof article, posted previously. Handgun restrictions (short of outright bans) have a surprisingly big effect.

Australia can be misleading. After a mass shooting there, they had a huge gun buyback – about 650,000 weapons, though that was only about 20% of their total number of guns. Again, what effect that had on violent crime (which may have gone up afterwards) is irrelevant (see above). It’s a death rate question, not a violent crime question.

If Aff has to, by the resolution’s wording, go with gun control, should the Neg counter that the real issue is gun safety? Nobody mentioned smart guns in the 5 debates that I judged (which included finals).

More Americans are shot by toddlers than terrorists.

Articles in the next post – this is long enough.


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