View Original Notice ? Americans and guns: A look at the Supreme Court’s recent ruling and national surveys
On Thursday, the Supreme Court said that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, and on Friday the House sent President Joe Biden the first gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades.
The Supreme Court case
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc., et al. v. Bruen, Superintendent of New York State Police, et al.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. The decision struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry a gun in a concealed way in public. The justices said that requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island and the District of Columbia all have laws similar to New York’s. Those laws are expected to be challenged.
President Joe Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling. It “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution and should deeply trouble us all,” he said.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA said, “Decades of Right-to-Carry laws all across America have proven that good men and women are not the problem. This ruling will bring life-saving justice to law-abiding Americans who have lived under unconstitutional restrictions all across our country, particularly in cities and states with revolving door criminal justice systems, no cash bail and increased opposition to law-enforcement.”
The bill, called The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed the House by a vote of 234-193, with 14 Republicans joining all the Democrats.
The bill enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21 years of age, provides billions of dollars for mental health services and to harden schools, and closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years. The plan also provides $750 million in grants to incentivize states to implement crisis intervention programs, clarifies the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer and creates criminal penalties for straw purchases and gun trafficking.
Guns used in self-defense
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to post figures on guns used in self-defense but removed those figures recently and replaced them with more general language:
“Estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, time frame, and other factors related to study design. Given the wide variability in estimates, additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.”
Many instances go unreported.
The most recent National Crime Victimization Survey, a twice-yearly poll of crime victims conducted by the federal government, was posted April 2. The latest figures show 2% of victims of nonfatal violent crime — that includes rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault — and 1% of property crime victims used guns in self-defense. According to the survey, firearms were used defensively in 166,900 nonfatal violent crimes between 2014 and 2018, which works out to an average of 33,380 per year. Over the same period, defensive gun use was reported in 183,300 property crimes, or an average of 36,660 per year. Taken together, that’s 70,040 instances of defensive gun use per year.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics report with data from 2016 estimated 247,400 prisoners possessed a firearm while committing their offense. 68% used it.Pro gun rights activists cite a series of telephone surveys conducted in the early 1990s by a criminologist and self-described “gun control skeptic” named Gary Kleck that extrapolate guns being used in defense to be in the millions per year.