Here’s the short version of the AFI Philosophy:
The main sources of gun crime are:
- Inner City cycles of violence and gangs
- Violent Criminals
- Mental health problems associated, most often, with the
use of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes involving the lack of use
of prescribed drugs
Gun crimes are not caused by:
- Legal gun owners
American Firearms Philosophy – Introduction
Firearm ownership is a Constitutional Right of every American guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified on December 15, 1791. It proves the foresight of our founding fathers in providing us with the freedom to choose to own a firearm or not. American Firearms Institute supports that guarantee. American Firearms Institute (AFI) supports that choice.
Enough with the laws already
There are safe guards in place to ensure that gun owners meet certain criteria before receiving possession of a firearm; these include passing a background and criminal check. Felons and domestic violence perpetrators are not allowed to own firearms. Mental health issues are taken into consideration in applying, as are addictions to alcohol and drugs. The penalty for knowingly filling in firearm application form incorrectly is 10 years in prison.
It’s the Criminal
There are an estimated 280 million firearms in the US – all owned by law abiding citizens. There is no record of the number of illegal guns that exist. The criminally minded laugh at societies gun control laws, according to an FBI report issued in March of 2007, which you will find under the Reports section of the site.
Criminals find it amusing that laws are passed that are assumed will make any difference to them and they’re way of living. Criminals by their nature are anti-social with sociopath or psychopathic tendencies. They never purchase their firearms through legal channels or abide by laws. Many have no qualms at shooting at their victim or killing a police officer. Why? Because they’re criminals! The law does not apply to them until they get caught. And then it’s to late.
There is vast disconnect in the equating gun ownership and criminal behavior. Certain members of society – the anti-gun groups – automatically equate gun ownership with criminal activity. And for that reason they want firearms removed from society altogether. A does not equal B. Their reasoning defies logic.
Firearms have been in existence for 700+ years – the first reference to the use of gunpowder in Europe dates from 1247. The first record in China dates from 142 CE. It would be easier to suggest that we all stop breathing than attempt to rid the world of firearms. Why? Because for most societies they are a source achieving and holding power. Ownership dictates how countries are run, how wars are won and how lives are lived and lost. Firearms are not going anywhere.
Power to the People
Our forefathers framed out our constitution to ensure that the power of the populace remained in the hands of the people. To ensure that, (this is a matter of much debate), they ensured that we would have the means available to us to counter any tyrannical efforts to rule us. Thus the Second Amendment came into being. It also gave us the power to choose whether to own a firearm or not. An individual choice.
Who owns the guns?
There are three categories of firearm owners in the USA.
- The government, represented by the military and law enforcement.
- Private citizen owners who legally possess 280 million firearms.
Which of these is the source of criminal firearm activity? The last, of course. The proof is in the news everyday and our prisons are filled to capacity with them. Why then are the members of category 2, private citizen owners, being attacked for legal possession of firearms? There is no link factually or otherwise between legal firearm ownership and criminality. None whatsoever.
The role of criminals
Criminals, the third category, have been doing their work long before since laws were first implemented by society. When society introduced laws, criminals continued to do what they had been doing; taking what they wanted. Prior to the common availability of firearms criminals enforced their wills using bows and arrow, knives, clubs and a plethora of inventive and nasty implements. These were the tools of the trade as many still are. Knifes are the second most common means of criminal killing and are the most common backup instrument for gang members after their guns.
Some of these criminals grew up to rule countries. Stalin disarmed his citizenry and proceeded to massacre them by the tens of millions. Hitler disarmed the German people and we know what happened there. Perhaps, if the people of Germany and Russia has been armed, 100 million peoples lives could have been saved. One reason Japan avoided invading the USA during World War II was that American citizens were armed. In societies where firearms are removed from the citizenry, gun crime does not decrease as the criminals continue to own their guns. In the six years from 1996 to 2002, since the United Kingdom banned handguns, gun crimes rose by an astounding 40%. Britain now leads the U.S. by a wide margin in robberies and aggravated assaults. [Opinion Journal:Gun Control Misfires in Europe, 5/2/02] . It’s basic logic but needs explaining. Our research and statistics section has documents that support this fact.
Hammers don’t kill people. People do.
The real issues that cause gun crimes are societal. Guns and cars are not to blame for the deaths that are caused. They are the means of death, the manner of death, not the cause. Just as a hammer is the means used to drive a nail. It is the people using these items that are responsible for the outcome; not the tool or vehicle itself. Killing someone with a firearm or driving while intoxicated are both criminal offenses. Equally so, when the intoxicated driver kills someone with their car.
Let’s look at three examples of manners of violent death:
1. Alcohol. There is no call to ban cars, alcohol or beer glasses as a result of the estimated 2.6 million DUI crashes annually in the US. This is despite the fact that alcohol is the third leading cause of death (according to the Center for Disease Control) with 100,000+ deaths annually including 16,600 drunk driving fatalities, 2.6 million DUI crashes and 308,000 DUI injuries a year. Alcohol is a major contributor for 50% of all homicides and rapes, 62 percent of assaults, and 30 percent of suicides. Prohibition of alcohol led to an increase in the number of annual alcohol related deaths.
Do we blame the drinker or the liquor? The drinker of course.
2. Automobiles. Consider the 38,500 car crash fatalities a year – 40% of which are drunk driving fatalities – and the 2.69 million car crash injuries. (National Safety Council).
Do we blame the driver or the car? The driver of course.
3. Firearms. There are approximately 31,000 firearm deaths per year including 16,000 suicides and approximately 79,000 injuries (numbers rounded). In the U.S. for 2001, there were 29,573 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 16,869; Homicide 11,348; Accident 802; Legal Intervention 323; Undetermined 231.(CDC, 2004).
Do we blame the shooter or the gun. The gun of course…WHAT!
Blaming the gun defies any attempt at logic. The illogicality of it does, however, prove the point that if you say something often enough people will believe anything. And they do.
The Root cause of Firearm Violence – 1. Inner City Violence, Poverty and Drugs.
In order to understand the root cause of gun crimes we have to find where these crimes occur. The average number of violent deaths in the US is 10 a year per 100,000 people. According to the LA Times (LA Times Homicide Blog) in September 2007, the average rate of violent death for Black inhabitants of Los Angeles was 176 per 100,000 and 110 per 100,000 for Latinos. Here’s a quote from the LA Times from June 6, 2007.
“Race and ethnicity, like age and gender, are stark predictors of homicide risk. Blacks are vastly more likely to die from homicide than whites, and Latinos somewhat more likely. Black men, in particular, are extraordinarily vulnerable: They are 4% of this country’s population, but, according to the Centers for Disease Control, they represented 35% of homicide victims nationally in 2004. Local numbers mirror these national disparities. According to an analysis for The Times by county health officials of homicide data between 1991 and 2002, Latino men ages 20 to 24 were five times more likely than white men the same age to die, and black men were 16 times more likely.”
What does this tell us? It points the finger at the source of the problem. Practically without exception, the destination is the same. Inner city areas forgotten and ignored by mainstream society, wracked by poverty and whose economy is driven by illegal drug sales and the ensuing hopelessness. Drug dealers own illegal guns. Gang members own illegal guns. The inhabitants own guns. Everyone owns guns to protect themselves from each other. And there is no law that applies to the criminal aspect of these areas.
In these fertile criminal grounds are children deficient in familial support – many do not know their father, some don’t know either of their parents.
Some of these children find that missing familial support in gang membership from a young age, which are organized micro-societies in themselves, who provide their members with the structure they crave; at a price.
Violent death is a familiar and recurrent visitor to these young people. These children become part of the cycle of inner city violence, it’s all they know. They and their children in turn, become part of a cycle of dependency on the State, lacking in the mores of everyday life because society has forgotten about them, brushed them under the carpet, until they become a problem. Then they go to prison. Or die. They grow up to become seasoned criminals and many carry illegal firearms to defend themselves. Some from as young as 10 years old.
[For a full review see: FBI Report: Violent Encounters Felonious Assaults on America’s Law Enforcement Officers in the Reports & Opinions section of the site]
The Root cause of Firearm Violence – 2. Your average violent criminal.
The second place to find your violence firearm crime is with your ordinary everyday criminal who uses firearms to carry out their mission of taking what they want from the weak in society. They are not so quick to kill but will if need be. Much of their decision-making is influenced by their mental status as well as the potientiate of alcohol or drugs. Upset them and sometimes, you’re dead.
The Root cause of Firearm Violence – 3. Mental Illness.
Mental health problems on the other hand that lead to violent crime are abstract – a wild card with behaviors that are impossible to predict, harder to prevent. Unfortunately society is not perfect; there is no cure for every problem. It is near impossible for society to police the mentally ill, whether drug and alcohol induced or naturally occurring as we take people at face value. They are spotted if they are caught when they break the law or seek help. Sometimes there’re never spotted until they have committed a terrible crime.
Fear and Control fantasies – a dangerous combination
The average citizen of the US does not fit in this mix. The question is therefore; why do some members of society, and politicians in particular, insist on attacking roughly 50% of the population who own firearms? Firearm owner are blamed, by default, for all manner of gun crimes just because they own a firearm. As law abiding firearm owners they are vilified and belittled for practicing their Constitution Rights.
The word ‘fear’ comes to mind. So does the word ‘control.’ A need by some to control others. Logic shows that the fear is misdirected as has been argued above.
The answer is that nobody wants to deal with the real issues and solve the cycle of poverty and violence that produces violent crime. It is, they think, too difficult to tackle. Too dirty. Too demeaning. Possibly politically incorrect. However it’s a fact of life a large as the nose on our faces and as hard to avoid.
Far more would be accomplished in society if those who would take our firearms away would face the truth about the source of violence firearm crime and do something about it. Waving a gun around on television and blaming it for all the ills of society is so easy, makes for great pictures. But it is the ultimate shiny ball, the ultimate distraction. Proof that the emperor has no clothes.
Imagine if that energy, that need to control, was spent on the issue that matters: breaking up the micro-segments of society through social reengineering – as unpopular as that may be – aggressive implementation of educational and social programs for children in these areas, promoting basic family values and enforcing paternal obligations, and providing vocational training for these children at an early age. These may be viewed as unjust and interfering with a segment of society – some may even call it racism. But that’s a cop out. If we want change, we have to want to implement change. And do so fearlessly, with empathy and respect. Or this violent segment of society will continue to reach out and touch us as it does on a daily basis. It relies on our apathy to survive.
The American Firearms Institute follows these guiding principles:
- AFI recognizes and supports the right of the people of the United States to keep and bear arms as individuals as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
- AFI promotes these four cornerstones with regard to firearm ownership issues:
- AFI seeks educate our members and the public about the real causes of firearm violence by providing easy access to analysis, statistics, reports and data.
- Educating our politicians. To put them on that we expect them to tackle these issues aggressively. No more hiding behind the gun. We can see through that.
- To deal with the reality of gun ownership and combat the myths, fiction and superstition that surround this important issue.
There is no reason in these days of mass and instant communication that we should choose to live in the dark ages where firearm ownership and the sources of firearm violence are concerned. Smugly ignoring the truth will not change the facts. It under-serves the weak and poor of our society. It upsets the 150 million Americans who don’t want their constitutionally guaranteed ability to choose interfered with.
Become a member of the American Firearms Institute. It’s free.
It’s time for those who would blame us – the legal gun owners of America – and our legally held firearms for the ills of society, to be exposed for what they are and left cold and naked in the harsh light of truth. Read and learn the truth.
Knowledge beats ignorance, every time.