How weapons fuel America's mass shootings

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Mental illness. Video games. The Internet. These are excuses offered by the U.S. President and his supporters for a scourge of mass killings. But five decades of empirical research by preeminent criminal law expert Professor Franklin Zimring tell a different story: The core of our country's deadly violence is access to weaponry.

An estimated three-hundred million guns are cached throughout America's households: handguns, rifles, assault weapons. The idea that "guns don't kill people—people kill people," promoted by gun advocates, skirts the issue.

"Does the availability of guns increase the death rate from assault? Of course, it does," Zimring said. "Trying to reduce death totals without discussing guns" belies logic and "ignores risks to public health."

Seminal research

In the groundbreaking 1997 book Crime Is Not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America, Zimring and his co-author found that U.S. crime rates were similar to—even lower than—most other developed countries. But when it comes to lethal violence, the U.S. far outpaces the rest: a toxic brew of permissive gun laws and weapons on the ground.

Other contributing factors come into play but to lesser degrees.

"There's an extraordinary amount of behavioral research into the significant causes of lethal violence," Zimring said. "Guns top the list. It's no secret—and it isn't something that the current president of the United States doesn't know. It's just something that he doesn't want to accept."

The proliferation of high-caliber assault weapons means the outcomes are even more lethal.

In a seminal 1972 study of crime in Chicago, Zimring looked at firearm caliber: Did bullet size determine the outcome? Absolutely. The .38 caliber attacks were more than twice as deadly as the .22 caliber attacks. A 2018 study of assaults in Boston replicated Zimring's findings.

Curbing gun violence

Zimring has recommended stronger gun laws for decades, including the licensing and registration of handgun owners and their weapons. He said "closing the loopholes" on universal background checks at the federal level is one of the most important legal reforms. Although not closely tied to mass shooting episodes, "They are the best bet for curbing high-risk user access."

A 1994 weapons ban, designed to reduce the number of deadly mass shootings nationwide, restricted civilian ownership of new military-grade weapons. The result? Gun massacres dropped significantly during the ban and then skyrocketed after it expired in 2004.

The U.S. House has passed a new ban—as well as a bill requiring universal background checks—but both are stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In the wake of congressional inaction, states have enacted their own laws. A dozen have passed extreme risk protection laws –or "red flag" laws—that permit confiscating guns from at-risk individuals. Some red states have weakened their gun laws, while California is the first state to require background checks for every ammunition purchase.

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Citation: How weapons fuel America's mass shootings (2019, August 16) retrieved 19 September 2019 from
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Aug 16, 2019
LOL. Seminal and groundbreaking, twenty-one years ago. Never heard of it or citation to it.

From my cold dead hands works for me. #MAGA

Read John R. Lott, Jr. and his Crime Prevention Research Center if you can't read a book. More Guns, Less Crime.

Aug 16, 2019
Guns certainly contribute. But ignorance, materialism and hatred really fuels the killings. Studies link low gray brain mass with violence, in other words, the dumber a person is, the more violent. If anyone has been in the USA, they know how there are very idiotic people in the USA.... and if they have a weapon, you can imagine.

Studies also link body fat with low brain mass, so a country where most are obese will have the least bright people around..... Now, sell weapons to those people and you will have a very dangerous country.

The USA has been invading countries, damaging governments to keep nations in poverty, selling weapons,etc, so the USA is the bully of the planet, they are in charge of spreading hatred and ignorance. Obviously, it has implications for their own nation.

"It belongs to human nature to hate those who you had injured" by tacitus, explains a lot of the American culture.... they hurt a group, and now they hate them. Like black people, Hispanics, Jews, etc.

Aug 16, 2019
Guns don't kill people on their own, true, but they greatly leverage the lethality of an attack.

A great example occurred in Sydney just this week: a mental health patient escaped a facility and ran amok, killing one person and attacking or attempting to attack others. But in Australia he could only get a knife and so members of the public were able to attack him with chairs and make a citizens arrest.

Imagine if this happened in the least ten shot, he would have been killed by police during the arrest (the Sydney man was calling for the police to shoot him through the head. He survived.)


Aug 17, 2019
Wow, are they going to take my weapons away from me!?
No more cars?
No more knifes?
No more propane bottles for my grill?
No more pest poisons?
No more matches?
No more canes?
No more etc.?
Perhaps we should just make it illegal to commit murder. Or is that to hard for criminals to understand?
Maybe we should make a hundred laws against murder. That will probably not work since they ignore the most important one. Murder is illegal.

Aug 17, 2019
@mqr. Feel the hate. H8 88 H8 88 14 28 Hail Victory Hail Victory Hail Victory

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