According to the Department of Justice, which produced a number of surveys on this very question, we have the results of one of those surveys on Table 11, page 19 of this report.
Nearly 3 in 4 defendants with a conviction record, 43% of defendants overall, had at least one prior conviction for a felony (table 11). Thirty-five percent of defendants whose current charge was for a violent felony had previously been convicted of a felony. Murder (42%) and robbery(41%) defendants were about twice as likely as rape defendants (21%) to have a felony conviction record. Thirty-six percent of assault defendants had a prior felony conviction.
For murderers, the percentage who had prior felony convictions was 42%. This means very simply that 58% of the folks surveyed in this report, done by the DOJ, I remind you, were law-abiding gun owners until the moment they pulled the trigger.
Another even larger part of gun violence, often overlooked, is suicide. I don't understand why some people want to leave it out. To me a self-inflicted bullet to the brain is about as violent as it gets.
The Illinois Council against Handgun Violence understands this and has produced a useful fact sheet.
U.S. firearm suicide total was 17,002, an increase of 1.5% from 2004 national gun suicide numbers. The state of Illinois saw a nearly 10% INCREASE in gun suicides in that same time, from 387 in 2004 to 424 in 2005. Most suicides in the U.S. are committed with firearms.
More than half of all suicides in the U.S. are committed with firearms. In 2004, 52% of all suicides in the U.S. were committed with guns. In Illinois, guns suicides made up 39% of the total suicides for 2004.
Access to lethal means, especially firearms, greatly increases the likelihood that someone will commit suicide. A gun in the home is 11 times more likely to be used to attempt or commit a suicide than to be used in self-defense.
Taking these facts into consideration, there's only one thing we have to speculate about. No one seems to provide data on what percentage of gun suicides are committed by law-abiding gun owners and what percentage by criminals. What do you think those numbers would be? Would you say 50% / 50%? I don't think so. I'd say it's more like 80% lawful and 20% criminal.
The same type of speculation goes for gun accidents. I'm sure some criminals shoot themselves by accident, but I would imagine the largest percentage is among the lawful gun owners.
To sum up, when combining the number of murders committed by non-criminals, 58%, with the suicides committed by law-abiding gun owners, 80%, and the number of lethal accidents, let's say another 80%, you've got an overwhelming case for considering that, as shocking as it may sound, most gun violence is committed by law-abiding gun owners.
What's your opinion? How would you adjust those percentages? I realize other DOJ surveys showed other percentages, and the suicide and accident percentages are speculation, so what would you say?
Lethal Logic by Dennis A. Henigan, pp. 70, 71
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