Each time there is a incident of gun violence that reaches national attention, a new wave of legislation to ban various guns and enact restrictions on the 2nd Amendment is started. Traditionally Democrats are in favor of such bans and restrictions while Republicans are against them. The issue overall is the question of what will make America safer? We will be writing a series of articles addressing this issue from all sides.
From the outset we want to be clear that emotion and preferences are not factors in these articles. There is no question that emotions are directly connected to the latest slew of gun legislation in 2013. Fear of the growing number of incidents like those of Columbine/Sandy Hook/Binghamton and others is motivating legislation, which is not a bad thing but is not indicative of the right course of action. At the same time, outright denial of change and blind support of the 2nd Amendment in the broadest interpetation possible is equally not bad, nor indicative of the right course of action.
We also will acknowledge that Michael Vass, president of M V Consulting, Inc has publicly stated his own support of the 2nd Amendment and general concerns of current gun ban legislation. That position is not the motivation of the articles that we are presenting. We hope to provide insight into what the real situation is in the nation, and what are the potential outcomes with or without the current slew of legislation.
Many of the articles will focus on the City of Binghamton and Broome County of New York State, in addition to national data. The reason is because Binghamton was the site of a gun violence incident, similar to that in headlines for other cities, in 2009. In addition this is our home location. Therefore we are using this area as a surrogate of sorts.
The City of Binghamton is located in the Southern Tier region of New York State. It is a hub city, the largest city between New York City and Albany or Rochester when traveling through central NY. The city consists of 11 sq miles, with 47,376 citizens (according to 2010 Census). The racial makeup of the city is 75% White, 10.4% African American, .30% Native American, 4.1% Asian, .04% Pacific Islander, 1.71% from other races, and 6.40% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the city is $30,702, and the median income for a family is $39,725. Like New York State, Binghamton has lost population every decade for the past 6 decades.
Broome County, New York includes the City of Binghamton. Broome County has 715 sq miles, with 200,600 citizens. The racial makeup of the county is 91.33% White, 3.28% African American, .19% Native American, 2.79% Asian, .03% Pacific Islander, .79% from other races, and 1.99% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the county is $35,347, and the median income for a family is $45,422. Binghamton University is located here, in Vestal NY, part of the metro Binghamton area.
Broome County is also one of the Counties that comprise Operation IMPACT. This is a task force for the reduction of crime, particularly violent and firearm-related crime in the seventeen (17) counties in New York State that account for 80% of total crime outside of New York City. The program was started in 2004 and includes: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.
On April 3, 2009, Jiverly Antares Wong (aka Jiverly Voong) killed 13 people and injured 4 others before taking his own life, at the American Civic Association in Binghamton. He used a 9mm Beretta 92FS Vertec Inox and a Beretta Px4 Storm .45 caliber. With this incident, which received national attention, Binghamton joined the growing number of cities across America that have been subject to senseless gun violence.
As of the January 2012 poll by Gallup, 51% of Americans were somewhat or very satisfied with gun laws, versus 42% that were somewhat or very dissatified. With regard to enacting more strict gun laws, 25% were in favor and 8% wanted less strict laws, in that same poll asked of only those that were dissatisfied.
In a 2011 January poll, by Gallup asking if Congress should pass stronger gun control laws, 49% were in favor and 50% opposed.
A February 2008 poll found that 73% of respondents found that the 2nd Amendment allowed for the public to own guns.
An April 2005 poll found that 73% or respondents thought schools would be more dangerous with armed officials versus 22% that thought they would be more safe.
A November 2004 poll revealed that 65% of respondents felt less safe in a restaruant or movie theater if they knew a concealed weapon was allowed versus 22% that felt more safe.
As we discussed in a previous article NRA solution as bad as gun restrictions
"From 1992 – 2000 there were 232 homicides in schools across the country, affecting children from ages 5 to 18 [data from the National Center for Educational Statistics]...From 2001 – 2009 there were 184 homicides, averaging 20.4 (including 2010, the last year data was available the total was 201, and average was 20.1)...This total of 385 (or 21.4 average) compares to 29,000 total homicides outside of school zones (an average of 1705.9 per year for the 17 years of data available)."
According to NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services 2011 State report published October 2012,
"Firearm-related crimes have generally decreased over the last 5 years after increasing during the first part of the decade. The highest count was reported in 2006 (6,164 or 19% of violent crimes). The number of firearm related violent crimes in 2011 was the second lowest reported over the last 10 years(4,863). The proportion of violent crimes involving firearms has been relatively stable during this time period (between 17% and 19%)."
As of November 16, 2012, there were reported by the Binghamton Police Department (for the year 2012) 256 violent crimes, of which 25 involved firearms. That is a decrease 17.2% vs 2011 (220 violent crimes of which 29 involved firearms). The 10 year average, from 2001 - 2010, is 209 violent crimes of which 22 involved firearms for a rate of 10.3% on average. This includes 13 murders in 2009 from the 1 incident at the American Civic Center.
Specifically looking at murder, from 2001 - 2010, there were 39 murders reported by the Binghamton PD of which 26 involved a firearm and of which the American Civic Center Shooting accounted for 13 of those firearm murders. Without that incident the figures would have been 26 murders and 13 with a firearm. There were 0 murders in 2011 and 1 in September 2012 which did involve a firearm.
The 10 year (2001 - 2010) average of murders among the Operation IMPACT counties was 215, of which 137 involved a firearm (including the April 2009 incident). For 2011, the last date data was available (as of 12/5/12), there were 149 murders, down 30.6% vs 10yr average, of which 84 invovled a firearm, down 38.9% vis 10 year average.
1995 - Gun-Free School Zones Act - prohibits any individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at school zone.
2003 - First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws -
"The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes."
2004 - Assault Weapons Ban expires
2008 - District of Columbia v. Heller - D.C. ban is unconstitutional.
2010 - McDonald v. Chicago -
"The Court held that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states."
Proposals in 2013
- 1/22/13 (proposed) - Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban
- HR 35 - To restore safety to America's schools - 1/3/13
- HR 133 - To repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and amendments to that Act - 1/3/13
- HR 137 - To ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale. - 1/3/13
- HR 138 - To prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and for other purposes - 1/3/13
- HR 141 - To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at gun shows - 1/3/13
- HR 142 - To require face to face purchases of ammunition, to require licensing of ammunition dealers, and to require reporting regarding bulk purchases of ammunition 1/3/13
- NYS Senate - S1422-2013 - Increases the penalty for the possession, use, or sale of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices and certain other weapons and redefines "assault weapon - 1/9/13 (pre-filed)
In coming articles we will reflect back on these facts, as well as others that become available. We advise readers to review the data and legislation, as we believe an informed citizen is the most valuable asset to the creation and implementation of laws that are a benefit to the nation.