The FBI recently concluded a study that showed a dramatic and steady increase in the number of active shooter incidents. My understanding is that what they are defining as "active shooter" incidents are high-profile mass shootings. Not only did the number of these shootings increase, but the number of killed AND injured increased. While the number of people killed and injured by guns nationwide has slowly increased in the same period, since 2000, it is telling that the greatest increase has been in these mass shootings.
|FBI: Numbers of individuals injured or killed in active shooter incidents (source)|
|Number of guns to the U.S. population (source)|
The gun lobby likes to say that, with more guns in more places, the number of shootings will decrease, since, as they see it in their simple-minded way, a flood of guns on our streets can only lead to the "bad guys" being afraid and not committing crimes, and criminal shootings should decrease. So I wanted to see for myself.
As the Mother Jones graph at right shows, guns certainly have proliferated, such that there are now more guns in American civilian hands than there are people in the United States. By the gun lobby, this should make us the safest nation on Earth. Sadly, we have more civilian shootings than any other advanced nation (and most of the least advanced nations, to boot).
TheWire.com recently had an article which showed some very telling graphs. It broke down the gun sales by type, and you can see a drastic increase in sales, with data from the ATFE, which seems to mirror the number of active shooter incidents:
|ATFE: Gun sales by year and type (source)|
|FBI: Gun background checks by year (source)|
|Increasing issuance of conceal carry permits in Michigan counties (source)|
As I've posted about before, the number of households that own guns is decreasing steadily year after year, which means that the great proliferation of firearms in this country are going to people who are already gun owners. The gun lobbies and the gun manufacturers who bankroll them are pushing these owners hard to buy more, stoking fears. But, as these graphs seem to implicate, they only have themselves to fear.
See anything similar between these graphs? They all have very similar slopes. That alone doesn't prove anything, and correlation doesn't prove causation, but it certainly is telling to me that something is going on here. At the very least is demonstrates that increasing gun sales and conceal carry licenses has done nothing to stop the plague of gun violence in America, despite the simplistic, buy-more-guns propaganda of the gun lobby. At worst, it demonstrates that the flood of guns in American hands may have a relationship with the number of mass shootings in America. Such a correlation seems obvious to me, since it allows weak-minded and violent individuals to more easily get their hands on high-powered killing machines. But then statistics never sway the gun guys, or the gun lobbies who feed them false information.
ADDENDUM (2/25/14): On a related note, a recent (2013) study (by Fleegler, et al) showed a very positive and linear relationship between the rate of gun ownership in a state and the number of firearm deaths in that state, as well as a linear relationship between the laxity of gun laws in a state and the number of firearm deaths in that state. Here is a telling graph from that study: