In the wake of several deadly shootings across the country, public debate about gun control has resurfaced. One canard trotted out by some gun-control activists is that previously law-abiding citizens commit most of the murders, but in reality the exact opposite is true: a large body of evidence shows that murderers are almost invariably veteran criminals, according to criminologist and attorney Don B. Kates, Jr., a research fellow at the Independent Institute.
"A New York Times study of the 1,662 murders in that city between 2003 and 2005 found that 'more than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records,'" writes Kates in an op-ed for the San Francisco Examiner. "Baltimore police records show similar statistics for its murder suspects in 2006. In Milwaukee, police reported that most murder suspects in 2007 had criminal records, while 'a quarter of them [killed while] on probation or parole.' The great majority of Illinois murderers from the years 1991-2000 had prior felony records. Eighty percent of Atlanta murder arrestees had previously been arrested at least once for a drug offense; 70 percent had three or more prior drug arrests--in addition to their arrests for other crimes."
Having lost last year's landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, in which a majority on the Supreme Court decided that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, gun-control advocates are searching desperately for new strategies and tactics. Those claiming that firearms, in the hands of ordinary citizens, pose a grave risk to public safety, however, will find that their arguments misfire.