Once again, the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report reveals that rifles and shotguns are used in a fraction of homicides involving firearms, re-kindling the question gun prohibition lobbying groups have not directly answered: Why should any rifle or shotgun type be banned?
Expanded Homicide Data Table 11 in this year’s spread sheets details “murder circumstances by weapon.” It shows an estimated total of 17,754 murder victims, of which 13,620 were killed with firearms, according to the report. Out of that number, according to the FBI report, an estimated 454 rifles (of any kind) were used, along with 203 shotguns. The reports do not provide details about the specific types of firearms beyond the three basic listings, so in the case of rifles it is not clear whether the weapon is a semi-auto, lever-action, bolt-action, pump or single-shot.
The chart also shows 4,946 slayings in which the type of firearm used was not stated, but even if some of those guns were rifles and shotguns—as would be likely—the pattern may not change.
Handguns are the most common type of firearm used in a homicide, with 8,017 handguns identified on the chart.
For contrast, there were 1,732 slayings involving “knives or other cutting instruments.” Another 392 people were killed with blunt instruments such as clubs or hammers, and 655 were beaten to death by people using just their hands and/or feet.
According to the FBI, “Of the 18,619 federal, state, county, city, university and college, and tribal agencies eligible to participate in the UCR Program, 15,897 agencies submitted data in 2020.” The annual crime report is traditionally released in late September, as it takes several months to gather all of the data and process it for the report.
This marks the first time in four years when the estimated number of violent crimes increased compared to the previous year’s statistics, the agency said. Last year, violent crime was up 5.6 percent from 2019, while murder and non-negligent manslaughter offenses jumped a staggering 29.4 percent.
Meanwhile, property crimes actually dropped 7.8 percent, the FBI said.
When Joe Biden was campaigning, and more recently during a CNN Townhall gathering in July, he advocated for a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Short of an outright prohibition, he would regulate modern semiautomatic sporting rifles—the “assault rifles” to which anti-gunners constantly refer—the same way machine guns are regulated under provisions of the 1934 National Firearms Act. Owners would have to pay a special tax fee and submit to extensive background checks, which might be an overwhelming task since millions of such firearms are already privately owned.
Banning so-called “assault rifles” amounts to what is generically called “trophy legislation.”
Over the years, a look at any of the annual FBI Uniform Crime Reports reveals that rifles of any kind (not just semi-autos) are used in roughly 2-4 percent of all homicides in any given year. While more people are typically stabbed or beaten to death, the modern semi-auto rifle has become a target for demonization by the gun prohibition lobby.