Recent shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado, are driving a renewed push to ban “assault-style” rifles like the AR-15 — but according to FBI data, far more murders are committed with handguns, knives or even hands and feet.
The FBI’s most recent data from 2019 shows that while firearms account for the vast majority of homicides overall — 10,258 — the number of homicides committed using a rifle (364) is much smaller. (RELATED: FBI Stats Show Knives Kill Far More People Than Rifles In America – It’s Not Even Close)
Handguns were listed as the primary weapon in 6,368 cases, and shotguns accounted for another 200. There were 45 cases that named “other gun” as the weapon, and 3,281 cases in which the type of firearm was not specified. Assuming the unspecified cases follow the same ratio as the reported firearm types, the number of cases in which a rifle was used would increase by approximately 120 — bringing that total number to 484.
In addition, 600 people were killed in 2019 with what the FBI refers to as “personal weapons,” meaning hands, fists or feet. Knives or other “cutting tools” accounted for another 1,476 homicides — about three times the number killed by rifles.
Despite that data, following nearly every mass shooting in recent history, there has been a push to tighten gun control laws — but, more specifically, to ban the AR-15 or other “assault-style” rifles.
The argument behind that push was that the AR-15, due to its power and versatility, appeared to be the weapon of choice in a number of mass shooting events.
Las Vegas: AR-15
Aurora, CO: AR-15
Sandy Hook: AR-15
Waffle House: AR-15
San Bernardino: AR-15
Poway synagogue: AR-15
Sutherland Springs: AR-15
Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 23, 2021
“You don’t stop there (why did he do it?). You then protect communities by minimizing the risk should harm come to pass. This weaponry does not allow us to do that. People always ask “why is the AR-15 so popular?” Because it kills. I have a simple answer. Because it kills.” @cnn pic.twitter.com/JGqYZMgmHt
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) March 24, 2021
What public good comes from the sale of AR15s? (& I grew up in Montona, with plenty of guns in the house. I used to hunt, but never with an AR15. I’m a militant defender of the 2nd amendment.) https://t.co/mKNGoOVjXY
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) March 24, 2021
While the AR-15 does appear to be the weapon of choice for the more highly-publicized mass shootings, the fact that any instance in which at least four people are shot and killed is qualified as a “mass shooting” means that the numbers can be dramatically skewed by gang-related and drug-related activity. Throughout 2020, some argued that mass shootings in inner cities were a result of the stress and lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite some of the reports you’re seeing, 2020 was not a reprieve from mass shootings. It was a reprieve from a certain type — the kind that gets a lot of media attention.
Last year, mass shootings soared, with Black communities hit hardest.https://t.co/gRHhdM7f2f
— Chip Brownlee (@ByChipBrownlee) March 23, 2021