“Obama spent all my change.”
— Bumper sticker spotted in Billings, Mont.
“There was less violent crime in this country in the 1950s, before background checks, waiting periods or age limits to buy firearms, and before licensing of gun dealers and the existence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. So if easy access to guns is a major cause of violence, why was there less violence in those days?” asks Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute.
“The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows a rate of 4.0 homicides per 100,000 population in 1955. In 2011, the homicide rate was 20 percent higher at 4.8. And that 2011 rate was the lowest since 1963,” Mr. Stanek reasons. “The homicide rates were higher in the 1940s than in the 1950s, and were as high as 10.2 in 1980. So homicide rates have gone up and down with and without gun-control laws. No one knows for sure why violent crimes occur with more or less frequency. But we do know from the long history of crime-rate reporting that swings in violence have occurred irrespective of gun laws.”
Mr. Stanek adds, “As criminologist Grant Duwe, author of ‘Mass Murder in the United States: A History,’ recently told The Associated Press, the number of mass shootings in this country actually peaked — in 1929.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 61 percent of Americans say stricter gun-control laws would not reduce the amount of violence in the U.S.; 77 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent of Americans overall agree with the positions of the National Rifle Association; 72 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent overall cite “influences of popular culture” as the primary cause of gun violence; 43 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent cite “ways children are raised” as the cause; 43 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree.
• 23 percent cite the availability of guns as the cause; 8 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A CNN/Time/ORC poll of 814 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 14 and 15.
• Churlish remarks, intriguing recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org.