Of all the firearms available for purchase, no such form has inflicted so much pain, brought about more controversy, and yielded more concern than the handgun. Due to its accessibility, ease to conceal and operate, the handgun has taken more lives and caused more harm than any type of legal firearm on the market.
According to the Brady campaign’s research there are approximately 283 million guns in circulation; of those 283 million, roughly 113 million were handguns, or 40%. An overwhelming percentage of deaths via firearms are caused by shots from handguns-around 75%. This combination of availability and violence makes handguns arguably the most disturbing consumer product in America. Along with this frightening combination, handguns also possess great economic, and cultural concerns.
Society’s general concerns regarding handguns are not cryptic. The firearm poses a tangible threat that has effected millions upon millions of individuals living in the United States. Since 1964 there have been over 1.2 million murders in the United States via firearms. Of these 1.2 million murders, nearly 60% or 720,00 were committed via handguns. These statistics are the more conspicuous concerns in regards to handguns. Violence is an inherent characteristic for any firearm, and handguns are no exception.
The handguns greatest burden is administered on the youth and family’s of America. The following statistics from the Brady campaign will reveal the dangers imposed by handguns on America’s family’s and young people:
In 2006, nearly 6 children under the age of 19 were killed with handguns everyday-2,087 children die annually from a handgun.
From 1993 to 1997 7,400 murders via handguns were committed by children under the age of 18 years old.
From 1999 through 2005, an average of 1,000 children took their lives with a handgun.
The presence of a handgun in one’s home quadruples the risk of homicide and quintuples the risk of suicide.
Gunshot wounds from a handgun are the most common causes of death for women in the home, accounting for nearly half of all homicides and suicides.
In 1998, for every one time a woman used a handgun to kill a stranger in self-defense, 302 women were murdered in handgun homicides (FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, 1998)
From the statistics one could conclude that handgun ownership severely increases the likelihood of suicide, accidental deaths, and homicide in the home. Proponents for gun rights constantly point to the fact that handguns are a necessary means for self defense, however, the statistics reveal that homicide trumps acts of self defense by 43:1. In addition to murder and suicide handguns also pose an economic cost on society in the form of negative externalities. The following statistics (taken from the Brady campaign) reveal the economic cost of handgun violence.
Including all direct and indirect costs-medical, lost wages, and security costs, handgun violence costs the nation roughly 75 billion dollars a year.
Including medical costs, the prosecution of the assailant, and the subsequent imprisonment a murder via handgun will cost as high as 2 million dollars.
If thought about logically the impact that handgun murders have on our society is extremely costly. Someone has to pay for medical costs, the trial, the imprisonment, and the lost wages incurred. Unfortunately this bill is picked up by the taxpayers; roughly 80% of these costs are paid for by society.
This analysis doesn’t even include the mounting opportunity costs created by handgun violence-unmeasurable variables such as time are impossible to conceptualize. Precious hours that could have been spent working or doing something productive, are instead wasted arranging a funeral or grieving. As one can see concerns over handguns come in different forms, both tangible and abstract.