Report: FBI data shows more homicides committed with hands and feet than rifles in 2020

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UNITED STATES – According to data released by the FBI earlier in September, it’s apparent that Americans are more at risk of being killed by a person’s hands or feet as opposed to being fatally gunned down by any iteration of a rifle.

This finding regarding the latest release from the FBI’s Unified Crime Report detailing the means employed for homicides in 2020 once again reiterated that rifles – to include those ones often dubbed as “assault rifles” – are statistically of lower concern than how they’re often bolstered in the media and by lawmakers.

The topic of rifles, particularly those referred to as “assault rifles”, comes up in the media and in legislative talks whenever the rare occurrence transpires when some form of a rifle is used in a tragic mass shooting.

While mass shootings are terrible, instances where rifles are employed are often rare – and crimes carried out where individuals are slain by rifles are also rare. Yet, the topic of gun control in the realm of rifles (namely, again, “assault rifles”) is frequently touted by legislators.

But the numbers show that there are murders carried out by mere physical prowess that exceed those carried out by a rifle of any sort – to even include automatic rifles. But somehow the fervor remains against rifles and/or large capacity magazines.

Data from the FBI Unified Crime Report for 2020 spells it out clearly. In 2020, there were a total of 318 homicides committed by way of rifles of all strips. When it came to “personal weapons” – meaning homicides carried out by one’s hands/feet, the total was 415.

FBI Homicide Data from 2020 (personal weapons) - screenshot from FBI UCR Report
FBI Homicide Data from 2020 (personal weapons) – screenshot from FBI UCR Report

And the trend has been ongoing for years as well.

FBI Homicide Data from 2019 (personal weapons) - screenshot from FBI UCR Report
FBI Homicide Data from 2019 (personal weapons) – screenshot from FBI UCR Report

In 2019, there were a total of 179 homicides carried out by rifles of all kinds. In the category of personal weapons, that number was 331. A figure that borders on nearly double of rifle-related homicides.

And in 2018, the number of rifle-related killings was even lower.

FBI Homicide Data from 2018 (personal weapons) - screenshot from FBI UCR Report
FBI Homicide Data from 2018 (personal weapons) – screenshot from FBI UCR Report

FBI data from 2018 shows that there were 126 homicides carried out by any type of rifle. When it came to murders via hands or feet, the figure was 320 – a number that was over double the amount of homicides by way of rifles.

It’s not to say that homicides carried out by rifles aren’t serious – by all means they are, and there should be avenues explored to help prevent murders of any stripe from being carried out.

But the fact that there are more homicides by way of people utilizing their hands and feet also betrays the ugly truth of homicide: the intent factor.

Sure, legislation can be crafted to outlaw an instrument used in homicides, ban certain firearms and so on – but one measure that can never be legislated is emotion – particularly hostile ones – which are the elements that foment intent.

And nothing shows homicidal intent more than one person killing another by way of their literal endowed appendages.

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FBI data shows nearly 3x as many people were killed by knives than rifles of any kind in 2020

(Originally published September 28th, 2021)

According to data released by the FBI earlier in September, more than two and a half times as many people were killed by knife wounds versus those killed by a rifle of any kind.

This data comes at a time when many politicians have been highlighting concerns over the likes of “assault rifles” and the sort – which the FBI annual data again proves that rifles of any kind are not used in homicides on scales that many would reasonably believe.

FBI Homicide Data from 2020 - screenshot from FBI UCR Report
FBI Homicide Data from 2020 – screenshot from FBI UCR Report

According to the Unified Crime Report data released for 2020, there were a total of 877 people who were killed by either a knife or a cutting instrument. When compared to rifles of all kinds – namely standard and automatic – the total number of homicides in 2020 were reported as 318.

Needless to say, a knife or cutting instrument is over 2.5 times more likely to be used in a murder in the United States than a rifle.

Even “personal weapons”, meaning someone’s hands, feet and so on, were responsible for more deaths than rifles within the United States in 2020 – with the report showing 415 people were killed by personal weapons.

When it comes to other classifications of guns, namely “handguns” and “firearms” on the report, those two did still top the list on weapons used during a homicide: with handguns being used in 3,500 and simply dubbed firearms being used in 3,208.

These trends in terms of there being a higher number of fatal stabbings versus homicides carried out by rifles have been ongoing for some time. FBI data from 2019 shows that the number of fatal stabbings were 664, versus there being a total of 179 homicides carried out by rifles of all kinds.

FBI Homicide Data from 2019 - screenshot from FBI UCR Report
FBI Homicide Data from 2019 – screenshot from FBI UCR Report

And again in 2019, personal weapons also usurped the number of homicides carried out by rifles, with personal weapons causing a reported 331 deaths. Also in 2019, “blunt objects” overtook the number of homicides by rifles, coming in at 195 homicides.

In general, despite there being heavy criticism toward rifles by legislators and activist groups, these weapons appear to not be the biggest contributor to deaths in the United States.

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Federal judge rules CA “assault weapons ban” is unconstitutional, violates rights of law-abiding citizens

(Originally published June 5th, 2021)

SAN DIEGO, CA – On June 4th, a federal judge ruled that California’s law banning the likes of “assault weapons” proved to be unconstitutional, saying in his ruling that it violates the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens within the state. 

Those who were for the assault weapons ban in California have voiced their disdain with Judge Roger Benitez recent decision regarding the law within California that banned the likes of AR-15s. 

During his June 4th ruling, Judge Benitez compared the AR-15 rifle to that of a Swiss Army knife in terms of versatility and practicality with respect to what the weapon is designed for: 

“Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

“Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected.”

Judge Benitez went on to cite United States vs. Miller and District of Columbia vs. Heller in his ruling, highlighting that while the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee Americans to possess “any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” he held that AR-15s are “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

Based upon that logic, Judge Benitez came to the conclusion that the assault weapons ban in California is unconstitutional: 

“Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR-15 type rifle. Therefore, this court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”

Ian Bassin, the founder and executive director of Protect Democracy referred to Judge Benitez as being “sick” in a tweet following the ruling: 

“Judge Roger Benitez strikes down CA assault weapons ban by spouting absolute lunacy: ‘Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.’ Sick.”

While some are flustered over the judge comparing Swiss Army knives to the AR-15, Judge Benitez also explained that more people have been killed by knives in California annually than any kind of rifle

“One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”

“Federal Bureau of Investigation murder statistics do not track assault rifles, but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by any kind of rifle.”

“In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle. For example, according to F.B.I. statistics for 2019, California saw 252 people murdered with a knife, while 34 people were killed with some type of rifle – not necessarily an AR-15.”

California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta made the argument that AR-15s should be banned under state law because since the design of the firearm appears similar to that of military-grade firearms, adding that the weapon is designed to handle well in instances of rapid firing.

According to Bonta, a firearm that can be fired quickly and afford better control for increased accuracy is not needed for personal self-defense.

Judge Benitez ruled that just because assault weapons like the AR-15 somewhat resemble military-grade rifles, this aspect does not take away from the rifles having “constitutional protection for self-defense.”

In fact, Judge Benitez found that the arguments brought by Bonta actually reinforced that weapons like the AR-15 are ideal for “militia readiness”:

“At the same time, it actually enhances a firearms constitutional protection for militia readiness.”

Needless to say, Bonta says that he intends to appeal the ruling: 

“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed, and we will be appealing it. There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with swiss army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities.”

“We need to take action to end gun violence now. We will fight this ruling and continue to advocate for and defend common sense gun laws that will save lives.”

Bonta added that while the judge ruled against the assault weapons ban, the “decision is stayed for 30 days, and the California laws that are subject of the ruling currently remain in full force and effect.”

Governor Gavin Newsom also voiced opposition against the judge’s June 4th ruling, giving the following statement on the matter: 

“Today’s decision is a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians, period.”

“As the son of a judge, I grew up with deep respect for the judicial process and the importance of a judge’s ability to make impartial fact-based rulings, but the fact that this judge compared the AR-15 — a weapon of war that’s used on the battlefield — to a Swiss Army Knife completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon.

We’re not backing down from this fight, and we’ll continue pushing for common sense gun laws that will save lives.”

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