SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - You may have heard about or seen recent reports that hammers and clubs are used to kill more people each year than rifles.
Gun-supporters have been using this as part of their argument against proposals on gun control. We decided to investigate and review the numbers ourselves.
All of the numbers we reviewed had a common source-- the FBI. The first thing we discovered is that the FBI doesn't break their homicide weapon statistics down into a category specifically called, "hammers and clubs." Instead, they group all blunt objects into one category. So, what the statistic says is, more people are killed by hammers, clubs, bats, crowbars, bricks, shovels, iron skillets, etc. than by rifles alone.
Here are the most recent (2009) statistics, broken down very specifically, straight from the FBI web site:
- 611 people were killed with blunt objects
- 348 people were killed with rifles
- 418 people were killed with shotguns
- 6,452 people were killed with handguns
- 1,834 people were killed with a firearm where the type wasn't recorded
- 94 people were killed with what the FBI calls "other guns"
Therefore, a total of 9,146 people in the United States were killed with some type of firearm in 2009.
The blunt objects numbers do not include deaths in which someone was beaten with a fist, foot or by choking. Personal weapons (a person's hands, feet, fists, etc.), strangulation and asphyxiation are all categories of their own on the FBI's statistics chart.
To give this some perspective, we looked into these statistics for the cities of Longview and Tyler. Both Tyler and Longview report their crime statistics to the FBI.
In 2008, there were 9 murders in Longview. Eight of those people were killed with firearms, and one person died in a stabbing. The numbers in 2009 were similar. Nine murders were committed with a firearm, one person died in a stabbing and one person died after a physical fight.
In Tyler in 2008, there were 6 murders. In four of those murders, people were killed with a gun. Two of those murders were committed by drowning someone.
In 2009, Tyler Police say there were 4 murders. Two of those people were killed with guns and two of those people were killed with knives.
Therefore, 77 percent of the homicides committed in Tyler and Longview in 2008 and 2009 were by a firearm of some kind. The City of Tyler and City of Longview did not specify if any rifles were used in the 2008 and 2009 firearm deaths.