Collecting data: Great gun debate, statistics and polls


Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 5. Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 (full post here).

Category: News Gathering

Reason for publication: In order to give solid standing to points made in a story I wrote about gun culture in Granite Bay, California and America, I used various credible sources which I will detail below.


Below are excerpts from my Great Gun Debate story followed by the sources with which I received the information.


  •    “In terms of guns used with a malicious intent, the degree with which gun violence occurs in the U.S. is higher than rates in other developed nations. According to Professor of Sociology Tom Kando, who is an expert in crime statistics and popular culture, firearms are used in approximately three fourths of all criminal homicides and suicides.”

Professor Tom Kando is a retired sociology professor and has a range of expertise which can be viewed here.

  •    “It is also true that while the U.S.’ gun death rate has decreased by 31 percent since 1993 – according to the Pew Research Center – a Harvard study found that the number of mass shootings since 2011 has tripled.”

The Pew Research study was compiled from information published by the CDC, the DOJ and the Research center’s own surveys. It can be seen here. The Harvard study was compiled from independent research from Harvard and Northeastern students and data published by Mother Jones. It can be seen here.

  •   “While a portion of U.S. residents favor an increase in gun restrictions – approximately 55 percent according to a Gallup poll – others stand strong beside the right to bear arms, guaranteed by the second amendment.”

This Gallup poll surveyed approximately 1,000 Americans over the phone with a sampling error of +/-4. Although the sampling error is larger than I wished for, the confidence level reported among those survey was significantly high – at 95 percent. It can be seen here. It is also important to note that this survey shows that U.S. residents’ desire for increased gun control is not at an all-time peak, which is why I specifically said that only a portion of residents favored increased gun control, although it is a slim majority.

  •    “As reported in a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, in 2013 the number of guns in the U.S. was expected to exceed the total population – 357 million guns compared to 317 million people.”



I found this article published by the Washington Post in which they use the Congressional Report that I also used. The article explains that it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many guns are in the U.S. at any given time, and it is only assumed that the number of guns exceeds the population. I could have cited their assumption, but chose to instead cite an older source which seemed more credible.

  •  “However, those who stand against gun control remain strongly opposed. These adversaries include Congressman Tom McClintock, who represents California’s fourth district which includes parts of Placer County.

 “‘The best defense against an armed terrorist is an armed American,” read McClintock’s official statement on gun control, sent electronically by his Press Secretary. “That’s what the second amendment is all about.  It is an absolutely essential pillar of our security.'”

This statement from Congressman Tom McClintock can be found here on his website, but it was sent to me in an e-mail by his Press Secretary.

  •  “This opposition to gun control is not shared by all elected officials, including President Barack Obama, who recently committed to reduce gun violence by using a series of Executive Orders. These Executive Orders plan to prevent gun crime by requiring those who sell firearms – whether in person or online – to have a license to do so and conduct background checks. Also, by funding personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to enforce the new gun laws, by increasing investments in mental health care and by asking specific departments, such as the Department of Justice, to conduct investigations into gun safety technology.”


I found these facts about President Obama’s newest Executive Order concerning increased gun control through the White House website, in this link.

  •   “The President’s Executive Action will affect other states more than it will California –which is known for having stricter gun laws than most other states. Among other restrictions, California bans certain assault weapons, restricts gun shows, requires a ten day waiting period before individuals can receive the gun they bought and requires that gun sellers have a license and issue background checks – a requirement also seen in the Executive Action. In some cases, in terms of the banning of assault weapons, California’s currently implemented restrictions exceed the level of restrictions in the President’s Executive Order. Because of this, the restrictions may not affect Californians to a great extent.”

I found a list of California’s gun laws and restrictions here, through a post from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, published in 2015.

  •    “Granite Bay itself may have an attitude towards guns different than most cities in California, and even the state of California itself. Placer County is one of the more Republican-dominant counties in all of California, with 45.95 percent of registered Republican residents. Because Republicans are generally more opposed to gun regulations, some speculate that Granite Bay is more open to guns and resistant of restrictions.”

  Finding a list of recent voter partisanship for Placer County was a bit difficult. I ended up finding it on Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s website in a list published for 2015, which can be seen here.


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