The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its Uniform Crime Report for 2018 on Monday, and the numbers indicate that more people were killed by knives than rifles.
The annual report touts an overall drop in violent crime for the second consecutive year, according to the Bureau’s news release on the numbers. However, the numbers specifically on homicides in the United States offer some insight into America’s ongoing gun control debate.
Due to multiple shooting massacres that took place in August, gun control proponents have once again turned their animus toward semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15. Perhaps the most salient example of this is 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke’s pledge, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
However, as has been the case in previous years, the numbers show that rifles in general — including semi-automatics as well as others — only account for a fraction of a percent of the total homicide rate in the United States.
Here’s what the FBI’s 2018 homicide numbers show us:
What does this show us? According to the available information, rifles accounted for just 2.1 percent of total homicides last year — and 2.9 percent of gun homicides.
Once again, deaths from knives and “personal weapons” like hands, fists, and feet were higher than the number of homicides committed with rifles. More than five times as many murders were committed with knives (1,515) as with rifles, and more than twice as many people were killed with “personal weapons” (672). Other years included in the FBI report’s table — which spans 2014-2018 — show similar disparities between the same weapon types.
Again, these numbers are just for rifles as a whole. There’s no further breakdown for what kind of action or cosmetic features the rifles had.
But despite the facts, the question of what to do about the AR-15 and other widely used semi-automatic rifles — sometimes referred to as “assault weapons” — will likely remain as one of the main focus points in America’s ongoing debate about guns and the Second Amendment.