America the Violent | SARC

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)


In the wake of mass shootings, Americans are regularly told that these atrocities do not happen in other developed countries. This, we are to believe, is the damnable result of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Americans are told again and again that the key to solving this problem is to drastically reduce the number of firearms in circulation; specifically, the number of semi-automatic rifles. 

Of course, America isn’t entirely unique. As we’ll examine later, many other developed countries experience mass violence, including France, Norway, and New Zealand.  

Despite the hyperbole, though, there is an element of truth in the idea that America’s violence is unique in the developed world. As a country, we are much more violent, both in mass settings that capture our imaginations and headlines and in individual cases that tend to be accepted as somehow normal.  

For example, when we compare US cities to those of comparable nations—Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia—we find that American murder rates are startlingly high in comparison.  Murder rates may not be a perfect indicator of overall violence but work very well as a way of identifying serious violent tendencies.  

Glasgow, Scotland ranks as perhaps the most dangerous major city in America’s peer nations with a murder rate of around 5.1/per 100,000 residents in 2020. 

That murder rate would make Glasgow, Europe’s deadliest city, the 62nd most deadly city in America in 2020, landing between San Francisco and Anaheim.  

So, does that prove it? Is it true that because Americans have access to so many guns, we are much more likely to murder each other?  

Not exactly.  

As it turns out, Americans do not rely on a single tool to commit murders.  

Indeed, according to the FBI in 2019, the most common murder weapon was the handgun, used in 45.7% of murders. Firearms of unknown type were used in 23.9%.  Knives were the second most common identifiable weapon at 10.6%.  

It is worth mentioning that murders with hands and feet (600) outstrip murders with rifles and shotguns combined (564).  

Now, there’s no doubt looking at those numbers, that the number of firearms almost certainly increases the number of murders—it’s just a lot easier to kill someone with a gun than with your hands. 

But when we have gun control debates, lawmakers focus almost exclusively on one type of firearm: the semi-automatic rifle. A weapon so rarely used in murders the FBI does not distinguish its use from that of other rifles. I’ll say that again; rifles are so seldom used that the FBI does not count semi-automatic rifles separately from other, slower-firing rifles.  

To further put this in perspective, in 2019, there were estimated to be 16,425 murders. 10,255 of these were committed with firearms. 364 were committed with rifles—that we can prove. We have to assume some of the unidentified firearms are rifles.  

Even so, this is a tiny fraction of the overall number of murders; about 2.2%.  

To put this further in perspective, there were 36,096 vehicular homicides in 2019.  

There are 271,000,000 cars in the US.  

There are believed to be more than 400,000,000 guns. 

Despite this, a regular point of argument is that if we had the same kind of regulations around cars as we did guns, there would be fewer deaths. The belief is that by requiring training, licensing, registration, and other qualifications, deaths caused by firearms would be reduced. But as we have seen, the numbers don’t really bear this out, as cars—which have numerous, onerous regulations to own and operate, are involved in far more yearly deaths than guns, despite there being far more firearms.   

But even if we were to impose greater regulations on gun ownership, we wouldn’t expect it to have much impact on their use in crimes. Simply put, weapons that are acquired through legal means are very rarely used in crimes. 

In 2019, just about 10% of guns used in crimes were obtained in retail environments according to the Department of Justice. Retail environments include gun stores, sporting goods shops, gun shows, pawn shops, and flea markets. While it is often difficult to prove the provenance of firearms otherwise acquired, very few purchased in this verifiably legal way are ever used in crime.  

About 20% of guns used in crimes fall into a legal gray zone, in which the criminal claims to have acquired the firearm from someone else, either through purchase or as a gift.  

In total, 70% of firearms are acquired in an explicitly illegal fashion.  

What this points to is that criminals generally seek out non-verifiable means to obtain firearms, meaning that adding further regulation to the acquisition of guns would have, if not negligible, very minor effects.  

But again, given Americans’ highly violent nature, even if we were to ban all guns, and remove all firearms immediately, Americans would still attack one another by other means more commonly than our peer societies. 

America, however, is not merely more violent than our peer nations. 

We are much more criminal overall, with 715 per 100,000 people being held as prisoners. Some might say this is because of over-incarceration, with nearly 45% of those in federal prison being held for drug offenses. However, the statistic is still meaningful, as it demonstrates that Americans incur the risk of incarnation at a higher rate than our peer societies.  

This tendency also appears when we look at traffic fatalities. We have nearly three times as many traffic deaths per capita as the European Union—11.7 vs 4.2, suggesting more reckless driving in the US. 

Indeed, social science regularly demonstrates that Americans perceive less risk than those of other developed nations.  

Lack of risk aversion is highly correlated with crime, and those who commit even low-level offenses are much more likely to also commit violent crimes.  

All of this suggests that guns are not the root cause of violence in America.  

American people are.  

A murder committed with a firearm is just as evil and tragic as it would be with a knife.  

Let us turn our attention now to mass shootings, the crimes that most often grab headlines and shake our nation.  

Even looking exclusively at these horrifying crimes, the handgun is the weapon of choice for offenders, not the semiautomatic rifle. Handguns were used in 98 mass shootings since 1982 compared to 52 in which rifles were used.  

Now rifles are disproportionately favored in mass shootings as compared to the more common individual murder—making up about 30% of the weapons chosen in mass murder, but only 2% in individual cases. They are, however, not universally, nor even particularly often used, making up—of the three categories (rifles, shotguns, and handguns)—about one-third of the weapons.  

To sum all of this data up, targeting semi-automatic rifles would have a negligible impact on the overall American murder rate, and would not even prevent the majority of mass shootings. It is worth noting, that once a person has come to the point of deciding to murder a classroom of eleven-year-olds, the choice of which type of firearm is probably not extremely important to the outcome. In the cases of Uvalde, Parkland, and Sandy Hook, it would be foolish to suggest that had the shooters chosen handguns, rather than AR-15 style rifles, there would have been less carnage. The AR-15, firing once every time the trigger is pulled would not kill any more efficiently than a handgun operating in the same manner.  

This makes the proposed ban on semi-automatic rifles—often erroneously called an “assault rifle ban”—window dressing, intended to allow lawmakers to claim to have “done something,” with little regard for the actual results of this policy.  

This might lead one to ask, “why not ban all guns?” This is a topic we will turn to shortly in another post.  

There is basically no support in the US for a handgun ban, despite this being the most commonly used murder weapon.  American support for such an idea is actually shrinking, reaching an all-time low in 2019 according to the latest available data from Gallup. This is likely because Americans understand that the handgun is also an essential self-defense weapon.  

In conclusion, we are a more violent people and a less risk-averse people than our peers. We kill each other at much higher rates than our peers, but rarely with rifles—semi-automatic or otherwise. Simply calling out our differences in gun laws and gun violence is not a strong enough reason to ban an entire class of firearms.  

As we continue, we will examine what such a ban might look like, and what laws would need to be altered to implement it. However, our next piece will examine mass shootings specifically. How are they defined, who commits them, and where do they occur?  

America the Violent | SARC

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

Austin has decided to launch an experiment with Universal Basic Income (UBI) in partnership with the nonprofit UpTogether. The program, when implemented, will send $1000 per month to 85 low-income individuals in the city.

Winter Weather Preparedness

Severe winter weather can be deadly and we want you to be as prepared as possible for the next major storm that will hit the Austin metro area. Below, you will find ways to be prepared. Please take every suggestion seriously. The intention of this article: To ensure you have the soft/hard skills and options … Continue reading Winter Weather Preparedness

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

by Dallas Emerson, Communications Director & Data Analyst

dallas@southaustinrc.org


Austin has decided to launch an experiment with Universal Basic Income (UBI) in partnership with the nonprofit UpTogether. The program, when implemented, will send $1000 per month to 85 low-income individuals in the city.  

This is part of a series of experiments with Universal Basic Income occurring throughout the country.  

And they’re all pointless.  

Let’s set aside the principle and even the theory underlying UBI.  Those are arguments to be taken up when the discussion is whether to implement such a program.  

No, I want to talk about this “experiment,” and its guaranteed unhelpfulness.  

The idea behind running the pilot program is, at first glance, understandable. Rather than unrolling a multi-billion dollar program, we will study a small group of people, and how their lives and behavior is changed by receiving additional income.  

But the results will be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted; indeed, I would go so far as to say that the results will be meaningless

Let’s look at the pilot program again: 85 low-income people receiving $1000/month. That’s not chump change. I would certainly not turn my nose up to that kind of money. And certainly, we can expect that their spending habits would change. Their work habits will likely change.  

And that means nothing when only 85 people are receiving this money.  

However, if every single Austinite, all 950,000 of them, were to receive $1000/month—or about $12 billion dollars a year—we can only guess at the rapid, unprecedented rise in inflation as we poured an additional one billion dollars every month into our economy. Keep in mind, that nothing else will have changed—there will not be more goods being produced or more workers contributing. There will not be higher quality goods.  

We can guess what kind of wild effect this will have on the prices of low-income housing, food, fuel, and childcare in the city.  

They will go up. 

As we have seen on a national scale, subsidizing demand, by sending cash out to consumers, leads to price increases. This is not an argued point. The only question is how much of the inflation can be attributed to government disbursement of funds.  

If the Council agrees to this experiment, they will be putting Austin on a path to receiving information that we know will be misleading. We know that the relatively small disbursement will help these few, chosen families. We also know that these families will be the most likely to suffer from inflation—low-income families are always hit hardest by price increases.  

The Council must exercise prudence and take any result of this futile experiment with skeptical eyes. 

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)

America the Violent | SARC

In the wake of mass shootings, Americans are regularly told that these atrocities do not happen in other developed countries. This, we are to believe, is the damnable result of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Press Release: Keep Voting | SARC

6:07PM – Austin, TX USA South Austin Republican Club Dallas Emerson, Communications Director & Data Analyst dallas@southaustinrc.org Keep Voting Former President Donald Trump released the following statement yesterday, October 13th, 2021:   This message has been received as a threat to the Republican Party; somehow to address the alleged fraud of the 2020 election.   There are … Continue reading Press Release: Keep Voting | SARC

The Party of Lawless Disorder | SARC

By Dallas Emerson, SARC Senior Communications Director & Data Analyst

The rule of law is essential in a free society. Law and liberty are not opposed; they go hand in hand. In a lawless world, the powerful do what they wish, regardless of consequences. In a free society, even the rich and powerful can be held accountable.  

In America, there are essentially only two parties—regardless of what my Libertarian friends and Green Party…acquaintances say. Unfortunately, one party is increasingly clear that it opposes the rule of law at every level, from municipalities to the Presidency.  

While neither party is free of malcontentsviolent rule-breakers, or outright corrupt leadership, only the Democratic Party, at the moment, seeks to drive the country further away from the rule of law and brags about it.  

Here at home, in Austin, our Mayor imposed lockdowns and asked us all to stay home—while he vacationed in sunny Cabo. Democratic-aligned council-people gutted police funding, sewing the seeds of a heartbreaking spike in murders. These same councilors buried their heads in the sand about the frightening homeless problem until it became so glaring that it couldn’t be ignored. Their solution? Spend tens of millions of dollars on the problem—to no avail. When the citizens of this city put forward a plan to reverse this problem, the Mayor, and his predictably far-left associates, suddenly found they could take a firm stand—against implementing any kind of common sense law. Even while acknowledging their leadership had failed. When the initiative passed, the Mayor, and his predictably far-left associates, dragged their feet, refusing to do much at all to enforce the new law.  

When Save Austin Now PAC worked to get a new initiative on the ballot, the City Council so badly mangled the language of the measure that the Texas Supreme Court ordered a change.  

And this makes no mention of this city’s illegal “sanctuary” status.  

But the lawlessness continues to higher levels than our Council.  

The Texas Democratic House Caucus fled the state—in direct violation of the law—because they were afraid they might not get what they wanted. They were hailed as heroes by their national counterparts.  

 At the same time, this party opposes any kind of anti-majoritarian institution that doesn’t benefit them; the Senate, the filibuster, the Electoral College, and the Supreme Court come time mind. They even abhor it when state legislators flee to avoid losing a vote—so long as they’re Republican.  

The Democrats rightly bemoan the awful riot on January 6th yet have nothing but kind words for those who looted, vandalized, and murdered during the summer of 2020. They also had nothing to say as far-left demonstrators attempted to burn down a courthouse in Portland—while people were inside. Almost nothing was said about the separatist movement that seized several blocks of Seattle until there were enough murders to force the City Government to step in. The Seattle Councilors found it in their hearts to speak against vandalism. Of their own homes. In Minneapolis, the Council has cut police funding, while boosting their own security staff. Safety for me, but not for thee.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  

In California, the Governor gave orders to shut the state down, but exempted his own winery and did not stop dining out with lobbyists at gourmet restaurants. In Michigan, Governor Whitmer’s husband attempted to use her authority to take his boat out (she claims this was a joke—oh if only that defense worked for the rest of us.). In New York, the third straight Governor has left office under a shadow of doubt and a cloud of corruption. This was a man who said there should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment. His brother, allegedly a journalist, violated his professional standards by actively working on communication strategies with him. 

The last governor of New York to leave with honor and dignity? George Pataki—also the last Republican.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  

The Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s eviction moratorium was illegal—a decision I believe is completely correct. The CDC has no jurisdiction over anyone’s lease.  

However, that didn’t stop prominent members of the Democratic party from calling on President Biden to directly refuse to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling and reimpose the moratorium. 

Think about that for a moment. When a judge rules in court, his or her decision is law. Short of the Constitution, there is no higher legal authority in this country than the Supreme Court. Members of the Congress are sworn to uphold the Constitution. As is the President. In this instance, members of the House were violating their Oath of Office by demanding the President violate his.  

And he did.  

Even while admitting his decision was unconstitutional, President Joe Biden, reinstated the eviction moratorium.  

Which, again, is illegal. And, again, everyone was clear on this.  

And Joe Biden won plaudits from his chorus in the media and his co-conspirators in government.  

And then he did it again.  

After having professed for months that the federal government cannot instate a vaccine mandate, President Joe Biden unilaterally declared that all companies of 100 or more staff must ensure all staff are vaccinated.  

And more praise followed.  

To repeat, the President has now twice told us that he can’t do something only to turn around and do it.  

In Democratic politics, this is described as a reversal.  

For the rest of us, it’s a called a confession. 

The Democratic party is completely uninterested in enforcing the law. Our largest, most chaotic cities are dominated by Democratic machines. Our own city, once a beacon of safety, is increasingly dangerous, setting a record for the number of murders this year. The second most dangerous year? 2020.  

Yet they are intensely interested in ruling. President Biden even spoke of getting Governors “out of the way.” As though elected officials are mere obstacles to his rule. 

Lawless rule in other countries would be called corrupt or authoritarian. Here, we call it “progressive.”   

It may seem that this is all too big. I’ve written of several states, numerous cities, governors and presidents.  

But reform start at home. Waves start as ripples. Local elections become national landslides.  

Let’s fight here at home, together. Our city is not too far gone, and I do not believe our nation is either.  

South Austin News | SARC

“People who live in South Austin and use Stassney Lane will soon have safer and more convenient ways to cross the street or get to a public transit stop.” @KVUE

November 2021 Propositions | SARC

On November 2nd, 2021 Texans will have the chance to vote on 8 statewide propositions. Austinites will have the chance to vote on 2 city propositions. You can learn about them here and we encourage you to vote!

South Austin News | SARC

“A colorful, 140-foot mural was installed by the Southern Oaks neighborhood of Austin to greet travelers on Buffalo Pass in south Austin.” @KXAN_News