FACT CHECK: Are More People Killed By ‘Hammers And Fists’ Than AR-15s?
Parkland student Kyle Kashuv claimed in a Monday tweet that “hammers and fists” are used to kill more people than AR-15s.
The AR-15 is most widely owned rifle in America, owned by at least 10 million people, and is used less times per year to kill people than hammers and fists are used to kill people according to the FBI. Also, according to DHS, handguns are the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) March 26, 2018
“The AR-15 … is used less times per year to kill people than hammers and fists are used to kill people,” he tweeted.
The FBI reports that more people are killed each year using blunt objects or “personal weapons” (fists, hands or feet) than are killed using rifles. Rifles are used in a small fraction of gun homicides.
AR-15 semiautomatic rifles have been used in a spate of mass shootings in recent years, including a February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. The firearm has accordingly become a focus of gun control advocates, many of whom argue that they should be more tightly regulated or outright banned.
Kashuv has pushed back on these and other arguments advanced by his activist Parkland peers by repeating a claim often made by conservative commentators that knives, bats and even fists are used to kill more people than rifles.
Data about the number of people intentionally killed each year specifically using hammers, fists or AR-15s is not available, but Kashuv’s tweet cites the FBI, which publishes annual statistics about homicides committed using slightly broader categories of weapons.
While 374 people were killed using rifles such as the AR-15 in 2016, 656 were killed using what the FBI calls “personal weapons” like fists, hands and feet. This includes physical altercations and incidents of pushing. Another 472 people were killed that year using a blunt object. The FBI lists hammers and clubs as examples.
But rifles are used in only a small fraction of murders committed using firearms. FBI data shows that about 11,000 people were killed using guns in 2016, the majority of whom – over 7,100 people – were killed using handguns. The vast majority of nonfatal crimes involving guns are also committed using handguns.
Kashuv touches on this point in his tweet by referencing a 2012 study by a New Jersey intelligence center that works in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “Semiautomatic handguns are the weapon of choice for mass shootings,” the report notes.
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