Eugene Volokh writes:
FYI, thought I’d mention that I have a couple of fairly detailed
items today about handgun bans, substitution effects, enforcement need
slippery slopes, rhetoric, and Mary McGrory (of the Washington Post). See
You argue that long guns are “much more lethal” than handguns because
their projectiles have much more kinetic energy. However, it is not
at all clear that lethality should be strongly related to kinetic
energy (for example, consider what happens when a bullet passes
completely through the victim).
It is surely better to look at empirical evidence on how serious the
different sorts of gunshot wounds are.
The only study I have found to cast light on this is [J of Trauma 38:2
p291-298]. The authors measured the cost of treatment for patients
hospitalized in a Los Angeles medical centre for different sorts of
firearm injuries. The mean cost for handgun injuries was $6,400, for
rifle injuries was $8,443 and for shotgun injuries was $3,385. Rifle
wounds are somewhat more serious than handgun wounds but not that
much, while shotgun wounds less so.
We should also consider the possibility that long guns might be more
(or less) likely to be fired or to hit. A study that sheds some light
here is by Kleck and McElrath [Social Forces 69:669-92] who did a
multivariate analysis on NCS and SHR data. The analysis implied that
whether the attacker was armed with a handgun or long gun made little
diference to the probability that the victim would end up dead. I
write “the analysis implied” rather than “they found” because Kleck,
who argues that substitution from hand guns to long guns would result
in more deaths, failed to notice this fact.