There's a meme going around the gun-rights folks right now that banning assault weapons won't keep people from killing each other. Think of the thousands of people stabbed to death every year! Just look at this graphic:
While their specific numbers are wrong, the basic assertion is correct: Very few people get killed by rifles in the U.S. No, our eye-watering murder rate comes mainly from handguns, which are second only to cars in the league table of man-made health risks in the U.S.
Start with the raw numbers. There were 14,612 murders in the U.S. in 2011, of which about 11,500 were by guns. That gives us a homicide rate around 5 per 100,000 population. (Source: FBI)
Compare that with the 39 gun murders in the UK, out of their total 550, for roughly the same period. That's a rate of 1.4 murders per 100,000, somewhat lower than the U.S. rate. (Source: UK Home Office)
It turns out, if you take out a proportional number of gun murders—imagine if the U.S. had only 2,000 gun murders in 2011, out of 5,500 total—that would put our murder rate at 1.7, slightly higher than the UK but still within the norm for OECD countries.
Fascinating. It's almost as if having more than 250 million guns lying around made it easier to kill people.
So, if your point is that banning high-capacity firearms won't do much to stop murders in the U.S., you're absolutely right. In the last 12 months, an assault-weapons ban would only have saved 21 children in Connecticut and 45 young people in Colorado—a drop in the homicidal bucket. That's why we should restrict handguns as well, don't you think?