Gun control does not equal crime control

Saturday, March 14, 2009 Comments

There has been a lot said recently about efforts by the government to limit 2nd amendment rights, most recently with the introduction of H.R. 45, the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. The law would require federal licensing with a rather stringent (and likely expensive) process involved, and puts all the control in the hands of the Attorney General (and our current Atty General has made his opinions quite clear regarding citizens and gun ownership).

We are likely to hear more efforts toward imposing stringent control over firearms and ammunition in any number of ways from this administration in the coming months. They will probably point to tragedies like the recent shootings in Alabama. These events are horrific, but the fact is that criminals will be able to obtain guns regardless of the laws, and unstable people who want to harm or kill others will find other ways to carry out their plans if firearms are not available. Germany has very strict gun laws, but that didn't stop a 17-yr-old gunman from killing 16 people before turning the gun on himself the other day. What is really at stake is whether we are going to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families from such individuals.

Aside from the fact that our Constitution specifically prohibits the government from infringing on our right to keep and bear arms, it just makes sense from a public safety perspective. Gun control advocates will say the opposite, but yet time after time when it is tried, stringent gun control does not have the desired outcomes.

Take what happened in Great Britain, for instance. The government banned guns in 1997, telling the people that the new laws would make them safer. In reality, crime rates in England increased significantly after the 1997 ban. Australia has seen similar results.

Why? Because criminals, by definition, are people who disregard the law. Therefore, the only people who turned in their guns were law-abiding citizens. The criminals held on to theirs, and the law-abiding citizens became sitting ducks for criminals who no longer had to fear that their victims might actually be able to defend themselves with a gun.

You can see more details about the English gun ban and citizens' protests of the law here.

Further evidence is found in a 20/20 special on the issue:

In the 1990's, some detailed studies were conducted looking at the impact of gun-control laws on violent crime. What they found was that often just having a firearm (not even having to use it) plays a key role in averting would-be criminals. The effect is even more significant for women, for whom having a gun helps to "level the playing field" so to speak, negating to some extent the physical advantage that some criminals might have over them. On the other hand, in areas with stringent gun-control laws, the criminals are emboldened by the knowledge (or increased likelihood) that potential victims are unarmed.

You can read more about the studies here and here. Here are excerpts:

Professor Gary Kleck is a life long (self-avowed) liberal democrat, author of Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. He had expected the research involved in that writing to infer negatively on gun ownership. He discovered a vast amount of violent crimes were prevented by firearms usage. Even though this was contrary to his original premise, he had the integrity to stand by his research. Although that book was awarded the best book (of 1993) on criminology by the American Society of Criminology it was largely ignored by gun control advocates such as most medical journals and our Government's Justice Department and Center for Disease Control.

In 1996, the most comprehensive "gun control" study of all time was published by John Lott of the University of Chicago Law School. Fifteen years of FBI files from all 3,054 counties in our country were analyzed regarding the correlation between the occurrence of violent crime and the prevalence of concealed weapons on law-abiding citizens. Invariably, where responsible, law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry firearms, the rate of violent crime plummeted. The criminals were afraid to attack those who "might" be armed.

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