Over the last twenty years, a large amount of effort and money has been spent over legislation regarding gun control. Gun control advocates maintained that increased gun control could reduce the soaring crime rates of the early 70’s. However, most of the arguments used for gun control are the result of careful manipulation of data and emotional appeal. These “myths” are twisted by our liberal media until they are seen as the truth. However, despite the claims of gun control activists, gun control does not reduce crime, it leaves law abiding citizens increasingly vulnerable to violent crime.
One common claim of gun control advocates is that gun control in foreign countries, notably Great Britain, is responsible for their lower crime rates. They present statistics showing that Britain has lower murder rates than America, but skip some other interesting information. First, the gun control methods used in Britain include searches and other checks found unconstitutional in America. Also, the British are far more successful than Americans in prosecuting criminals.
For instance, 20% of robberies reported in London end in conviction, compared to only 5% in New York City (Ten Myths 5). In a broader sense, consider that despite the fact that in a typical year about 8. 1 million violent crimes will be committed in America, only 724 thousand will be arrested. Of those, only 150 thousand will receive prison sentences, and over 36 thousand will serve less than one year terms. The biggest problem in America is our revolving door justice system (Ten Myths 3).
Despite the efficiency of British investigative procedures, the British armed robbery rate has never been less than twice the highest recorded before the gun control laws took effect in 1920. In fact, over the last twelve years, the British armed robbery rate has increased an stonishing 300% while the American rate has dropped (Ten Myths 5). Also, from 1930 to 1975, the British murder rate has increased 50% while the American murder rate rose 30%. Another foreign nation, Jamaica, totally prohibited gun ownership in 1974.
By 1980, Jamaica’s gun murder rate was six times that of Washington D. C. , which has the highest rate of any American city. However, Switzerland, Israel, Denmark and Finland, all of whom have a higher gun ownership rate than America, all have lower crime rates than America, in fact, their crime rates are among the lowest in the Western World (Bender 148). Granting gun owners more freedom to carry their weapons responsibly has not caused America’s crime rate to increase! Rather, American crime has been shown to decrease when more freedom is allowed.
In 1996, the University of Chicago Law School conducted a study of the crime rates of every county in America over the last fifteen years and determined that violent crime fell after states made it legal to carry concealed weapons, with murder rates dropping 8. 5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7%, and robberies by 3%. Overall, it is estimated that 1. 5 to 2. 5 million people use guns for defense in America every year, saving society up to 38. billion dollars annually (Pratt 16A).
Another fabrication of gun control advocates is that gun control would reduce “crimes of passion,” in which a person kills a family member in a fit of rage. However, 90% of all homicides involving family members killed by other family members are preceded by violence that caused such a disturbance that police were summoned. Professor James Wright of the University of Massachusetts conducted a study of “crimes of passion” and determined that the murders were, “the culminating event in a long history of interpersonal violence between the parties.
He elaborated, noting that, “The common pattern, the more common pattern, is for wives to shoot their husbands. Proportionately, men kill their women by other means, more brutal means, more degrading means. To deny that woman the right to own the firearm is, in a sense, to guarantee in perpetuity to her husband the right to beat her at will” (Ten Myths 6). Professor Wright, with Professor Peter Rossi, conducted another landmark study of 1800 criminals that disproves another myth, namely that handguns are not an effective means of deterrence and protection.
In the study, 85% of criminals felt a “smart criminal” would try to etermine if his potential victim was armed. 75% of burglars avoided homes that were occupied for fear of being shot. 80% of “handgun predators” encountered armed citizens, and 57% of them were scared off by shots from armed citizens. In fact 60% of criminals fear armed citizens more than police (Ten Myths 4). It is with good reason that criminals fear armed citizens. In a typical year, armed citizens kill between 1,500 to 2,800 felons in “excusable self-defense” and justifiably wound 8,000 to 16,000.
Police kill 300 to 600 criminals per year justifiably. (Ten Myths 4) Despite the large gap etween police and citizen killings of criminals, citizens have better judgment, mistakenly killing only 30 innocent people per year, compared to 330 people police kill in the United States per year. Also, criminals succeed in disarming citizens in less than 1% of encounters (NCPA CRIME 1). For these reasons, handguns are effective deterrents to crime. In addition, defense does not require anyone to be hurt. In fact, 98% of protection cases involves the citizen either brandishing his gun or firing warning shots into the air.
Even among criminals, protection from other criminals is the number one reason for possessing a gun (NCPA CRIME 1). A further myth is that legally owned guns contribute to crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies show violence and crime to be highest among young, poor, single, urban black men. However, the average legal gun owner is a middle age, middle class, rural white man (NCPA CRIME 1). In fact, of the 60-65 million handguns legally owned in America, 10,000 were used for homicides in 1989, meaning that only . 02% of handguns are used in homicides.
The remaining 99. 8% of handguns are never used for unlawful purposes (Ten Myths 3). Another reason gun control does not work is due to the nature of our Constitution. The Fifth Amendment guarantees Americans protection from being forced to incriminate themselves. Since felons are not permitted to own handguns, the Supreme Court, in Haynes vs. U. S. , 309 U. S. 85 (1968), concluded that the government can not prosecute felons for not registering their illegal guns (Ten Myths 4). From 1978 to 1979, nine states adopted amendments to their state constitutions guaranteeing individuals the right to own firearms by large margins. 8 states followed suit in the 1980’s, barring cities and counties from passing local gun restrictions.
In November 1976, Massachusetts voters rejected a gun control initiative that the polls predicted to pass by a margin of two-to-one. In 1982, California voters rejected 67 to 37 a statewide “freeze” on the number of handguns in the state, again despite polls favoring the freeze to pass. Finally, House Bill S. 49, the Firearms Owners Protection Act, was favored by citizens contacting their representatives by the astounding margin of 95 to 1, once again despite polls showing most people did not support the bill (Ten Myths 2).
These figures show a trend that applies across the country at the state and ational level: the American voters do not favor more gun control. Along with the American people, those who see more crime than any other occupation, our police forces oppose gun control. During the 1982 “freeze” referendum in California, 51 of 58 working sheriffs opposed the freeze, along with 101 Chiefs of Police(Ten Myths 2) In a 1976 survey, the Boston police force found that 80% of police felt a handgun was an effective form of self defense(Matza).
A 1990 survey of the National Association of Chiefs of Police found that 90% of chiefs felt that banning handguns would reduce neither crime nor a criminal’s ability to btain a handgun and 87% felt the same with regards to banning semi-automatic guns of all classes. 88% felt that banning all guns would not reduce crime, while 90% felt that gun control would reduce police departments’ effectiveness by diverting money, manpower, and resources from cops on the streets to paper pushers behind desks(Ten Myths 2).
Also, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Police Officers’ Association all support private handgun ownership (Matza). Another problem of gun control is that many gun control laws also call for registry of gun ownership. Many gun owners have been labeled extreme for maintaining that gun registry will lead to the confiscation of their guns. However, such an action is not without precedent. In 1989, the Soviet Union confiscated 60,000 legally owned and registered rifles from citizens in the Soviet Republic of Georgia.
Even avowed gun prohibitionist Charles Morgan of the American Civil Liberties Union noted, “I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the National Rifle Association, that that kind of record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual confiscation under one administration or another,” during testimony to a Senate subcommittee in 975 (Ten Myths 4). The greatest myth of gun control is that it reduces crime. The statistics from the foreign countries mentioned earlier in this report show that gun control has not worked there.
Three cities make prime examples of the effect of gun control in America: Boston, New York, and Washington, D. C. In 1976, the state of Massachusetts passed the extremely restrictive Bartley-Fox law. It was seen as one of the most restrictive gun control laws ever passed. During 1976, Massachusetts was ranked as the nineteenth most violent state in the nation, and Boston was the nation’s fifth most violent city. By 1981, Massachusetts had moved up to number eleven in the nation, while Boston was ranked the nation’s most violent city (Matza 148).
New York is yet another example of how gun control fails. Due to soaring crime rates and almost indefinite waiting periods to obtain licensees to carry handguns, many otherwise law-abiding citizens obtained guns illegally or carried their legal weapons illegally. One, Bernhard Goetz, was imprisoned for unlawful possession of a handgun after he used his gun to detain four muggers who assaulted him until police could arrive. His assailants were released, nd later were back in court for crimes ranging from armed robbery to rape.
In fact, New York’s crime rate is due more to revolving door criminal justice than anything else. In 1984, only 20,641 criminals out of 106,171 arrests received jail time. New York, which is 3% of America’s population, accounted for 12. 5% of the nation’s handgun homicides (Ten Myths 9). In 1976, Washington D. C. passed extremely strict gun control laws. From 1976 to 1982, Washington’s violent crime rate rose 43% and the handgun homicide rate rose 14%. The national rates rose 20% and 3%, respectively.
In fact, in 1990, the D. C. homicide rate reached 80 er 100 thousand, the highest rate ever recorded in an American city and an increase of 200% from 1976. The national rate rose 10% in the same time. These statistics show that the people of these cities were vulnerable to crime and had no legal way of defending themselves. However, the courts have ruled several times that the police have no responsibility to protect individual citizens.
When questioned about the law, former D. C. olice chief Maurice Turner said, “What has the gun control law done to keep criminals from getting guns? Absolutely nothing… City residents ought to have the opportunity to have a handgun” (Ten Myths 10). The reason gun control fails should be obvious to an intelligent person. Since a criminal does not, by definition, obey laws, gun control cannot hope to be applied to them as they will access their guns by criminal means. These same laws will leave a law abiding citizen almost totally defenseless as the law provides them no means of protection.
Meanwhile, criminals, who are often not oblivious to the news, will be emboldened by the knowledge that their potential victims have no means of defense. Plainly, gun violence is a problem in America, but if gun control does not work, what ill? The answer is laws adding extra punishments for criminal use of guns. This targets the criminal element of society while protecting those citizens who own guns for lawful purposes. Furthermore, these laws work.
Virginia’s murder and robbery rates dropped 31 and 23% respectively in fourteen years after the passage of mandatory penalties for firearms offenders. Arkansas’s homicide rate dropped 25% in fifteen years and Delaware’s homicide rate dropped 42% in thirteen years after mandatory penalties were legislated Delaware also recorded a 52% drop in robberies over the ame period (Ten Myths 11). These figures show that mandatory sentences help to reduce armed violence by sending a clear message to criminals: criminal misuse of a firearm will not be tolerated and will be swiftly and severely punished.
Coupled with the deterrence value of armed citizens, these laws reduce crime by introducing to the criminal the possibility of longer jail terms, wounds, or even death. Another solution to the problem of handgun violence is to make gun locks, vaults, and other safety devices a tax-deductible purchase. This would give gun owners an incentive to store heir guns in safer conditions while reducing the rate of people who are killed either by accidents or stolen guns. Any funds lost by the government through such a program would almost certainly be recouped in savings from the prevention of accidental deaths.
Gun owners would almost certainly respond positively to such action, given that when Florida offered free gun locks to citizens, they ran out within days and were left scrambling for more (Rogers). Especially after the tragedy of Littleton, it is important to remember that gun control must be viewed in a rational and thoughtful manner in which logic and the facts are not overwhelmed y emotion. As the research and presentation of the author demonstrate, the facts speak for themselves.
Gun control is a misdirected attempt to curtail criminals by stripping the law abiding of the ability to arm themselves for protection. Gun control often has no measurable effect on crime, and when the effect can be measured, it often reveals an increase in the crime rate. Furthermore, gun control would reduce funds for the apprehension of criminals, reduce the effectiveness of police forces, waste millions, perhaps billions of dollars, and serve as a possible eans for tyranny to stamp out any possible resistance.
Therefore, gun control should be viewed not as a solution, but as a catalyst for further increases in violence and lawlessness in America. Any law that aims to punish the criminal at the expense of the law abiding is doomed to failure. Current efforts to punish gun makers for the misuse of guns is comparable to suing auto makers for the deaths caused by drunk drivers. Careful review of the facts reveals that what is needed in America is not gun control, but common sense coupled with a better concept: criminal control.