Intellectual Ammunition: Mythology v Facts of 'Gun Control'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | November 8, 2018
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Contemporary political issues come at us so rapidly, it’s easy to get lost in the polar, “us versus them” impulse, so we at MRCTV have decided to take certain hot-button issues and peel away the veneer, to expose or derive the long-standing facts, history, and principles beneath the ever-changing winds of political expediency.

We begin with the popular euphemism “gun control”, which is a dangerous misnomer and actually attacks history, morals, ethics, and facts. We hope you enjoy these extended explorations, and find them very valuable...

"Gun Control."

The term itself is prejudiced, and doesn’t allow for honest debate. It frames things within the comforting notion of “control”.

So, for example, protesters and politicians hold rallies calling for “sensible gun control”. We’ve seen it with the March for Our Lives rallies begun by a group of students from Parkland, Florida. They received mountains of attention and nary a worthwhile question from the dinosaur leftist pop media, and the ideological approach was that those who “oppose” their so-called “sensible” or “common sense” gun “controls” are cold-hearted, likely bigoted, reckless troglodytes who simply don’t understand”:

  1. The glowing, safer future that society will achieve if their “reasonable” gun “control” statutes are applied to you and your family, and,
  2. The dangers guns and “gun culture” pose to innocent people.

But let’s study these in practical terms before analyzing them on deeper, long-standing principled levels.

Erroneous Assumption One: Gun Statutes Lower Violent Crime

First, the “gun control” argument assumes that “firearm-limiting” statutes actually work to stop school attacks and violent crime. As I noted recently for MRCTV, anti-gunners such as Dianne Feinstein conveniently overlook the fact that school shooters intent on breaking the statutes against harming others are – shock – not stopped by other statutes prohibiting legal ownership of guns or ammo, or dictating useless and often dangerous-to-civilians “waiting periods”. As I observed when Feinstein spuriously implied that gun prohibitions would stop school shootings:

(G)un control laws and law ‘enforcement’ did not prevent many of the worst school shootings, such as the attack on students in Newtown Connecticut, and the attack on students in Parkland, Florida, and egregiously anti-rights gun restrictions didn’t stop a shooting a few months ago in her own neck of the woods near DC, Great Mills High School, in Maryland.

Stephen Paddock, the man identified as the shooter who killed nearly 60 people in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, broke the law by modifying his weapons prior to breaking the law by shooting dozens of unarmed people.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the murderers of a dozen students and one teacher at Columbine High, in Jefferson County, Colorado in 1999, violated at least seventeen specifically gun-related statutes, along with many more non-firearm-related laws. The statutes did not prevent them from entering a “gun-free zone” and committing mass slaughter of unarmed victims.

Despite numerous warnings, statutory “authorities” failed to stop Omar Mateen from using firearms to kill 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.

And those are just in the United States. As Eric Pratt noted in a 2017 USA Today Op-Ed:

France has far more gun control than we do.  They have greater restrictions on semiautomatic “assault weapons,” which are falsely labeled as such by newspapers like USA TODAY. Yet all the gun ownership restrictions in France did not stop terrorists from murdering 130 people at a concert in 2015.

And beyond the anecdotal, one sees a more profound international pattern: gun “bans” don’t make guns or violence disappear, in fact, they leave innocent people defenseless, and spark increases in violent crime.

As I noted for MRCTV in February of 2018, contrary to the claims of pop media swamis, violent crime actually increased in Australia for three years following its vaunted 1996 gun “ban” and mandatory “buy-back”. This spike included an increase in gun-related violent crime, and the violent crime did not return to 1996 levels until more than ten years later, when many civilians had resorted to the black market to rearm themselves.

And, as I observed in the same article, violent crime, including homicides and gun-related violent crime, increased in the UK following its government “banning” most firearms in 1997.

As Ryan McMacken writes for the Mises Institute, despite highly restrictive gun “control” laws imposed in 1972, Ireland saw an increasing homicide rate per 100,000 through 2014, nearly doubling what it was at the time the magical unicorn of the “gun ban” statute was passed.

A similar result was seen in Canada after the Canadian government instituted gun “control” in the 1960s. Observes McMacken:

Canada enjoyed very low homicide rates during the 1950s and 1960s.  However, from 1967 to 1977, the homicide rate nearly doubled from 1.66 per 100,000 to 3.0 per 100,000. This decade of growth in homicide rates followed the 1969 bill "C-150" which created new categories of restricted and prohibited firearms, while granting police the power to "pre-emptively" seize privately owned firearms from persons who were deemed a danger to society by the state. 

Erroneous Assumption Two: “More Firearms” Lead to More Violent Crime

Paralleling that reality about the failure of “gun control” to decrease violent crime is the fact that gun “control” advocates are incorrect to think that more guns in the hands of civilians leads to more crime.

A CDC study of fifteen states (which was conveniently “disappeared” by the CDC for years until researcher Gary Kleck discovered it) showed that armed civilians use firearms much more often to stop crimes than to engage in them. 

Civilians also stop criminals more often than police do. As police will tell you, they usually arrive after a criminal has committed a crime. Police are not the true “first responders”. That’s a dangerous myth that needs to be expunged from the contemporary lexicon, but it will hang on, because politicians and pop media people adore it.

And armed civilians are safer than police. They harm five times fewer people with firearms than do armed police officers. As Rob Morse writes for Ammoland:

The trained law enforcement officer is over five times more likely to shoot the wrong person than a concealed permit holders, 11 percent versus 2 percent. 

In fact, police are convicted of gun crimes more often than concealed carry permit holders.

And when more peace-minded civilians own guns, especially concealed-carry guns, violent crime drops.

As John Lott noted in his groundbreaking book, “More Guns, Less Crime”, “waiting periods” have shown no benefits in reducing crime. (In fact, they have prevented some at-risk individuals from obtaining guns to defend themselves.) He also has noted that a woman caught in a violent assault is 2.5 times more likely to be injured when offering no resistance than if she resists with a firearm.

And Lott observes that in comparable and neighboring US counties, those that allowed for more concealed carry firearms saw sharp declines in violent crime compared to those that did not. Criminals change their behavior to avoid confronting armed citizens. Lott has also noted in a recent study:

Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 to 4.2 (preliminary estimates) per 100,000. This represents a 25% drop in the murder rate at the same time that the percentage of the adult population with permits soared by 156%. Overall violent crime also fell by 25 percent over that period of time. -- States with the largest increase in permits have seen the largest relative drops in murder rates.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics chart shows that while gun purchases were skyrocketing in the US between 2007 and 2011, violent crime was dropping like an apple on Newton’s head.

Why? Because criminals change their behavior when thinking about armed civilians. Indeed, as I observed in my book, “Live Free or Die”, the “hot burglary” rate (where thieves simply break in without “casing” a house) in England is much higher than in the US, and interviews with criminals routinely indicate that they case houses to avoid armed residents.

And, finally, what is one of the biggest practical fallacies of “gun control”?

Fallacy Three: Prohibition Works

This is simple. As the experience of the United States during the “Prohibition Era” has shown, statutes don’t stop people from obtaining the things they demand. I teach economics, and this is an economic axiom. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that if the zones of “prohibition” are widened beyond the crime-ridden-yet-gun-banning cities like Chicago and DC, and applied to all of the US this will stop criminally minded people from obtaining firearms. Prohibition doesn’t work.

But this does not stop gun-grabbers from pushing their proposals, or even misreading the US Constitution to justify their threats to curtail your inherent right to self-defense.

And in our next installment, we will study their baseless arguments, providing you with essential constitutional information with which to combat their proposals, at any time.

Keep fighting for your rights!

Thank you for reading.