Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Gun Control? No!

More Gun Control? No!

Alexander Adams

After these shootings, people rush to gun control as the answer. Yes, these shootings are terrible, but little do they know that banning these guns would reduce public safety, and erase the benefit of guns. I will make a summary of the debate on gun control. There are many myths and misinformation surrounding guns and gun control, I will elaborate on some of them. 

1. Comparing Countries

I read an article from an unnamed source, and it’s whole case for gun control were statistical comparisons of the UK and the USA. Their arguments are highly hypocritical, however. They say pro-gunners compare us to Switzerland and Israel; both have high gun ownership and low crime rates. However, they argue the different judicial systems make the valid incomparable. But this is a cherry picked argument: The foreign countries have different judicial systems too!
As one interesting article states, “Foreign countries are two to six times more effective in solving crimes and punishing criminals than the U.S. In London, about 20% of reported robberies end in conviction; in New York City, less than 5% result in conviction, and in those cases imprisonment is frequently not imposed. Nonetheless, England annually has twice as many homicides with firearms as it did before adopting its tough laws. Despite tight licensing procedures, the handgun-related robbery rate in Britain rose about 200% during the past dozen years, five times as fast as in the U.S.”[1]
I generally hate comparing countries, however sometimes these comparisons work in my favor. David Kopel has done work in Asian countries with low crime rates and gun control, and he continually concludes gun control is not the cause of their low crime. These basic comparisons tell little, as they don’t tell us why, say, the UK’s murder rate is low. It could be totally unrelated to guns. I urge readers to look at this graph. The UK has had strict gun controls. Since their passage, their assault rate has risen much faster then the American assault rate.

2. Gun control has decreased crime in foreign countries

False. There is not one gun ban that has decreased crime. Here are a list of facts [2]:
--Australia: Armed robberies rose 51%, unarmed robberies rose 37%, Assaults rose by 24%, kidnappings rose 43%, murder fell 3% BUT manslaughter rose 16%.
--Soviet Union: Yes, the massive police state also had its gun control problems. Murder rate was 20-40% higher in the Soviet Union than in the US.
--UK: Gun crimes have risen 40% since their gun bans.

3. Gun Free Zones Work

Gun free zones: schools, post offices… movie theatres in the case of Aurora.
Utah has abolished gun  free zones: no school mass shootings, no teachers shooting children… everything  the VPC said would happen hasn’t. In David Kopels op-ed, he quoets Thomas Jefferson, and I am glad this quote still applies:
“"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”[3]
Now, wikipedia (which has liberal tendencies) said this: “Prior to 1989, there were only a handful of incidents in which two or more non-perpetrators were killed by firearms at a school…”[4]
And it cites a few examples. But before 1989, it was rare. Now, you’re wondering two things: one, why haven’t I gotten to the point yet, and two what does this date mean. Any guesses? Nope, pissed that I’m not to the point probably. Well, here is the point. In 1990, the gun free school zone act was passed. When you look at the list, shootings are rare in schools until gun free zones were adopted… Maybe a coincidence, but I doubt it when I throw in these facts:
John Lott notes, “If we finally want to deal seriously with multiple-victim public shootings, it is about time that we acknowledge a common feature of these attacks: With just a single exception, the attack in Tucson last year, every public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has occurred in a place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms. The Cinemark movie theater in Aurora, like others run by the chain around the country, displayed warning signs that it was prohibited to carry guns into the theater.”[5]
It seems to me this is not a coincidence. Every mass shooting at a gun free zone, except one, but this means gun free zones help. Honestly, it makes sense. If you want to kill people, you don’t go to a gun show. A nice remark from the Capitalism Institute said on my facebook news feed, “Remember that shooting at a gun show? I don’t either.”
A study by David Kopel gives us the data we all know, or should know by now: gun free zones have increased the amount of school shootings [6].

4. Homicide is Three Times Higher in Homes with Guns Than Without Them notes three problems with this [7]:
One, this statistic blurs cause and effect. As they quote the NRC study, “fail to address the primary inferential problems that arise because ownership is not a random decision. ... Homicide victims may possess firearms precisely because they are likely to be victimized.” In other words, homicide may cause gun ownership; gun ownership does not cause homicide.
Second, the data is relied upon by interviews. If a more accurate polling method is used, and causes minor changes in he gun ownership rate, the results of the study disappear.
Third, they had to do a lot of statistical manipulation (analysis) instead of letting their data speak. They ignore the fact drugs or abuse in the home seemed like a more likely factor for homicide than gun ownership.
GunCite gives a harsh critique. They note, Gary Kleck saying “The observed gun-homicide association is so weak that it could easily be due entirely to a higher rate of concealing gun ownership among controls than among cases.” Indeed, if only 2.7% of the gun owners said they hadn’t the results would disappear. The results may be due to the certain sample they used, meaning the results are so sensitive this renders the study statistically insignificant. And if you want more on this topic, follow my footnote [8].

5. Guns Aren’t Used in Defense

A myth is that guns aren’t used in defense. Further, another myth is that the number I will soon use: 2.5 million defensive  gun usages (DGU’s) each year are only based on one study… So lets list my countless examples [9]:
Gary Mauser 1990: 1,487,342 DGU’s a year
Gallup Polling 1991: 777,153 DGU’s each year
Gallup polling 1993: 1,621,377 DGU’s each year
LA times polling 1994: 3,609,682 DGU’s each year
Tarrance 1994: 764,036 DGU’s
That was overall US polling. When looking at every state and then multiplying the result in a way for the US statistic (NOTE: this is a proxy, and less accurate then above):
California used as a proxy: 3,052,717 DGU’s
Illinois: 1,414,544 DGU’s a year
Ohio as a proxy: 771,043 DGU’s a year
Gar Klecks study found 2.5 DGU’s every year
A smaller DOJ report found 1.5 million DGU’s a year
 As Kleck Notes in his study, “By this time there seems little legitimate scholarly reason to doubt that defensive gun use is very common in the U.S., and that it probably is substantially more common than criminal gun use. This should not come as a surprise, given that there are far more gun-owning crime victims than there are gun-owning criminals and that victimization is spread out over many different victims, while offending is more concentrated among a relatively small number of offenders.”[10]
Is a gun effective? Common? Yes, effective? Yes, again.
It is argued people who fight with a gun are more likely to be injured, but here is the problem with that statistic: “27% percent of victims were injured prior to taking any self-protection measures, but only 5% of gun-defenders were injured prior to taking their actions.”[11]
In other words, once the gun is taken out (but before it is used) only 5% incur further injury, often brandishing the gun stops the attack (sometimes as high as 95% according to Lott’s 2003 survey, his 1997 one is questionable). In other words to the quote above, the injuries occur before the gun is used, but after the gun is used the situation improves. John Lott has said in an interview:
“Simply telling them to behave passively turns out to be pretty bad advice . . . By far the safest course of action for people to take, when they are confronting a criminal, is to have a gun.This is particularly true for the people in our society who are the most vulnerable.”[12]

6. Guns Don’t Deter Criminals

This argument always annoys me, guns deter crime, it’s hard to deny this. In the US, only 13% of burglaries occur while occupants are in the home, in the UK and Netherlands the number is 45%. In America, when asked why this is so, robbers have said because robbing while someone is home is the way to get shot. Gary Kleck has noted the number of robberies while people are in the home in the UK is because they do not fear the repercussions of gun ownership. Kleck also notes if the US would ban guns, there would be 400,000 additional burglaries in the USA. “Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck determined that if the U.S. were to have similar rates of "hot" burglaries as these other nations, there would be more than 450,000 additional burglaries per year where the victim was threatened or assaulted.”[13]
A 1999 study using deterrence studies and Klecks DGU survey, he can determine a criminals response to possible death. He found the death penalty deterred 7 lives each time someone is killed, and that civilians kill many people each year in defense. So, using these numbers, the study found 400,000-800,000 crimes would be deterred each year by gun ownership merely existing. The study concludes, “the murder rate would have been some 10 to 37 percent higher than it actually was had civilians not had guns for self- defense. … The fourth section further developed the risks to criminals from armed civilians. From that, it was estimated that at least 500,000 fewer crimes occurred due to armed civilians. If Kleck's lower estimates of justified homicides are accepted, the numbers are much larger at more than 2,000,000 [fewer crimes]. This is a deterrent effect; the crimes never occur.” Note for the second part the numbers differ depending on whether Klecks data or other survey data is preferred. The study continues, “It was reasonable to infer that over 740,000 fewer violent crimes occur each year, [Page 244] including 7,300 fewer murders, because of handgun ownership and use by civilians. Again, this is a deterrent effect. Long guns probably add to this effect. … In addition, another 1.5 to 2.5 million crimes are stopped by armed civilians.”[14]
In the 1991 journal of criminal law, volume 18, another study noted that increased gun ownership would reduce crime, and that guns used in DGU’s are extremely common [15].
18 studies find conceal carry laws reduce crime, 10 find no effect, and only one finds an increase in crime (counting only academically refereed studies).


Simple: gun control has been a total failure, and banning guns (or making gun free zones) takes away our ability to defend ourselves and actually harms public safety. Guns are very effective to use in defense and are used more commonly then we think: 2.5 million times a year plus. Gun ownership prevents 400,000-800,000 violent crimes, and using Klecks data the number is near 2,000,000. Guns also have deterred 450,000 robberies each year. In sum: gun control is a hoax, it is all smoke and mirrors and will harm you and your family, and gun ownership has a net positive.

6. David Kopel, “ Pretend “Gun-Free” School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction”. Connecticut Law Review, December 2009.
10. Study reprinted here, read it if you wish:

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