In the wake of the tragic Aurora, Colo., shooting carried out by the hatable James Holmes, the usual suspects have been clamoring for more gun control laws, inserting their own narrative as they go. They say that it’s time for a new ‘"ational discussion" on guns and whether or not more restrictions are needed. While well intentioned, their argument misses the point, and has for decades. Gun control laws are not and have never been a deterrent to violent criminals.
Those that press for increased gun control believe that if you make it harder to legally purchase a gun, the crime rate will go down. While it sounds like it would make perfect sense, the fact is that most gun-related deaths and injuries in the United States are not committed with legally purchased guns. The majority of them have been the result of criminals and younger people who were not able to legally purchase a gun. They were purchased on the black market.
Like those who believed that prohibition would curtail the use of alcohol, those that constantly push for stricter gun laws are often aghast to find that the opposite continues to be true. Two significant factors for increased gun violence have been and continue to be economic hardship and stricter gun laws.
Poverty has been one of the things that has continually been twisted as an excuse to say that states with more lax gun laws tend to have more crime. States like Louisiana, which regularly ranks as one of the worst states for violent crimes, is also quite impoverished in some parts, a fact that most people tend to leave out when pointing to its lax gun laws.
Other factors that contribute regularly to gun related violence include low education rates and a high number of illegal immigrants. These reasons more than explain why states like Texas and Arizona have suffered from a relatively high number of gun-related deaths. Texas has the lowest high school graduation rate in the country, while Arizona has had one of the largest problems with illegal immigrants committing crimes for years.
When one takes the time to compare the numbers, it becomes obvious that many of the states with the strictest gun control laws are also home to some of the largest numbers of gun related crime. Maryland, California, Illinois, New York and the District of Columbia all have some of the toughest gun laws on the books. Illinois in particular has made it extremely difficult to buy a handgun. Despite this, there have been over 250 murders in Chicago since January 1, a staggering 37% increase when compared to this time last year. Strict gun laws have done little to deter violent crime.
Gun control laws also have been shown to disproportionally affect African Americans and other minorities negatively. Most of the gun-related crime that plagues American streets has had a substantially harsher impact on non-whites.
People choose to blame the guns for the actions of the violent criminals that use them. They'll say that the guns makes it easier, trying to come off witty and clever. At the end of the day however, blaming a gun for one’s death is like blaming a fork for another’s obesity. One way or another, the food was probably going to find its way into their mouth. Criminals that don’t have guns will use knives, bombs, sticks and bare hands.
Criminals don’t care about gun-free zones or waiting periods. Making it more difficult for people to legally purchase guns only leaves them more vulnerable. The law-abiding citizen will refrain from purchasing a gun, while the criminal will simply get one off the streets.
When gun ownership goes up, crime rates drop severely. There are several examples, which highlight this beautifully. Switzerland’s gun laws are some of the most lax in the developed world, and because of it their violent crime rate is astoundingly low. Recent initiatives to try and reign in the countries relaxed gun laws were soundly defeated at the ballot by Swiss voters.
The town of Kennesaw, Georgia, also has a mandatory gun ownership law on the books. Passed in 1982, it requires that the head of a household own a gun and ammunition, with exceptions of course being violent criminals, those that cannot afford it, and conscientious objectors. After the law was passed, the population swelled and the crime rate dropped substantially.
Not everyone wants to own a gun. Some people don’t feel comfortable around guns in general. Others are worried about accidents. Still, the data speaks for itself. In areas where gun ownership is high, violent gun-related crime tends to go down. No one in their right mind will want to break into a house or start a fight in a bar if they know everyone is packing.
Even if anti-gun fanatics like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg got their way and made it next to impossible to purchase a firearm, it wouldn’t stop the John Holmes’ of the world. If he didn’t have a gun at his disposal, he might have assembled another home made bomb like those found in his apartment, and taken that into the theater instead. Stricter gun control laws are not the answer, a stance that was (thankfully) reiterated by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday.
The Second Amendment was not meant to guarantee easy access to hunting or target shooting. It was written to ensure that a population could defend itself from an overreaching government, an overbearing police force or a criminal. People have the right to defend themselves. At the end of the day, states like Illinois and California have only served to make it more difficult for their law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.
The gun didn’t make James Holmes kill those people. His own sick mind did that. If gun control laws are doubled down on, more people will have their hands tied when it comes to protecting themselves and their loved ones from psychopaths like that. Thankfully, that is something that the families of the victims in Aurora understand, despite the tragic events that they've had to go through.