Definition — Kevinbacon

Concept: The most logical way to compare gun control to crime rates.

In today’s world gun control has been flooding the news and media. Many anti-gun activists would argue that more guns equals more crime, while the other side, pro-gun individuals, support the notion that there is no correlation between gun ownership and crime rates. This issue, however, may not be as black and white as it seems. The relationship between guns and crime rates isn’t a negative or positive linear relationship. Determining the correlation is the tricky part because one must ask themselves, are crime rates accurately recorded? Places like the United States, the UK, Australia, and Brazil are all nations that have been dealing with gun control and gun issues. While there are countless studies that display numbers that show some type of correlation between guns and violence, these numbers are faulty. In large countries like these, it is impossible to record all the crimes that occur, and how each was committed. This leaves much room for error when calculating a correlation. If not all the crimes are recorded due to human error, then how could we possibly link more or less guns to more or less crimes. These instances happen each day and we will never know the extent of every single crime that has occurred.

There have been countless research efforts to prove the viability of gun control in countries where the crime rates may be high. Brazil, a very populated country in South America has a very high homicide rate, and has been dealing with gun control for quite some time. A study was conducted in Brazil to show the effects of multiple new gun control laws on homicide rates. These new laws passed in October 2003 aimed to regulate the amount of firearms coming into the country, make owning unregistered guns illegal, made carrying firearms outside of homes and businesses illegal, enforced background checks, and made the minimum age to buy a gun 25 (Souza, Macinko,
Alencar, Malta, Neto, 575-576). The experiment was conducted by using a linear time-series regression model to record the data.

 To analyze the impact of the legislation on
firearm mortality, we used a linear time-series
regression approach to model the best-fitting
mortality line based on the historical time series
built from observations from each of
Brazil’s twenty-seven federative units
(twenty-six states and the federal district) for
each six-month period between 1996 and 2004
(18 observations for all 27 federative units =
486 total observations). The equation of this
line was used to predict values and 95 percent
confidence intervals for 2004/2005. Predicted
values were then compared with observed values
for the same period.11 We analyzed city-specific
rates using the same approach, but we
used only the capital city of each state as the
unit of analysis.

Overall the results showed that homicides decreased 8.2 percent as compared to the 2003 levels. There are many inconsistencies with this study. First, this study only focuses on the crimes recorded. Who knows how many other “underground” crimes were committed during the 2003-2004 period. It is impossible to record every criminal activity. This would lead to many more variables playing into the outcome of the study. In addition city specific rates were calculated but only the capital city of each state was used as data inputs. This only covers the crime occurring in specific cities which naturally will be much higher than rural and suburban areas. This leads to an inaccurate representation of crime and gun correlation because it does not take into account the homicides of nearby places not located in the city. In addition, this study only takes into account homicide rates in Brazil. This is only one crime in a largely populated country. There are literally countless other crimes being committed that may or may not involve firearms. It is physically impossible to capture every crime, nonetheless every homicide that occurred.

The article Gun Control isn’t Crime Control written by John Stossel of ABC News, highlights one reason on how gun control isn’t crime control. This viewpoint does not have to do with the accuracy of recorded crimes, but the outcomes of having more or less guns, especially on school campuses. In the article Stossel argues, “After the 1997 shooting of 16 kids in Dunblane, England, the United Kingdom passed one of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, banning its citizens from owning almost all types of handguns… But this didn’t decrease the amount of gun-related crime in the U.K. In fact, gun-related crime has nearly doubled in the U.K. since the ban was enacted.” In this case there was no relation to gun control and gun-related crime. The crime rate still increased after the ban. The reasoning behind this is, criminals do not follow the law. What makes someone a criminal in the first place. If someone is going to rob a bank, they already have plans to break the law. This means they are definitely not going to consider the gun laws, especially if they need one to commit the crime. These strict gun laws only affect the law abiding citizens who wouldn’t commit a crime in the first place. There really is not an effective way to stop criminals from using weapons, even if a ban has been enacted. On the other hand, later in the article Stossel mentions, “A disgruntled student opened fire on the school’s campus, killing three and wounding more. The law school also prohibited guns on campus, but fortunately two students happened to have firearms in their cars. When the pair heard gunshots, they retrieved their weapons and trained them on the killer, helping restrain him until authorities arrived.” By breaking the school’s law and having their firearms on campus these two students restrained the shooter. Without their weapons handy who knows how many more lives this killer would have taken. Both parties, the shooter and the heroic students broke the law by having their firearms on campus. However this led to a positive effect which was ultimately stopping the killer. This strengthens the fact that crime rates cannot be correlated to gun control. Whether guns were allowed or not, the shooter still would of claimed three innocent lives and injured others. Maybe if guns were prohibited the shooter would have been stopped sooner, or maybe if the two other students took the law seriously they would not have had their weapons, so the shooter would not have been restrained as quickly. The main point of the article is summed up effectively at the end:

There’s no way to know whether Seung-Hui Cho’s murderous rampage could have been stopped in a similar way, but what’s certain is that strict gun control laws do not always have the effect that legislators intend. More guns (in the right hands) can stop crime, and fewer guns (in the wrong hands) can make for more crime. Gun control isn’t crime control.

There really is no way of knowing how guns affect crime rates. There are too many factors that flow into the crime rates, which make it close to impossible to record everything. Crimes occur in secret, and much of what happens doesn’t get leaked into the media or the public’s knowledge. There are millions of guns and gun owners out there and even more people committing crimes everyday. The number of unregistered guns and unaccounted murders, homicides, etc grows steadily each day. Also, crime can be stopped by more good people having guns, but less guns in the wrong hands can increase crime. There are still being crimes committed even if only a handful of criminals get their hands on weapons.

References

“Gun Control isn’t Crime Control.” ABC News. John Stossel, 26 April 2007. 15 October 2018.

“Reductions in Firearm-Related Mortality and Hospitalizations in Brazil After Gun Control.” UpDate: International Report. Maria de Fátima Marinho de Souza, James Macinko, Airlane Pereira Alencar, Deborah Carvalho Malta, and Otaliba Libânio de Morais Neto, March/April 2007. 15 October 2018.

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