Taking an Aim at Gun Laws
Gun opponents will still claim, without evidence, that more guns equal more violence even though violence statistics and crime rates are so infamously inaccurate that no cause and effect conclusions can be drawn from them. Gun control might hinder some gun violence, but overall, crimes will still be committed through other means. Comparing gun ownership to crime rates is like comparing the number of shop-rites in the U.S to obesity levels. Yes, if there were more stores, food may be more readily available, but that doesn’t affect one’s self control and eating habits which would lead to obesity.
Not every single crime that happens in the world is recorded. It is near impossible to do so, and this means many crimes go unreported. Imagine the sheer amount of murders, and homicides that occur out of the public’s knowledge. This means that there is a chance more gun crimes have occurred than what has been recorded in the books. In the article, “Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books” written by Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein, not recording crimes is actually a strategy used to keep the recorded crime rates down. This makes the data look better than it actually is. In addition, other reason for police not reporting every crime can be, “to avoid the dull task of preparing reports; others may fear discipline for errors in paperwork. Sometimes officers run out of time because they are directed to another job.” This article was published by the New York Times and applies to the N.Y.P.D. The amount of unreported crimes has seen a decrease, and has dropped from 4.4 percent in 2000 to about 1.5 percent in 2011. Even though this rate is dropping it still is present in today’s world. This also is crime that is just reported to police. There is almost definitely more crime that occurs “underground” that law enforcement is not even aware of. So how can we account for all the murders and homicides caused by guns? The simple answer is we can’t.
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, in the article “Reductions In Firearm Related Mortality and Hospitalizations In Brazil After Gun Control” by Maria de Fatima Marinho de Souza, 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. 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? 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 covers the crime only occurring in specific cities which naturally will be much higher than rural and suburban areas. This creates an inaccurate representation of crime and gun correlation. It does not take into account the homicides of nearby places not located in the city. In addition, this study takes into account only homicide rates in Brazil. This is just one crime in a largely populated country. There are literally countless other crimes being committed that may or may not involve firearms.
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 impact 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. 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 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.
Implementing stricter policies wouldn’t affect those who carry out unknown crimes. If the police do not know about the crime committed, why would it matter if the suspect followed the gun laws in use. Disregard to these gun laws comes in its strongest form when we look at another underground aspect. The article, “Underground Gun Markets” by Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig, Sudhir A. Venkatesh, and Anthony A. Brag, focuses on the economic and social consequences these markets have. Just like bootlegging alcohol during prohibition, the underground gun market was established under the circumstances that made it harder to legally own a weapon. This underground market is a direct consequence of strict gun control. Those who could no longer obtain guns turned to a more lucrative method, and thus the black market for firearms was born. Gun laws do not pertain to these markets, and the weapons distributed in them are unregistered. Across America the vast majority of criminals do not purchase their weapons through a legal process. This makes it virtually impossible to track down weapons used in murders and other crimes.
Since gun laws are aimed at making society safer by decreasing the availability of guns, they could almost be considered useless when the criminals committing crimes are buying guns illegally. According to the book Can Gun Control Work? by James Jacobs, if more guns resulted in more crime then the United States would have the highest suicide rate and a higher homicide rate. However this correlation can be easily refuted. Millions of households around the U.S own firearms, and is more than most countries in the world. However, our crime rates are not as high as some of these other nations. For example, in the article “Gun Violence: How the U.S Compares With Other Countries” by Nurith Aizeman, Brazil, a country with far less guns than the United States, had about 19.34 violent gun deaths per 100,000 people. This was more than 5 times as much as the U.S’s 3.85 deaths. Also, in other Latin American countries such as Colombia and Guatemala the number of violent gun deaths per 100,000 people reached over 20 persons. This trend shows there is no need for strict gun laws, where they would have no affect on a country where most of the population is responsible with their firearms. There is no relation between gun laws and crime rates, because the crime rates are not dependent on the amount of weapons in circulation, instead they rely on the mental states of who obtains them.
Gun control might reduce the number of firearms in homes and on the streets, but it will not change the morals and values of those bent on committing crimes with guns. In the article, “10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Gun Control” written by Crystal Lombardo, the last disadvantage listed is, “it wont change the value of a human life.” Some individuals lack the respect for human life, and do not value it like the average person does. This lack of respect a person would have is programmed into them and no law on gun control will stop them from thinking like this. As horrific as it sounds it is true. Serial killers and shooters do not value human life, and for the most part take no guilt or remorse in killing others. This is how their minds work and unfortunately there is no way of changing this, even if the government made it more difficult for them to acquire a firearm. This instinct to kill will always be there. Gangs also use guns to take control over territories and for safety because they feel that their lives take less value than others. These gangs will always find ways to get their hands on weapons because it is necessary for survival in their environment. These issues with gun control lie deeper in society, and maybe if we turned to alternative methods such as programs that help out those in gangs, and provide them with a safer environment, we would see positive results instead of violating our second amendment.
If there had to be any correlation between gun control and violent crimes, interestingly enough, it would be that more gun control causes an increase in crime rate. This notion is pretty counter-intuitive but it is clearly seen in some European nations. Many countries in Europe have very strict gun policies, however the crime rates do not match up as one would think they should. The Harvard study, “Gun Control is Counterproductive” shines light on the fact that countries with strict gun laws witness higher murder rates than those who’s laws are less strict. This study focused on nine European nations with the lowest gun ownership rates (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000). The article also states, these nations had a combined murder rate that was about 3 times greater than nine other nations with the highest ownership rate of firearms (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000). These facts defeat the argument that gun control and reduced rates of gun ownership cause less crime.
Another supporting factor that contributes to the idea that more gun control causes more crime is evident when looking at self defense cases. Individuals use guns to protect themselves and to deter attackers. Just by brandishing a gun, a female can fend off someone trying to rape her. In the novel, More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition, by John R Lott, a prime example of a gun used for self defense is explained. Lott says, “But I have seen a criminal who was so frightened of an armed seventy-year-old woman that in his panic to get away, he turned and ran right into a wall! (He was busy trying to kick down her door, when she opened a curtain and pointed a gun at him).” Here, the elderly woman’s ownership of a firearm proved useful in saving her property and possibly even her life. On the other side, if there had been strict gun laws that forbid the elderly woman from owning a gun her possessions and life could have been easily taken from her. She would have had no means of self defense and the crime would of been carried out by the criminal. In this instance we see that more gun control can cause more crime.
The article, “Guns in Other Countries” provides clear evidence that is in support of rising crime rates are a result of strict gun laws. This article posted on gunfacts.info, debunks the myth that Britain has a low crime rate due to strict gun control. It states that Britain actually has the highest violent crime rate in all of Europe, and even more than the U.S and South Africa. Britain’s violent crime rate for 100,000 residents was about 2,034 instances which is much larger than the United State’s 446 instances. This article goes on to say that about 67% of British residents surveyed said that as a result of rising knife and gun violence, the area they live in was not as safe as it was five years ago. One would think because of the strict gun control policies in England, there would be a reduction in gun crime. According to this article, the driving factors behind gun violence are not legal, they are more culturally influenced.
Sometimes it is not so easy to see the other side of an argument. In the case of correlation between strict gun policies and crime rates, there is another side that a light should be shown on. This side argues that if implemented correctly, tighter gun laws can reduce crimes rates, more specifically murder and suicide rates. In the article, “The Research is Clear: Gun Control Saves Lives” the author, German Lopez, vouches for the side that believes in the positive effects of gun control. In the article Lopez makes the claim that more guns lead to more deaths. Lopez uses multiple graphs and illustrations to support his side. One of the illustrations he uses shows how there are 29.7 homicides by firearm per 1 million people in the U.S. This is substantially higher than the other countries listed in the chart. Switzerland comes in at second with 7.7 homicides per 1 million citizens. However Lopez only compares European nations to the U.S (with the exceptions of Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). These countries have far less people than the United States, and the citizens of each would most likely own firearms for different reasons. However, if one compares violent gun deaths in the U.S to other countries as seen in “Gun Violence: How the U.S Compares to Other Countries” by Nurith Aizenman, the U.S’s violent gun deaths per 100,000 people is actually a fraction compared to Brazil’s, Colombia’s and other countries’. The U.S.’s rate is 3.85 deaths per 100,000 people, this was substantially lower compared the Brazil’s 19.34 and Colombia’s 25.94. One might make the claim, “it is outrageous to compare the U.S to Colombia, a crime stricken country.” However, it is also ridiculous to compare the U.S’s gun caused homicide rates with Switzerland. Each country has a totally different population with different cultures and views. The events that go on in each country will be different, and cannot be compared on the same scale.
Lopez goes on to say that more gun laws will help decrease the U.S’s homicide rates by guns. One key factor, Lopez says, that attributes to the high rates of homicide, is the fact that Americans own the most guns. This heightened availability of firearms leads to a higher homicide rate. The US has the highest rate of gun ownership at 88.8 guns per 100 people. With more guns leaves more room for accidents along with a higher chance of crime. Since America has such an infatuation with firearms the rate of homicides carried out by a firearm should naturally go up. However, adding more gun laws to this mix will not be effective at solving this issue. The obsession Americans have with guns is not something that can be taken away by law. Gun ownership is something our founding fathers stood for, and this can be seen through the second amendment. Many Americans would rather die or be thrown in jail, rather than have their guns taken away. By implementing stricter policies, this will just anger the community who owns firearms. Most people will not listen to these rules. One might now say, “What about background checks to make sure the crazy people do not acquire weapons?” Well these crazy people can still buy guns on in the underground market. Until the government cracks down on the illegal buying and selling of firearms, many people who should not own guns, can buy them. Also, background checks will not decrease the amount of guns currently in the possession of U.S citizens. With more guns, more homicides might occur. This is an indisputable fact, however the way our nation should go about to solve this, is not through stricter gun policies.
As humans we are always looking for the fastest and easiest solutions to our problems, when it’s possible to do so. This human characteristic pertains to the case of gun control. Anti-gun activists believe that with more gun laws and stricter policies, crime rates, murders, and homicides, where a gun was the weapon, will decrease. However these individuals have failed to see that there is no correlation between gun laws and crime. Gun policies such as not being able to own a rifle or handgun, and restrictions on the number of weapons one can own would not help the world’s problem with murder and crime. This is not a viable solution. Instead these ideas would just create more anger and irritability in the United States and throughout the world.
Aizenman, N. (2017, October 06). Gun Violence: How The U.S. Compares With OtherCountries. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/10/06/555861898/gun-violence-how-the-u-s-compares-to-other-countries
Baker, A., & Goldstein, J. (2011, December 30). N.Y.P.D. Leaves Offenses Unrecorded to Keep Crime Rates Down. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/31/nyregion/nypd-leaves-offenses-unrecorded-to-keep-crime-rates-down.html
Cook, P. J., Ludwig, J., Venkatesh, S., & Braga, A. A. (2005, November 07). Underground Gun Markets. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.nber.org/papers/w11737
De Fátima Marinho de Souza, M., Macinko, J., Pereira Alencar, A., Carvalho Malta, D., & Libânio de Morais Neto, O. (2007, March/April). Reductions In Firearm-Related Mortality And Hospitalizations In Brazil After Gun Control. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.26.2.575
Gun Control and Crime in non-US Countries. (2018, May 14). Retrieved December 5, 2018, from http://www.gunfacts.info/gun-control-myths/guns-in-other-countries/
Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive. (2018). Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://www.theacru.org/2007/05/08/harvard_study_gun_control_is_counterproductive/
Jacobs, J. B. (2002, September 12). Can Gun Control Work? Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dpzN711aYlQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR15&dq=why gun control doesn’t work&ots=atIgrSsxHS&sig=aaEDwMulkkBHYhINAg6IBlNV6v8#v=onepage&q=why gun control doesn’t work&f=false
Lombardo, C. (2017, November 08). 10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Gun Control. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://vittana.org/10-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-gun-control
Lopez, G. (2017, October 04). The research is clear: Gun control saves lives. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/4/16418754/gun-control-washington-post
Lott, J. R. (2010). More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=j6cMYKRgqQ8C&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=lenient gun control&ots=_5aZVi17dQ&sig=lYmZp8U9rFSdE-RIClrYbr0RDIE#v=onepage&q&f=false
Stossel, J. (2007, April 26). Gun Control Isn’t Crime Control. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from https://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3083618&page=1