Gun Laws: A Hit or Miss on Mortality and Crime Rates
As humans we are always looking for the fastest and easiest solutions to our problems, when it is 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 amount of weapons one can own do not stop crime. They fail to improve society and by no means put an end to violent crimes, murders, and homicides.
By definition criminals are individuals who disobey the law. Is it really plausible to believe that once a gun control law is passed, such as you cant own or carry a handgun, that these criminals will listen to this law. If these lawbreakers are robbing banks and murdering people with guns, they have already gone far enough, and will not pay any mind to these gun laws. A clear indication of this behavior is seen in the article, “How Criminals Get Guns,” by Dan Noyes. Towards the end of the article Noyes states that about 8% of the 124,000 retail gun dealers in the United States have sold handguns that were used in a crime. Where is the other 98% hidden then. Noyes answers this in his article when he describes the illegal means criminals take to get guns. They can obtain them through straw purchases, corrupt at home and commercial gun dealers, and of course in the underground market.
Not every single crime that happens in the world is recorded. It is nearly 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. There is a chance the murder weapon was a gun, and there is also a chance that it was not a gun. How do we know that a stricter gun law has decreased the mortality rate of some nation? Even if the numbers look like they are in favor of the gun law, not all the data is there. There is a chance that countless crimes went unrecorded.
In the article “Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books,” 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, Goldstein and Baker list the other reasons to 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 just crime that is 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. Police also might have their own viewpoints on gun control and gun laws. It is a police officers responsibility to make sure the citizens he is in charge of are safe. Sometimes in order to achieve this safety, the citizens should be armed. A police officer is a figure of public safety and 95% of the time they are carrying a firearm. This viewpoint of gun safety might lead an officer not to report that someone owns a gun, because it is for protection and safety, rather than for criminal means.
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. This is the underground gun market. Just like bootlegging alcohol during prohibition, the underground gun market was established under the circumstances that made it harder to legally own a weapon. Gun laws do not pertain to these markets, and the weapons distributed in them are unregistered. According to the article “Underground Gun Markets,” across America the vast majority of criminals do not purchase their weapons through a legal process.
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 amount 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 effect 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.
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 can be 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, that these nations had a combined murder rate that was about 3 times greater than nine other nations with the greatest ownership rate of firearms (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000). Now murders and crimes committed throughout the world are not only carried out with the use of firearms. People are killed by knives, and countless other weapons. Crime rates can also be a bit shaky and inaccurate due to countless factors. This study should not prove that gun ownership decreases crime or on other end, increases it. However it should highlight the fact that gun control is ineffective at preventing murder. It is counterproductive and does not benefit society.
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.
More gun laws and stricter policies 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 from the side that is pro-gun. This is just fuel for the fire of the debate between pro-gun and anti-gun activists. As unfair as it is, only one side can win this argument. One side will be right, and seeing that gun laws are counterproductive and also upset millions of gun owners, there shouldn’t be more of these laws enacted. Taking a step back from these laws, means that the anti-gun activist side ultimately loses in the game of gun control.
Aizenman, N. (2017, October 06). Gun Violence: How The U.S. Compares With Other Countries. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/10/06/555861898/gun-violence-how-the-u-s-compares-to-other-countries
Cook, P. J., Ludwig, J., Venkatesh, S. A., & Braga, A. A. (2005, November 07). Underground Gun Markets. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.nber.org/papers/w11737
GOLDSTEIN, A. B. (2011, December 30). N.Y.P.D. Leaves Offenses Unrecorded to Keep Crime Rates Down. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/31/nyregion/nypd-leaves-offenses-unrecorded-to-keep-crime-rates-down.html
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 4, 2018, from https://www.theacru.org/2007/05/08/harvard_study_gun_control_is_counterproductive/
Jacobs, J. B. (2002). Can Gun Control Work? Retrieved October 21, 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
Noyes, D. (n.d.). How Criminals Get Guns. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/procon/guns.html