More Guns Reduces Crime

Liberals produce one specious argument after another to foster greater government control over our lives. One of them is their seemingly plausible argument that gun control and outright ban of certain weapons will reduce crime. T. Marcus Funk exposes some of that nonsense in his article "Gun Control and Economic Discrimination" in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Winter 1995).

Funk points out that murder rates in "gun controlled" areas such as Mexico and South Africa are more than twice as high as those in the United States. Countries such as New Zealand, Israel and Switzerland have household gun ownership rates comparable to ours yet have much lower rates of crime and violence than we do. Among the 6 million Swiss there are an estimated two million guns, including 600,000 fully automatic assault rifles and their murder rate is 15 percent of ours.

Liberals tell us registration and waiting periods will reduce crime. According to Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms estimates, ninety percent of violent crimes are committed without a handgun. Of those committed with a handgun, 93 percent of the guns used were obtained through unlawful means. Registration and waiting periods are of little value in deterring criminals. What's more a 1986 study revealed that 20 percent of the guns seized by Washington, D.C. policemen were homemade.

The liberal vision sees the world in reverse and the gun issue is no exception. It is estimated that there are 2.5 million instances where guns are used for self-defense and stopped a crime. In most of these cases gun owners fired warning shots or threatened perpetrators by pointing or referring to their guns. In 1980, there were an estimated 8,700 to 16,600 non-fatal, justifiable woundings of criminals by civilians. In 1981, there were 1,266 justifiable homicides by civilians using guns against criminals. By comparison, police officers killed only 388 felons in 1981. Nearly 60 percent of convicted felons surveyed said "a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun." Seventy-four percent of convicted burglars said the reason they avoid burglarizing houses when people are home is because they feared being shot. In Orlando, Florida, after its police department set up a program to teach women how to use firearms, the rape rate dropped 88 percent. In Kennesaw, Georgia, the city passed an ordinance requiring households to have a gun. Within seven months the burglary rate fell 89 percent.

As a result of liberal laws and court decisions the police cannot and will not protect us. People have a natural, or God-given, right to protect themselves. Americans know this and that's why a 1979 survey revealed that 73 percent of Americans said they'd refuse to comply with handgun prohibition.

Protection against criminals wasn't exactly what the Framers had in mind when they gave us the Second Amendment. Their vision of a citizen militia was "the able-bodied men in a township or country", such as today's Michigan Militia. In Virginia's ratifying convention, George Mason warned that if government ever controlled the militia the government could "gradually increase its power by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." And Patrick Henry repeated this fear saying "The militia, sir, is our ultimate safety . . . . The great object is that every man be armed. . . everyone who is able may have a gun."

While criminals endanger our liberties, the greatest threat comes from the organized power of the U.S. Congress and their minions -- this the Framers knew well.

Walter E. Williams
June 28, 1995
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