Guns Control Laws and Their Effect on Crime. Cole Edwards Lieutenant Lowell Duckett, Special Assistant to the D. C. Police Chief made a profound statement in 1996 about gun control laws and their effect in his city. Duckett stated, “Gun control has not worked in D. C. The only people who have guns are criminals. We have the strictest gun laws in the nation and one of the highest murder rates. It’s quicker to pull your Smith & Wesson than to dial 911 if you’re being robbed.
” Profound in that this comes from someone who one might think would champion more gun control laws.
Even though many anti-gun advocates claim guns are too readily available, gun control laws do not deter crime because they are an ineffective crime fighting tool and armed citizens serve as a deterrent for criminals. Arguments by gun control advocates There are many arguments made by gun control advocates as to why more gun laws would not only decrease crime but make citizens safer.
Though many of these arguments, on the surface seem to have credence, data on this subject often proves the contrary. Here are some of the arguments often offered by the gun control advocates along with some data that contradicts those arguments.
The availability of guns often leads to the shooting or death of family members and friends. One argument posed by anti-gun advocates is that murders are more commonly committed by family members or friends of a victim. As the chart below illustrates, only 19% of murders involving guns are committed by family members, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends (Reynolds, 1992). Figure 1 The incidences of this type of violent crime with guns often seem more prevalent due to the fact that these crimes are sensationalized by media coverage.
However, as the data show this type of violence with guns is a relatively small percentage. Thus debunking the argument that the availability of guns often leads to murder by family members and friends. One of the main contributors to higher crime rates are guns. The argument that guns cause crime rates to increase seems to be one of the most prominent arguments made by gun control advocates. This argument is based on the false pretense that most violent crimes involve the use of a firearm. According to Reynolds (1992), “The National Crime Survey (NCS) estimates that there are about 5. million violent crimes (both reported and unreported) and that guns of all types are involved in some 650,000 or 12 percent. In other words, 88 percent of all violent crimes do not involve firearms” (para. 11). With such a small percentage of crime committed with guns it is reckless and unfounded to point to guns as the main contributor of higher crime rates. Guns are often taken from and used on victims by criminals. Gun control advocates make the claim that oftentimes a gun that is intended to be used in self-defense is taken from the owner and used against them.
This argument on the surface seems to have some merit as oftentimes it is assumed that criminals may be able to overpower a victim. However, seldom is an attacker successful in disarming their targeted victim then use the victims’ gun to harm or murder the victim. According to Kleck, Ph. D. (1997), “At most, 1% of defensive gun uses resulted in the offender taking a gun away from the victim. Even these few cases did not necessarily involve the offender snatching a gun out of the victim’s hands.
Instead a burglar might, for example, have been leaving a home with one of the household’s guns when a resident attempted to stop him using another household gun. Thus, the 1% figure probably represents an upper limit” (para. 34). Is the cause of higher crime rates gun ownership? Gun control advocates would like people to believe that gun ownership is the cause for higher crime rates. This argument insinuates that because someone owns a gun it is more likely that the gun owner will commit a crime. Not only is this argument inflammatory to law abiding gun owners, but it is fallacious.
Yet gun control advocates insist that this is a legitimate argument. Using this argument gun control advocate’s press for more stringent laws on gun ownership, under the preface that these laws will reduce crime; however history shows evidence to the contrary. Are guns used more often to defend against or commit a crime? The argument that gun ownership increases crime rates are debunked by the fact that guns are more oftentimes used to defend against a crime than to commit a crime. According to LaRosa (2007), “ … firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to shoot with criminal intent.
Of these defensive shootings, more than 200,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual abuse. About half a million times a year, a citizen carrying a gun away from home uses it in self-defense” (para. 11). What effect do gun laws have on crime? One might argue that more restrictive gun laws would have a positive effect on crime rates but does the data back that argument? No, in fact, in the 15 states that have the highest homicide rates 10 of those states have very restrictive gun laws. Four cities; New York, Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.
C, that account for about 6% of the nation’s population account for 20% of U. S homicides (National Center for Policy Analysis, 2002). On the other hand in states that have passed concealed-carry laws have seen violent crime decrease. In these states the murder rate has decreased by 8. 5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3% (LaRosa, 2007). These statistics show two things about the effects of gun laws on crime. First, more restrictive laws increase crime. Second, less restrictive laws tend to decrease crime. What are some of the gun laws being pushed by gun control advocates and are they affective?
There are many different types of gun laws proposed by anti-gun advocates such as; mandatory waiting periods, gun registration, background checks or banning them entirely, all which are ineffective in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals is often the straw man argument for more restrictive gun laws. When data from the U. S. Department of Justice survey of criminals as to where they obtained their guns clearly shows that gun laws would have minimal impact on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Figure 2
What about mandatory waiting periods for the purchase of a firearm? One of the most popular forms of gun control is the mandatory waiting period which consists of seven days before allowing an U. S. citizen to purchase a handgun. Proponents of this law argue that this waiting period would allow officials to check the criminal records of the purchaser. This would seem to be an ideal scenario; however most criminal records are not available to gun dealers or police. This due to the fact that there is no national reporting of criminal records that can be easily accessed for this type of check (Reynolds, 1992).
When criminals are confronted with these waiting periods they often find other means to obtain guns. In fact, “…there would be no surprise if it were found that criminals regularly violate the law by purchasing guns on illegal black markets or by stealing them” (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006, ). This statement made by Moorhouse and Wanner is further supported by the data in figure 2 above. Would gun registration work to keep gun out of the hands of criminals? It is highly unlikely that gun registration would have any effect on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
First one would have to ask why criminals would try to register guns that can not be legally owned. Simply stated criminals are not going to register guns they have. This lends to reason then that the only people who would register a gun would be a law abiding citizen. Are background checks a viable way to control gun crimes? Background checks on would be purchasers of firearms is another argument posed by gun control advocates. In theory when a person goes into purchase a gun from a gun store or at a gun show a background check is run on that person.
This background check looks at any prior criminal history that the purchaser might have. This check also looks for any mental problems that have been reported on that person. There are several problems with this type of gun control. One is that many times a criminal might be charged with a felony but plea bargains down to a misdemeanor which does not inhibit a gun sale. Another problem is that often time the background check does not come back in time to stop a purchase. There is only a 3 day window in which to prevent the purchase of the firearm.
Not only are there these examples of problems with this gun control law but again if a criminal is turned down for a purchase at a store they will most likely just get the gun by an illegal means. Knowing these problems and work a rounds this too is an ineffective way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Would a total gun ban work? The most restrictive gun control law to be pushed by anti-gun advocates is that of a total ban on firearms. This suggestion would only permit the legal ownership of guns to military and police personnel.
If a total ban on the legal purchase of firearms were passed the only thing it would accomplish is the disarming of would be victims thus rendering them defenseless against armed criminals. Criminals will find ways to obtain illegal weapons just as they do today. As stated by The National Center for Policy Analysis (2002), “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” (para. 5). Not only is premise of a total ban on guns as a means to control crime a farce, it also goes completely against the Second Amendment of the U. S Constitution. Gun ownership is a deterrent for crime.
Gun ownership by law abiding citizens is not only a deterrent to would be criminals, it also provides a means to protect oneself from crime. Reynolds (1992) states, “Armed citizens pose a risk of punishment to criminals, perhaps more so than the criminal justice system. Gun ownership may exert as much deterrent effect on violent crime and burglary as the criminal justice system does” (para. 93). How criminals feel about guns as a deterrent. Criminals are very aware of the danger posed by an armed victim thus it is less likely that a criminal will attempt a robbery or assault on a person if the criminal believes the victim is armed.
In fact 56% of felons worry more about an armed victim than the police and 58% say a store with a gun will get robbed less (Reynolds, 1992). The thinking of this by criminals only makes sense. An unarmed civilian provides a defenseless target with less risk to the criminal. Armed law abiding citizens are deterrents of crime. There are an estimated 3. 5 million Americans that legally carry concealed weapons in the 40 states that have concealed carry laws. Economists John Lott and David Mustard attribute the drop in violent crime in these states to the adoption of these laws.
Lott and Mustard suggest that citizens that carry concealed weapons are deterrents for would be criminals (Kates & Mauser, 2007). These armed citizens use a gun in self defense over one million times a year. In these times of use 98% of the time simply brandishing the weapon wards of would be attackers (Reynolds, 1992). There is little doubt that crime rates are alarming here in the U. S. and that something needs to be done to abate the increase of crime. Gun control advocates often time seem to have blinders on. These advocates think the only way to decrease crime is to increase restrictions on gun ownership and intensify gun laws.
While gun control laws will not deter crime they will manage to do one thing for sure, make it much easier for criminals to commit crimes as there will not be the deterrent of the armed citizen. References Kates, D. B. , & Mauser, G. (2007). Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide?. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (2), 46. Kleck, Ph. D. , Gary. (1997). Guns and self-defense. The World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from www. pulpless. com/gunclock/kleck2. html LaRosa, B. D. (2007). Can gun control reduce crime?
Part 1. The Future of Freedom Foundation. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. fff. org/free dom/fd0210e. asp Moorhouse, J. C. , & Wanner, B. (2006). Does gun control reduce crime or does crime increase gun control?. Cato Journal, 26(1), 103-124. NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS (2002). Myths about gun control. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. ncpa. org/pub/st/st176/s176c. html Reynolds, M. O. (1992). Myths about gun control. National Center for Policy Analysis. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from www. ncpa. org/pub/st176
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