Dirty Little Secret of the Gun Control Lobby
Dr. Michael S. Brown
The media is filled with stories
intended to convince us that we need more gun laws, but one critical fact is being
ignored. Gun control doesn't work and the evidence is undeniable.
During the twentieth century, three
major cities in the United States enacted extremely tough gun laws. New York, Washington
and Chicago gradually tightened their laws to the point that for all practical purposes,
guns were outlawed.
These laws were rigorously enforced.
Homeowners and shopkeepers who kept guns for defense were heavily fined when police found
their illicit weapons. Only celebrities, politicians and political contributors were able
to obtain permits to own weapons legally. Even allowing for the fact that guns could still
be smuggled in from surrounding areas, one could reasonably assume that these laws had at
least a small effect on reducing crime.
How much was crime reduced? It
wasn't. In fact, crime of all types, especially gun crimes, increased dramatically each
time a new law was passed. Only the boom economy of the 1990's combined with locking up a
greater percentage of convicted criminals have had a positive effect in recent years.
The British experience with gun
control is similar. As gun laws were gradually tightened, crime went up. British
newspapers say that large numbers of high quality weapons are being smuggled in from
Eastern Europe to meet the demand and criminals are better armed than at any time in the
past. Analysts now say that the overall crime rate in Britain is roughly similar to the
U.S. and still rising, while crime here is falling despite the annual purchase of millions
of new guns by law abiding citizens.
Australia has not benefited from its
expensive and divisive gun confiscation. Some observers say that crime has gone up.
Canada's new gun registry is mired in bureaucratic inefficiency and bedeviled by civil
disobedience. Several provinces are battling the federal government over the issue in the
The dismal failure of gun control
laws is quite logically explained by numerous scholars who have researched the question,
including John Lott, Gary Kleck, Don Kates and David Kopel. They say that you can never
effectively keep guns out of the hands of criminals, because it takes so few guns to meet
their needs. That need will always be met by black markets and smuggling.
To make matters worse, gun control
efforts interfere with self-defense by law abiding citizens, making life easier for the
crooks. Even if very strict laws do keep some guns away from lawbreakers, they will gladly
substitute cheaper weapons against the now disarmed citizenry, decreasing their cost of
Minor gun control laws, such as
those that require guns to be stored in a way that inhibits quick access, probably have a
small negative effect. Since guns are used to prevent crime much more often than they are
used to commit crime, anything that reduces access by lawful citizens will tip the balance
towards more crime.
The gun control lobby makes frequent
use of statistics which simply tell us that guns are dangerous. We knew that already. What
we really want to know is how well the various proposed gun control laws would work, but
research predicting success for any likely gun law is nonexistent.
Aren't people curious about the lack
of evidence to support new laws? Why is the failure of past gun laws ignored while more of
the same type is so passionately promoted? There are no statistics or scholarly essays to
explain the continued push for more laws, but we can imagine some possibilities.
Politicians love the issue, because
they can engage in their favorite sport of grandstanding while appearing sympathetic to
public concerns about crime. Highly politicized police chiefs know that defenseless,
unarmed citizens are more likely support larger law enforcement budgets and expanded
Soft hearted individuals don't like
to blame violence on violent people. It is much easier to blame inanimate objects.
Many journalists support more gun
laws because they don't personally know any responsible gun owners. In their urban world,
only cops and criminals appear to have guns. This effects the way that gun stories are
covered, so people who rely on the media for their information don't know that guns in
civilian hands reduce crime.
The media bias against guns by the
national television networks was impressively documented in a study by the Media Research
Center released in January. They found news stories advocating more gun control
outnumbered those advocating less gun control by a 10 to 1 ratio.
David Kopel pointed out an
interesting fact in the April 17th issue of National Review. He notes that the gun control
lobby does not care when the facts don't match their ideology. They simply lie, a fact
that is obvious to anyone with enough ambition to check the sources of their propaganda
statements. Unfortunately, many people accept those false factoids at face value
These are a few possible
explanations for this strange state of affairs, but in the final analysis it might be due
to simple intellectual laziness. It is easy to accept the seductive promise of gun
control. It takes a little more effort to understand the facts.
Great American Gun Debate: Essays on Firearms & Violence
by Don B. Kates, Jr.
Killings Rise as 3m Guns Flood Britain
All the Way
Down the Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition in England
by David B. Kopel and Joseph E. Olson
More Guns, Less Crime
by John R. Lott, Jr.
The Value of
Civilian Handgun Possession as a Deterrent to Crime or a Defense Against Crime
by Don B. Kates, Jr.
and Justice in the United States and in England and Wales
by Patrick A. Langan and David P. Farrington
Control Laws Discriminatory?
by Markus Funk