Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Ineffectiveness of Gun Control Laws on Crime Prevention

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The Ineffectiveness of Gun Control Laws on Crime Prevention

What effect do gun control laws have on crime prevention and on reducing crime in the United States? Gun control laws do serve a purpose, but gun restriction laws do not prevent crime, but rather entice criminals to continue with their illegal ways. The major problem is that it is easier and faster to illegally purchase a handgun than it is to legally. Additionally, in cities where it is illegal in any way for a citizen to own a handgun, crime rates are higher. This is because criminals know that the majority of homes and people are not protected except through the police. A great example of this can be found by comparing Chicago and New York City. Chicago’s homicide rates are not going down as compared with the rest of the country. However, in New York City, where it is legal to carry handguns with a permit, the rates have plummeted over the past decade. In Chicago there is no concealed carry whatsoever.

To look at an example of how proper enforcement of current gun control laws and more productive policing techniques have dropped the homicide rate, one only needs to look at New York City. The homicide rate fell from over 000 in the early 10’s to just over 600 in recent years. In 001, Chicago had more homicides than any other city or metropolitan area in the country. In Texas, where it is also legal to carry concealed weapons, there were 116 counties that had a zero murder rate! We see that states that have shall-issue permits for handguns have on average a greater drop in homicides than the rest of the country.

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Not only do we see the laws in this country having a varying effect on crime deterrence, but also when we look at other countries the results are astonishing. On September rd of this year, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said “I do feel safe in London, but I don’t feel as safe as I did when I went to New York, I want to be back to something more like I grew up with. We have lost the visible (police) presence on the streets.” Although this does not directly have correlation with gun control, it shows that other measures besides gun control have a much more greater effect on crime deterrence.

Since it can be proven that gun control does not have a great effect on preventing crime, especially when comparing these statutes with other policing techniques, I am curious as to why more alternative measures have not been implemented. It concerns me that the public and the government should be so focused on only one element to prevent and deter crime. Perhaps if more attention was focused on these alternative measures, we would see greater results.

“Hot” home invasions, or burglaries that occur when the home is occupied are six times greater in Europe and over times greater in Canada than in the US. When asked about this, criminals in the United States say their primary fear during a robbery is being shot or attacked by the home occupant. In Britain, criminals do not have this fear, for the only citizens with firearms in the home are criminals. If the level of home invasions rose from current American levels to Canadian levels, based on the percentages there would be over 500,000 more assaults every year. This number alone would raise violent crime rate by almost 10%! (Bender 1) Most people would say that 500,000 violent assaults are a not a good replacement for the more than 15,5 homicides that occurred in the United States in 18, and most of these homicides would probably still occur even if firearms were banned. If the percentages were compared with Great Britain, there would be over 1 million more assaults! Personally, it troubles me that some people would suggest banging firearms and preventing some murders in exchange for a massive amount of violent crime. It is ludicrous to suggest replacing one type of violent crime for many more of another.

Now, one can argue that comparing two different countries is fatally flawed, and I agree to some extent that it is. If one wanted to look at examples in our own country, we only need to look to the town of Kennesaw, Georgia. This community passed an ordinance in 18 that required every household to own a firearm, save criminals and conscientious objectors. There were 45 burglaries in the seven months before the ordinance was passed. Seven months after the law, there were only five residences burglarized, and no firearm related accidents. In the next five years, Kennesaw saw an 85% decrease in burglaries as compared to before the ordinance. (Bender 15) The most reasonable explanation for this huge drop in residential crime is that burglars feared getting shot. This is a reasonable explanation, since one in 1 burglars are shot while committing their crime. Looking at these facts, one can see that the exact opposite of gun control has a greater effect of preventing crime.

We can also take the Kennesaw example and apply it to gun ownership outside the home. We could hypothesize that in one area where more people are likely to carry a concealed weapon, the crime rate would go down. When one looks at the evidence however, it is no longer an assumption or hypothesis, but a fact. A study published in 17 that used data from every single U.S. County found that on average, concealed carry laws reduced homicides by 8.5%, rape by 5%, and severe assaults by 7%. (Bender )

One of the main arguments touted by the anti-gun lobby is that guns simply cause more crime, and do not deter it in any way, shape, or form. The facts listed above throw that claim right out the window. Another argument is that more guns in the home will lead to more accidents. My challenge to that is that all gun accidents can be prevented through firearm education. In jurisdictions where firearm training is required for gun ownership or carrying, we see the number of accidents drop sharply. Although there are no current laws that require families of gun owners to undergo firearms training, we see that youth who undergo training have far less gun accidents.

Liberal promoters have suggested that mandatory sex will reduce sex crime, unwanted pregnancies, and has other benefits for all Americans. Since the left is adamant that mandatory sexual education is beneficial, wouldn’t the left and anti-gun supporters agree that mandatory firearm education would be beneficial and reduce firearm crime and accidents? Many anti-gun activists quote a study that says handguns are more 4 times more likely to injure a family member than a criminal. This study is inherently flawed because only 4 deaths were used for the study, and 7 of those deaths were suicides. (Kellerman 14) Additionally, The rate of gun accidents is so low the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission doesnt even mention them in their annual safety reports. I find such studies that limit their scope to be extremely irresponsible, especially when much more information is easily accessible.

Let’s talk about some of the gun laws we have and how they are ineffective. California has a trigger lock law and saw a 1% increase in fatal firearm accidents in 14.

Texas doesnt have one and experienced a 8% decrease in the same year. (NCHS ‘5) Trigger-locks do, however, render guns inaccessible immediately for self-defense. Additionally young children, sometimes as young as seven years old have demonstrated that they can operate a gun with trigger locks by either breaking or picking the lock. (GAO /11) In 16 there were only 44 accidental gun deaths involving children under the age of 10. That’s less than 0.0001% of all guns in the United States. According the Washington Post, 1 out of trigger locks can be easily picked with tweezers or a paper clip. (W. Post, /7/1) When I think about this, I find myself going back to the education question. Why would you need gunlocks if your family has been properly education about firearms?

In 18 President Clinton placed an import ban on 58 different firearms. When he did so, he claimed that banning all these “military type assault rifles” would lead to a great reduction in crime. What his administration failed to inform the American public of was that these specific firearms were rarely ever used in crimes and that you could still buy extremely similar models made in the United States. Additionally, all these firearms were semiautomatic, meaning you had the pull the trigger every time you wanted to fire a round. By definition, an assault rifle is an automatic. Some people have recently brought up banning the type of weapon the Washington snipers used. This weapon, an AR-15 variant, was a semi-automatic rifle, and they did not fire at long ranges like a “sniper” would, but rather usually less than 75 yards. These people were not snipers, but rather deranged criminals. Other rifles that anti-gun promoters want banned are .50 caliber rifles. Their claim is that they inflict an unnecessary amount of damage to a victim or target. However, they overlook the fact that .50 caliber rifles have been used less than 0 times for a criminal activity. The fact is they are simply too expensive for most homicidal criminals to own, and are extremely hard to operate without proper military or police training. I have used such a rifle myself and can attest to this fact.

John Lott notes that according to the ATF, the guns banned by President Clinton are difficult to convert to automatic fire and that only a gunsmith with high-precision equipment can do this. This is of course beyond the point that this is a time consuming and expensive process, not to mention illegal. Additionally, as I will note below, it is much easier for someone to obtain a fully automatic weapon illegally.

A very disturbing trend is the fact that it is now easier to get a firearm illegally than it is to obtain one legally. In 16 over ,000 Chinese AK-47s were seized in Long beach, CA. The source? A Chinese corporation known for global arms shipments. The U.S. Customs service does not deny that a lot more illegal firearms get through than those that are caught. If this is true, than there are a lot of illegal guns being imported into this country. What good are gun bans if firearms are still going to get into this country? Dogs can sniff out drugs and/or bombs, but not guns. Personally, I’m greatly concerned when I hear about illegal importation. If these guns were legalized, it would stand to reason that the government would have a greater idea about who has these types of firearms than they do now!

Instead of trying to put more gun control laws on the books, how about enforcing the laws we currently have? According to mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, the average prison sentence for gun violations is 4 months. Federal guidelines suggest at least 5 months in prison. It is my belief that incarcerating these felons for longer periods of time will save lives, save carnage, and save people from fear. From 160-180, per capita imprisonment for violent crimes fell from 78 to 7. In the same period, violent crime rates nationwide tripled. In both 17 and 18 the Clinton administration only prosecuted 4 people for assault weapon violations. (Heston 5) About 6,000 children were caught with guns at school in 17 and 18. Out of these, 1 were federally prosecuted. (Price, A) If you could only see the look on my face when I heard this statistic. What good are gun laws if they’re not enforced!

Project Exile, which is the fierce prosecution of federal firearm laws, has cut the crime rates drastically wherever it’s been implemented. According to Virginia state authorities, “more than 00 armed criminals have been removed from Richmonds streets, one violent gang responsible for many murders has been destroyed, and the rate of gun carrying by criminals has been cut nearly in half.” The only people who have complained about project exile are criminals themselves, and leftists who believe the cost and expenditure to keep these criminals in prison is too much. Can the government put a price on life and liberty?

What about the number of homicides and non-natural deaths that are have no connection to firearms? In 17 only 68% of all homicides in the U.S. were committed using firearms. That’s 10,6 people in 17. More people died from accidental poisoning. More people died from simply falling. Over four times that amount died in an automobile. In 15 there were 5 fatal firearm accidents for 15-1 year olds. In 16 there were 6,1 automobile fatalities for that age group. Does this mean auto manufacturers can be sued since they obviously make defective products that are simply deathtraps? Common sense says no, and it should also say no when debating suing gun manufacturers.

Chicago is one of these cities that entered a civil suit against gun manufacturers. So is Washington D.C. These lawsuits were summarily thrown out of court. Both of these cities have a virtual ban on handguns. Both of these cities have extremely high crime rates. Washington D.C. passed a ban on handguns in 176. Between 176 and 11, Washington D.C.s homicide rate rose 00%, while the U.S. rate rose 1%. (Kates 1) Chicago currently has the most homicides in the nation. It doesn’t take a genius here to see that there is a correlation between handgun bans and rising crime rates.

Furthermore, there are many other laws that have little or effect whatsoever on reducing crime. John Lotts crime study found mixed results regarding the adoption of waiting periods. The data he collected shows no overall beneficial effect on violent crime rates. There are instances where enraged people go out and buy a gun and quickly proceed to commit a crime with it. There are also additional instances where people attempt to purchase a firearm for self-protection because they have been threatened, and are murdered during a waiting period. (Lott 11)

Incidentally, a few states ban a certain Glock handgun, because it has a plastic polymer frame. Proponents of control against this gun will not tell you that it is over 8% metal, cannot escape metal detection, and is often used by law enforcement agencies because of the low weight. There is no such thing as an undetectable gun. Until some new material is radically discovered, it goes against simple laws of physics. Guns require metal.

When used in a defensive purpose, gun owners accidentally kill innocents about % of the time. Everybody agrees that this number is unacceptable, that there should be a 0% margin of error. Police officers routinely accidentally kill innocents about 11% of the time. (Cramer) Which number is more acceptable?

To sum up everything, one can easily see that jurisdictions with concealed carry statutes tend to have less violent crime. I have shown how without firearms in the home, residences are “hot” burglarized at an enormous rate. I have shown, that in a municipality where it is known that almost everybody has a gun, the total crime rate drops overnight and is reduced to a very manageable amount. I believe I have shown how education could help with accident prevention, as opposed to stricter, non-enforced laws. There is proof on this paper that the laws are not being enforced nearly as well as they should, and this causes more crime? What happens when you slap a criminal on the wrist? It lets other criminals know they can get away with firearm violations.

One can clearly see that illegal firearms are getting into this country. How can one pass more laws to prevent this? They can’t, only more enforcement of current laws will prevent the spread of illegal weapons. As previously stated, during the past decade firearm offenses have been prosecuted less and less, while advocates are screaming for more laws. What’s the point without enforcement? Wholly one-third of homicides are not caused by firearms. Will the other two-thirds that are caused by firearms magically disappear? What about people who would like to see all guns off the streets. You can stop legal sales and manufacture easily enough, however it doesn’t take a genius to know criminals will hold on to their guns, while law abiding citizens who have registered their guns will be forced to give them up, and it could cost billions to do so. The government legally has to fairly compensate gun owners if they take their guns away, which could mean chaos to the national budget.

So long as people are smart about firearms, they won’t hurt anyone. Unfortunately, not everybody is as smart as we would like them to be, so people must be prepared to defend themselves.

Works Cited

In Text

Bender, David L. Guns and Crime. Sandiego, CA Greenhaven P, 000. 1-18.

Bender, David L. Guns and Crime. Sandiego, CA Greenhaven P, 000. -.

Arthur L. Kellerman, Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home, 14 New Eng. J. Med. 1557-60 186

National Center for Health Statistics, 15

General Accounting Office, “Accidental Shootings many deaths and injuries caused by firearms could be

prevented,” United States General Accounting Office, March 11.

Washington Post, Feb 7, 001, Page A01

Heston, Charlton. Truth and Consequences. 1.

Price, George Howard. Governor sees charges against killers’ moms, dads. The Washington Times, April 6, 1.

Kates, Don B., and Gary Kleck. Armed. Amherst, NY Prometheus Books, 001. 1-60

7 - Lott, John R. Jr. More Guns, Less Crime. The University of Chicago Press, 18. Pages 1, 11, 4

Cramer C and Kopel D. Shall Issue The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws. Golden CO

Independence Institute Issue Paper. October 17, 14.

Other Readings

Nisbet, Lee. The Gun Control Debate. Buffalo, NY Prometheus Books, 10. 1-41.

Bender, David L., and Bruno Leone. Gun Control. Sandiego, CA Greenhaven P, 17. 1-185.

DeConde, Alexander. Gun Violence in America. Boston, Ma Northeastern UP, 001. 1-40.

Klier, Barbara . Gun Control. Wylie, Tx Information Plus, 1. 1-171.

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