Gun control is made of fail.

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We Are Capitalists

Gun control is often an emotionally debated issue, particularly after tragic events such as the Parkland, FL shooting this week. Many who are understandably out...raged want to do practically anything possible to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. However, it's important to realize that most of the proposals suggested in the heat of the moment would not serve to do anything meaningful, if anything at all, to reduce gun violence.

Expanding background checks, one of the most touted proposals, would not have helped to catch the Parkland shooter. Per USA Today, the shooter bought the gun legally, meaning he did not have a criminal record. [a]

Banning so-called "assault weapons," another widely touted policy, would not be a meaningful measure either. It's also important to note that so-called "assault weapons" are not really assault weapons but are semi-automatic rifles. As such rifles comprise a miniscule amount of gun homicides, it's no surprise that a 2004 study commissioned by the Dept. of Justice found no evidence that the previous Federal Assault Weapons Ban passed in 1994 (expired in 2004) had had any effect on gun violence and concluded that “should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” [b]

With that in mind, let's examine a few other facts about gun control.

#1 - Gun homicides in the United States have decreased by half between 1993 and 2013. At the same time, the rate of gun ownership has substantially increased. [c]

NOTE: I disagree with the headline and inference of source C. AEI infers that the correlation of increasing firearm ownership to the decreasing rate of gun homicide is proof that more guns equal less crime. However, it should be noted, the research on this point is far from settled, and at the moment is more of an instance of committing the false cause fallacy. In other words, correlation != causation.

However, what these charts from AEI DO show is that the data DOES refute the common assertion from gun control advocates that more guns means increased crime. That should be the takeaway here.

#2 - Britain, commonly cited by gun control advocates in the US as an example to emulate, is in reality a poor case for gun control. Homicides actually increased in the United Kingdom since the passage of the 1996 laws severely tightening gun restrictions, reaching a peak of 18 per 100,000 in 2003 before starting to decline. [d]

As also noted by statisticians Leah Libresco and Carl Bialik from FiveThirtyEight, "In parts of Great Britain, there isn’t strong evidence the ban and buyback saved lives. After the new gun law was implemented in 1996, the number of crimes involving guns in England and Wales kept rising through the 1990s, peaking in 2003 and 2004 before subsiding. The post-2004 drop is hard to credit to the buyback and possibly occurred because of an increase in the number of police officers. It’s possible that any effect of the ban, positive or negative, was swamped by other factors affecting gun violence. There has been one notable mass shooting in Great Britain since the law was passed, making it hard to judge whether the law has been a success in that respect." [e]

Even more recently, gun crime increased in Wales and England by 27% in 2016, according to the BBC. [f] Clearly, Britain is not the gun control paradise Americans are so often told.

#3- Australia, another commonly cited example of successful gun control, looks promising on the surface but careful analysis shows otherwise.

As Libresco and Bialik state: [e]

"In Australia, homicides declined after the ban and buyback, but homicides had already been falling, according to a 2003 analysis by criminologists Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos. The share of robberies and suicides committed with a gun declined, but the researchers found that the overall data was “consistent with a story of substitution” — meaning people used other weapons for homicide and suicide. Through 1998, the number of suicides (normalized by age) remained nearly constant, and the share of suicides using a firearm fell by the same rate it had been falling before the ban. Armed robberies increased through 2000, though fewer were conducted with a gun. Causing criminals and potential suicide victims to reach for a different weapon could be a partial victory for a buyback program. Most alternative weapons are less lethal than a firearm. But if that happened, it didn’t appear to change the overall trend for violent deaths.

Reuter and Mouzos only had a few years of post-ban data to judge, but last month, a more recent study of Australia’s gun buyback program published in the Journal of the American Medical Association still found only muted results. After the ban, firearm deaths (which were already declining) fell faster than they had before the ban. However, non-firearm suicides and homicides also fell, and even more sharply, in the aftermath of the ban than firearm deaths did, making it hard to tell if the trend in firearm deaths was the result of the ban or if all suicides and homicides were falling for a different reason. Because non-firearm suicides and homicides fell after the ban, the researchers found it unlikely that Australians who tended toward suicide or homicide simply switched methods after the ban. If they had, the number of deaths by suicide and homicide without guns should have risen."

#4 - Many charts we see surrounding gun deaths in the United States include suicides. This is significant because the vast majority, 60 plus percent of gun deaths in the US are SUICIDES, not homicides. [g] Therefore, out of the approximately 33,000 deaths by firearm a year, only around 10,000 are attributable to homicide.

This is important because another aspect of the gun debate is the issue of self-defense. Estimates on the amount of defensive gun usage vary widely, but even the most conservative estimate, courtesy of the NCVS, a nationally representative crime victimization survey issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates anywhere between 60-120,000 individuals use a gun to defend themselves from harm every year. [h]

The rate of defensive gun use is likely higher than what the NCVS reports, as most other estimates have found, but I thought it best to utilize the most conservative estimate for this particular post.

In conclusion, there are three reasons I remain opposed to further gun control measures: 1) - gun control is not necessarily an effective crime deterrent. 2) - going strictly by the numbers, more people use a gun in self-defense than use them to commit a murder. 3) - As most gun control advocates often tout nations that banned large classes of weapons from public use, I oppose further gun control in those regards because I believe the 2nd Amendment acknowledges an individual right to bear arms, as also recognized by the Supreme Court in DC vs. Heller.









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