Do Gun Control Laws Control Guns? – Thomas Sowell

Do Gun Control Laws Control Guns? – Thomas Sowell 

availabilityThe gun control controversy is only the latest of many issues to be debated almost solely in terms of fixed preconceptions, with little or no examination of hard facts.

Media discussions of gun control are dominated by two factors: the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. But the over-riding factual question is whether gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes in general or murder rates in particular.

If, as gun control advocates claim, gun control laws really do control guns and save lives, there is nothing to prevent repealing the Second Amendment, any more than there was anything to prevent repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that created Prohibition.

But, if the hard facts show that gun control laws do not actually control guns, but instead lead to more armed robberies and higher murder rates after law-abiding citizens are disarmed, then gun control laws would be a bad idea, even if there were no Second Amendment and no National Rifle Association.

The central issue boils down to the question: What are the facts? Yet there are many zealots who seem utterly unconcerned about facts or about their own lack of knowledge of facts.

397024_4268935677955_1569853995_nThere are people who have never fired a shot in their life who do not hesitate to declare how many bullets should be the limit to put into a firearm’s clip or magazine. Some say ten bullets but New York state‘s recent gun control law specifies seven.

Virtually all gun control advocates say that 30 bullets in a magazine is far too many for self-defense or hunting — even if they have never gone hunting and never had to defend themselves with a gun. This uninformed and self-righteous dogmatism is what makes the gun control debate so futile and so polarizing.

Anyone who faces three home invaders, jeopardizing himself or his family, might find 30 bullets barely adequate. After all, not every bullet hits, even at close range, and not every hit incapacitates. You can get killed by a wounded man.

disarmThese plain life-and-death realities have been ignored for years by people who go ballistic when they hear about how many shots were fired by the police in some encounter with a criminal. As someone who once taught pistol shooting in the Marine Corps, I am not the least bit surprised by the number of shots fired. I have seen people miss a stationary target at close range, even in the safety and calm of a pistol range.

We cannot expect everybody to know that. But we can expect them to know that they don’t know — and to stop spouting off about life-and-death issues when they don’t have the facts.

The central question as to whether gun control laws save lives or cost lives has generated many factual studies over the years. But these studies have been like the proverbial tree that falls in an empty forest, and has been heard by no one — certainly not by zealots who have made up their minds and don’t want to be confused by the facts.

9lhvviMost factual studies show no reduction in gun crimes, including murder, under gun control laws. A significant number of studies show higher rates of murder and other gun crimes under gun control laws.

How can this be? It seems obvious to some gun control zealots that, if no one had guns, there would be fewer armed robberies and fewer people shot to death.

But nothing is easier than to disarm peaceful, law-abiding people. And nothing is harder than to disarm people who are neither — especially in a country with hundreds of millions of guns already out there, that are not going to rust away for centuries.

When it was legal to buy a shotgun in London in the middle of the 20th century, there were very few armed robberies there. But, after British gun control zealots managed over the years to disarm virtually the entire law-abiding population, armed robberies became literally a hundred times more common. And murder rates rose.

One can cherry-pick the factual studies, or cite some studies that have subsequently been discredited, but the great bulk of the studies show that gun control laws do not in fact control guns. On net balance, they do not save lives but cost lives.

Gun control laws allow some people to vent their emotions, politicians to grandstand and self-righteous people to “make a statement” — but all at the cost of other people’s lives.

 

Invincible Ignorance – Thomas Sowell – Townhall.com

Invincible Ignorance – Thomas Sowell – Townhall.com.

By Thomas Sowell

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of “gun control” advocates?

gunfreeThe key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries– and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.

Neither guns nor gun control was not the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.

disarmIn Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s– after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions– there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.

Gun control zealots’ choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.

blame3You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem– including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates.

evil1Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a “study” that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates. But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

News Versus Propaganda – Thomas Sowell – Townhall.com

 

News Versus Propaganda – Thomas Sowell – Townhall.com.

Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the Tea Party, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws.

Too many people in the media cannot seem to tell the difference between reporting the news and creating propaganda.

NBC News apparently could not resist doctoring the transcript of the conversation between George Zimmerman and the police after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Now ABC News took the fact that the man arrested for the shooting in Colorado was named James Holmes to broadcast to the world the fact that there is a James Holmes who is a member of the Tea Party in Colorado.

The fact has since come out that these are two different men, one in his 20s and the other in his 50s. But corrections never catch up with irresponsible news broadcasts. The James Holmes who belongs to the Tea Party has been deluged with phone calls. I hope he sues ABC News for every dime they have.

This is not the first time that the mainstream media have tried to create a link between conservatives and violence. Years ago, the Oklahoma City bombing was blamed on Rush Limbaugh, despite the absence of any evidence that the bomber was inspired by Rush Limbaugh.

Similar things have happened repeatedly, going all the way back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on a hostile right-wing atmosphere in Dallas, even though the assassin had a long history of being on the far left fringe.

But, where the shoe is on the other foot — as when the Unabomber had a much marked-up copy of an environmentalist book by Al Gore — the media heard no evil, saw no evil and spoke no evil. If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.

As for gun control advocates, I have no hope whatever that any facts whatever will make the slightest dent in their thinking — or lack of thinking. New York‘s Mayor Bloomberg and CNN’s Piers Morgan were on the air within hours of the shooting, pushing the case for gun control laws.

You might never know, from what they and other gun control advocates have said, that there is a mountain of evidence that gun control laws not only fail to control guns but are often counterproductive. However, for those other people who still think facts matter, it is worth presenting some of those facts.

Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data.

Britain is a country with stronger gun control laws than the United States, and lower murder rates. But Mexico, Russia and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States — and their murder rates are much higher than ours. Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours.

Even the British example does not stand up very well under scrutiny. The murder rate in New York has been several times that in London for more than two centuries — and, for most of that time, neither place had strong gun control laws. New York had strong gun control laws years before London did, but New York still had several times the murder rate of London.

It was in the later decades of the 20th century that the British government clamped down with severe gun control laws, disarming virtually the entire law-abiding citizenry. Gun crimes, including murder, rose as the public was disarmed.

Meanwhile, murder rates in the United States declined during the same years when murder rates in Britain were rising, which were also years when Americans were buying millions more guns per year.

The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.

Any discussion of facts is futile when directed at such people. All anyone can do is warn others about the propaganda.

 

EDITORIAL: Spend more – or we’ll riot – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Spend more – or we’ll riot – Washington Times.

Leftists peddle Big Government as the cure for political instability

Liberals want you to believe the cure for civil unrest throughout the world is increased government expenditures. Whether it’s the takeover of the capital building in Madison, Wisc., or the riots in the streets of Athens and London, the message is that any attempt at cutting back on government excess will spark a violent response.

Last week, for example, Harriet Harman, the Labour Party’s deputy leader, sneakily attempted to pin the blame for looting in the British capital on conservative policies. “There is a sense that young people feel they’re not being listened to,” she said on BBC’s “Newsnight.” “When you’ve got the trebling of tuition fees, they should think again about that. When you’ve got the (Education Maintenance Allowance) being taken away, when you’ve got jobs being cut and youth unemployment rising and they’re shutting the job center in Camberwell – well, you should think again about that because this is going to cost money.” Ms. Harman backed down somewhat after a Conservative cabinet member questioned how reduced spending on government programs justified people smashing the windows of a Foot Locker to grab a box of new sneakers or raiding an electronics store for a plasma TV.

A study published Thursday by London’s Centre for Economic Policy Research attempted to discern the link between central government outlays and the number of strikes, demonstrations and assassinations. The researchers did find a substantial connection between instability and fiscal consolidation, but that, “There are relatively few protests that are caused by austerity measures.” Between 1980 and 1995, one would be almost five times more likely to be injured at a pro-pacifism rally than an anti-austerity rally, for example.

England’s recent unrest is better seen as the ultimate expression of what happens when a value-free leftist society collapses on itself. As London Mayor Boris Johnson noted, 69 percent of the hooligans arrested in the riots had prior convictions. Mr. Johnson, a Tory, blamed the society and educational system that “failed to give them discipline, or hope, or ambition, or a simple ability to tell right from wrong.” Britain’s unarmed storekeepers had no way to defend their shops, and the police were too busy attending diversity workshops to crack down on the criminal behavior.

Such disasters are not the consequence of a government cutting back on spending, but of a soft government that has grown too big for anyone’s good.