Ignorance abounds in gun control stories

August 7, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Within minutes of the most recent Colorado and Wisconsin massacres, breathless reporters and opportunistic lawmakers began calling for more gun control laws.  In their haste for politically correct stories, and with visions of legacy legislation dancing in their heads, they neglected to ask the right questions — questions about the nut jobs who committed these heinous crimes.

National media asked how and why James Holmes had the guns he used in the Colorado theater shooting, instead of asking how and why a graduate student would shoot up a theater.  For the media, it was all about the guns he toted, and the tactical gear he wore, not about the man who made the decision to kill.

The guns didn’t kill the people in the theater. The guns did not slay the members of the Seik temple; deranged men made the decisions to kill.

Members of the media and politicians should be asking how these two obviously deranged men were living alongside normal, ordinary people.

Guns don’t kill people; crazy people kill other people.

The weekend following the shooting, the Denver Post reported that the the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people to purchase a firearm; a 43 percent increase over just the previous weekend, and a 39 percent increase over the first weekend in July.

All of America sees similar spikes in gun purchases after such violent tragedies.

But if guns are so dangerous, why then do ordinary people purchase make gun purchases immediately after the senseless murders of innocents?

Harvard study

A Harvard study found that that the oft-repeated notion that more guns in the hands of ordinary citizens means more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths, is full of “misconceptions and  factual error, and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative.”

After Russia forced a complete disarmament of its people in the 1960-1970’s, the Harvard study showed that “manifest  success  in  keeping  its  people  disarmed  did  not  prevent  the  Soviet  Union  from  having  far  and  away  the  highest  murder  rate  in  the  developed  world.  In  the  1960s  and  early  1970s,  the  gun‐less  Soviet  Union’s  murder  rates  paralleled  or  generally  exceeded  those of gun‐ridden America. While American rates stabilized and then steeply  declined,  however,  Russian  murder  increased  so  drastically  that  by  the  early  1990s  the  Russian  rate  was  three  times higher  than  that  of  the  United  States.  Between  1998‐2004  (the  latest  figure  available  for  Russia),  Russian  murder  rates  were  nearly four  times  higher  than  American  rates.  Similar  murder  rates  also characterize  the  Ukraine,  Estonia,  Latvia,  Lithuania,  and  various other  now‐independent  European  nations  of  the  former  U.S.S.R.”

Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland’s murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe.

Wrong focus

With the Colorado shooting, the media obsessed over how and why gun control laws need to change, since James Holmes had such an arsenal.

But no one asked how Holmes, an unemployed graduate student, could afford the arsenal he had, or the expensive tactical gear he wore. The national media instead focused solely on the guns — an AR 15, a 12-gauge shotgun, and two .40 caliber Glock handguns.

“The suspect in the mass theater shooting availed himself of an unregulated online marketplace that allows consumers to acquire some of the tools of modern warfare as if they were pieces of a new wardrobe,” the Huffington Post reported.

Now the Internet is to blame. Expect to see new legislation prohibiting the online purchase of ammunition.

The HuffPo writer then interviewed several gun enthusiasts about the process for acquiring weapons and ammo and tactical gear, but offered no suggestion anywhere in the story that Holmes is to blame for his psychotic rampage.

Weapons bans don’t work

Using facts and data, the Harvard study easily debunks the cry for bans on assault weapons as the answer to violent crime.

During the two decades that Britain was making lawful firearms ownership increasingly difficult, more than 25 states in the U.S. passed  laws  allowing  responsible  citizens  to  carry  concealed handguns.  There  are  now  40  states  where  qualified  citizens  can obtain a handgun permit.

“As a result, the number of U.S.  citizens  allowed  to  carry  concealed  handguns  in  shopping malls,  on  the  street,  and  in  their  cars  has  grown  to  3.5  million men  and  women,” the study found.”

Economists  John  Lott  and  David  Mustard have  suggested  that  these  new  laws  contributed  to  the  drop  in homicide  and  violent  crime  rates.  Based  on  25  years  of  correlated  statistics  from  all  of  the  more  than  3,000  American  counties,  Lott  and  Mustard  concluded  that the adoption  of  these  statutes has  deterred  criminals  from  confrontation  crime  and  caused murder  and  violent  crime  to  fall  faster  in  states  that  adopted this policy than in states that did not.”

Gun ownership, homicide and suicide

The Harvard researchers found that the comparison of “homicide  and  suicide  mortality  data for  thirty‐six  nations, including  the  United  States, for  the  period  1990–1995”  to gun  ownership  levels  showed  “no  significant  (at  the  5 percent level)  association  between  gun  ownership  levels  and  the  total  homicide  rate.”  Consistent  with  this  is  a  later  European study  of  data  from  21  nations  in  which  “no  significant  correlations  [of  gun  ownership  levels]  with  total  suicide  or  homicide  rates were  found.”

The  determinants of murder and suicide are social, economic, and  cultural  factors, not  the  prevalence  of  available weaponry. But this is an uncomfortable subject for politicians who avoid discussions of personal responsibility.

Gun ownership does not drive someone to kill himself, or others.

“In  this  connection, recall that the American jurisdictions which have the highest violent  crime rates are precisely those with the most stringent gun controls,” the Harvard researchers reported.

There is also a pattern of violence in most violent crimes. Ninety percent of adult murderers have adult criminal records, with an average adult criminal career of six years or more, including four major adult felony arrests. We need to take the recidivist out of society, rather than removing the guns. It is the social, economic, and  cultural  factors, which determine the criminal mind, and not the weapon of choice.

The SUV does not cause car accidents.

Murder rates soar after gun bans

Gun controls actually encourage  crime  by  depriving  victims of the means of self‐defense, the Harvard study found. And the researchers found that the explanation of this correlation  is most likely political rather than criminological: “Jurisdictions  afflicted  with  violent crime  tend  to  severely  restrict  gun  ownership.  This,  however,  does  not  suppress  the  crime, for  banning  guns  cannot alleviate the  socio‐cultural  and  economic  factors  that  are  the real determinants of  violence and  crime rates.”

Ordinary people and guns

The “more guns equal more death” mantra seems plausible only when viewed through the  rubric that  murders mostly involve ordinary  people who kill because they  have access to  a firearm when they get angry. If this were true, murder might well  increase where people have  ready access to firearms, but the available data provides no such correlation.

And that’s the rub–media and gun control activists pushing for gun bans are operating from pure emotion and ignorance. The bumper sticker, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is accurate.

Studies show that more than half of the guns used by 18-24-year-olds were purchased illegally from middle men. How would a gun ban prevent this?

There is no evidence to support the notion that, if there were more guns available, the murder and suicide rates would be higher; and in fact, the Harvard study proves just the opposite.

Gun control is ineffectual at preventing murder, and apparently counterproductive. Guns owned by private, ordinary owners have deterred far more crimes than they have assisted.

 



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