The Catalyst published an article of mine first block that addressed five common anti-gun control arguments. A few months and mass shootings later, the gun control debate is still in full force, and some new arguments have appeared or evolved. Here are four more responses.
1. Gun control can’t work; look at…
The city of Chicago has some of the strictest gun control policies in the country, as well as one of the highest homicide rates. Many in the anti-gun control camp point to this combination as proof of the failure of gun control to protect people.
Unfortunately, they forget that Chicago is connected to the rest of the country. As senior advisor to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel David Spielfogel said, “Chicago is not an island…we’re only as strong as the weakest gun law in surrounding states.”Because of the proximity of surrounding suburbs, one needs to drive only about 30 minutes out of the city to find a gun shop looking to sell.
Twenty percent of guns recovered at crimes within one year of their purchase could be traced back to one store in Riverdale, Ill., according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. A national framework for gun control would avoid these problems. Smuggling weapons across national borders is far more difficult than smuggling them across city limits.
b. UK and Australia
The UK and Australia both have extremely strict gun control laws that resulted from mass shootings in the ‘90s. Both countries have near absolute bans on guns. Gun ownershipadvocates point to spikes in the murder rates that occurred in both countries immediately after the gun bans, and use this to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of gun control. Of course the percentage of homicides committed with guns declined, they say, but if the overall rate didn’t decrease, then what’s the point?
Fortunately, this is just misdirection, as the overall homicide rates in both countries has since declined quite significantly. According to the Guardian, the UK homicide rates had been increasing for decades, and after a few years of further increase in the rate following the gun ban, the murder rate turned down for the first time in years, and is now well below what it was. In Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology data shows a continually declining murder rate saw a one-year spike a few years after the gun ban, followed by a further decrease below the pre-gun ban rates.
2. Other things kill people too, why aren’t we banning those?
Cars, hammers, clubs, knives, drugs – the list goes on and on. Many things kill more people than assault weapons. Things like cars even kill more people than all types of guns. The most obvious counterargument is the design intentions with each item. Knives happen to be good for many things besides killing, although they coincidentally can be used for that as well.
With the exception of target shooting, which is founded on the idea of refining one’s ability to kill more efficiently, the uses for hunting and self-defense are based around harming someone or something as quickly and easily as possible. Statistics aren’t readily available, but it would be interesting to compare ratios of hourly usage to deaths for each item. I’m guessing hammers are much more likely to be used on nails than people, and cars are much more likely to be used for transportation than murder.
3. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban didn’t work before, why would it now?
I support an assault weapons ban, but I do not support the Assault Weapons Ban as it was, or how it has been legislated in the past. The bill banned the manufacture of new assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but did not forbid the free trade and sale of the weapons and clips already in circulation.
The bill focused on cosmetic features of the weapons instead of the aspects of assault weapons that make them more dangerous. These includemuzzle flash guards, caliber, accuracy, and muzzle velocity. Gun manufacturers easily found loopholes through the ban.
In other words, the legislation did little to address the problem of assault weapons, and the reiteration of the bill introduced by Dianne Feinstein has most of the same problems. Assault weapons can be effectively restricted, but not in the fashion attempted by Congress.
4. Guns are necessary for self-defense.
I used to be a much stronger supporter of this statement, but the more I’ve learned, the less I agree with it. There are certainly good arguments in favor, such as the simple problem of waiting for a prompt police response to any crime.Police will not always be able to arrive fast enough to prevent a crime, so there will always be a need for personal self-defense. Also, regardless of any pragmatic counterargument, the Supreme Court has recently stated that the second amendment provides Americans with a right to self-defense with a firearm.
However, it is dubious whether or not guns are actually likely to have a positive effect on defense. There is a huge discrepancy between estimated numbers of uses of guns in self-defense, with the numbers ranging from a little over 80,000 incidents a year to 2.3 million, according to a variety of studies compiled by the Christian Science Monitor.
The Bureau of Justice Statistic shows the number of violent crimes committed with guns is a little over 300,000. One would expect to see a definitive gap between number of crimes committed with guns and crimes prevented with guns, if firearms were clearly a benefit to our society. But that is not reflected in the data.
I ended my previous article saying that the discussion over gun control started too late, but that hopefully we would be able to implement reform to prevent more tragedies from occurring. Three months later, twenty kids and six adults were gunned down in an elementary school, and the debate continues.