Gun Control Does Nothing To Reduce Gun Violence

With a hat tip to Bill Vallicella, we urge you to read an excellent article at The Jurist, by criminologist Don Kates, on the lack of empirical evidence for the Left’s position on gun bans.

The article includes links to public recantations by many former gun-ban advocates, including a 1995 paper by noted criminologist Marvin E. Wolfgang, entitled A Tribute To A View I Have Opposed.

Wolfgang’s paper begins:

I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. If I were Mustapha Mond of Brave New World, I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns–ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people.

My reading of the articles in this Symposium has been enlightening even though I have been reading research on guns and violence for over a quarter of a century, ever since the Eisenhower Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, when I enlisted Franklin Zimring to be a Task Force director of Volume Seven, “Firearms and Violence in American Life.”

I have found Alfred Blumstein’s paper thoroughly useful in many ways. He has done us a service in bringing together the variables of youth, drugs and guns in a way no one else has provided. He deserves the applause of our community of scholars. I also commend Philip Cook, Stephanie Molliconi and Thomas Cole for a thorough study about regulating gun markets. Their policy claims are most realistic. As a gun-control advocate, I am pleased to add their research to my advocacy.

What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator. Maybe Franklin Zimring and Philip Cook can help me find fault with the Kleck and Gertz research, but for now, I have to admit my admiration for the care and caution expressed in this article and this research.

Can it be true that about two million instances occur each year in which a gun was used as a defensive measure against crime? It is hard to believe. Yet, it is hard to challenge the data collected. We do not have contrary evidence.

(Note: the reference to “Kleck and Gertz” is to this scholarly paper, which found that in 1993 there were roughly 2.5 million uses of firearms for self-defense, versus something like half a million gun crimes.)

The article at The Jurist also cites the following, from a report by professors James Wright, Peter Rossi and Kathleen Daly, of the Social and Demographic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts:

The progressive’s indictment of American firearms policy is well known and is one that both the senior authors of this study once shared. This indictment includes the following particulars: (1) Guns are involved in an astonishing number of crimes in this country. (2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare … (4) Many families acquire a gun because they feel the need to protect themselves; eventually, they end up shooting one another. (5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime … The more deeply we explored the empirical implications of this indictment, the less plausible it has become. (emphasis, parentheses added)

Read the rest here. (See also Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?, published by The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.) And go read Bill’s original post, which discusses the mistaken idea that the role of the police is interventional and defensive.

A final point: if restricting access to the kinds of weapons (handguns, mostly) that are actually used in most gun assaults has no positive effect (and likely has a strongly negative one), then it becomes even clearer that the Left’s obsession with “assault rifles” is nothing more than hysteria and stagecraft. (After all, rifles of all types kill fewer people each year than fists and clubs.)

This is a very important battle, one we must not lose.

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  1. JK says

    (2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare …

    I see this often – usually mentioning the UK and in the not so distant past, Norway.

    Rarely mentioned:


    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink