Given the events of last weekend, the renewed hysteria over removing legal gun ownership from the citizens of the US is heating up again. Regardless of how the idiot shooter got his guns, those who clamor for gun control ignore a truth: gun ownership is actually something that keeps us safer.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (1791). The Second Amendment is clear and unambiguous. But for purposes of argument let’s take a look at it and define some terms.
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, a militia is “a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency, or a body of citizens organized for military service.” We had just come out of a war and our forefathers, who weren’t idiots, made this distinction for a reason. We prevailed against a government supported, organized army using an oft described “ragtag” militia armed with privately owned weapons. They said a militia was necessary to keep us free and tied that together with individual ownership. They then went on to say that “the people” have the “right” to “keep and bear arms”, and that right “shall not be infringed.” “Infringed” means “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.” Remember the reasons for the Revolutionary War? Capricious laws made by a King (government) with no respect for the rights of individuals? Our forefathers made sure that our rights to own and carry a gun are not to be toyed with.
Over the last two hundred plus years, that right has been challenged, and each time, the Supreme Court upheld private ownership and right to carry. In 2008 SCOTUS upheld it again in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) SCOTUS said that “while we are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country… enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns…”
I am an advocate for the Second Amendment, but, I actually did want to see if the statistics supported my side. So, I purposefully stayed away from websites that either are proponents of or against gun control. One site, www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp, and information obtained from the 2007 FBI Crime Statistics report are where I got my information. Neither has an agenda.
Let’s start with the FBI data, which was collected via the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. In 2007, the FBI reported that the estimated volume of violent crime (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) decreased 0.7 percent, and the estimated volume of property crime (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) decreased 1.4 percent from 2006 figures. This was all while the number of guns had increased 4.5 million a year. An often repeated myth that “gun control laws make us safer” was seriously debunked as well. The report showed that in 2007, the top three U.S. cities with the highest murder rates were Detroit (Michigan law requires a purchase permit), Baltimore (Maryland law restricts private handgun sales and requires a seven-day waiting period), and the District of Columbia (handgun ban at the time of the report). Detroit, Baltimore and D.C. also had the highest robbery rates. Gun control… high crime… the statistics bear it out.
The justthefacts.com website also had interesting statistics about gun ownership and use. Data from the U.S. Department of Justice showed that roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the US during 2008. About 436,000 or 8% of them were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun. In another survey from 2000 published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, people used guns to defend themselves and others from crime about 989,883 times per year. A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. CDC found that Americans use guns to scare off break-ins about 498,000 times per year. My own personal experience bears this out as well. My father, who was an FBI Agent, stopped a mugging one evening with an unloaded gun. The criminal had no idea it was loaded, and hotfooted it away not wanting to find out.
But what about the “people with guns in their homes are three times more likely to be killed with them” myth? It was debunked as well. Why? Well, there were several reasons, but it boiled down to this: 1) homicide victims may possess firearms precisely because they are likely to be victimized; and 2) the results are arrived at by twisting the raw data instead of letting it speak for itself. The study relied on one statistic – that households in which a homicide occurred had a firearm ownership rate of 45% as compared to 36% for non-homicide households. What they conveniently left out was that households in which a homicide occurred were twice as likely have a household member who was previously arrested, five times more likely to have a household member who used illicit drugs, and five times more likely to have a household member who was a victim of domestic violence. So the data actually shows that the propensity was not due to a firearm.
Long story short, we are safer with our guns than not, anathema mass murderers excepted.