Jewish World Review Nov. 27, 2002 / 22 Kislev 5763
Gun Control myths: Part II
Talking facts to gun control zealots is only likely to make them angry.
But the rest of us need to know what the facts are. More than that, we
need to know that much of what the gun controllers claim as facts will
not stand up under scrutiny.
The grand dogma of the gun controllers is that places with severe
restrictions on the ownership of firearms have lower rates of murder and
other gun crimes. How do they prove this? Simple. They make comparisons
of places where this is true and ignore all comparisons of places where
the opposite is true.
Gun control zealots compare the United States and England to show that
murder rates are lower where restrictions on ownership of firearms are
more severe. But you could just as easily compare Switzerland and
Germany, the Swiss having lower murder rates than the Germans, even
though gun ownership is three times higher in Switzerland. Other
countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include
Israel, New Zealand and Finland.
Within the United States, rural areas have higher rates of gun ownership
and lower rates of murder, whites have higher rates of gun ownership
than blacks and much lower murder rates. For the country as a whole,
handgun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder
rate went down. But such facts are not mentioned by gun control zealots
or by the liberal media.
Another dogma among gun control supporters is that having a gun in the
home for self-defense is futile and is only likely to increase the
chances of your getting hurt or killed. Your best bet is to offer no
resistance to an intruder, according to this dogma.
Actual research tells just the opposite story. People who have not
resisted have gotten hurt twice as often as people who resisted with a
firearm. Those who resisted without a firearm of course got hurt the
Such facts are simply ignored by gun control zealots. They prefer to
cite a study published some years ago in the New England Journal of
Medicine and demolished by a number of scholars since then. According to
this discredited study, people with guns in their homes were more likely
to be murdered.
How did they arrive at this conclusion? By taking people who were
murdered in their homes, finding out how many had guns in the house, and
then comparing them with people who were not murdered in their homes.
Using similar reasoning, you might be able to show that people who hire
bodyguards are more likely to get killed than people who don't.
Obviously, people who hire bodyguards already feel at risk, but does
that mean that the bodyguards are the reason for the risk?
Similarly illogical reasoning has been used by counting how many
intruders were killed by homeowners with guns and comparing that with
the number of family members killed with those guns. But this is a
nonsense comparison because most people who keep guns in their homes do
not do so in hopes of killing intruders.
Most uses of guns in self-defense -- whether in the home or elsewhere --
do not involve actually pulling the trigger. When the intended victim
turns out to have a gun in his hand, the attacker usually has enough
brains to back off. But the lives saved this way do not get counted.
People killed at home by family members are highly atypical. The great
majority of these victims have had to call the police to their homes
before, because of domestic violence, and just over half have had the
cops out several times. These are not just ordinary people who happened
to lose their temper when a gun was at hand.
Neither are most "children" who are killed by guns just toddlers who
happened to find a loaded weapon lying around. More of those "children"
are members of teenage criminal gangs who kill each other deliberately.
Some small children do in fact get accidentally killed by guns in the
home -- but fewer than drown in bathtubs. Is anyone for banning
bathtubs? Moreover, the number of fatal gun accidents fell, over the
years, while the number of guns was increasing by tens of millions. None
of this supports the assumption that more guns mean more fatal
accidents. Most of the gun controllers' arguments are a house of cards.
No wonder they don't want any hard facts coming near them.
JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is
author of several books, including his latest, The Einstein Syndrome:
Bright Children Who Talk Late.
Thomas Sowell Archives
© 2002, Creators Syndicate
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