Dr. John Lott has a new piece at Investor’s Business Daily. The piece starts this way:
Gun control advocates keep claiming that they don’t want to ban guns — they only want reasonable regulations. But their actions keep saying otherwise.
- Gun control advocates expressed “concern” after Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz bought each of his offensive linemen a very expensive personalized Beretta shotgun for Christmas this year. If they believe in gun ownership, why should it bother them that law-abiding adults have shotguns?
- Right before Christmas, President Obama finalized new rules requiring 4.2 million Social Security recipients who have trouble managing their finances to undergo background checks before buying guns. But just because someone can’t manage their finances doesn’t mean that he’s a danger to others.
- An article in December in the New Republic was clear: “Ban guns. All guns. Get rid of guns in homes, and on the streets, and, as much as possible, on police.”
Of course, during the presidential campaign Hillary Clinton repeatedly called for appointing Supreme Court Justices who would overturn the 2008 Heller decision, which struck down Washington, D.C.’s complete ban on handguns. Such a change would have again made it possible for governments to ban guns.
It is hard to find any gun control rule that gets proposed that gun control advocates don’t support.
To gun control advocates it seems obvious: Restrict gun access and people will be safer. But theory and practice don’t always match. Too often, gun bans or background checks don’t stop criminals and disarm law-abiding citizens, particularly poor minorities. This only makes life easier for criminals.
To start, it would be almost impossible at this point to ban all guns in the U.S., where there are already 300 million guns in circulation, and more than 12 million enter the market each year. With 3D metal printers, more people will be able to make weapons that are indistinguishable from those purchased in stores. Getting rid of these weapons would require a door-to-door campaign by law enforcement officials, and even that would be of only limited effectiveness.
But their goal is ultimately a fool’s errand. Every country in the world (that we have crime data for) that has banned all guns or all handguns has seen a subsequent increase in murder rates. Even island nations such as Ireland and Jamaica — which have easily monitored and defendable borders, relatively speaking — have faced five- or six-fold increases in murder rates after guns were banned. Some of the biggest spikes in murder rates corresponded with increases in drug gang violence.
Another example of gun bans is the continual push for gun-free zones, where general citizens are banned from being able to defend themselves. But these bans only create defenseless targets for mass shooters. One need only listen to the wiretapped recording of an Islamic State supporter who was planning an attack last year. His target was one of the biggest churches in Detroit.
In the recording, Khalil Abu-Rayyan explains: “A lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news.” Fortunately, the man’s father alerted the FBI. Mass public shooters often select public places where permitted concealed handguns are banned.
Mass public shooters invariably pick the rare places that ban permitted concealed handguns. This is true time and again, from movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., or Lafayette, La., to mall shootings in Omaha, Nebraska or Salt Lake City, Utah.
Since at least 1950, every single one of Europe’s public mass shootings has occurred in a place where general citizens are banned from carrying guns. In America, there have been four exceptions to that rule.
In late 2013, the secretary general of Interpol — essentially a global version of the FBI — proposed two ways of preventing mass shootings: “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves (should be) so secure that in order to get into the soft target, you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”
But Noble warned, “You can’t have armed police forces everywhere.” He also suggested that it is essentially impossible to stop killers from getting weapons into these “secure” areas. He concluded by posing the question, “Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past, with an evolving threat of terrorism?” The answer is an emphatic yes.
Gun laws might be well-intentioned, but too often they disarm law-abiding people and make life easier for criminals. But even the election hasn’t stopped gun control advocates from pushing for all sorts of gun bans.
Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime” (University of Chicago Press, 2010, 3rd edition).