Skip to comments.GUN CONTROL MYTHS: PART III
Posted on 11/28/2002 8:08:28 AM PST by KLT
November 28, 2002
Gun control myths: Part III
Most people who are in favor of gun control laws support such laws because they believe that these laws will reduce the number of firearms deaths. Such people are not the problem. Their minds can be changed when they learn that the facts are very different from what they have imagined or have been led to believe.
The problem is with very different kinds of people, often in leadership positions, whose support for gun control laws is strong enough to override any facts. When John Lott's empirical study of the effects of gun control laws found that gun ownership tended on net balance to reduce crime in general and murder in particular, he offered to give a copy of that study to a member of a gun control advocacy group, but she refused to look at it.
Later, when the study was published as a book under the title "More Guns, Less Crime," that same advocate was contacted by ABC News for her comments and she described the study as "flawed." When Lott then phoned her to ask how she could say that it was flawed, when she had never read it, she simply hung up on him.
Clearly, the facts were not crucial to this gun control advocate -- or to many other zealots. Nor can the lineup of people for and against gun control laws be explained by facts that are equally available to people in all parts of the ideological spectrum, for the liberal-left crusades for more restrictive gun control laws and conservatives generally resist.
While John Lott's study is perhaps the best known one showing that widespread gun ownership has led to less crime, other studies with similar findings include "Pointblank" by Gary Kleck and the more recent book "Guns and Violence" by Joyce Lee Malcolm.
What about studies on the other side? Two that have been widely cited are an article in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 1993 and a book published in 2000 titled "Arming America" on the history of gun ownership in this country.
The medical journal article claimed that guns in the home increase the risk of violence and death. This was based on comparing people who were killed in their homes with a sample of similar people in the general population. Those who were killed at home owned guns more often than the others.
What makes this reasoning especially strange in a medical journal is that it closely parallels the reasoning used by those who commit the fallacy of judging hospitals by their death rates. People who go into hospitals are more likely to die than people who don't. Does that make hospitals dangerous? Or does it show that people who go into a hospital already have health risks?
Indeed, death rates may be higher in a world-class medical facility than in the local county hospital, because it is people with more dire medical problems who are more likely to go into hospitals with top specialists and state-of-the-art equipment.
Just as it would be fallacious to assume that people who go to different kinds of hospitals have the same levels of risk to begin with, so it is fallacious to assume that people who decided to keep a gun in the house were in no more danger initially than those who didn't. Some were criminals and were killed by the police. Comparisons of apples and oranges don't prove anything.
The more recent anti-gun book by Michael Bellesiles of Emory University has been lavishly praised in such organs of the left intelligentsia as The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, and was awarded a prestigious prize for historians. Then other scholars began checking out his evidence.
The net result is that Professor Bellesiles has now resigned from Emory University after an investigation into his research led to a report that raised questions about his "scholarly integrity." But that is unlikely to stop his study from continuing to be cited by advocates of gun control.
Facts are not the real issue to gun control zealots, who typically share the left's general vision of the world, in which their own superior wisdom and virtue need to be imposed on others, whether on guns, the environment, or other things.
When John Lott asked the gun control crusader to look at the facts he had amassed, he may have thought that the issue was simply whether one policy was better than another. But what was really at stake was a whole vision of society and the crusader's own sense of self. No wonder she could not risk looking at the facts.
©2002 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Does the press have an anti-gun bias? Yes, says Brent Bozell, chairman of the Media Research Center. A study by the Center found that television news stories calling for stricter gun laws outnumbered newscasts opposing such laws by a ratio of 10 to 1.
In other words, we are hearing only one side of the story. No wonder so few Americans are equipped to debate the issue of guns intelligently.
"Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1816. But when the press aligns itself with special interests - such as the anti-gun lobby - critical information is censored, and liberty itself hangs in the balance. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... it expects what never was and never will be ..." warned Jefferson.
Ignorance about guns and gun rights has reached pandemic proportions. Children are not taught the history or meaning of the Second Amendment in school, nor do they learn later as adults. Most of what Americans think they know about guns is false. The anti-gun hysteria now sweeping our nation draws on several deeply erroneous assumptions. I call them the Seven Myths of Gun Control. They are:
Myth #1 -- Guns increase violent crime.
Just the opposite is true. Experts have found that criminals tend to avoid physical confrontation, when they fear their victims may be armed. But when strict gun laws are imposed, criminals become bolder and more violent, confident that their victims are defenseless.
Australians learned this lesson the hard way. When a madman slaughtered 35 people at a Tasmanian resort in 1996, the government responded by banning most firearms. More than 640,000 guns were seized from law-abiding citizens.
The result was a sharp increase in violent crime. In the two years following the gun ban, armed robberies rose by 73 percent, unarmed robberies by 28 percent, kidnappings by 38 percent, assaults by 17 percent and manslaughter by 29 percent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The same thing happened in England. The government cracked down on guns following a 1996 massacre of schoolchildren in Scotland. A terrifying crime wave ensued. The U.S. Department of Justice announced, in 1998, that the rate of muggings in England had surpassed that in the U.S. by 40 percent. Assault and burglary rates were found to be almost 100 percent higher in England than in the United States.
(In his book More Guns, Less Crime, Yale Law School economist John R. Lott points out that most criminals, in America, choose empty houses to burglarize.) They avoid late-night break-ins, because, as many convicts have explained to researchers, "that's the way to get shot." Hot burglaries - in which the criminal enters while people are home - account for only 13 percent of all U.S. burglaries.
But in countries with strict gun control, such as England and Canada, criminals enter houses at will, without worrying whether anyone is home. The hot burglary rate in those countries is nearly 50 percent.
After studying 18 years' worth of crime statistics from around the United States, Lott concluded that "states experiencing the greatest reductions in crime are also the ones with the fastest growing percentages of gun ownership."
On average, Lott found that violent crime dropped by 4 percent for each 1 percent increase in gun ownership. The most dramatic improvement came in states that allowed citizens to carry concealed handguns. States enacting such laws between 1977 and 1994 experienced an average 10 percent reduction in murders and a 4.4 percent drop in overall violent crime during that period.
Myth #2 -- Pulling a gun on a criminal endangers you more than the criminal.
Gun bashers claim that if you draw a gun during a mugging, the mugger will probably take it away from you. But the facts say otherwise. According to surveys by Gallup, the Los Angeles Times and other national polling organizations, Americans use guns to defend themselves between 760,000 and 3.6 million times each year. In 98 percent of those cases, simply brandishing the gun was enough to scare off the attacker.
Myth #3 -- Guns pose a special threat to children.
Gun haters argue that firearms pose a unique danger to children. But statistics do not support this claim. Only 200 children - aged 14 and younger - died from gun accidents in 1995. That same year, 2,900 children died in car crashes, 950 drowned and 1,000 died of burns. "More children die in bicycle accidents each year than die from all types of firearm accidents," Lott observes. Yet, there is no national outcry to bar children from using bicycles.
Myth #4 -- The Second Amendment applies only to militiamen.
Gun prohibitionists argue that the Second Amendment confers a right to bear arms only on duly enrolled members of a state militia. But that is not what the document says. It specifically grants the right to keep and bear arms to "the people".
"The phrase `the people' meant the same thing in the Second Amendment as it did in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments -- that is, each and every free person," writes constitutional scholar Stephen Halbrook in his book That Every Man Be Armed.
Even Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe - a gun-control advocate known for his liberal views - admitted, in the 1999 edition of his book American Constitutional Law, that the Second Amendment confers an individual right on U.S. citizens to "possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes."
Myth #5 -- The Second Amendment is an obsolete relic of the frontier era.
Gun bashers say that the Second Amendment has outlived its usefulness. They argue that pioneers needed guns to fight Indians, redcoats and grizzly bears. But we don't face such threats today. So why do we need guns?
In fact, the framers of the Constitution were not greatly concerned about Indians, redcoats and grizzly bears. But they worried deeply about the possibility that some future government might strip the people of their rights. The best insurance against this, they believed, was to make sure that the people were armed.
"The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword," said Noah Webster, "because the whole body of the people are armed..."
Guns will become superfluous to Americans only when our lives and liberty no longer need defending. That time does not appear to be coming soon.
Myth #6 -- We should treat guns the same way we treat cars, requiring licenses for all users.
When you apply for a firearms license, the government may or may not grant it. And, having granted it, the government may later choose to revoke it. What that means is that you never really had a right to bear arms, in the first place. A right, by definition, cannot be withheld or denied. As Thomas Jefferson put it, "I have a right to nothing, which another has a right to take away."
Consider the right to freedom of religion. Like all freedoms, religious liberty creates problems. It allows murderous fanatics such as Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite to create killer cults like the Peoples' Temple and Heaven's Gate.
A government licensing program might prevent such tragedies. Anyone starting a church could be subjected to psychiatric screening, his beliefs and doctrines vetted by a board of experts. Cult killings would likely diminish. But freedom of worship would be dead.
How about freedom of speech? Think of all the pornography, hate speech and conspiracy theories that could be eliminated by denying "speech licenses" to undesirable web geeks. Hillary Clinton has actually proposed something along these lines. Arguing that cyberspace is too free, she suggests that the Internet needs an "editing or gate keeping function" to control its content.
But, aside from Hillary, most Americans understand that requiring licenses for the exercise of basic constitutional liberties is a bad idea.
There is no doubt that life is more orderly in a police state. But our country was founded on the principle that freedom takes precedence over order. As Thomas Jefferson put it, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it."
Myth #7 -- Reasonable gun-control measures are no threat to law-abiding gun owners.
Anti-gun activists argue that reasonable gun-control measures, such as waiting periods, one-gun-a-month limits, trigger locks, "smart" technology and so on, do not threaten the rights of legitimate gun owners.
But this argument presumes that guns will only be used for sport. And, indeed, most gun-control activists recognize no other legitimate use for firearms. "To me, the only reason for guns in civilian hands is for sporting purposes," says Sarah Brady, chairman and founder of Handgun Control Inc.
Perhaps for that reason, many gun-control measures now on the table seriously impede the use of firearms for self-defense.
Take "smart" guns. They only work when the user wears a special ring or wristband with a magnetic actuator or radio transponder. Let's say you wake up in the dead of night. Your husband is on a business trip, and there's a serial rapist standing in your bedroom. This is not the time to be fumbling around in the dark, undoing the trigger lock and trying to remember where your husband put the transponder.
Waiting periods can also be deadly. News reports show that many women have been killed, because the Brady Law prevented them from obtaining guns immediately, when they were threatened by stalkers.
As for one-gun-a-month rules, these prevent people from stocking up quickly on arms during times of emergency. When riots or natural disasters strike, looting and brigandage present a real danger. People have a right, in such situations, to stockpile arms for their families, neighbors and employees.
None of these arguments will persuade the gun haters, of course. Their crusade is driven by ideology, not reason.
But fair-minded Americans should seek out the facts. Our freedom was bought at too high a price to let it slip away through ignorance and apathy.
Richard Poe is a freelance journalist and a New-York-Times-bestselling author. His latest book is WAVE 4 (Prima 1999). Visit his website at RichardPoe.com</a href>
You added alot to this thread...
A HAPPY AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOUR'S...
FREETURKEYGARDS FROM THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF NY,
KLT AKA KAREN
Happy Thanksgiving To You and Your's...
If I were an attorney arguing a case, I'd pray that my opponent founded his case on lies. Discredit the lies and you destroy the case. Bellesiles has made it easy.
Your boy must be grateful for more than just his renewd health, too.
...but also for being blessed with such an exceptional, loving & charming mother.
How Did the Founders Understand the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?Compiled by Daniel C. Palm
It is frequently remarked that while our nations founders said one thing about the right to keep and bear arms, they actually meant something else altogether. In the interest of letting the founders speak for themselves on their understanding of the Second Amendment, we present this chronological list of their comments on that Amendment and the right to bear arms.
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764).
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." --Thomas Jefferson, Proposed Virginia Constitution (1776).
"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state . . ." --Pennsylvania State Constitution, 1776; same wording used in Vermont State Constitutions, 1777 and 1786.
"The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. . . . Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become prey to the strong." --Thomas Paine, "Thoughts on Defensive War," Pennsylvania Magazine, July 1775, in The Writings of Thomas Paine, Moncure Daniel Conway, ed., (G.P. Putnams Sons, 1894), I:56.
"Before a standing army or a tyrannical government can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular (or professional) troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States." --Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution Proposed by the Late Convention (1787).in Ford, Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, 1888.
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the Body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind . . . Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to his nephew Peter Carr, August 19, 1785.
"Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion. . . in private self-defense." --John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-88).
". . . if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidible to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights, and those of their fellow citizens." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #29 (1788).
"[Americans need not fear the federal government, because they enjoy] the advantage of being armed, which you possess over the people of almost every other nation." --James Madison, Federalist #46 (1788).
"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves . . . and include all men capable of bearing arms . . . To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms." --Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters From the Federal Farmer 53 (1788).
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people . . . To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them. . . . The best and most effectual way to enslave [the people] . . . is not [to] do it openly, but [to] weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." --George Mason, during Virginias Convention to Ratify the Constitution (1788).
"The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." --Samuel Adams, during Massachusetts Convention to Ratify the Constitution (1788).
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined." --Patrick Henry, during Virginias Convention to Ratify the Constitution (1788).
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States . . . Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America." --Gazette of the United States, Oct. 14, 1789
"The militia is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it. The great object is that every man be armed. . . . Every one who is able may have a gun." --Patrick Henry, Elliot, Debates, III:386
"What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty." --Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Aug. 17, 1789, Annals of Congress, I:750
"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." --Tench Coxe, Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Evening Post, June 18, 1789.
"And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress . . . to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms. . ." --Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789.
"A free people ought . . . to be armed . . ." --George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790, printed in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790.
"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." --The Second Amendment to the Constitution (Ratified 1791).
"This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty . . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature. . . . Wherever . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction." --Henry St. George Tucker, in his edition of Blackstones Commentaries, 1:300 (1803).
"The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give congress a power to disarm the people." --William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States of America, (Philadelphia, 2nd ed., 1829), p. 125.
"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, (Boston, 1833), p. 709.
More people die in Intensive Care Units than do in Ob/Gyn Units...
The "logic" of the gun-control crowd is beyond flawed. It is intentionally misleading.