Someone stopped by searching for “why do so many people want gun control.”
That is a good question. Essentially, because “gun control” appears to be a quick, cheap, and easy solution to a perceived problem. For Germany, the “perceived problem” was the Treaty of Versailles. For England, the perceived problem was labor violence and the presumption that large numbers of unemployed veterans would turn to crime. For the United States, the first batch of gun control laws were a result of labor violence, the next were a result of prohibition; and the third was “an end to politically motivated assassinations.”
Of course, like any policy, gun control has costs. Gun control enthusiasts believe the cost will be small, and borne by those forced to surrender their property. And when there are no more guns there will be no more crime, or assassinations, or whatever they see as “the problem.” In recent months almost every call for gun control has cited our “soaring crime rates.”
But the facts are simple enough. The chart on the right shows the effects of the third American gun control drive on crime. At the beginning of the United States gun control mania in 1963, violent crime rose from 162 violent crimes per 100,000 persons to 758 at the peak of gun control mania in 1991. Over the same time period, homicide rates more than doubled, going from 4.6 to 9.8 per 100,000.
Since the peak of gun control mania Americans have purchased more than 150 million new guns, and at least 40 million used guns have found new owners. Far from rising crime rates, as gun control enthusiasts would have you believe, the violent crime rate has fallen by 49%, from 758 to 386 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans in 2011. And violent crime continues to fall, from 404 to 386 per 100,000 between 2010 and 2011.
At the same time, our homicide rate has fallen from 9.8 per 100,000 to only 4.7, a 52% decline. So gun control has costs. Costs measured in lives lost, psychological damage to the victims, and in property stolen or destroyed. Some of the costs of gun control can be measured, much cannot.
We can, with some supercomputer time, calculate that the gun control legislation brought on by the rash of political assassinations during the 1960’s have cost at least 585,000 American lives. The true number is substantially more.
Other costs are harder to assess. Victims reported 17,190 forcible rapes in 1960, when surveys found the reporting rate was 18 percent. There were 109,060 rapes reported in 1991, when surveys found the reporting rate had fallen to only 13 percent. What is the cost of an 850% increase in rape associated with the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 and the State and municipal gun laws? I cannot say what the dollar loss has been – I can tell you it has been enormous.
The incidence of robbery also went sky high when poorly considered “gun controls” were instituted. In 1963 the United States saw only 107,840 robberies. By the peak of gun control mania there were almost seven times as many robberies; 687,730. Since more permissive gun laws began to be enacted in the early 1990’s, robbery numbers have fallen to 354,396, far more than we had before gun control mania struck – but gun control mania is still with us.
Statisticians tell me the current cost of existing gun laws is more than $500 billion a year; without putting a dollar value on the excess number of lives lost as a result of those laws.
So gun control advocates demand a “cure” for a problem that is curing itself as more and more of the restrictive gun laws that created the problem are softened. The demand for laws that have, at least 22,420 times, resulted in far more criminal violence, is irrational and irresponsible. Some, and I am one of them, would characterize the most extreme gun control advocates as insane.
But by and large, people advocate restrictive gun laws because they believe it would be a cheap remedy for a perceived problem. And since few gun control advocates own guns, a remedy that would cost them nothing at all.