About 15 years ago the Balancing Act did a column or two on the relationship of guns to crime. Even today, 15 years after the publishing of the definitive book on the subject by Professor John R. Lott Jr., “More Guns, Less Crime,” the mantra of the mainstream media continues to be that “more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore mean fewer deaths.”
Lott examined violent crimes in jurisdictions that require the issuance of concealed weapon permits to citizens of good character as opposed to states like California which severely limit the issuance of concealed weapon permits. Lott found that as the issuing of CCW (carry concealed weapon) rose in a state, violent crime was reduced proportionally. A result the anti-freedom, anti-gun folks couldn’t believe. So they attacked the author and the study although the data is valid and incontrovertible.
A new Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy article by Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser should really get the big bazookas of the anti-gunners blazing with its conclusions. The study compared murder rates and gun ownership of European countries and the findings are exactly the opposite of what the anti-Second Amendment advocates would want you to believe: The more gun ownership in a society, the lower the murder rate. It is that simple.
When you look at the numbers, it is the only conclusion that can be drawn. Take Luxembourg where there is no gun ownership, zip, zero, nada. In 2002, the latest data available for the study, the murder rate was 9.01 per 100,000 of population. In Germany where the gun ownership is 30,000 guns per 100,000 of population, the murder rate is 0.93 or almost 10 times lower than a disarmed Luxembourg.
The country with the highest murder rate of any industrialized nation is Russia, which because of its history as a police state where only the police had guns is three times higher than the United States and that ratio is increasing. From the latest data, the Russian suicide rate is four times higher than the U.S. In Russia there are only 4,000 guns per 100,000 people and the murder rate is 20.54. The highest rate of gun ownership in neighboring Finland is 39,000 guns per 100,000 people. Finland’s murder rate is 1.98, or more than 10 times lower than Russia. Norway has a gun ownership of 36,000 per 100,000 and the murder rate is 0.81.
The study said when England banned guns in the late 1990s and hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from the law-abiding populace, the violent crime rate skyrocketed, becoming the highest in all of Europe, far exceeding even the United States and became one of the developed world’s most violence-ridden nations.
Study after study show that there is no significant association between gun ownership levels and the homicide rate (Kleck, 1997 and Killias, 2001).
How do the liars figure? Look at a Brady Law claim by anti-Second Amenders that it has modestly reduced firearm suicides. What they don’t tell you that there was a corresponding increase of suicides by other methods. And that is important. As the data shows, the murder rate in the U.S. is half of the murder rates of many countries where gun murder is much rarer. But other forms of murder are much higher (stabbing, strangling or beating).
Kates and Mauser show that murder and suicide are caused by “social, economic or cultural factors, not the prevalence of some form of deadly mechanism.” Data demonstrates that U.S. jurisdictions with the highest violent crime rates are precisely those jurisdictions with the most stringent gun control laws. That same data follows in other countries. Can you say Chicago?
A chart in the study shows that in Belarus, a country that bans guns, has a murder rate five times higher than neighboring Poland, while gun-banned Russia has a murder rate double that of Belarus. Luxembourg which has no gun ownership has a murder rate from six to 10 times than that of its three neighbors. Russia, which bans guns, has a murder rate 25 times that of its neighbor Norway, which has the highest gun ownership in Europe.
What is most fascinating is that nations with violence problems have the most gun control, which only makes matters worse. And that is what this article says. It doesn’t say that more gun ownership means more murders or violent crime and less gun ownership means less murders and violent crime. It says the opposite: “If firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns equals LESS violent crime.”
Larry Weitzman is a resident of Rescue.