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The balancing act: Guns and funerals

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From page A4 | October 02, 2013 | 14 Comments

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. 

Larry Weitzman

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Discussion | 14 comments

  • James E.September 17, 2013 - 4:58 pm

    I wonder about using Germany as an example. Germans tend to obey the law, as the police don't fool around. When I arrived in Germany and took an apartment in a tiny German town, I went out for a walk one night. As I turned a corner there in front of me was a German policeman, about 6'6" tall, with a submachine gun strapped across his chest, and holding the leash of a German shepherd. I realized that I was in Germany and not in the United States, and it was unlikely I would be assaulted and shot while out for a walk.

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  • 1036-FrankSeptember 18, 2013 - 8:13 am

    When flying into Germany, compare their security with the US TSA, there is no comparison. The US should do a study of what the gun crime rate is for the govt. section 8 housing projects, probably would be among the highest in the world which would be no surprise. In the South American countries where private gun ownership is restricted and banned, the gun crime murder rate is among the highest due to the criminals being armed by drug gangs and govt. corruption allowing it. In Europe, The Swiss, with the highest gun ownership have the least crime, what is also important in these countries with the least crime is that immigration is restricted an controlled and there is almost no illegal immigration and they control their borders, unlike the US where the 2006 Border Security Bill was defunded by the Bummer. The problem with Europe has been similar to the US in that the countries with high crime have been taking in refugees, providing welfare and housing and there is no common tie of culture or history or religion.

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  • MorrisSeptember 18, 2013 - 5:03 pm

    Really Rafferty? Nice cage...but no bird. No, really, that piece didn't sound weak at all....just dumb. Really dumb. Like someones cheese done slid off his craker kind of dumb, if you know what I mean. Or do you just think pro-gun folks are so ignorant that we 'd miss a desperate attempt to rally new dogs to your weak hunt? You know they teach geography and history to gun owners too now. And most of us can even read. Real newspapers. So just about anyone with a pulse knows that Russia - after generations of totalitarian state rule and rampant black market micro economies - transformed into the most corrupt and brutally efficient obliogarchy(s) on the planet. Same sheep. New shepherd. Comparing Russia to Finland is just dumb. And Luxembourg to Germany? More dumber. Why? Because you don't have to go too far away from El Dorado County to know that people are, well, different. They often cluster by differences. Sometimes making counties red. Sometimes blue. And sometimes countries. Some known for being efficient and pragmatic. Some have less secure borders, others smoke lots of dope. Playing the gun card with numbers only?? A real dumb joke. And btw: You have ZERO idea or credibility to what you are talking about with the Chicago remark. Zero. I know Chicago. You, Rafferty, do not. Really, I'm embarrassed for your keyboard on this whole goatscrew of an 'editorial' of yours. (For the record: I am pro-gun, own weapons and take seriously the responsibility of possessing a thing with which its sole purpose is to destroy that which it is targeted upon. I believe that no legitimate argument exists for automatic weapons to be possessed by anyone outside of law enforcement or military.)

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  • EvelynSeptember 18, 2013 - 5:39 pm

    Is the article by Larry Weitzman or Michael Raffety? (At the end we find: "Larry Weitzman is a resident of Rescue.") Regardless, I'm not sure where Morris found anything about automatic weapons. And, having declared himself pro-gun, I not sure why he took such exception to the cited gun studies. The article seems -- to me, at least -- quite rational.

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  • MorrisSeptember 18, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    Evelyn, thanks for your comments. To answer your questions: 1. Rafferty blessed the piece. 2. Re automatic weapons: The verbiage is part of overall position statement concerning my stand on gun control. I wish to make clear that I am pro-gun lest anyone mistake otherwise) 3. The gun studies cited are weak. And they weaken our effort as well. Here's why : We don't need to preach to the choir; those that are pro-gun already are. What we need is to convince the fence sitters and those opposed. We won't win them over with flawed studies that fail to fully - and accurately - make our argument valid. Those we wish to convince know that the numbers alone are only part of the question and the true answer. They are well educated, well travelled and savvy. The information cited and its presentment is the equivalent of bringing a cat to a dog fight. If pro- gun wishes to win, we need to lose the image of the provincial redneck and bring a better game with realities, not massaged numbers and rhetoric that's been played. Poorly.

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  • EvelynSeptember 18, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Morris: Sensible response. Thanks.

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  • R.J. CarterSeptember 18, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    Bring a cat to a dog fight???...a 100 lb cat will kill and eat any 100lb dog...Plus,...As long as Obama is stripping U.S. citizens of guns while arming our enemies, I want all the biggest, baddest damn guns I can get my hands on.......

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  • MorrisSeptember 18, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    Man.. Just what the world needs: a 100+ pound moody foul tempered arrogant and self-centered thing with claws and zero listening skills. Oh wait...we have that already: My Ex. (good morning pookie D!)

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  • cookie65October 02, 2013 - 5:59 am

    Those who confronted government tyranny and prevailed leading up the founding of this country had the same weapons as the government that was oppressing them. They were not unclear in their purpose of the 2nd Amendment. "An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject." -- Unknown

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  • Paddy O'furnitureOctober 02, 2013 - 10:19 am

    R.J., that whole comment was out of the park. Nice work.

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  • cookie65October 02, 2013 - 1:36 pm

    An 8 year old was suspended from school for using his fingers as an imaginary gun. It is against the school rules to play with imaginary guns. I wonder what the punishment is for playing with imaginary planes flying into buildings? http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/02/florida-boy-8-suspended-from-school-after-using-finger-as-pretend-gun/?intcmp=latestnews

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  • James E.October 02, 2013 - 1:53 pm

    Cookie, when I was a little kid we played cowboys and Indians and war. To the best of my belief, none of us turned out to be serial killers. And, consider this, a finger played as a gun never goes off.

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  • Letter to the EditorOctober 06, 2013 - 8:13 am

    Today I swung my front door wide open and placed my Remington 870 right in the doorway. I gave it 4 shells and left it alone and went about my business. While I was gone, the mall gal delivered my mail, the trash man picked up the trash, a girl walked her dog down the street, and quite a few of my neighbors drove past. Well, after about an hour, I checked on the gun. It was still sitting there, right where I had left it. It hadn’t killed anyone, even with the numerous opportunities it had been presented to do so. In fact, it hadn’t even loaded itself. Well you can imagine my surprise, with all the media hype about how dangerous guns are and how they kill people. Either the media is wrong, and it is the misuse of guns by criminals, or I have one of the laziest shotguns ever made. I must hurry off now and check on my spoons. I hear they are making people fat. (Walter “Digger”, New Shady Cove)

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  • EvelynOctober 20, 2013 - 8:37 am

    Woman arrested after squirting boyfriend with water gun - HERE

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