Free Markets, Free People

guns


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 23 Feb 14

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the Ukraine, Free Speech, and guns.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here. Please remember the feed may take a couple of hours to update after this is first posted.

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The danger of guns. Dangerous, dangerous guns. Assault guns, even.

So, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has released their new report (PDF) on crimey, violency things. The key takeaway on homicide, is that it’s declined sharply over the last 20 years.

There were 11,101 firearm homicides in 2011, down by 39% from a high of 18,253 in 1993.

homicide

This actually understates the drop, however, because if you jump back to 1991, the FBI reports that there were 24,703 homicides that year. So, while homicides have declined by 39% from 1992, they’ve declined by 55% from 1991.

It’s not just homicide. In general gun crime is just…less.

Nonfatal firearm-related violent victimizations against persons age 12 or older declined 70%, from 1.5 million in 1993 to 456,500 in 2004. The number then fluctuated between about 400,000 to 600,000 through 2011.

guncrime

So, despite the fact that we have more guns in private hands than at any other time in living memory, we simply aren’t using them against each other anywhere near as much as we were just 20 years ago.

Maybe part of that is the profusion of concealed carry laws. Maybe part is because of things like 3 strikes laws, where we just lock people up for a really long time, and we have really a lot of people in prison. But what is clear is that violent gun crime has dropped precipitously since 1991.

~
Dale Franks
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Gun ownership doesn’t correlate with murder rates

In a recent study two Harvard professors determined that banning guns will not solve the violence or murder problem. That in fact, guns really have nothing to do with it. Instead it is instead a matter of culture.

The reason that gun ownership doesn’t correlate with murder rates, the authors show, is that violent crime rates are determined instead by underlying cultural factors.  “Ordinary people,” they note, “simply do not murder.”  Rather, “the murderers are a small minority of extreme antisocial aberrants who manage to obtain guns whatever the level of gun ownership” in their society.

Therefore, “banning guns cannot alleviate the socio-cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violence and crime rates.”  According to Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser, “there is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding, responsible adults because such people virtually never commit murder.  If one accepts that such adults are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it, disarming them becomes not just unproductive but counter-productive.”

The sort of reasoning Kates and Mauser use for  seems to be foreign to those who want to ban guns. It is not a problem of law abiding citizens because, as the authors state, law-abiding citizens don’t commit murder. Consequently, taking their guns away will have no fact other than to make them easier victims. The counter gun culture tries very hard to correlate guns with violence and murder. But looking at the number of guns owned in America as well as the number of Americans who own guns (45 – 52 million), we see that in reality gun crime and gun violence are statistically small.   As the authors state disarming law-abiding citizens is “not just unproductive but counterproductive.”

Additionally, they use these things called “facts” to gut  the myths that have grown up around gun ownership and violence. For instance, the myth surrounding the Soviet Union and its strict gun control.

In their piece entitled Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and some Domestic Evidence, Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser eviscerate “the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths.”  In so doing, the authors provide fascinating historical insight into astronomical murder rates in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they dispel the myths that widespread gun ownership is somehow unique to the United States or that America suffers from the developed world’s highest murder rate.

To the contrary, they establish that Soviet murder rates far exceeded American murder rates, and continue to do so today, despite Russia’s extremely stringent gun prohibitions.  By 2004, they show, the Russian murder rate was nearly four times higher than the American rate.

The authors also look at the gun control policies in Europe and find evidence that counters the correlation between gun ownership and violence.

More fundamentally, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser demonstrate that other developed nations such as Norway, Finland, Germany, France and Denmark maintain high rates of gun ownership, yet possess murder rates lower than other developed nations in which gun ownership is much more restricted.

For example, handguns are outlawed in Luxembourg, and gun ownership extremely rare, yet its murder rate is nine times greater than in Germany, which has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Europe.  As another example, Hungary’s murder rate is nearly three times higher than nearby Austria’s, but Austria’s gun ownership rate is over eight times higher than Hungary’s.  “Norway,” they note, “has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate.  The Netherlands,” in contrast, “has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) … yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian.”

Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser proceed to dispel the mainstream misconception that lower rates of violence in Europe are somehow attributable to gun control laws.  Instead, they reveal, “murder in Europe was at an all-time low before the gun controls were introduced.”  As the authors note, “strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever-growing violent crime throughout the post-WWII industrialized world.”

Citing England, for instance, they reveal that “when it had no firearms restrictions [in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries], England had little violent crime.”  By the late 1990s, however, “England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban on all handguns and many types of long guns.”  As a result, “by the year 2000, violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States.”  In America, on the other hand, “despite constant and substantially increasing gun ownership, the United States saw progressive and dramatic reductions in criminal violence in the 1990s.”

So, if one is honest and reads the evidence clearly, they are left with the understanding that the attempted correlation between gun ownership and violence doesn’t really exist. In fact, it appears that it is indeed the culture that is the cause of violence. One could even argue that disarming the public makes them the culture of victims. For example, one of the things we hear about England is that there has been a vast increase in “hot burglaries” since firearms have been banned. That ban has emboldened the criminals. They no longer fear the homeowner. They know the homeowner does not have a gun. Why? Because they’re law-abiding citizens.

Finally, Kates and Mauser talk about the seeming change in American culture and its impact on violent crime.

Critically, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser note that “the fall in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world,” where 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office suffered violent crime increases during that same period.

Furthermore, the authors highlight the important point that while the American gun murder rate often exceeds that in other nations, the overall per capita murder rate in other nations (including other means such as strangling, stabbing, beating, etc.) is oftentimes much higher than in America.

As should be obvious to anyone, those that are murdered really don’t care about the means that murder. Dead is dead.   The key to reducing murder is cultural. It has nothing to do with the weapon involved. As Kates and Mauser pointed out the per capita murder rate in other nations is often higher than ours. And many if not most of those include countries with strict gun bans.

It should seem clear, given the experience of many European countries with strict gun control, that banning guns does not solve the murder and violence problem. It would be nice for a change if we would learn from the experience of others. As horrific as the Newtown massacre was, it wasn’t perpetrated by a person anyone would consider a law-abiding citizen.  In fact, he had no concept of the principle of law or his responsibility to abide by it.

If we want to learn from that incident, the lesson isn’t about guns.  It’s about how inadequate our means of handling those who pose a danger to society really are.  Megan McArdle does a good job of discussing that very important point.

This study seems to point to what many would argue is obvious. However there is a strong, emotional lobby that continues to want to ignore the primary problem in favor of banning the instrument of murder in this particular case. It is foolish and shortsighted.  It would be feel-good legislation, made in haste as usual and in the end accomplishing nothing. We have a history of knee jerk legislation made in haste in which the consequences are unforeseen and usually unintended.

What should be clear is we don’t want to end up like England.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 22 Jul 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about Supreme Court, The state of the nation, and the Aurora, CO shooting.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 16 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Gabby Giffords shooting and the response to it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 09 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Gabby Giffords shooting and the response to it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.