Statistics Indicate Gun Control Only Increases Crime

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Henry Aubin’s
Jan. 18 column repeats urban legends propagated by groups financed
by the state to lobby the state, such as the Coalition for Gun Control.

It is true,
as Aubin claims, that homicides have decreased in Canada over the
past 15 years, although I don’t understand why he chooses 1996
as the starting year to make his point, when the 1995 C-68 law really
started to come in force only in 1998. The main point, however,
is that homicide rates have decreased more in the U.S., where guns
have become more common, than in Canada: in fact, since 1998, the
homicide rate has dropped by 33% in the U.S. while it increased
3% in Canada.

Look at total
violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Their rate is now about
twice as high in Canada as in the U.S. The violent crime rate has
dropped markedly in the U.S. since the early 1990s, but has remained
basically stable here. More data is available in Professor Gary
Mauser’s Fraser Forum article, Why
a Drop in u201CGun Deaths” Cannot Justify the Gun Registry

In the U. K.,
after the introduction of tougher gun control and a prohibition
of handguns in 1997, as well as the general repression of self-defence
(victims who defend themselves against violent criminals often get
more severe sentences than their aggressors), violent crimes have
shot up. To control exploding crime, the British government is resorting
to police-state surveillance and control measures, an astounding
development in the cradle of Western liberty, and the cradle of
our traditional right to keep and bear arms.

Massive social-science
research shows the ineffectiveness of gun control in reducing crime.
It is a source of continuous amazement that gun control advocates
ignore the results of criminological, historical and econometric
studies by reputed scholars like (among others) John Lott, Bill
Landes, Gary Kleck, James Wright, Peter Rossi, Taylor Buckner, David
Kopel, Don Kates, Gary Mauser, Colin Greenwood, and Joyce Malcolm.

In January
2002, two armed students of Appalachian Law School, in Virginia,
stopped a mass killing in progress at the university by arresting
the killer. Why don’t gun-control activists wonder why there
have been no mass killings at the University of Utah, where students
are allowed to carry guns? Could it be that madmen look for places
where they can do more damage without being interrupted?

But these are
only anecdotes. In a more serious, econometric study, John Lott
and Bill Landes estimate that, from 1977 to 1999 in the U.S., deaths
and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell on average
by 78 percent when state governments decriminalized concealed carry
of handguns.

Aubin admits
that the proportion of homicides committed with handguns has increased.
In fact, their actual number also has. He mentions that handguns
are controlled “by an earlier law,” but doesn’t say
that handgun registration has been on the books since 1934, and
was severely strengthened by the 1977 Bill C-51. How are we supposed
to square this with rising handgun violence?

Of course,
gun control will reduce some crimes, because they make guns more
expensive and more risky to acquire by criminals on the black market.
The problem is that gun control leads to an increase in other crimes,
because it imposes on honest citizens who want guns greater costs
and risks than it imposes on criminals – who generally already
have criminal records and don’t bother with the time and humiliation
required to get a license. Gun control transmits to thugs the signal
that people are defenceless – until the police arrive, after
the crime. The historical and empirical evidence is that, in the
net, gun control increases crime.

Emotions, anecdotes,
selective and poorly analyzed data, ignorance of social-science
research: this is what gun-control activists have to offer. Or perhaps
they have another agenda. The way things have been going, we will
soon have a Coalition for the Control of Everything.

23, 2006

Lemieux [send him mail]
is an economist, author, professor, and consultant. See his

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