Statistics Indicate Gun Control Only Increases Crime

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. Why?

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.

January 23, 2006