After the Newtown, Connecticut mass murder, anti-rights politicians and media shifted into high gear. The only “solution” for such a tragedy was another gun ban; within two days, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced her version. Pundits like the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein politicized the tragedy by claiming that America is an unusually violent place, with the only answer being more gun control.
There’s a problem with all of their hyperbole: it is based upon myth and manipulated data.
I personally believed in civilian disarmament until an acquaintance in law enforcement challenged my gun-banner’s assumptions with questions and points I could not rebut. This began a research journey limited only by my decision to exclude any data cited by the NRA. At the time, I was convinced only caring people like the Brady Campaign would present the truth.
Surprisingly (to me, at the time), I found no dataset proving civilian disarmament made anybody safer.
In response to Ezra Klein’s report titled “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States,” below are eight fictions about gun control.
Do note: all data cited below are from sources supportive of gun control.
Fiction 1: Armed Resistance Does Not Stop Mass Murders
The FBI defines mass murder as “a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders.”
Mother Jones, which Klein cites, claims armed civilians don’t stop mass murderers.
Newtown certainly qualifies. But the Clackamas mall shooting does not, because an armed citizen’s brandishing was enough to drive the shooter to a stairwell, where he committed suicide after killing two victims. Mother Jones did not wish to count this incident. Yet in “Armed Resistance to Crime,” the authors found that over 75% of the time, the armed defenders never fired their guns — yet their defense was successful.
Ron Borsch, manager of the SEALE Academy and longtime police trainer and member of the Bedford, Ohio Police Department, has been compiling mass murder data for over a decade. He has found that the most likely outcome in a mass murder situation where the murderer is confronted with armed resistance is the murderer committing suicide.
What if an armed defender had been present at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
Fiction 2: Gun Control Eliminates “Dangerous Guns” While Protecting the Second Amendment
Assuming Senator Feinstein gets her way, future mass murders would inevitably lead to calls for further restrictions. The goal of gun control is civilian disarmament.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence claims it “fights for sensible gun laws to protect you, your family and your community.” Since 2001, they’ve published annual report cards rating each state on how many gun-control laws they have. States graded “A” enacted most of Brady’s “sensible” laws; states graded “F” enacted the fewest.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did state-level surveys in 2001 and 2002, estimating the percent of households with a gun (Percent Gun Ownership, or PGO). Collating this with Brady grades shows that more gun control correlates perfectly with less guns (see table below). It’s reasonable to extrapolate that incrementally enacting more “sensible” gun laws does in fact result in civilian disarmament:
Fiction 3: “Gun Violence”
“Gun violence” is a crafted phrase to induce people into associating guns with violence. Using Ezra Klein’s logic, Brady’s “A”-graded, low-gun states should be the safest. But when collated with CDC firearms murder rates, an inconvenient correlation appears: more gun control, higher black homicide, lower Caucasian homicide.
(Crime rates = incidents per 100,000 population.)
One of the unpleasant realizations from my original research was my learning that the history of American gun control is that of racist oppression: banning sales to Indians in order to maintain dominance while grabbing land; ensuring free blacks remained as close to slaves as possible; disarming the Japanese before their internment during World War II.
Modern gun control still makes whites safer, while more blacks get murdered.
Fiction 4: Gun Control Will Make You Safer
Two days after Sandy Hook, Slate reported on how the Australian government enacted “sweeping gun-control measures” just twelve days after a mass murderer killed 35 tourists in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Then CNN reported on how the UK enacted a gun ban following the school massacre of 15 children in Dunblane, Scotland. If there is a formula for successful gun bans, twenty dead children in Newtown presented a key factor.
The advertised benefit of gun control: fewer guns means less violence. This is false — including in the Australia and UK examples.
Before their bans, both countries had lower violent crime and murder rates than the United States. Ten years later, all U.S. violent crime categories have decreased, yet they have been increasing in the UK and Australia. The biggest tragedy: by 2007, UK women were raped twice as often as American women, who were able to partake of their civil right of self-defense. Australian women were raped three times as often.
In 2008, the Guardian reported that guns were “easily and cheaply available on the streets of the UK’s big cities.”
This mirrors U.S. research: “Gang members were significantly more likely to report it has been easier since the Brady Bill went into effect to acquire illegal guns.”
The Daily Express reported:
Shocking statistics released last night show a 14 percent increase in murder and manslaughter in England and Wales between 1998 and 2007.
There was also a 28 percent increase in deaths from bladed weapons. Those killed by shootings increased by the same figure.
Most shockingly, there was a 57 percent increase in deaths caused by punching and kicking.
Slate misleadingly claimed that Australia hadn’t had a “similar massacre” since banning guns in 1997. This is false: their deadliest mass murder occurred in 2009, when 135 died after arsonists set brush fires. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: “There’s no words to describe it, other than it’s mass murder.”
Four other Australian mass murders involved knives, fire, and carbon monoxide.
Here’s the most revealing aspect of the failed attempts to reduce violence by restricting law-abiding citizens: after 10 years of failure, neither country said: “Those bans didn’t help. Violent crime is worse, so let’s restore the civil right of self-defense.” The obvious implication: gun bans are not about enacting the most effective policies for reducing crime, but about civilian disarmament for its own sake.
Our crime data corroborate the British and Australian experience. Collating Brady grades with FBI violent crime rates shows similar correlations at the state level, though not quite as strongly as with black and white homicides:
Brady generally gives lower grades to Right-to-Carry (RTC) states, whose liberalized laws empower law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns in public. For example, in 2001 RTC states averaged a “D” while carry-restricted states averaged “B-”. Brady converted to a 100-point scoring system in 2007, when RTC states averaged 9.7; non-RTC states averaged 48.6. By 2011, RTC states declined to 8.2; non-RTC states improved to 55.5.
However — between 2000 and 2011, RTC states were consistently less violent, even though Brady considered them worse every year (see graph below):
Less guns, more violence. More regulation, less safety.