Difference between revisions of "Gun control"

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'''Gun control''' is the limitation by [[government]]s of [[gun]] ownership and the right to carry, conceal, or use [[firearm]]s.
 
'''Gun control''' is the limitation by [[government]]s of [[gun]] ownership and the right to carry, conceal, or use [[firearm]]s.
  
== Drawbacks ==
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== The Fallacy and Motivation for Gun Control ==
 
Gun control potentially causes an increase in crime by restricting its main deterrent: self-defense.  In the United States, law-abiding uses of guns outnumber criminal uses by at least a factor of 100 to 1, and the removal of guns from everyone eliminates the lawful use of self-defense and its deterrent effect.  Some [[liberals]] nevertheless favor [[gun control]] as a way of increasing control by government, and disarming the citizenry has the effect of causing voters to rely more on government and [[liberal]] policies.
 
Gun control potentially causes an increase in crime by restricting its main deterrent: self-defense.  In the United States, law-abiding uses of guns outnumber criminal uses by at least a factor of 100 to 1, and the removal of guns from everyone eliminates the lawful use of self-defense and its deterrent effect.  Some [[liberals]] nevertheless favor [[gun control]] as a way of increasing control by government, and disarming the citizenry has the effect of causing voters to rely more on government and [[liberal]] policies.
  
Studies by [[John Lott]] and others indicate that gun control causes higher crime rates<ref>http://www.johnrlott.com/</ref>.  [[Washington, D.C.]] has one of the highest crime rates in [[America]] even though it completely bans private handguns <ref>http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm</ref>.  Lott claims that in [[Britain]], [[Australia]] and [[Canada]], increased gun control in the late 1990s led to increased crime, the exact opposite of what the [[liberal]] proponents of the gun control promised.<ref>http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/IBDGunConFailure.html</ref>
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Studies by [[John Lott]] and others indicate that gun control causes higher crime rates<ref>http://www.johnrlott.com/</ref>.  [[Washington, D.C.]] has one of the highest crime rates in [[America]] even though it completely bans private handguns <ref>http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm</ref>.  Lott demonstrates that in [[Britain]], [[Australia]] and [[Canada]], increased gun control in the late 1990s led to increased crime, the exact opposite of what the [[liberal]] proponents of the gun control promised.<ref>http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/IBDGunConFailure.html</ref>
  
[[image:Robbery victims.png|thumb|300px|right|Robbery victims in [[Australia]], 1993&mdash;2005<br /><small>(Data source:Australian Bureau of Statistics)</small>]]
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[[image:Australia crime.gif|thumb|300px|right]<br /><small>(Data source:http://www.gunsandcrime.org/auresult.html)</small>]]
However, analysis in 2001 of the results of the 1996 introduction of gun control in Australia (which had never had widespread ownership of guns) shows mixed results, and no clear evidence that increased gun control resulted in an increase in crime.<ref>[http://www.gunsandcrime.org/auresult.html Results of the Australian Gun "Buyback" & New Gun Laws], October 2001</ref>
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In [[Australia]], where gun ownership was less widespread and the gun control measures were less strict, there was still an unmistakable increase in robbery and armed robbery after the gun control went into effect in 1996. Other data are less clear, but there is no evidence indicated the promised decrease in crime from gun control.<ref>[http://www.gunsandcrime.org/auresult.html Results of the Australian Gun "Buyback" & New Gun Laws], October 2001</ref>  But the gun control did have the predictable long-term political effect: voters became more reliant on the government and by 2007 candidates favoring bigger government won in a landslide.<ref>http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/</ref>
  
But the increased gun control achieved the political effect some [[liberals]] seek: in all three countries voters became more [[liberal]] in the wake of the gun control.{{fact}}
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[[Liberals]] obtained the same political effect in enacting gun control in [[Britain]] and [[Canada]]. In [[Britain]], for example, the enactment of strict gun control enabled the [[Labour Party]] to win a landslide 179 seat majority in the 1997 general election, the first time it exceeded 40% of the popular vote in over 25 years.
  
 
== Trends ==
 
== Trends ==

Revision as of 14:37, December 23, 2007

Gun control is the limitation by governments of gun ownership and the right to carry, conceal, or use firearms.

The Fallacy and Motivation for Gun Control

Gun control potentially causes an increase in crime by restricting its main deterrent: self-defense. In the United States, law-abiding uses of guns outnumber criminal uses by at least a factor of 100 to 1, and the removal of guns from everyone eliminates the lawful use of self-defense and its deterrent effect. Some liberals nevertheless favor gun control as a way of increasing control by government, and disarming the citizenry has the effect of causing voters to rely more on government and liberal policies.

Studies by John Lott and others indicate that gun control causes higher crime rates[1]. Washington, D.C. has one of the highest crime rates in America even though it completely bans private handguns [2]. Lott demonstrates that in Britain, Australia and Canada, increased gun control in the late 1990s led to increased crime, the exact opposite of what the liberal proponents of the gun control promised.[3]

In Australia, where gun ownership was less widespread and the gun control measures were less strict, there was still an unmistakable increase in robbery and armed robbery after the gun control went into effect in 1996. Other data are less clear, but there is no evidence indicated the promised decrease in crime from gun control.[4] But the gun control did have the predictable long-term political effect: voters became more reliant on the government and by 2007 candidates favoring bigger government won in a landslide.[5]

Liberals obtained the same political effect in enacting gun control in Britain and Canada. In Britain, for example, the enactment of strict gun control enabled the Labour Party to win a landslide 179 seat majority in the 1997 general election, the first time it exceeded 40% of the popular vote in over 25 years.

Trends

After decades of increasing gun control laws, the current trend in the United States is in the direction of more gun rights. The 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill included a ban on certain new rifles labeled assault rifles solely because of features of their appearance, and on new high-capacity magazines. This law recently expired and was not renewed by Congress. Also, Washington D.C.'s gun ban was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals on March 9, 2007.[6]

Libertarians and conservatives point out that whether or not guns are officially controlled by the government, criminals will commit crimes, and a black market will exist to provide them with firearms. For instance, despite the prohibition of handgun ownership in the United Kingdom, an island nation without any neighboring "gun culture" nations, handgun crime has been steadily increasing there for many years. As of 2005/06, the total deaths by shooting in the UK had increased to 50.[7]. Comparably, the United States suffered 11,350 gun deaths in 2005.[8]However, it should be noted that the USA has a population approximately 5 times greater than the UK, [9] and the number of murders by shooting is approximately 200 times higher.

Gun control laws have been enacted at the federal, state, and local level with the intent of placing restrictions on the right of individual private citizens to own firearms.

Gun control laws are often seen to conflict with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which recognizes the right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The "right to keep and bear arms" is a right guaranteed to the American citizen by the Bill of Rights through the virtue of a selective reading of said Bill. The phrase "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" precedes the statement, and most federal circuits courts of appeals have held that this phrase requires that the "right to bear arms" relates to the collective rights of state militias, as opposed to the individual's rights to have any weapon desired. Just recently, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit went against nine other circuits in holding that the Second Amendment constitutes an individual right.[10]

Overview

"Gun control" can include:

  • Restricting which persons can own firearms.
  • Restrictions on the number of firearms a person may own, or purchase during a given time period
  • Requirements that privately owned firearms be registered with the government.
  • Bans on certain types of firearms; for example, "handguns" or assault rifles
  • Restrictions on where firearms may be carried, for example into restaurants or post offices
  • Requiring a "background check" and/or a "waiting period" to purchase a firearm
  • Restricting when and where firearms may be bought and sold, for example banning their sale through the mail
  • Requiring licenses or some other form of permission from the government to buy and/or sell a firearm
  • Requiring some form of permission from the government to carry a firearm in public, either concealed or openly
  • Laws granting special gun rights for some people, for example retired law enforcement officers, which are denied the rest of the public, which was used in several southern states.
  • Outright bans on carrying firearms in public
  • Outright bans on private possession of firearms, though this has never occurred in the United States

In the United States the three primary federal gun control laws are:

  • National Firearms Act (1934)
  • Gun Control Act (1968)
  • Brady Bill (1993)

These laws have further been amended by other laws such as the Firearms Owners Protection Act (1986) and the Omnibus Crime Bill (1994).

Constitutional Debate

The Second Amendment reads:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Most constitutional scholars agree that since the amendment refers to "the right of the People" instead of the right of the militia, it protects an individual right to own guns. The extent of that right has been debated.

Racism of gun control

In the United States of America, gun control has a strong racist origin and reasoning. Before the Civil War ended, State "Slave Codes" prohibited slaves from owning guns. After President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery was adopted and the Civil War ended in 1865, States persisted in prohibiting blacks, now freemen, from owning guns under laws renamed "Black Codes." They did so on the basis that blacks were not citizens, and thus did not have the same rights, including the right to keep and bear arms protected in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as whites. This view was specifically articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in its infamous 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford to uphold slavery.

The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms. [Kates, "Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment," 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204, 256 (1983)] However, facially neutral disarming through economic means laws remain in effect.

After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1878, most States turned to "facially neutral" business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia's official university law review called for a "prohibitive tax...on the privilege" of selling handguns as a way of disarming "the son of Ham," whose "cowardly practice of 'toting' guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime.... Let a negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights." [Comment, Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92 (1909); George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (GMU CR LJ), Vol. 2, No. 1, "Gun Control and Racism," Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75] Thus, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns so as to price blacks and poor whites out of the gun market.

Today, "gun control" laws continue to be enacted so as to have a racist effect if not intent:

  • Police-issued license and permit laws, unless drafted to require issuance to those not prohibited by law from owning guns, are routinely used to prevent lawful gun ownership among "unpopular" populations.
  • Public housing residents, approximately 3 million Americans, are singled out for gun bans.
  • "Gun sweeps" by police in "high crime neighborhoods" whereby vehicles and "pedestrians who meet a specific profile that might indicate they are carrying a weapon" are searched are becoming popular, and are being studied by the U.S. Department of Justice as "Operation Ceasefire."
  • Some U.S. cities with high minority populations, such as Washington, D.C., are singled out for gun bans.
  • "Project Exile" began in the U.S. city of Richmond, Virginia and mandated that people arrested for technical firearms violations (note: not for violent crimes committed with a firearm, but for technical violations of the law) be tried in federal court where they would be subject to lengthy mandatory minimum sentences rather than in state court under the more lenient Virginia laws. As with many other restrictions this was aimed primarily at the city's Black residents. It has since been copied in many other cities.

Gun control outside the USA

Gun control advocates cite foreign countries to argue that gun control can reduce crime, but such comparison can be difficult due to the presence of other factors. For example, they cite Singapore as having gun control and a lower crime rate than the United States, but Singapore has less than 5 million persons and one of the highest literacy and average wealth in the world. It lacks many of the freedoms found in the United States and strictly imposes harsh physical punishment, such as caning and the death penalty, for crimes that are not punished so harshly in the United States.

Gun control supporters also cite Japan, where firearms are illegal and crime rates are relatively low. But Japan also lacks many freedoms and diversity which exist in the United States, and Japan has strong cultural deterrents to crime. Ironically, Japan is home to Tokyo Marui, the world's largest airsoft gun manufacturer, which designs airsoft guns that are made to the same scale and with the same materials as the real counterpart and which have been mistaken by police for real guns.

Other terms

Other terms sometimes used by those who are opposed to gun control include:

  • Rights restriction
  • Victim disarmament

External Links

References

  1. http://www.johnrlott.com/
  2. http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm
  3. http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/IBDGunConFailure.html
  4. Results of the Australian Gun "Buyback" & New Gun Laws, October 2001
  5. http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/
  6. http://www.washtimes.com/metro/20070309-102401-2730r.htm
  7. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs07/hosb0207.pdf
  8. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_01.html
  9. http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0004997.html
  10. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/10/washington/10gun.html?_r=1&oref=slogin, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,258067,00.html