Gun control

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The introduction of gun control means restricting the purchase or ownership of guns and the recall of guns by law-abiding citizens.

Gun control is a denial by governments of the right to armed self-defense.[1]

Proponents use the discredited—but superficially appealing—claim that fewer guns somehow leads to less crime.[2] The political effect of gun control is to increase the dependence of voters on government for protection.

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,[3] and the removal of guns from everyone eliminates the lawful use of self-defense and its deterrent effect. "Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year."[4] "In 1982, a survey of imprisoned criminals found that 34% of them had been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim."[4] When Florida began allowing its citizens to carry a concealed weapon, Florida's firearm homicide rate fell by 37% when the national average increased by 15%.[4] As explained below, the political effect of gun control is to cause voters to become more dependent emotionally on government and more supportive of bigger government.

Studies by John Lott and others indicate that gun control causes higher crime rates.[5] Washington, D.C. has one of the highest crime rates in America even though it completely bans private handguns.[6] "Switzerland, Israel, Denmark and Finland, all of whom have a higher gun ownership rate than America, all have lower crime rates than America, in fact, their crime rates are among the lowest in the Western World."[7] 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 proponents of the gun control promised.[8] States in the U.S. that have enacted concealed-carry laws enjoy lower crime rates.[9]

Source data: Australian Bureau of Statistics

In Australia, where gun ownership was less widespread and the gun control measures were less strict, there was a short-term increase in robbery and armed robbery after the gun control went into effect in 1996 (see chart at right).[10] There is no clear evidence supporting a decrease in crime from gun control.[11][12]

Subsequent to gun control in England:[13]

"from 1997 to 2001, the rate of violent crime more than doubled. Your chances of being mugged in London are now [as of 2002] six times greater than in New York. England's rates of assault, robbery, and burglary are far higher than America's, and 53 percent of English burglaries occur while occupants are at home, compared with 13 percent in the U.S., where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police. In a United Nations study of crime in 18 developed nations published in July, England and Wales led the Western world's crime league, with nearly 55 crimes per 100 people."

However this increase in recorded violent crime between 1997 and 2001 is explained by the Home Office as a result of changes in the definition of violent crime and new counting rules introduced in 1998.[14] According to the British Crime Survey violent crime fell 43% between its peak in 1995 and 2006, and burglary fell 57% between 1995 and 2005.[15][16]

Gun control in Britain and Australia has been followed by a predictable shift to the left politically by voters as they lost their instrument of self-defense and became more emotionally dependent on government. In Britain, for example, the enactment of a ban on most handguns in February 1997[17] resulted in the Labour Party winning a landslide 179 seat majority in the general election later that year, the first time it exceeded 40% of the popular vote in over 25 years. The new government soon extended the ban to cover nearly all handguns, and the Labour Party has remained in power in Britain for over a decade. In Australia,the passage of gun control in 1996 and its expansion in 2002 has led to a complete takeover of all nine federal, state and territory legislatures by the Labor Party, the first time a single party has ever achieved this in Australian history.[18][19] Contrast that with the United States, where an effort to push gun control after the Columbine massacre failed in 2000 and the government has remained as conservative -- if not more so -- ever since.


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.[20][21]

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.[22]. Comparably, the United States suffered 11,350 gun deaths in 2005.[23] However, it should be noted that the USA has a population approximately 5 times greater than the UK, [24] 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 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.[25][26]


"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."[27] 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.

Gun Control and Genocide

Gun control "contributes to the probability of its government engaging" in genocide, including the three worst instances in the 20th century:[28]

  • In 1911, Turkey imposed gun control and then, from 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million defenseless Armenians were killed.
  • In 1929, the Soviet Union imposed gun control and over the next 24 years about 20 million defenseless dissidents were killed.
  • In 1938, Germany imposed gun control and then over the next seven years 13 million defenseless Jews and other victims were exterminated. [29]

"The Nazis made only two important changes to the Weapons Law that was in place when they came to power. First, they forbade Jews from owning guns or any other weapon. Second, they exempted members of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and many Nazi party officials from the law's strictures."[1] The German Firearms Act of 1937 stated "No civilian is to have a firearm without a permit and permits shall not be issued to persons suspected of acting against the state. For Jews, this permission will not be granted. Those people who do not require permission to carry weapons include the whole of the SS, and the SA - including the Deaths Head group, and the officers of the Hitler youth." [30]

Adolph Hitler said, "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so." [30]

Gun Control and young mass murderers

Main article: Young mass murderers

Strict gun control failed and still fails to prevent mass murderers from starting killing sprees while the victims are unable to defend themselves.

Compare the cases of Pekka-Eric Auvinen (Finland) and Robert Steinhäuser (Germany) with the case of Matthew Murray. The latter was stopped by an armed citizen before he could harm more victims; Auvinen killed 8 people and Steinhäuser killed 16. Both Finland and Germany have gun control laws.

Other terms

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

  • Rights restriction
  • Victim disarmament

See Also

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 "In contrast to most other weaponry, firearms are preeminently defensive in effect." Washington University Law Quarterly
  2. Gun control primarily restricts the lawful acquisition and use of guns. Over 99% of the guns restricted by most gun control regulation are used in a lawful manner.
  3. (Fill in cite here about percentage of guns used for unlawful purposes.)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "This figure is the lowest among a group of 9 nationwide surveys done by organizations including Gallup and the Los Angeles Times." (Just Facts - Gun Control)
  5. John Lott's Website
  6. District of Columbia Crime Rates 1960 - 2006
  7. Slashdoc - gun control
  8. John R. Lott Jr. and Eli Lehrer - Add Gun Control To Litany Of Misbegotten Gov't Plans
  9. Cato report
  10. Gun control passed in Australia because "public was immediately whipped into a gun control frenzy by the press" after the "Port Arthur massacre" in Tasmania on April 28, 1996, in which 32 were shot dead and 19 injured. "Although polls done prior to the massacre indicated that the public was satisfied with the amount of 'gun control' they already had, a major newspaper did a poll just a few days after the massacre (while all minds were "clear") and, not surprisingly, found high levels of support for extreme gun control measures. This poll would be used forever by the commonwealth government and other gun controllers to claim that Australians supported the new gun laws to come." - Gun Control in Australia (by
  11. Results of the Australian Gun "Buyback" & New Gun Laws, October 2001
  12. Study showing lack of promised benefits from gun control
  14. Violent Crime in England and Wales
  15. Crime Statistics in England and Wales
  16. Trends in BCS incidents of crime
  17. As in Australia, gun control passed in Britain based on a highly publicized but isolated and statistically insignificant act of violence.
  18. The Sydney Morning Herald - Either way, it's history in the making
  19. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) - 2007 Federal Election
  20. The New York Times - Appeals Court Says Gun Ban Violates 2nd Amendment
  21. The Washington Post - D.C.'s Ban On Handguns In Homes Is Thrown Out
  22. Home Office Statistical Bulletin - Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006
  23. US Department of Justice, FBI - Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1986 - 2005
  24. FactMonster - Total U.S. Population
  25. The New York Times - Court Rejects Strict Gun Law as Unconstitutional
  26. FOX News - Appeals Court Strikes Down Washington, D.C. Handgun Ban
  27. 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.
  28. "[A] society's weapons policy might be one of the institutional arrangements that contributes to the probability of its government engaging in some of the more extreme varieties of outrage. ... [I]t is [] an arresting reality that not one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed." Washington University Law Quarterly
  29. The True Face of Gun Control, Dean Speir, The Gun Zone RKBA, Accessed December 26, 2007
  30. 30.0 30.1 The Journalist's Guide to Gun Policy Scholars and Second Amendment Scholars, Professor Eugene Volokh,, March 15, 2000