Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why We Keep and Bear Arms

Larry Elder at Townhall.com just published his take on the Heller Decision, “Why Do We ‘Keep and Bear Arms’". It takes a critical look not only at the DC gun ban, but gun bans in general and the use of firearms in self defense while simultaneously cutting through the fear-mongering hysteria the “mainstream” press editorial pages have been preaching since the decision was released. Some excerpts:

"The New York Times, in an editorial condemning the Supreme Court case, says: "Thirty-thousand Americans are killed by guns every year -- on the job, walking to school, at the shopping mall. The Supreme Court on Thursday all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly."

"Really?

"The 30,000 number includes 17,000 suicides. But a person intent on suicide finds a way -- gun or no gun. In Japan, for example, more than twice as many people, per capita, kill themselves, yet that country bans handguns."

So that brings the number of “homicides” down to 13,000 per year. One thing that Larry doesn’t include is the fact that those homicides include individuals killed by a would be victim during the commission of a crime. That’s right, if someone invades your home and you kill them in self defense, that counts as a homicide in the figures above. That means the number of people actually killed by firearms in cold blood is actually less than that 13,000 number. Compare that to over 40,000 deaths per year in automobile accidents and almost 450,000 a year from heart attacks. It certainly presents a very different picture than the press would like to paint for us. The article continues:

"The hand-wringing New York Times editorial fails to ask the following questions: How many Americans use guns to defend themselves? Of that number, how many believe that but for their ability to use their guns in self-defense, they would be dead?

"When a robbery victim does not defend himself," former assistant district attorney and firearms expert David Kopel writes, "the robber succeeds 88 percent of the time, and the victim is injured 25 percent of the time. When a victim resists with a gun, the robbery success rate falls to 30 percent, and the victim injury rate falls to 17 percent. No other response to a robbery -- from drawing a knife to shouting for help to fleeing -- produces such low rates of victim injury and robbery success."

"Criminologist and researcher Gary Kleck, using his own commissioned phone surveys and number extrapolation, estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns for defensive purposes each year. One in six of that number, or 400,000, believe someone would have been dead but for their ability to resort to their defensive use of firearms. Kleck points out that if only one-tenth of the people are right about saving a life, the number of people saved annually by guns would still be 40,000."

So even taking the 13,000 number above, factor in 40,000 lives saved and we’re at least at a net 27,000 lives saved. Granted it isn’t entirely fair to reduce the issue to pure statistics, yet when those opposed to our basic 2nd Amendment rights use those statistics to create an erroneous picture of reality, they must be challenged.

Larry then moves to focus on the DC ban itself:

"In the five years preceding the 1976 ban, the per capita murder rate in Washington, DC, fell. At the time the law passed, the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate was 26.8 per 100,000 people. By 1991, the rate rose to 80.6. In 2006, the number stood at 29.1, almost 9 percent higher than the 1976 rate. DC's per capita murder rate remains higher than surrounding states.

"A "hot burglary" occurs when the bad guy enters a home knowing it is occupied. The hot burglary rate in the United States is about 10 percent, while the hot burglary rate in the U.K. -- which banned handguns in 1997 -- is around 50 percent."


These are some fairly clear numbers that paint an equally clear picture of reality. When the DC ban was passed, the murder rate skyrocketed from 26.8 to 80.6 over a period of 15 years. Over the last 15 years, it dropped, though not to pre-ban levels. It is therefore clear that the DC ban, if anything contributed to the murder rate rather than reducing it. The UK is seeing the same effect. As common sense would tell you, laws only impact those willing to follow them. Someone intent on robbery or murder has already decided that the law doesn’t apply to them. Larry continues:

"Why not ask the real experts -- criminals?

"The U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice surveyed 2,000 felons in state prisons. It asked whether "one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime." Seventy-four percent of the felons said yes. The survey also asked these felons whether they had abandoned at least one crime because they feared the intended suspect might be armed. Thirty-nine percent said they abandoned at least one crime; 8 percent had abandoned such a crime "many" times; 34 percent admitted being "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim"; and nearly 70 percent knew a "colleague" who had abandoned a crime, been scared off, been shot at, wounded or captured by a victim packing heat."


As I indicated above, it seems like common sense. If I’m a criminal out looking for an easy buck then I’m not going to go after someone who is armed or may be armed. It’s too much risk for too little reward. The numbers above bear that fact out. Yet it is a fact that is continually ignored on the editorial pages of the “mainstream” press.

It is therefore abundantly clear that firearms bans do not prevent crime, reduce violence, or reduce the murder rate. Yet just about every major newspaper in the country has written an editorial in the wake of the Heller decision that says the opposite. Since the facts clearly do not back them up, one has to wonder why they continue making the statements. Why are they so hostile to the basic Second Amendment affirmed rights of the American people? What is the real agenda at work here?

Until next time!

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