Gun laws don’t stop violence. In fact, no laws stop violence.
As far as my legal education taught me, ALL violence is illegal. Yet, it still happens.
There’s a good argument to be made that the current laws, although they are often broken, are still good because they discourage unlawful activity. This is surely true. However, it’s very difficult (impossible?) to put an actual number/statistic to how many violent crimes didn’t happen because a person was influenced by a certain law.
I will easily believe that laws currently prevent some criminal activity, even though they don’t stop it completely. Some take this line of reasoning to believe that we should then have even more gun laws. After-all, they may not be 100% effective, but they might discourage some crime, right? Wrong!
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I’m not arguing that a law is useless unless it works 100% of the time. Instead, as I’ll explain below, banning guns is a horrible idea because it won’t work to reduce violence, laws only restrict law-abiding people, and reducing access to firearms is not only a Constitutional issue, it also makes more victims.
Although we can’t look at crimes that were never committed because of a law’s deterrence, we can easily look at times when a law failed to stop a crime. All you need to do is look at EVERY instance of violence.
In every case where an illegal act occurred, a law failed to adequately deter the crime. In cases of mass-shootings (which instigate the biggest calls for more gun laws), the murderer wasn’t stopped by our law with the single highest penalty: murder. Notice I called the perpetrator a “murderer” and not a “shooter.” This is because the tool is irrelevant. As I’ll discuss below, guns may be associated with “gun-violence” but they aren’t associated with all violence.
If we are going to create a new law that will stop a mass shooter, then the penalty for the law must be higher/steeper than the penalty for murder. Why? Well, if the penalty for murder didn’t stop them, then something higher/steeper would surely be needed.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m not for creating a law that has a higher/steeper penalty than murder for merely possessing an inanimate object (a gun). Therein lies a truth of gun laws – they really only work if they are based on the possession of an object because the illegal use of that object is already…well…illegal.
Every mass-shooting that has occurred has been carried out against current laws that did nothing to stop it. This is not because the laws aren’t tough enough, it is because you can’t legislate behavior.
Gun Laws Don’t Apply to Criminals
It is a maxim that only law-abiding people obey laws. How do I know this? It’s in the phrase “law-abiding.”
Here’s an example: Currently, it is illegal for a certain class of persons to possess firearms or ammunition. This class of people are called “Prohibited Persons” and they include felons, those convicted of crimes of domestic violence, those who are dishonorably discharged from the military, and more. If you’d like to learn more about this class of people, check out our article on Prohibited Persons. However, the recent church shooting in Texas and the shooting in California were both committed by “prohibited persons” – this means that they were breaking a federal law by merely possessing the firearms and ammunition (well before they actually committed murder).
These criminals were not stopped by either law. This is, of course, partly to do with a failure of our enforcement of current laws but also because criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws!
Some might argue that this is why all guns should be banned outright so that nobody can have one. Well, I have one question for you, how’s our “war on drugs going?”
I can only assume that firearms in a “gun-free” America would be just as prevalent as illegal drugs are today or alcohol was during the prohibition. In both cases, drugs and alcohol are readily available and the laws banning them have created entire criminal enterprises.
Ban guns, and I’ll let you know who will still have them: criminals…the exact same people that still have drugs. Banning crystal meth has only ensured that the only people that have crystal meth are the criminals.
Now, whether drugs should be illegal is an entirely different discussion, I only use that as an illustration that banning an item doesn’t get rid of it. Instead, it only ensures that criminals have it.
As another example, take “gun-free zones.” These are areas where guns are banned. You know, for “safety.” Every mass shooting I can think of has occurred in a gun-free zone. Logic would seem to dictate that the most dangerous places are “gun-free” zones – why in the world would we want to make our entire country into one?
Banning Firearms will make More Victims
Why are these “gun-free” zones the most popular location for mass shootings? Easy: criminals prefer unarmed victims.
I am often asked why a normal person (non law enforcement) needs a firearm. I like to answer with a question: “Why does law enforcement need firearms?” Typically, the answer (an honest one, anyway) is something to the effect of cops deal with dangerous people and sometimes a firearm is needed to stop the dangerous person. I’ll agree and then ask, “how do the cops encounter these dangerous people?” I’ll provide this answer for them: the cops encounter a dangerous person after a crime has already been committed. That’s right, we “normal” people are the ones that have to encounter these dangerous people first…on our own and without backup.
Yes, a cop might pull someone over and end up catching a dangerous person. However, the only reason a cop will know that they stumbled across a dangerous person is because the person is running from a crime (doesn’t want to get caught) or they have a criminal record (already committed a crime).
Therefore, any reason for a cop to have a firearm is doubly important for us “non-cops” to have firearms….we’re the target/victim of the crime before a cop gets involved, and we have to face the exact same dangerous person before the cops do.
It also surprises me (maybe it shouldn’t) that the most anti-gun people also champion women’s rights. Fact of life, the average female is smaller, weaker, and less aggressive than the average male (especially the male that is set on committing a violent crime). I think that the best defense a 115lb female has against a 230lb male trying to rape or murder her is a firearm.
Yes, I hear the argument all the time that the criminal might have a gun too or that the criminal might take her gun. This is absurd. If the criminal has a gun too, then at least they’re equal (better than her being unarmed). And for the risk of the firearm being taken from her and used against her, she is already at a disadvantage if she doesn’t have a firearm. A 230lb male is just as much of a lethal threat against a 115lb female without a firearm. At least with the firearm, she has some deterrence and a fighting chance.
If you ban all firearms, the law-abiding people won’t have them (the victims) and the criminals will.
Most mass-shootings are (all that I can think of except the Las Vegas shooter) have been stopped by a “good guy with a gun.” The criminal either retreated once confronted with a good guy with a gun and killed themselves, or the good guy with a gun solved the problem for us.
Gun-Violence isn’t our Problem, Violence Is
Anti-gunners often point to countries where guns are effectively banned to show how safe we would be. This is absurd. This logic seems to think that only gun-violence should be stopped.
Guns aren’t the problem. Violent criminals are. Want proof?
Look at these supposed “gun free” countries. They love to cite facts that their gun-violence has stopped or has been drastically reduced. Of course, it has….there are fewer guns. The problem is, the violence (as a whole) hasn’t changed.
Do you really think that London is a safe place? Did banning guns stop the muggings, murder, rapes, bombings, car attacks, etc.? Of course not. All it has done is remove the victim’s ability to defend themselves.
I recently saw a video clip by John Oliver where he tried to compare Australia’s gun ban to America’s gun problem. In the video, he spoke with the former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, who was responsible for Australia’s gun ban.
At 3:17 in the above video, you can see the former Prime Minister start to explain that the homicide rate has decreased due to his gun ban. If you listen carefully, he stops himself and qualifies his statement with “using guns.”
“The homicide rate f…uh…involving the use of guns has declined significantly…”
The former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard
The homicide rate without guns may not have decreased
The use of guns in homicide has decreased
The use of guns in homicide must still exist
We know these things because he stopped himself from saying that the homicide rate has decreased….he stopped to add “involving the use of guns.” Therefore, homicide still exists and non-gun homicide may not have decreased. He also said it “decreased” and not that it went away entirely. Therefore, gun-involved homicide still exists.
I’m not sure why gun-involved homicide is any worse than homicide where a firearm isn’t involved. Most arguments I hear for banning guns involve decreasing gun violence, and they completely ignore other types of violence that may very well increase when guns are banned.
This invites the question, was the world a peaceful place before guns? Of course not. However, I bet the rate of sword-involved homicide decreased when people stopped using swords. I’m not sure why the tool is the focus.
I also commonly hear that America is the only place where mass-shootings happen and America has a high rate of gun ownership, so that must be the problem. Again, want to lower the rate of gun-violence, sure ban guns. But watch the rate of other violence increase. Also, here’s a fact for you: according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 19 of the 20 worst mass shootings, and 45 of the 50 worst, all happened OUTSIDE of the United States.
I get it, you might think that guns make it easier to kill more people. Not true. The Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorists on 9/11 each killed more people than the Las Vegas murderer.
Whether it’s a pressure cooker, a box-cutter, a fertilizer bomb, a rented Home Depot truck, or a firearm, murders and terrorists are the problem…not their tool….especially when that tool is the best defense against such murderers.
Ryan Cleckner is a former special operations sniper and current attorney specializing in firearms law/ATF compliance and is a firearms industry executive (former govt. relations manager for NSSF, Vice President of Remington Outdoor Company, and a SAAMI voting board member).
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