The reality is that gun control laws do work to significantly reduce mass shootings, accidental shootings and suicides. (In my world reality is defined by demonstrable reproducible facts.) Australia is probably the most recent source of data on the issue. Canada, Great Britain and other industrialized countries have had long histories of severely restricting gun ownership, and their rates of gun-related murders were a fraction of those in the U.S.
Relaxing gun ownership laws in countries like Great Britain and Scandinavian countries has led to an increase of gun-related murders and (in the case of Norway) the first documented mass shootings in their history. On the other hand, Australia is an example of a country where gun ownership was widely accepted. After a couple of mass murders, Australia implemented strict gun control laws. The result has been the virtual elimination of mass murders in Australia, whereas in the U.S. we average 1 mass shooting a day.
Total restriction of guns logically would have to reduce gun-related violence. Gun violence apologists argue that if we took away guns from law abiding citizens then only bad guys would have guns. They forget about law enforcement, but there is a point to be taken from that argument. Criminals will ty to get access to guns and use them. However, the vast majority of criminals who use guns in the commission of a crime such as robbery rarely fire their weapon, and most people who are violently murdered are not killed by robbery, they are killed by someone they know, usually a family member (the only significant exception to this tendency is gang related violence, with criminal gangs murdering each other).
People who use guns in the commission of murder, probably would use another weapon if access to guns were not so easy. Most murders are “crimes of passion” and access to a gun just makes their action easier and more likely fatal. In fact, this notion is also applicable to suicides where the act is more often impulsive. It has been proven that access to guns increases suicide rates. Without easy access to a gun, suicide rates, accidental fatalities, and murder rates go down. Your odds of surviving a knife attack, or physical attack are much greater. The likelihood of a mass murder (defined by law enforcement as three or more deaths from a single incident) are nominal.
The problem is not just a problem of violence, or of a violent culture in America. Other industrialized Western countries have roughly the same rates of violence, and the incidence of attempted murder would be about the same. Our society is not much more violent than other countries. The number of violent attacks, even attempted murder, are about the same in most industrialized Western countries, yet the murder rate in the U.S. is far above any other country. It is not so much a problem of violence as it is of easy access to lethal weapons. Arming more people has the effect of increasing the murder rate, not preventing it. It is small consolation to those murdered in that church that someone stopped the shooter after they were all dead. Is there any doubt that if the murderer walked into that church armed with a knife, then less people would have been killed?
Granted, the idea of implementing Australian type gun control laws here is unreasonable. It is unreasonable because the culture of guns is woven into the fabric of our country, and the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right. How necessary is that right to bear arms in 2017 compared to 1778, and what did the Founding Fathers intend by codifying this right into the Constitution? What restrictions, if any, did they intend to allow on this right? Let’s talk about that in the next blog…