Over the last twenty years, a large amount of effort and money has been spent over
legislation regarding gun control. Gun control advocates maintained that increased gun control
could reduce the soaring crime rates of the early 70s. However, most of the arguments used for
gun control are the result of careful manipulation of data and emotional appeal. These myths
are twisted by our liberal media until they are seen as the truth. However, despite the claims of
gun control activists, gun control does not reduce crime, it leaves law abiding citizens
increasingly vulnerable to violent crime.
One common claim of gun control advocates is that gun control in foreign countries,
notably Great Britain, is responsible for their lower crime rates. They present statistics showing
that Britain has lower murder rates than America, but skip some other interesting information.
First, the gun control methods used in Britain include searches and other checks found
unconstitutional in America. Also, the British are far more successful than Americans in
prosecuting criminals. For instance, 20% of robberies reported in London end in conviction,
compared to only 5% in New York City (Ten Myths 5).
In a broader sense, consider that despite the fact that in a typical year about 8.1 million
violent crimes will be committed in America, only 724 thousand will be arrested. Of those, only
150 thousand will receive prison sentences, and over 36 thousand will serve less than one year
terms. The biggest problem in America is our revolving door justice system (Ten Myths 3).
Despite the efficiency of British investigative procedures, the British armed robbery rate
has never been less than twice the highest recorded before the gun control laws took effect in
1920. In fact, over the last twelve years, the British armed robbery rate has increased an
astonishing 300% while the American rate has dropped (Ten Myths 5). Also, from 1930 to 1975,
the British murder rate has increased 50% while the American murder rate rose 30%. Another
foreign nation, Jamaica, totally prohibited gun ownership in 1974. By 1980, Jamaicas gun
murder rate was six times that of Washington D.C., which has the highest rate of any American
city. However, 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 (Bender 148).
Granting gun owners more freedom to carry their weapons responsibly has not caused
Americas crime rate to increase! Rather, American crime has been shown to decrease when
more freedom is allowed. In 1996, the University of Chicago Law School conducted a study of
the crime rates of every county in America over the last fifteen years and determined that violent
crime fell after states made it legal to carry concealed weapons, with murder rates dropping
8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7%, and robberies by 3%. Overall, it is estimated that
1.5 to 2.5 million people use guns for defense in America every year, saving society up to 38.9
billion dollars annually (Pratt 16A).
Another fabrication of gun control advocates is that gun control would reduce crimes of
passion, in which a person kills a family member in a fit of rage. However, 90% of all
homicides involving family members killed by other family members are preceded by violence
that caused such a disturbance that police were summoned. Professor James Wright of the
University of Massachusetts conducted a study of crimes of passion and determined that the
murders were, the culminating event in a long history of interpersonal violence between the
parties. He elaborated, noting that, The common pattern, the more common pattern, is for
wives to shoot their husbands. Proportionately, men kill their women by other means, more
brutal means, more degrading means. To deny that woman the right to own the firearm is, in a
sense, to guarantee in perpetuity to her husband the right to beat her at will (Ten Myths 6).
Professor Wright, with Professor Peter Rossi, conducted another landmark study of 1800
criminals that disproves another myth, namely that handguns are not an effective means of
deterrence and protection. In the study, 85% of criminals felt a smart criminal would try to
determine if his potential victim was armed. 75% of burglars avoided homes that were occupied
for fear of being shot. 80% of handgun predators encountered armed citizens, and 57% of
them were scared off by shots from armed citizens. In fact 60% of criminals fear armed citizens
more than police (Ten Myths 4).
It is with good reason that criminals fear armed citizens. In a typical year, armed citizens
kill between 1,500 to 2,800 felons in excusable self-defense and justifiably wound 8,000 to
16,000. Police kill 300 to 600 criminals per year justifiably.(Ten Myths 4) Despite the large gap
between police and citizen killings of criminals, citizens have better judgment, mistakenly killing
only 30 innocent people per year, compared to 330 people police kill in the United States per
year. Also, criminals succeed in disarming citizens in less than 1% of encounters (NCPA
For these reasons, handguns are effective deterrents to crime. In addition, defense does
not require anyone to be hurt. In fact, 98% of protection cases involves the citizen either
brandishing his gun or firing warning shots into the air. Even among criminals, protection from
other criminals is the number one reason for possessing a gun (NCPA CRIME 1).
A further myth is that legally owned guns contribute to crime. Nothing could be further
from the truth. Studies show violence and crime to be highest among young, poor, single, urban
black men. However, the average legal gun owner is a middle age, middle class, rural white man
(NCPA CRIME 1). In fact, of the 60-65 million handguns legally owned in America, 10,000
were used for homicides in 1989, meaning that only .02% of handguns are used in homicides.
The remaining 99.98% of handguns are never used for unlawful purposes (Ten Myths 3).
Another reason gun control does not work is due to the nature of our Constitution. The
Fifth Amendment guarantees Americans protection from being forced to incriminate themselves.
Since felons are not permitted to own handguns, the Supreme Court, in Haynes vs. U.S., 309 U.S.
85 (1968), concluded that the government can not prosecute felons for not registering their illegal
guns (Ten Myths 4).
From 1978 to 1979, nine states adopted amendments to their state constitutions
guaranteeing individuals the right to own firearms by large margins. 28 states followed suit in
the 1980s, barring cities and counties from passing local gun restrictions. In November 1976,
Massachusetts voters rejected a gun control initiative that the polls predicted to pass by a margin
of two-to-one. In 1982, California voters rejected 67 to 37 a statewide freeze on the number of
handguns in the state, again despite polls favoring the freeze to pass. Finally, House Bill S.49,
the Firearms Owners Protection Act, was favored by citizens contacting their representatives by
the astounding margin of 95 to 1, once again despite polls showing most people did not support
the bill (Ten Myths 2). These figures show a trend that applies across the country at the state and
national level: the American voters do not favor more gun control.
Along with the American people, those who see more crime than any other occupation,
our police forces oppose gun control. During the 1982 freeze referendum in California, 51 of
58 working sheriffs opposed the freeze, along with 101 Chiefs of Police(Ten Myths 2) In a 1976
survey, the Boston police force found that 80% of police felt a handgun was an effective form of
self defense(Matza). A 1990 survey of the National Association of Chiefs of Police found that
90% of chiefs felt that banning handguns would reduce neither crime nor a criminals ability to
obtain a handgun and 87% felt the same with regards to banning semi-automatic guns of all
classes. 88% felt that banning all guns would not reduce crime, while 90% felt that gun control
would reduce police departments effectiveness by diverting money, manpower, and resources
from cops on the streets to paper pushers behind desks(Ten Myths 2). Also, the International
Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs Association and the National Police
Officers Association all support private handgun ownership (Matza).
Another problem of gun control is that many gun control laws also call for registry of gun
ownership. Many gun owners have been labeled extreme for maintaining that gun registry will
lead to the confiscation of their guns. However, such an action is not without precedent. In
1989, the Soviet Union confiscated 60,000 legally owned and registered rifles from citizens in
the Soviet Republic of Georgia. Even avowed gun prohibitionist Charles Morgan of the
American Civil Liberties Union noted, I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the
National Rifle Association, that that kind of record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual
confiscation under one administration or another, during testimony to a Senate subcommittee in
1975 (Ten Myths 4).
The greatest myth of gun control is that it reduces crime. The statistics from the foreign
countries mentioned earlier in this report show that gun control has not worked there. Three
cities make prime examples of the effect of gun control in America: Boston, New York, and
In 1976, the state of Massachusetts passed the extremely restrictive Bartley-Fox law. It
was seen as one of the most restrictive gun control laws ever passed. During 1976,
Massachusetts was ranked as the nineteenth most violent state in the nation, and Boston was the
nations fifth most violent city. By 1981, Massachusetts had moved up to number eleven in the
nation, while Boston was ranked the nations most violent city (Matza 148).
New York is yet another example of how gun control fails. Due to soaring crime rates
and almost indefinite waiting periods to obtain licensees to carry handguns, many otherwise
law-abiding citizens obtained guns illegally or carried their legal weapons illegally. One,
Bernhard Goetz, was imprisoned for unlawful possession of a handgun after he used his gun to
detain four muggers who assaulted him until police could arrive. His assailants were released,
and later were back in court for crimes ranging from armed robbery to rape. In fact, New Yorks
crime rate is due more to revolving door criminal justice than anything else. In 1984, only
20,641 criminals out of 106,171 arrests received jail time. New York, which is 3% of Americas
population, accounted for 12.5% of the nations handgun homicides (Ten Myths 9).
In 1976, Washington D.C. passed extremely strict gun control laws. From 1976 to 1982,
Washingtons violent crime rate rose 43% and the handgun homicide rate rose 14%. The
national rates rose 20% and 3%, respectively. In fact, in 1990, the D.C. homicide rate reached 80
per 100 thousand, the highest rate ever recorded in an American city and an increase of 200%
from 1976. The national rate rose 10% in the same time. These statistics show that the people of
these cities were vulnerable to crime and had no legal way of defending themselves. However,
the courts have ruled several times that the police have no responsibility to protect individual
citizens. When questioned about the law, former D.C. police chief Maurice Turner said, What
has the gun control law done to keep criminals from getting guns? Absolutely nothing… City
residents ought to have the opportunity to have a handgun (Ten Myths 10).
The reason gun control fails should be obvious to an intelligent person. Since a criminal
does not, by definition, obey laws, gun control cannot hope to be applied to them as they will
access their guns by criminal means. These same laws will leave a law abiding citizen almost
totally defenseless as the law provides them no means of protection. Meanwhile, criminals, who
are often not oblivious to the news, will be emboldened by the knowledge that their potential
victims have no means of defense.
Plainly, gun violence is a problem in America, but if gun control does not work, what
will? The answer is laws adding extra punishments for criminal use of guns. This targets the
criminal element of society while protecting those citizens who own guns for lawful purposes.
Furthermore, these laws work.
Virginias murder and robbery rates dropped 31 and 23% respectively in fourteen years
after the passage of mandatory penalties for firearms offenders. Arkansass homicide rate
dropped 25% in fifteen years and Delawares homicide rate dropped 42% in thirteen years after
mandatory penalties were legislated Delaware also recorded a 52% drop in robberies over the
same period (Ten Myths 11).
These figures show that mandatory sentences help to reduce armed violence by sending a
clear message to criminals: criminal misuse of a firearm will not be tolerated and will be swiftly
and severely punished. Coupled with the deterrence value of armed citizens, these laws reduce
crime by introducing to the criminal the possibility of longer jail terms, wounds, or even death.
Another solution to the problem of handgun violence is to make gun locks, vaults, and
other safety devices a tax-deductible purchase. This would give gun owners an incentive to store
their guns in safer conditions while reducing the rate of people who are killed either by accidents
or stolen guns. Any funds lost by the government through such a program would almost
certainly be recouped in savings from the prevention of accidental deaths. Gun owners would
almost certainly respond positively to such action, given that when Florida offered free gun locks
to citizens, they ran out within days and were left scrambling for more (Rogers).
Especially after the tragedy of Littleton, it is important to remember that gun control must
be viewed in a rational and thoughtful manner in which logic and the facts are not overwhelmed
by emotion. As the research and presentation of the author demonstrate, the facts speak for
themselves. Gun control is a misdirected attempt to curtail criminals by stripping the law abiding
of the ability to arm themselves for protection. Gun control often has no measurable effect on
crime, and when the effect can be measured, it often reveals an increase in the crime rate.
Furthermore, gun control would reduce funds for the apprehension of criminals, reduce the
effectiveness of police forces, waste millions, perhaps billions of dollars, and serve as a possible
means for tyranny to stamp out any possible resistance.
Therefore, gun control should be viewed not as a solution, but as a catalyst for further
increases in violence and lawlessness in America. Any law that aims to punish the criminal at
the expense of the law abiding is doomed to failure. Current efforts to punish gun makers for the
misuse of guns is comparable to suing auto makers for the deaths caused by drunk drivers.
Careful review of the facts reveals that what is needed in America is not gun control, but
common sense coupled with a better concept: criminal control.
Thesis: Despite the claims of gun control activists, gun control does not reduce crime.
II. Myths of Gun Control
A. Foreign gun control works
B. Gun control reduces crimes of passion
C. Criminals do not fear armed citizens
D. Guns contribute to crime
E. Criminals are constitutionally exempt from gun control
F. American favor gun control
G. Police support gun control
H. Registry is a harmless aspect of gun control
I.Gun control reduces crime
B. Final analysis and personal observations
LIST OF WORKS CITED
Bender, David ed. Would Gun Control Reduce Crime? St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1984.
Matza, Michael. Do more guns mean less crime? No point blank answers Philadelphia
Enquirer 31 May, 1998.
NCPA Crime Summary. Available (Online) http://www.arcrafts.com/think/Essays/NCPA
Crime.html. 4 April 1999.
Pratt, Larry. Concealed guns save lives. USA Today. 26 April, 1999. natl. ed.
Rogers, Bill. Gun Locks Go Faster Than Police Can Hand Them Out. Naples Daily News. 27
March, 1998, natl. ed.
Ten Myths About Gun Control. Available (Online)
http://www.arcrafts.com/think/Essays/Ten.html. 4 April 1999.