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Does Gun Control Save Lives in Riots?

The Boston Globe’s Ben Jacobs ponders:

Compared to similar outbreaks of unrest in the United States, like the 1992 riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict, there has been relatively little loss of life. In LA, 53 people died; in the UK, four were dead as of Wednesday afternoon. This likely can be attributed to one major difference between the US and the UK, which is the low level of gun ownership in Britain (35 of the LA victims were killed by gunshot wounds).

How many of those 35 people killed by gunshot wounds in the LA riots deserved it? One of the biggest philosophical differences between us, and people who are repulsed by firearms, is that we accept that some people’s criminal behavior makes it completely justifiable to shoot them. As long as the people killed in a riot were killed because they were flouting law and order, I have no problem with it. Saving lives should not be the measure the civility of dealing with a riot; how quickly law and order is restored and maintained is the measure of civility.

10 Responses to “Does Gun Control Save Lives in Riots?”

  1. Stephen says:

    It should also be noted that Los Angeles had largely extinguished its gun culture by the time of the riots, but did have an organized gang problem. How many of the dead were killed by gang members who obtained their weapons illegally? If the UK riots continue, I would expect gun-related deaths to increase in rate as organized criminals come to the fore.

  2. Matthew Carberry says:

    How many of the shootings were justified self-defense in LA and how many people were attacked and injured with no way to defend themselves in British cities?

    How many of the guns involved in shootings during the LA riots were lawfully owned? That’s the only statistic that indicts official (which by definition only counts lawful) “gun ownership” comparison numbers.

    As you say, we aren’t even using the same language and math to describe criminal violence. What is heartening is that when we frame the question properly, in “our” terms, more people think like “we” do than like “them”.

  3. Indeed, I made just this point. It’s hard to believe that such riots would continue for days on end in the South or Midwest, were lawful gun orders would swiftly demonstrate to potential looters the errors of their ways.

  4. TS says:

    The 18 people killed without guns in LA’s riot vs. four in england (over a period four times as long) is obviously because of our gun culture too.

  5. DirtCrashr says:

    Reading Scott Reitz book, “The Art of Modern Gunfighting”, he details a LOT about the LA riots that I was unaware of – one thing being that a lot of the gangs who normally fought each other, got together to fight and shoot at cops. The LA riots were continued mainly by the gang-looters.

  6. Jujube says:

    Here’s a webpage that lists how people died in the LA riots.

    http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~oliver/soc220/Lectures220/AfricanAmericans/LA%20Riot%201992%20Deaths.htm

    Interesting that only 4 were shot by store owners while 11 were killed by the police.

  7. Chas says:

    Gun control would not save my life in a riot, but it would get me killed. Sucks to be law-abiding. Criminals have been given the upper hand.

  8. AntiCitizenOne says:

    Mob mentality is no excuse for criminal behaviour.

  9. Hank Archer says:

    More bad guys killed in LA riots than in London riots seems like a feature of freedom, not a bug.

  10. Diomed says:

    It may save lives, but the lives it saves are not worth saving.

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