Any time you see a major newspaper talking about myths and gun control, you can bet there’s going to be a lot of uneducated crap in the article. This one from Washington Post is no exception. Let me just talk briefly, or perhaps not so briefly, about some of their major points.
1. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This anti-gun-control slogan, a perfect fit for bumper stickers, has infected the public imagination with the mistaken belief that it’s just criminals, not weapons, that lead to deadly violence. The key question is, really, whether guns make violent events more lethal.
This is the argument the media likes to throw at us every time, acting like it’s the only argument we’ve ever floated when arguing against the effectiveness of gun control in fighting crime. You have to wonder if the authors on this article have ever actually had to argue with someone who is an opponent of gun control, because they argue a point no one makes. Our primary argument has never been that guns don’t make criminals more dangerous. WeÂ acknowledgeÂ that. The argument is that criminals will find ways to get guns. It’s the criminal you have to get off the streets, not the gun. By myopically focusing on guns, which is a favorite of many inner city politicians, the bigger issue of getting criminals off the street falls by the wayside. It’s easy to see why. Prisons are overcrowded, and many big cities have a revolving door justice system. For big city politicians, gun control is a way to act like they are doing something, without actually doing anything.
2. Gun laws affect only law-abiding citizens.
Teenagers and convicted felons can’t buy guns — that’s against the law already — so the only people affected by firearm regulations are the “good guys” who just want a weapon for self defense. At least that’s one line of reasoning against gun control. But law enforcement benefits from stronger gun laws across the board. Records on gun transactions can help solve crimes and track potentially dangerous individuals. Illinois law requires that all gun owners have a state ID card and that transactions be recorded, allowing police to potentially link a gun used in a crime to its owner.
This is all rank speculation, with no data to back it up. If this were true, we’d see a correlation here, but we don’t. We’d also have lists of crimes that the Canadian Gun Registry has solved for the Canadian police, but they don’t. Then you have Maryland, which keeps a ballistic database. You’d think that ballistic database would be great for solving crimes, yet the Maryland State Police want it disbanded because it’s useless. Some “myth” eh? I think their statement here is the myth.
3. When more households have guns for self-defense, crime goes down.
[…]Â The key question is whether the self-defense benefits of owning a gun outweigh the costs of having more guns in circulation. And the costs can be high: more and cheaper guns available to criminals in the “secondary market” — including gun shows and online sales — which is almost totally unregulated under federal laws, and increased risk of a child or a spouse misusing a gun at home. Our research suggests that as many as 500,000 guns are stolen each year in the United States, going directly into the hands of people who are, by definition, criminals.
Wow… I did not know that online sales were totally unregulated under federal law. I could swear that shipping a gun in interstate commerce without an FFL was a felony. I’m also surprised to find gun shows totally unregulated! I guess all the regulations that apply to FFLs somehow disappear at a gun show. I’m glad the Washington Post is on top of these things. And of course they drag out the notion that your spouse is an idiot, and kids are too. No possibility your spouse could also know what he or she is doing. But to me the implication here is that you can’t trust women with guns.
In the next myth, they claim guns are actually pretty hard to get in Chicago, despite the fact that the City of Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the country. Compare it to other big cities without much gun control. Phoenix, Arizona? Almost half the murder rate of Chicago. Houston, Texas? Surely Texas has out of control gun crime in its largest city. Nope. About 30% lower than Chicago. Same for Dallas, Texas. But what about Los Angeles? If it’s actually hard for criminals in Chicago to get guns, it doesn’t play out in the crime statistics.
5. Repealing Chicago’s handgun ban will dramatically increase gun crimes.
[…] Local officials from Dodge City to Chicago have understood that some regulation of firearms within city limits is in the public’s interest, and that regulation and law enforcement are important complements in the effort to reduce gun violence.
Dodge City. Ah yes. But how much do these two authors actually know about Dodge City? You see, guns were not prohibited within all of Dodge City. In the ordinary parts of town, you could carry a gun strapped to your hip just fine. No licenses in those days either. The only part of Dodge City you couldn’t carry a gun was past the “deadline.” north of the railroad tracks. This just happened to be where all the saloons, whorehouses, and gambling establishments were located in town. It should also be noted that if you were a cowboy coming into town after a long cattle drive up from Texas, and you wanted to go get liquored up, you could check your gun.Â So Dodge City’s gun prohibition, in only one part of town, was really to deal with the problem of drinking and carrying, which most of us understand the state has an interest in regulating. Personally, if every red light and saloon district had law enforcement willing to accept checked firearms, few of us would have a problem.
This is a terrible article. Poorly researched and easily challenged. If academic types want to make arguments for Chicago’s gun prohibition, they are going to have to do better than nonsense like this. The sad part is, an editor at the Washington Post was willing to go along with this. There are myths in this article all right, but they are not of our making.