January 24, 2009

It's about freedom

The freedom to defend myself from a criminal should not become a crime. It started small in England, an innocuous requirement to list up your guns at the local post office. A few years ago it became a total prohibition on private ownership of firearms. Those "innocuous" lists became centerpiece in the "voluntary surrender" of all those weapons. Recently they even extended the restrictions to cover airguns and crossbows!

If banning firearms prevents crime, why does California, the state with the strictest gun control, also have the highest number of homicides? Again, look at the FBI Uniform Crime Report. California and Texas are comparable in terms of size, population, and population density, and yet in 2007 California had 1,605 homicides using guns while Texas had only 946. Even though 946 is a much larger number than anyone would like to see (including myself!), it is still about half the figure for California. An interesting comparison is the column labeled "other weapons". Here California is still higher with 228 homicides while Texas has only 203. Notice how close these two numbers are? They are only separated by 25 people killed with "other weapons". This is the kind of difference I would expect to see between two states with similar population densities.

So why the much larger difference in gun-related homicides? Because Texas boasts a "shall-issue" concealed carry permit law. Apply, pay the fee, and anyone without a criminal record or history of emotional instability is granted a permit to carry a concealed firearm. It is much more dangerous to attempt to shoot someone when that someone can easily carry a gun of their own. Criminals who use handguns are generally unwilling to learn how to effectively use their weapons. They don't take gun safety courses, they don't practice shooting at the local gun range, and they seldom clean their weapons. If two people have a gun, and one of them is a responsible, mature gun-owner who maintains his weapon and practices regularly while the other is an irresponsible, immature gun-owner who expects the gun itself to impart a magical level of respect and admiration, guess whose gun is most likely to jam or misfire? Even more importantly, which one do you think is most likely to hit their intended target on the first trigger pull, maximizing their intended effect and minimizing the danger to innocent bystanders?

Here's another interesting chart: Justifiable Homicide. A valid concern when expanding the number of people carrying firearms is the possibility that the number of "justifiable homicides" will dramatically increase. Naturally if more people have guns it is logical to assume that more people will use them to defend their person, their family, and their property. However, as you can see in the chart, there is very little movement over the past five years. 2005 is the lowest while 2003 and 2007 are almost identical. Concealed carry permit issuances in all states that allow them have expanded rapidly over the past five years (along with gun ownership) and yet there is no statistically significant increase in justifiable homicides. The "wild west mentality with shootouts on every corner" that so many people have been expecting has not materialized.

Unfortunately, as I've mentioned in several recent posts, the U.K. has not been so lucky. They have successfully banned handguns and although violent crimes committed with handguns has declined, violent crime overall has risen dramatically and violent crimes committed with bladed weapons have increased even more dramatically. Obviously the criminals did not abandon their life of crime. Did the government of the U.K. honestly expect them to? I don't know, but the people who supported the handgun restrictions, buybacks, and ultimately confiscations, promised it would make their cities safer. I guess they were mistaken.

Do we really want America to make the same mistake? I would hope not.

The right to self-defense is a right every citizen possesses. The 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows for every person in the United States to own a firearm and use that firearm in defense of self, family, property, community and nation. Every gun control law introduced over the past hundred years has dramatically reduced that right and as a result, crime is rampant across the United States. Worse yet, it is highest in those communities where gun ownership is the most severely restricted. Disarming the citizens is not the way to reduce crime, as the U.K. has learned the hard way. The only effective way to reduce crime is to reverse the trend and rearm mature, emotionally stable, law-abiding adults. As a side effect, the ability to resist either an armed invasion or the top-down enforcement of a dictatorship would also be preserved.

Rearm America! The future of our children and grandchildren depends upon it.