More Gun Control Won't Reduce Violence
Paul Guppy, Vice President for Research, January, 2007
A recent P.I. editorial agrees with Mayor Nickels’ call for more gun control, saying “the legal system could do a lot more to control guns. ”There’s just one problem with this approach – it won’t work.
None of the recent gun crimes in the Puget Sound area would have been prevented by the proposed new restrictions. The violent criminals who chose to attack others had already ignored existing gun control laws, so how would adding more laws help?
When Kyle Huff decided to kill at a late-night party in Seattle last March, he had already broken a dozen gun laws. Would he have acted differently if he had had to break 13 laws? The Tacoma shooter broke the law the moment he brought a gun to school. It is unlikely that more gun control would have led him to choose differently.
Real-world experience shows that adding more gun control does not reduce violent crime. Washington, D.C. has some of the nation’s most restrictive gun control laws, and one of the worst violent crime rates in the country. Britain, Australia and Canada have all imposed sweeping gun laws in recent years, and violent crime rates have increased dramatically in each country.
In fact, imposing more gun control is worse than ineffective, because it makes it harder for citizens to defend themselves when the police are not on hand to protect them. Research shows that guns are used thousands of times each year to preventcrimes. For example:
In October, a man walking in Westlake Plaza used a gun to defend himself against a violent assailant who had punched and kicked him to the sidewalk. Only the fact that the victim carried a handgun saved him from serious injury or death (Seattle Times, October 10th).
Also in October, an intruder forced his way into a Texas home and tied up a mother and her 14-year-old son, threatening to kill them. The son was able to get free, retrieve a handgun in the home and shoot the intruder (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 9th).
In Denver, a man with a long history of violent crime forced entry into the home of a local schoolteacher by prying loose a window air conditioner. The teacher, using a shotgun, fired on the man and ended the attack (Denver Post, July 20th).
In 2002, a West Seattle man used his roommate’s handgun to end a violent assault by an intruder who had broken into his home (Seattle P.I., April 26th).
In all of these cases, if it were not for the legal use of guns in self-defense, the victims would likely be severely injured or dead. Kyle Huff’s murderous assault only ended when a man with a gun, a police officer, appeared on the scene. Violent criminals do not have a right to safe working conditions.
Calling for more gun control, which does nothing to reduce violent crime, only fuels public distrust of government, because it misleads people into thinking gun violence is being addressed. The aim of law enforcement policy should be to deter criminal behavior, that is, people who choose to hurt others, and not make it harder for law-abiding citizens.