You don’t hear so much about gun control any more, largely because, one has to suspect, even the Democrats have tumbled to the truth that it’s a big loser at the polls.
In 2000 Al Gore lost a good many white male voters because he failed to distance himself from his party’s record on gun control, and this year even Howard Dean is accused by his rivals within the party of being too cuddly with the National Rifle Association.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the gun gestapo that peddles gun control is defunct. It’s just out of ammunition, not only because its issue is a loser but also because there’s so little merit in its main claim—that private gun ownership causes violence in the form of homicide, suicide and accidents.
That claim has always been dubious, but now even an institution that often appears to side with the gun controllers—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—has released a study that pretty much shoots the legs out from under the case for gun control.
Indeed, when the Associated Press reported the new study recently, that seems to have been one of the main concerns about it. “The findings,” the story whimpered, “could be used to undercut the gun-control movement.”
Well, as a matter of fact, that’s precisely what the findings do. As the AP reported,
“an independent CDC task force reviewed 51 published studies about the effectiveness of eight types of gun-control laws. The laws included bans on specific firearms or ammunition, measures barring felons from buying guns, and mandatory waiting periods and firearm registration. None of the studies was done by the federal government. In every case, a CDC task force found ‘insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness.’”
While the findings do pretty much gut the argument for gun control, of course the gun gestapo refuses to give up. “Gun-control advocates quickly called on the government to fund better research,” the AP reported, and one Gestapo Gruppenfuhrer, Peter Hamill of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, moaned that, “There have not been enough good surveys to know whether these laws work, and that’s a very sad and troubling fact.”
Spokesmen for the CDC itself were quick to try to smooth over any aid and comfort their findings might offer to those who want to preserve the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
“When we say we don’t know the effect of a law,” explained the chairman of the task force sponsoring the study, “we don’t mean it has no effect. We mean we don’t know.”
But if we don’t know the laws “work,” why should we pass them or enforce them?
Not only what the CDC study found but also what the chairman and Mr. Hamill acknowledge in their statements rips the guts out of the whole argument for gun control.
The AP story regurgitated such factoids beloved of gun controllers as that “Firearms injuries were the second leading cause of injury deaths, killing 28,663 people in 2000, the most recent year for which data was available.”
What it didn’t bother to report is that while the number of firearms in private possession has exploded in recent years (gun sales have risen by 25 percent since 9/11), murder rates have fallen.
The Washington Times last week, in a long front-page story on murder in America, reported “the homicide toll of 15,317 for 2000 was a dramatic decline from 1991′s all-time high of 24,495.” ["Murder Hits 40-Year Low," by Frank J. Murray, Washington Times, October 5, 2003].
If guns caused murder, the crime would have increased, not dwindled.
In the current issue of The Rockford Institute’s magazine Chronicles, devoted to the gun issue, historian Roger McGrath notes what ought to be obvious—that crime has actually swollen as guns became more difficult to own.
“I grew up in Los Angeles when gun laws were few and crime was low. Nearly everyone I knew had a 30.06, a couple of .22′s, a shotgun, and a revolver or two sitting around their house. We could buy guns mail-order and pick up our ammunition at the local grocery store…. Did this cause crime? In 1952, there were 81 murders in Los Angeles. In 1992, 40 years and many gun laws later, there were 1092 murders. If the increase in murder had kept pace with the increase in population, there would have been 142 murders, a 75 percent increase. Instead, murder increased 1,350 percent. Other crimes had similar increases: robbery: 1,540 percent; auto theft, 1,100 percent.”
What Dr. McGrath knows is what everybody in the country used to know—even politicians.
There’s no reason whatsoever for the federal government or the CDC or anyone else to conduct more studies.
Gun control is useless at best and, more likely, an outright danger to life and safety.