04 February 2009

Gun Control And Crime


There is little evidence of a relationship between the number of privately owned guns and the amount of violent crime. For example, between 1973 and 1992:

* The rate of gun ownership in the United States increased by 45 percent.

* The number of handguns increased by 110 percent, from 37 million to 78 million.

* The national homicide rate fell by nearly 10 percent, and areas with relatively high gun ownership rates tended to report relatively low violent crime rates.

Studies claiming to show gun control measures reduce violent crime are plagued by flaws, including the failure to control for other factors, the selective use of data and the failure to measure the real impact of gun laws on the rate of gun ownership.

However, a comprehensive 1993 study covering all forms of gun violence and encompassing every large city in the nation analyzed the impact of 19 kinds of gun control measures on six categories of violence. In 90 of the resulting 102 relationships, gun control laws had no significant negative effect on violence.

Gun control laws, which usually focus on handguns, encourage the substitution of other weapons. Further, most handgun violence is perpetrated by criminals who are already forbidden by law to possess firearms and who acquire guns on the illegal market, where background checks and waiting periods are not enforced. Therefore, gun control laws are more likely to disarm the general public than criminals.

Source: Daniel D. Polsby and Dennis Brennen, "Taking Aim at Gun Control," Policy Study No. 69, October 30, 1995, Heartland Institute, 800 E. Northwest Highway, Suite 1080, Palatine, IL 60067, (708) 202-3060.


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