It turned out that there was another advantage for a peace loving progressive to oppose taking away other people's guns. Once some of these folks found I wasn't after their guns, they were more willing to listen to my ideas on other subjects. It was something many liberals have never learned: don't mess around with the other person's culture. Stick to the big things that can bring us together.
Dan Baum, Harper’s Magazine - It’s true that America’s rate of violent crime remains higher than that in most European countries. But to focus on guns is to dodge a painful truth. America is more violent than other countries because Americans are more violent than other people. Our abundant guns surely make assaults more deadly. But by obsessing over inanimate pieces of metal, we avoid looking at what brings us more often than others to commit violent acts…
If tomorrow President Obama signed the ultimate gun-control law—a total ban on the sale, manufacture, and import of guns—we would still be awash in firearms for generations to come…
In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control—no friend of the gun lobby—evaluated fifty-one studies on everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gun locks, and found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as “gun control.” Two years later, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a similar survey and came to much the same conclusion…
The harm is that 40 percent of Americans own guns, and like it or not, they identify with them, personally. Guns stand in for a whole range of values—individualism, strength, American exceptionalism—that many gun owners hold dear. Tell a gun owner that he cannot be trusted to own a firearm—particularly if you are an urban pundit with no experience around guns—and what he hears is an insult. Add to this that the bulk of the gun-buying public is made up of middle-aged white men with less than a college degree, and now you’re insulting a population already rubbed raw by decades of stagnant wages.
The harm we’ve done by messing with law-abiding Americans’ guns is significant. In 2010, I drove 11,000 miles around the United States talking to gun guys (for a book, to be published in the spring), and I met many working guys, including plumbers, parks workers, nurses—natural Democrats in any other age—who wouldn’t listen to anything the Democratic Party has to say because of its institutional hostility to guns. I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights, and climate change by reflexively returning, at times like these, to an ill-informed call to ban firearms, and we haven’t gotten anything tangible in return. Aside from what it does to the progressive agenda, needlessly vilifying guns—and by extension, their owners—adds to the rancor that has us so politically frozen and culturally inflamed. Enough.
Dan Baum is the author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip, which will be published by Knopf in March
Progressive Review - Gun prohibition has much the same effect as drug or alcohol prohibition. It would increase the price but not limit the availability of guns for those who really want them. One of the effects, for example, of banning cigarettes in prisons is to create a booming trade in contraband tobacco.
- A killer who is mentally deranged and driven enough to have easily obtained a gun even if there were gun prohibition.
- Since 1993 the U.S. handgun murder rate has decreased 48 percent while the number of privately owned handguns in America has increased by more than 20 million
- Culture is a far more important factor in violence that gun ownership. There are more guns per-capita in Maine than in any other state save possibly Alaska. About 50,000 Mainers have permits to carry concealed weapons. Yet Maine has a crime rate one-third below the national average. Maine has one or two fatal gun accidents a year, lower than the death rate for snowmobiling or boating. These figures -- which reflect those of certain high gun-ownership countries such as Sweden, Norway and Switzerland -- suggest that the culture of a society affects the problems caused by guns more than the guns themselves. Introduce guns to an inherently violent community and you'll get more violence. Introduce guns to an inherently lawful society and the crime rate drops. In 2004 the South, for example, had a murder rate 57% higher than the Northeast.
- Forty-six percent of all those dying of gunshots in 1997 were between the ages of 15 and 34. Presumably guns work mechanically the same way for this age group as they do for others, thus something other that safety would appear to be involved.
- Treating gun laws as a national issue exacerbates cultural conflict, such as those between rural and urban, east and west, wealthy and not so well off. Telling rural Westerners to get rid of their guns is like telling urban blacks to stop reading African-American books.
- John R. Lott has pointed out that "less than one out every thousand times people use guns defensively is the attacker killed. Ninety-eight percent of the time, simply being able to brandish a gun is sufficient to cause a criminal to break off an attack and the two percent of the time when guns are fired, the vast majority of those are warning shots. It's something like less than one-half-of-one percent of the time is the gun fired in the direction of the attacker. Even when they do hit, woundings are much more frequent than times when the attacker is killed."
- A Justice Department study, conducted from 1993-1995 tracked 4,000 boys and girls aged 6 to 15 in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, NY. According to the study:
Children who get guns from their parents don't commit gun crimes (0%), while children who get illegal guns are very likely to do so (21%).- The Columbine killers violated at least 17 existing state and federal weapons control laws.
Children who get guns from parents are less likely to commit any kind of street crime (14%) than children who have no gun in the house (24%) and are dramatically less likely to do so than children who acquire an illegal gun (74%).
Children who get guns from parents are less likely to use drugs (13%) than children who get illegal guns (41%).
"Boys who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use [than boys who get illegal guns] and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns," the study reported.
- In 1997 it was reported that Americans use guns defensively around 2 million times each year, five times more frequently than the 430,000 times guns were used to commit crimes that same year. And 98 percent of the time, simply brandishing the weapon is sufficient to stop an attack.