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Jewish World Review May 17, 2000 / 12 Iyar, 5760

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
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The Million Lies March

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE "MILLION MOMS MARCH" for more gun control laws was not a march, nor were there a million moms. But these were only the first of the lies from that event -- and by no means the worst. Virtually every argument for more gun control laws is either based on lies or is grossly misleading.

First, there is the argument that our murder rates are higher than in some other countries because those other countries have stronger gun control laws. There are countries with both higher murder rates and lower murder rates than ours. In both cases, some countries have stronger gun control laws than we do and others have weaker gun control laws. The phony appearance of a correlation is created by cherry picking which countries to use as examples.

Those who are advocating more gun control laws cite the countries with stronger gun control laws and lower murder rates, such as Canada or Britain.

But there are other countries with tougher gun control laws than ours, and whose murder rates are several times what ours are -- Brazil and Russia, for example. But you are never going to hear about those countries from gun control advocates.

John Lott of Yale University, who has done more empirical studies of guns and violent crime rates than anybody else, points out that Israel has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, and yet its murder rate is lower than that of Canada. But far fewer people will hear the conclusions of this scholar, who has researched the subject for years, than will hear the ignorant emotional outbursts of Rosie O'Donnell.

The biggest emotional argument for gun control is the shooting of children. Many sincere people are for gun control for this reason. But leaders of the gun control movement have twisted the facts beyond recognition for political effect.

When statistics are thrown around about how many children are shot or killed by guns, we conjure up images of little kids who accidentally kill themselves or others with loaded guns that they find around the house. But actual gun deaths among people under 20 are far more often among gangs of teenage hoodlums, who shoot it out over turf or drugs or other things.

Such deliberate killings are not going to be stopped by child locks. What will be stopped by child locks and various other impediments to using guns will be self-defense. Some people who have received death threats, and then applied for a gun permit, have been killed during the waiting period. This is only one of the ways in which gun laws restrict only law-abiding citizens.

Gun control advocates are forever painting a picture of guns being dangerous to family members or close friends, when in fact even murders of people who know each other are far more likely to involve criminals who know each other -- including rival gang members -- or criminals who happen to know law-abiding citizens, even if they are not friends or relatives. The statistics can even include a taxi driver shot by someone he has "known" for a few minutes after taking him into his cab.

Facts are what matter. Yet there is remarkably little interest in the hard facts about this life-and-death issue, either by politicians or by the media. Emotional outbursts or melodrama are what the media want and votes are what politicians want. If there are more uninformed or misinformed voters, then these are the ones the politicians will play to.

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The fact is that communities which have allowed law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms have experienced a reduction in shootings -- not an increase. Conversely, state laws forcing law-abiding citizens to store their weapons unloaded, or with various other restrictions, have been followed by increases in violent crime -- not decreases, as predicted. Even when the national crime rate has been going down, states imposing such restrictions on guns have seen violent crime increase.

What has actually happened has been the direct opposite of what the gun controllers claimed would happen. Sincere people may believe gun control theories and bogus claims, but the leaders of the movement know better. They have their own political agendas.

People who get all their information from the TV tube may well get the impression that the only reason for anyone to be against gun control is the influence of the National Rifle Association. Yet hard data show that, on net balance, gun control costs more lives than it saves. That is why John Lott titled his book, "More Guns, Less Crime."


JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.

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