"Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder And Suicide?"
Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy article debunks
standard anti-gun mantra
This is WELL WORTH THE READ. It does show that comparing other countries to the US is a little like comparing apples to oranges.....meaning it's hard to judge what happens in the US equally to other countries.
"Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder And Suicide?"
International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative. It may be useful to begin with a few examples. There is a compound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why (b) the United States has by far the highest murder rate. Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so.....
This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual portion of evidence is subject to cavil- the very least the general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific evidence cannot remotely approach the persuasiveness of conclusions in the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra,
especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.
Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada's more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was with the admonition:
If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to "exonerate" handguns, but there it is - a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.
Many good points are raised & I'm sure we won't be hearing about this report on CNN!
Here are some other highlights from the article:
"VIOLENCE: THE DECISIVENESS OF SOCIAL FACTORS"- makes the case that criminals cause crime, NOT the law-abiding.
"ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION"- “The easy availability of firearms has been associated with higher firearm mortality rates.”--The authors, in noting that the presence of a gun in a home corresponds to a higher risk of suicide, apparently assume that if denied firearms,
potential suicides will decide to live rather than turning to the numerous alternative suicide mechanisms. The evidence, however, indicates that denying one particular means to people who are motivated to commit suicide by social, economic, cultural, or other circumstances simply pushes them to some other means.
There is no social benefit in decreasing the availability of guns if the result is only to increase the use of other means of suicide and murder, resulting in more or less the same amount of death. Elementary as this point is, proponents of the more guns equal more death mantra seem oblivious to it. One study asserts that Americans are more likely to be shot to death than people in the world’s other wealthier nations. While this is literally true, it is irrelevant—except, perhaps to people terrified not of death per se but just death by gunshot. A fact that should be of greater concern—but which the study fails to mention—is that per capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent.
DO ORDINARY PEOPLE MURDER?
The “more guns equal more death” mantra seems plausible only when viewed through the rubric that murders mostly involve ordinary people who kill because they have access to a firearm when they get angry. If this were true, murder might well increase where people have ready access to firearms, but the available data provides no such correlation.
This last study is one of many exposing the false argument that a significant number of murders involve ordinary people killing spouses in a moment of rage. Although there are many domestic homicides, such murders do not occur frequently in ordinary families, nor are the murderers ordinary, law‐abiding adults. “The day‐to‐day reality is that most family murders are prefaced by a long history of assaults.”
The only kind of evidence cited to support the myth that most murderers are ordinary people is that many murders arise from arguments or occur in homes and between acquaintances. These bare facts are only relevant if one assumes that criminals do not have acquaintances or homes or arguments.
Obviously there are certain people who should not be allowed to own any deadly instrument. Reasonable as such prohibitions are, it is unrealistic to think those people will comply with such restrictions any more readily than they do with laws against violent crime.
....nations that have experienced high and rising violent crime rates, the legislative reaction has generally been to enact increasingly severe antigun laws. This is futile, for reducing gun ownership by the law‐abiding citizenry— the only ones who obey gun laws—does not reduce violence or murder.....
.....Guns are just one among numerous available deadly instruments.
Thus, banning guns cannot reduce the amount of suicides. Such measures only reduce the number of suicides by firearms. Suicides committed in other ways increase to make up the difference. People do not commit suicide because they have guns available. They kill themselves for reasons they deem sufficient, and in the absence of firearms they just kill themselves in some other way.