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Do guns turn children into criminals? Myth-shattering federal study says: No

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WASHINGTON, DC -- Want to dramatically reduce the chance that your child will commit a gun-related crime or -- heaven forbid -- go on a shooting spree? Here\'s a surprising suggestion from the Libertarian Party: Buy your youngster a gun.

\"The evidence is in: The simplest way to reduce firearm-related violence among children is to buy them a gun and teach them how to use it responsibly,\" said Steve Dasbach, national director of the Libertarian Party.

\"When it comes to preventing youthful violence, the Second Amendment apparently works better than the so-called solutions being proposed by politicians, such as a ban on assault weapons or mandated \'child-proof'safety locks on guns.\"

Says who? Says a detailed study by the federal government entitled \"Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse.\"

The study was conducted from 1993-1995 by the U.S. Department of Justice\'s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In an attempt to determine the relationship between \"problem behaviors\" like drug use, teen pregnancy, and crime, child psychologists tracked 4,000 boys and girls aged 6 to 15 in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, NY.

The findings were a slap in the face to \"conventional wisdom\" about children and guns, said Dasbach -- and a sharp rebuke to the recent vote by the U.S. Senate to enact new gun-control laws that impact on teenagers.

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%).

* 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 own illegal guns] and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns,\" the study reported.

If the federal government knows that children and guns are not -- in and of themselves -- a dangerous combination, why are so many politicians demanding that new laws be passed to \"protect\" children?

\"Politicians are apparently more interested in demonizing guns -- and repealing the Second Amendment on the installment plan -- than they are in facts,\" suggested Dasbach. \"But as this study shows, if gun ownership by kids is not the problem, banning gun ownership by kids can\'t be the solution.\"

So are Libertarians saying that every parent should buy their child a gun?

\"Of course not,\" said Dasbach. \"Deciding whether to give your son or daughter a gun is a serious decision that every parent will have to make. Many parents may decide that their children are not mature enough to responsibly and safely learn how to use a gun, and you have to respect that decision.

\"But the point is: Parents are better able to make that decision than a bunch of poll-driven politicians in Washington, DC. Parents seem to understand that the best way to reduce gun crimes by juveniles is to promote more responsible gun ownership -- not more irresponsible gun bans.\"