The View From 1776
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Human Nature vs. Gun Control Laws
The bumper sticker is right: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Recent slaughter at the Newtown, CT, elementary school is horrifying, but it’s just a reaffirmation of the potential for evil in human nature. Tighter gun control laws won’t prevent such human depravity. To the contrary, worldwide evidence shows that tighter gun controls both correlate with higher murder rates, and waste public time and money.
Liberal-progressives’ voices are usually the loudest clamoring for tighter procedural regulations over purchase and possession of guns. Liberal-progressives’ approach is always top-down. Regimentation by collectivized government is presumed to be the only source of betterment for people’s lives, as well as the only way to channel human behavior in desired directions.
Welfare-state programs were supposed to eliminate poverty thereby diminishing the incentive for crime. Government’s thousands of regulatory agencies, in liberal-progressive presumption, were to restructure society and alter human nature, as Karl Mark predicted. The grandest example of this misguided and savagely destructive theory was Lenin’s expectation that socialistic revolution and police-state brutality would alter human nature to create New Soviet Man, who would submerge his individuality in the goals of the political state, taking only what he needed, and giving to his maximum ability.
Today’s faith in the efficacy of sociologists and bureaucratic regulation also leads liberal-progressives to advocate ever increasing leniency toward criminal behavior. Social justice theory, emanating from Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1750s, postulates that humans are naturally good unless corrupted by a society that supports private property rights. Hence criminals are the victims of society. Criminals deserve rehabilitation, not punishment.
The corollary presumption seems to be that availability of guns corrupts human nature and leads irresistibly to an urge to kill.
The older theory of justice, before the advent of liberal-progressive social justice, viewed crimes as actions harming both the victims, and society as a whole. The perpetrator had to pay his dues to both. In Judeo-Christian morality, which in the past constituted the substance of Western civilization, spiritual religion appealed to every individual to do the right thing, to assess actions against moral precepts inculcated by religion. As John Adams said, our Constitution was made for a people self-restrained by religion and morality.
Today secular government, permeated by liberal-progressive multiculturalism, tells us that the only sin is intolerance, which means applying any standard to measure acceptability of conduct. Hedonism is welcomed by legislators and glorified in the media. This, it seems to me, is the spirit that erupts in nihilistic barbarity in schools, shopping malls, and theaters. Such mass killing was unknown before violent student activism in the 1960s and 1970s.
The study, which just appeared in Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (pp. 649-694), set out to answer the question in its title: “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, and the sniffs of our more sophisticated and generally anti-gun counterparts across the pond, the answer is “no.” And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime, but an emphatic no, showing a negative correlation: as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.
The findings of two criminologists - Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser - in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates, are telling:
Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population).
For example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland’s murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe. Sweden and Denmark are two more examples of nations with high murder rates but few guns. As the study’s authors write in the report:
If the mantra “more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death” were true, broad cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. (p. 661)
Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C. …In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year – back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago’s murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.
Gun Laws and Crime: A Complex Relationship
By ADAM LIPTAK New York Times
Gun Control: Myths and Realities
by David Lampo - Cato Institute