Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stossel on "Myths About Gun Control"

Look, I'm not a member of the NRA or a hunter or anything, but the gun control debate has always seemed to me to be based upon a facile premise: restricting the ability to legally (and conveniently) purchase of guns will reduce crime. Like I said, I'm not a gun enthusiast, so I've never really had a problem with waiting periods or background checks. But for those who thought such laws as the Brady Bill would be the "silver bullet" that would help to reduce gun related violence, John Stossel offers some evidence that such is not the case.
The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not."

"There's guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money, you can get a gun."

Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.") Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it.

A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."
What's that saying? "It's not guns that kill people, it's people that kill people." Counting on laws to prevent those who already break them from breaking more is naive.

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