U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- The world is fascinatingly complex yet important truths are often simple. We shouldn’t take that too far since most simple answers are also wrong or incomplete. That tension helps make life so interesting as we try to understand the world around us. For example, we saw violent crime increase in the last few years. Should we try to keep violent criminals away from guns, or should we try to keep violent criminals away from us? Is the tool dangerous or is the person dangerous? Let’s look at both ideas and see if there are any simple answers to be found.
When we look for simple solutions we see that criminals use guns to commit violence. That sounds like the case is closed but there is more evidence to uncover. If we keep looking then we find that innocent victims also use firearms to stop violence. That means the answers are not black and white but shades of gray.
When we look at all firearms we see that a vanishingly small fraction of the guns owned by civilians were used in violent crime each year (1 in 1400). Now we look deeper and find out that honest citizens used a firearm for self-defense over 1.6 million times a year. That is more people than live in New Hampshire or Hawaii. Each year, more people use a firearm for self-defense than the population of Wyoming and Vermont combined. Armed defense is common.
Proportions matter when we’re looking at shades of gray. We use a firearm for self-defense six times more often than a firearm is used in violent crime (5.98). Good guys with guns save lives. That is both simple and true.
Despite the facts that guns overwhelmingly stop crime, New York State legislators passed a law to lets the public sue gun manufacturers because criminals used a “dangerous” gun that the manufacturers released into the public. That obviously misses the target of reducing crime. Either those New York lawmakers missed the facts or they didn’t care about honest citizens who defend themselves. Politics is obviously complex.
When we look at how criminals behaved, we see that most violent crimes (85%) didn’t involve a firearm at all. Said another way, if we would magically disarm everyone, that wouldn’t hamper the vast majority of violent criminals. Instead of reducing crime, disarming the innocent victims makes it easier for the criminals and would lead to more violence.
Young men commit most violent crimes. Young men are stronger than old men, and far stronger and faster than most women. Disarming women and the elderly makes them much more vulnerable to violent criminals.
Few of us want that. Disarming the good guys hurts honest citizens who want to protect their family. That isn’t an abstract theory, but common practice as we use a gun for self-defense over a million times a year.
Let’s step away from the soundbites. Look at human nature instead and think of the people you know. Some of the people you know are completely trustworthy while others are not. Some resist any temptation while others can’t be trusted with a penny. We are not all the same. When it comes to violence, some of us are a danger to others and most of us are not. It is the person who is a danger to others rather than the tools they use. Again, that is both simple and true.
Violent criminals are not like us. Most of us will never commit a violent crime, yet we know that a few people will victimize others. Most murders are committed by a few hitmen in drug gangs. 64 percent of felons who served time for a violent crime were re-arrested. 41 percent of violent criminals were later re-convicted of subsequent crimes. 34 percent of them were re-incarcerated. Some people practice a life of violent crime.
Shades of gray matter and a violent criminal is 500 times more likely to re-offend than a firearm is likely to be used in a violent crime.
In contrast, firearms manufacturers built a product that we overwhelmingly use to save lives in armed defense. If we’re looking for people who increase the risks for all of us, then let’s sue New York politicians, judges, and prosecutors who put dangerous recidivist-criminals back on our streets. Now that will save lives
About Rob Morse
The original article, with sources, is posted here. Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.