When an incident like the Orlando terrorist attack happens, the first thing we often hear about is gun control. To me, this is the the exact opposite reaction that the nation needs. We need MORE law abiding citizens with guns, not less. Almost all of these shootings are happening in "gun free zones". The intent of a gun free zone is to stop shootings, not encourage them, yet year after year, we get more and more examples of mass shootings in supposedly gun free zones.
While on the surface, I fully understand why someone would want to talk about gun control after a mass murder like this, it's important that we not knee jerk and do more harm to our nation than good. First, it's important to note that there is a lot of misinformation passed around that leads people to believe that gun control is the proper course of action.
Military Style Assault Rifles (MSAR)
This is a term thrown around by the gun control advocates in this country and it's extremely misleading. We get told the tall tale that an AR15 is the same rifle that our soldiers are carrying in combat and then we get the emotional plea as to why we need those weapons as civilians. Well, these aren't even close to the same weapons that the military uses. The military doesn't use an individual to go do destruction. They use a team. They use multiple rifles. They include an M60. They're armed with grenades. Air cover. Armor. The "military style" argument is akin to comparing a residential lawn mower with a commercial grade lawn mower. Yeah, you can mow your lawn with the residential mower but the commercial has faster spinning blades, more powerful engine, a wider cut and you can get the job done much faster. It's also like comparing you mowing your own lawn to a crew of 5 coming and knocking it out for you. What takes you an hour and a half would take them 15 minutes or less.
All that aside though, gun control to me comes down to something far more simplistic. The guy that ignores the law that says he can't murder is going to follow the law that says he can't illegally purchase a firearm? Of course he's going to get his hands on something to cause damage with. If we ban all firearms in the US and we magically eliminate every firearm in the world, we'll be reading about thugs murdering with knives. Fists. Ropes. Fire. How much destruction could you do with a 250 gallon tank in the back of a truck filled with gasoline? Drive into a crowded place and ignite the tank? The tool is less important than the motive.
Where does that leave us? Well, since it's obvious that gun control isn't effective in reducing murder, the question remains. How do we reduce murders in this country? I believe it's as simple as looking at the past 30 years and the declining murder rates over that period of time. You'll see that laws allowing people to carry firearms legally have constantly been loosened and more people than ever are carrying a firearm in public. While I don't think it's fair to make the statement that the additional people carrying are the reason why the murder rate is down, I do think it's important to note that with the extra people carrying, the murder rate certainly isn't up. This is easy to explain. Law abiding citizens don't commit murders. CHL holders in Texas are far less likely to commit a crime than the general public.
Since 99.997% of the firearms in the USA weren't used in a murder in 2013 according to the latest statistics from the FBI, it shows conclusively that gun control isn't the answer after all. The answer lies in what we've been doing.
Technology. We've had great success using technology to solve crimes. DNA evidence has helped us identify and jail the correct criminals. Cameras help us catch criminals. Home security systems and other methods of catching these thugs have proven to be extremely valuable.
Self defense. Thousands of people use firearms in self defense each year. Every time someone successfully defends themselves from a criminal, it's one less murder or violent crime on the books.
Prison. Longer prison sentences for violent felons which leads to less thugs on the streets creating havoc. I would suggest even longer prison terms than currently due to the fact that according to a federal study, nearly 70% of violent felons released from prison end up being arrested again within 3 years. Almost 50% of them are arrested within a year.
Release Programs. With those stunning numbers, maybe we should watch violent felons released from prison a bit closer and maybe we should completely revamp the way our release programs are working. Are we making it too difficult to integrate back into society? Are we making it too easy to go back to a life of crime?
In conclusion, I think we need to do a deep study to figure out what can be done to stop the revolving door to prison. I think we need to stop releasing violent felons in the same method we're releasing them considering 70% of them will return to prison within a few years. We need to increase prison terms for the violent in society to protect the innocent in society. I've always heard about three strike and you're out programs, yet we keep hearing about people with a dozen convictions that were just charged with murder. At one point, government becomes responsible for releasing predators back into society that they KNOW are a threat. At the end of the day, we don't have a gun problem, we have a violent felon problem.
Ban THUGS, not GUNS!
Gun control advocates love to point to Australia when they talk about the need for gun control. They refer to the murder rates dropping as the smoking gun that a ban will help lower our murder rates. Unfortunately, the facts aren't terribly favorable if closely examined. Let's take them point by point.
Murder. The murder rate has seen a steady decline in Australia since the gun ban. The problem is that the murder rate declined before the ban as well. From 1990 to 1996, the rate fell from 1.9 to 1.6. From 1996 to 2002, the rate went from 1.6 to 1.8, though 2002 is an outlier so we'll give them credit and assume 2003 which took them to 1.5. Since, it's dropped further, to 1.1.
So from 1996 to 2012, the rate dropped by 31.25%.
So how did the USA fare? From 1996, the same span of time where we added millions of guns and loosened gun laws in the US, the rate dropped from 7.4 to 4.7. That's a decrease of 36.49%.
Australia passes major gun control and the murder rate drops by less than the drop in the US over the same span. If we look at pure numbers, the murder rate dropped by 0.5 murders per 100,000 in Australia over the same span that it dropped by 2.7 murders per 100,000.
So if not the gun control, what caused the drop in murders? Well, technology and enforcement would be two areas that would make sense. Cell phones, internet, home security systems, cameras and other pieces of technology could prove to be the biggest reason.
So what about other crimes in Australia?
For 5 years after the gun ban, Armed Robbery, Sexual Assault and Total Robbery increased significantly. Starting 2001, robbery started to decrease again and it continues to see a decrease. It may well be that the smoking gun again is the internet. More and more people are online and security systems are now common, where prior they were relatively rare. Sexual assault, however, has gone up and down a bit and is still at levels higher than the 90's. Other crime has seen the same statistical trends as robbery. The US over that span has seen a significant decline in sexual assaults.
While it's true that the murder rate has fallen in Australia since the gun ban, it's also true that the murder rate in the US has fallen by a larger percentage with a reduction in gun control. While we cannot definitively say that more guns = less crime, it's certainly true that gun control isn't as effective as no gun control.
1996: 1.6 - Gun Ban
Victim vs Victor?
A thought on sexual assaults. Is it possible that the sexual assault rate in the US is down due to more females being armed? If a large male intends to assault a small female, the known absence of a firearm may prove to remove a deterrent. A 100 lb woman has no chance at self defense against a 250 lb man in a physical fight, both unarmed. Since the person attacking her has no respect for the law, he will no doubt have some kind of weapon.
However, a woman with a firearm can defend herself against a larger attacker. The knowledge that a woman may be armed is enough to deter a lot of attacks. This may explain why the rape rate in the US is lower, even though Australia has a significantly lower murder rate than the US.