What's a Gun Got to Do with It?
A May 2022 The Hill article entitled Here Is A List of 27 School Shootings That Have Taken Place This Year underscores the fear many have regarding gun ownership. But why is protecting one's person, family, property, etc. in the face of evil threatening and not prudent? After all, isn't peace most ensured when strength is most projected — or, as Reagan put it, "peace [comes] through strength"? In other words, doesn't common sense inform us that criminals exploit vulnerability?
The arguments for gun control are familiar to most. The anti-gun stance is that no guns means no mass shootings at schools less violent crime generally. In support of this position, the figure of fewer deaths by guns in nations where guns have been banned is often cited, while violent deaths by other means are typically ignored. Alternatively, the pro-gun position draws attention to 1) declining violent crimes in America for nearly three decades (Antifa/BLM riots, state D.A. criminal leniency, federal prison purges, etc. are altering this trend); 2) armed citizens for criminal deterrence; and 3) on-the-scene armed citizens preventing crime and apprehending criminals before police arrive. Think of the recent Indiana mall "good Samaritan." In this article, we'll explore the anti-gun side.
To underscore the U.S.'s unhealthy obsession with violence, anti-gun activists are aghast to learn that more guns exist in America (400M) than Americans (330M) — as if large numbers of inanimate objects somehow animate them. It would be akin to shuddering over the number of chainsaws in hardware stores for fear that one might somehow self-start and kill someone. What anti-gun activists don't shout from their rooftops is that as the number of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) sold in America has increased over the past quarter-century — to include high-capacity-magazine, automatic high-powered rifles, etc., which they argue pose the greatest threat — the number of violent crimes has declined.
At this point, more savvy anti-gun activists claim that the issue isn't firearms for self-defense, but firearms that kill children. Sandyhookpromise.org's #1 factoid reads: "Each day 12 children die from gun violence in America." Recognizing that a number without context is pretext, 4.4K (12x365) annual firearm-related deaths in a sea of 83M American "children" (aged 0 to 19) means 0.0053%, or 53 in out of 1 million, die annually. To appreciate these odds, National Safety Council (NSC) 2019 data report that a person's lifetime odds of dying from cancer are 1 in 7. Stated differently, the average person's chance of dying from cancer is 2,695 times greater than a "child" dying from a firearm.
A New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) May 2022 article entitled "Crossing Lines – A Change in the Leading Cause Of Death among US Children" is the source for the above sandyhookpromise.org factoid. It uses CDC WISQARS fatal injury data to purportedly prove that guns kill more children annually than motor vehicles. NEJM authors assert that decades of successful governmental intervention to curb vehicular accidents among children should be applied to curb firearm deaths. What's curious is that the CDC data referenced include 24-year-old adults with a higher risk profile (for just about anything) than a 6-year-old. For this faux child group, firearms unseated motor vehicle fatalities for first place in 2017. Yet, when the CDC numbers are re-run for children (aged 0 to 19) from 2001 to 2021, motor vehicular fatalities exceed deaths by firearm by nearly two to one — and for those aged 0 to 14, by four to one. From this, it seems difficult to assert that American children are being killed en masse by firearms.
While the anti-gun crowd may view such logic as heartless — despite the fact that optics for national public policy should be based upon national, not individual prevalence — it's compelled to pivot to a final assertion: no guns means no violent crime, as proven in places like Europe.
In the 1950s, the U.K. banned concealed weapons, followed by shotguns in the '80s. After a couple of high-profile school shootings, all handguns were banned in the late '90s. What's curious is that while licensed firearms have declined in the U.K. since 1996, violent crime has increased. igeek.com puts it this way: "[e]ach time the UK ... stiffened gun laws, they saw an increase in murder rates." Per criminaljusticedegree.hub, violent crime in Britain and Wales is 898 per 100K, or 2.3 times higher than in the U.S. at 387 per 100K. If gun control is the right solution, how is it that America, a nation with more guns than people, has half the rate of violent crime of the U.K., which banned guns over two decades ago?
Given that many European nations have adopted a similar approach, there must be one nation where removal of guns from law-abiding citizens has vanquished violence committed by criminals, who aren't law-abiding. Right?
Sweden is exalted as the civilized world's poster child for democratic socialism — a place where egalitarianism provides cover for government's ever-expanding role in the lives of its citizens. Has gun confiscation from law-abiding citizens resolved Sweden's violent crime? A December 2018 Spectator article entitled "Violent Crime In Sweden Is Soaring. When Will Politicians Act?" by Paula Neuding reports that Sweden ranks first for hand grenade violence of countries not at war. Per the Gatestone Institute, the rise in crime has little to do with guns: "40 years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1472%. Sweden is now #2 on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in S. Africa[.]" A March 2019 Washington Times article entitled "A Late Education For Sweden" echoes the same: "Sweden's social democracy, often cited by Europeans and like-minded Americans as the model society, is in deep trouble. Sweden is no longer a low-crime country[.]" In some areas of Sweden, the national police commissioner has publicly warned that Swedish police are no longer able to "uphold the law."
The bottom line is, fortunately, easy to find: when intent to harm exists, guns are irrelevant. After all, Cain got by with a stone. Regardless of your view of the Bible, it claims what reasonable people know to be true: the source of violence is not the weapon used, but the person who uses the weapon — "for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder ..." (Mt. 15:19). How foolish to combat crime by confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens when crimes are committed by criminals who don't obey the law — which is of course why they're referred to as criminals. The missing puzzle piece in the U.K., Sweden, and a host of other nations should have been the first: proper identification of the criminal.
In closing, the gun debate in America is simple to resolve: keep your guns. It's the smartest and freest choice — smartest because the I.Q.-heavies of 1776 deemed it necessary to maintain a free nation, and freest because freedom was their aim. If you fear guns, the choice is equally simple: don't own one. You have that choice. However, if you support gun confiscation, you remove that choice from your fellow citizen, leaving him more vulnerable. If your fellow citizen is victimized by a criminal, morally speaking, the policy you supported spilled his blood.
By the way, did you catch the irony? By making hundreds of millions of law-abiding citizens more vulnerable, anti-gun activists embolden criminals to commit more, not less, crime. Talk about a miss.
Image via Pixabay.