Anytime any violent tragedy happens in the US the usual suspects immediately shriek for more gun control. The problem is that it cannot solve the violence problem and those shrieking the loudest know this.
Senator Feinstein admitted as much in an interview recently:
CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked Feinstein if Congress could pass any law that would have stopped Stephen Paddock’s rampage.
“No, he passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions,” said Feinstein, who noted Paddock didn’t display any of the signs one might look for in a potential shooter like a criminal record or mental illness.
Yet she’s more than willing to use the event to promote her own citizen disarmament agenda. As Nancy Pelosi said when asked if legislation on bump stocks would lead to further restrictions down the road “So what? I certainly hope so.”
They want the restrictions even if they won’t work for the stated purpose. What unstated purpose are they, then trying to accomplish?
Of course they won’t work. Whenever anyone compares US violent crime (specifically homicide) rates with other countries they always say “Western nations” or “Developed Nations”, not realizing that such a limitation is a blatant admission that factors other than gun control are of far greater import to such rates. When asked why such a limitation, it’s said “to keep it an apples and oranges comparison”. So factors other than gun control are so much more important that they completely change the kind under discussion? Um. Um.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Or ask someone for a before/after comparison, to find an example of a place that
- Had a high violent crime rate
- Passed strict gun control
- Had violent crime rates subsequently precipitously drop
- And stay down, showing a lasting effect, rather than a short-term readjustment to a new circumstance.
The closest anyone has come is Australia. An acquaintance of mine lives in Australia and he pointed it out. The total numbers of violent crimes actually went up in Australia, but because population also went up, the net rate (violent crimes per 100,000 population) declined slightly. However if you look at the trends over time, you see that the decline was simply the continuation of a trend that started well before the prohibition and confiscation of semi-automatic weapons. The ban had no effect on violent crime.
Part of the problem of relying on gun control is non-compliance.
- Connecticut passed strict “assault weapon” registration in the wake of Sandy Hook. About 50,000 of the estimated 370,000 rifles covered by the legislation were registered by the deadline.
- More non-compliance with New York’s “SAFE” act. Only about 44,000 of the estimated 1 million covered weapons were registered.
- In Washington State, over 5000 gun owners gathered to engage in a massive civil disobedience event to basically swap guns back and forth in violation of Washington’s then new law requiring all transfers to undergo a Federal background check.
- Common joke among gun owners: Guns? I don’t have any. I lost them all in a tragic boating accident.
Even beyond the non-compliance issue is that guns are simply too easy to smuggle, too easy to make. Australian police are reporting that about 10% of the guns they seize from criminals are homemade, including submachine guns. (Look, if you know anything about how guns work, you’d realize that an open bolt submachine gun is one of the easiest repeating arms to make.) Want to know how to make your own gun using commonly available materials? Check out any number of videos on Youtube or get the army training manual TM 31-210. It’s available online. I have it in PDF.
Smuggling. Drug smugglers bring thousands of tons of drugs into the US every year. Now, if every one of the homicides committed with a firearm were done with a separate gun (I’ll deal with that here in a moment) and every one had to be smuggled in, that would only be about seven tons, trivial in comparison. And guns are wood, steel, and plastic, a lot easier to hide from sniffing dogs than complex chemicals with unique scents.
And that assumption up above about every gun only being used once? That turns out not to be the case. Back in the late 80’s one of the news services, NBC, I believe, did a special on guns where they “traced” a single gun as it was trafficked across several states and dozens of crimes before eventually being confiscated by police. Their intent was to show how horrible even a single gun is. What they actually showed is how few guns are needed to actually provide for criminal “needs”.
None of that even considers how you’re going to get rid of the existing more (some think a lot more) than three hundred million guns already in private hands in the US.
The simple truth is, you can’t. Furthermore Americans, and particularly American gun owners, wont’s stand for it. See the non-compliance examples up above. While some might, a large fraction of gun owners simply will not give up their guns willingly. We’re not Great Britain. We’re not Australia. Neither of those countries have the history of resistance to government and passion for individual liberty that’s bred into Americans despite the efforts of some forces to stamp it out. Cultures, when placed under stress, tend to revert to their founding myths (see “Revitalization Movements” in cultural anthropology). Our founding myths include such things as “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give my Liberty or give me death” and “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here” (in response to an attempt by the government to confiscate arms, I might add).
That leaves force, sending armed men (armed with guns) to collect up the guns. Only, you don’t know where they are. That’s one of the reason gun owners have been so resistant to anything like universal registration. And if you do, well:
Gun owners in this country outnumber police by 100 to one.
They outnumber the military by close to that.
They outnumber military, reserves, and guard combined by about 30 to one.
They outnumber the combined militaries and government paramilitary organizations of the entire world by more than 2 to one.
Barring a “cultural change” that gets most of those people willingly giving up their guns, there is simply no way it can be done. None. And the tide turned on that cultural change in the late 80’s. More States are allowing more people to carry guns in more places than ever before. More people are carrying than ever before. The percentages of people carrying are higher than any time since the “wild west”. And along with that, violent crime rates have fallen, dramatically, from their high water mark in the early 90’s. While there have been a few, admittedly horrific, high-profile incidents, the simple truth is that the average American over the last few years has been safer from violent crime than most people’s living memory and hovering near 100 year lows.
Gun control cannot work. Fortunately, it’s not necessary.