Why gun control cannot work

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

  1. Had a high violent crime rate
  2. Passed strict gun control
  3. Had violent crime rates subsequently precipitously drop
  4. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Why gun control cannot work”

  1. Something to add; should push come to shove, a large number of LEO and Military will part ways with their government employers and side with citizens. They simply won’t violate the very rights that they swore an oath to protect.

    In regard to the recent Vegas tragedy, I’ll point out a couple of other things:

    1) Had those Bumpfire stocks (or whatever they are called) not been available, Paddock may well have seen fit to do some precision target practice, before committing his act of terror. As he was meticulous in the other areas of his life, this would stand to reason. Then, while the injury count may have been lower, the death toll would have been higher. Instead, he just rained bullets down into a crowd. An average shooter could have killed far more people, under the circumstances, when aiming each shot.

    2) Had no guns been available, the attack STILL could have been far more deadly. This guy had a pilot license and owned 2 planes. He also had the means to aquire virtually any other small(ish) plane that he wanted. He could have, very easily, engineered the deaths of a far greater number of people.

    Looking at the state of things, on a global scale, I see angry people using all manner of things to kill people, in the absence of firearms; motor vehicles, hammers, sticks, knives, ropes, etc. Hell, in prison, they’ve figured out how to stab you to death with a magazine, of all things.

    No, gun control doesn’t work; not for it’s stated purpose. That’s because gun control is all about people control.

    1. Had the bumpfire stocks not been available he would have used half-inch thick heavy duty rubber bands or bit the bullet and bought full auto weapons. He had the money.

  2. Sadly there is a way to render firearms in law abiding hands virtually moot.

    Advance technology and restrict access of that technology from civilians. In 2-3 generations, our existing firearms will be like black powder rifles. Governments (and tyrants) and some criminals will still have access to the latest tech naturally.

    Next, similar to the first argument, instead of restricting ownership, restrict sale and transfer. Maybe sale requires permits with heavy taxes. Make it more difficult to jump through than a hunting permit. As the existing generation the subsequent generations will see them as more of a lot of liability to deal with or as an asset to just sell and be done with. And of course maybe that buyback purchase will be financed by the government with or through massive big business.

    Society will willingly go along with both of these arguments and in two generations the 2nd amendment can be eviscerated in word and deed.

    Similar to how the 1st amendment is being restricted over time. Develop technology and infrastructure and financial advantages for big business like google or Facebook to dominate the “airwaves”. Then those “private” (publicly held) institutions can engage in all manner of censorship and content filtering that no state government can get away with. And because of the scale of these organizations, they are actually able to have a greater effect than any government could in this arena.

    Over time, we’re either going to build a beehive like existence where everything is pretty orderly but citizens rights are curtailed to keep things running. Or we’re building the arms of a police state like the world has never seen.

    Probably both.

    1. Your mistake is here:

      Society will willingly go along with both of these arguments

      We’ve already seen trial balloons for these arguments and “society” has strongly resisted them. A couple of the bluest states have passed such things at the State level, but otherwise they simply do not get any traction.

    2. Advance technology and restrict access of that technology from civilians. In 2-3 generations, our existing firearms will be like black powder rifles. Governments (and tyrants) and some criminals will still have access to the latest tech naturally.

      The problem is – that won’t work.

      As engineers love to say: “more parts – more problems.” Advance things all you want and there will still be a use for dumb machines tossing lead.

      Why do you think that despite all the CURRENT advances we have had our soldiers still carry knives?

      1. This. It’s like when you point out that guns are the great equalizer against violent criminals someone says that it just gets people in an arms race for the bigger gun, unless that bigger gun renders you bulletproof, person with smaller gun that’s entirely capable of killing you is still equalized.

        Also, from a physics and chemistry perspective guns are a _very_ mature technology. There isn’t a lot of improvement left to make. Muzzle velocity, and therefore the energy for a given sized projectile, are limited by the physics of expanding gasses. Being able to run at higher temperatures with lower molecular weight gases might improve that some, but not a lot. Ability to carry more ammo in a given load is an area for improvement. Perhaps if they can solve the problems of caseless ammo that would reduce ammo weight. A few things like that that are small steps but no really great improvements to make. To go beyond that will require radical changes in kind, something other than projectiles accelerated by the deflagration of chemical propellants.

  3. But of course, “gun control” has never been a law-and-order issue but mealworm clerisy’s relentless power-grab, aiming to render honest citizens defenseless in face of a despotic Commissariat on behalf of parasitic rentiers.

    1. Yeah. It’s never been about “crime control”, not among the political class anyway. It’s always been about people control. The thing is, even for that, in the end in cannot work here. There’s only so far you can push it before the pushback gets nasty.

      Personally, I’d rather avoid that for reasons I’ve given elsewhere, but some folk just seem bound and determined to drive us to that brink.

  4. The proponents of gun control totally understand that it will not prevent gun related crime or mass murders.
    They do not care.
    They simply want to abolish the second amendment (as well as MOST of the Constitution).
    These folks – mostly liberal progressives/socialists/communists/ democrats (but I repeat myself) – if given the chance would totally rewrite the US Constitution ; it would read nothing like the existing Constitution.

    The TOTAL prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and early 30s did not work at all; drug related prohibitions are a monumental failure even though illicit drugs are illegal in just about every nation on earth!! Everybody knows this, including the pro-gun regulation (read, make all guns illegal) folks.

    Leftists never, ever give up. They will declare victory when the USA becomes a Cuba or former USSR or a Venezuela.
    They will jump on any cause to promote their world view.

  5. Don’t forget that Canada passed a law requiring all firearms be registered with the government. It was figured that the virtuous, law-abiding Canadian citizenry would take around 2 years for them to get registered and cost a few [5?] million. 10 or so years later they gave up when the percentage registered was estimated at 7% and the cost had reached $2B. Why in the world would anyone expect a registration/confiscation program would work better in the US?
    And as a postscript, I’ve seen reasonable estimates of 600,000,000 guns in the US. The 300,000,000 number seems to come from older NORC and NES surveys and projections from that. I’m reasonably sure not everyone with a gun would admit to it during even a reputable survey. Heck my mother had 3 guns when she died at 83 and we were only aware of one.

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