October 19, 2005
Myths About Gun Control
Guns are dangerous.
But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous,
because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people.
tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President
Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law.
the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The
Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various
types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing,
and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun
control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.
to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts.
"I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one
maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care
less if they had a background check or not."
guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money,
you can get a gun."
to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals
don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.")
Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's
money to be made selling something, someone will sell it.
funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners
said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study
found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison
system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed. One inmate
told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it
makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."
it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons?
I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton.
His eyes opened wide, and he said, "We'd be living in a state
it was a trick question. Most states now have "right to carry"
laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not
one of those states reported an upsurge in crime.
guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally.
When armed men broke into Susan Gonzalez' house and shot her,
she grabbed her husband's gun and started firing. "I figured
if I could shoot one of them, even if we both died, someone would
know who had been in my home." She killed one of the intruders.
She lived. Studies on defensive use of guns find this kind of
thing happens at least 700,000 times a year.
another myth, with a special risk of its own. The myth has it
that the Supreme Court, in a case called United States v. Miller,
interpreted the Second Amendment -- "A well regulated Militia,
being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of
the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"
-- as conferring a special privilege on the National Guard, and
not as affirming an individual right. In fact, what the court
held is only that the right to bear arms doesn't mean Congress
can't prohibit certain kinds of guns that aren't necessary for
the common defense. Interestingly, federal law still says every
able-bodied American man from 17 to 44 is a member of the United
special risk? As Alex Kozinski, a federal appeals judge and an
immigrant from Eastern Europe, warned in 2003, "the simple
truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where
government need not fear the wrath of an armed people."
prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories
of gun crime routinely do," Judge Kozinski noted. "But
few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second
Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally
rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where
the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those
who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or
can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these
contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake
a free people get to make only once."
JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate