Gun control is arguably the most controversial topic in our country’s news and politics. It seems people are either very strongly for or against it, with no in between. One of the key points in the debate is whether gun control helps reduce crime or if it has no effect on the national crime rate. Does gun control contribute to the reduction of the crime rate in the US? That is what I will answer with my research.
In light of the recent mass shootings across the United States, everyone wants to stop them from happening. However, they aren’t unanimous in the decision for more gun control. This is because the facts show that having fewer guns will increase the amount of gun-related deaths. Gun control is not the answer, and loose gun control isn’t the reason for a lot of gun violence. No matter the means, murders will happen. Take our prison system for example. It is supposed to be a secure facility with 24-hour surveillance, tight security, and no weapons right? According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s study entitled ‘Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000-2013–Statistical Tables,’ approximately 22 inmates in local jails die of homicide each year, and 295 commit suicide. Three out of every 100,000 jail inmates will die of homicide. That compares to a homicide rate in the U.S. populace at large of 4.9 per 100,000 people.
If you can’t stop murders in prison by banning weapons, you certainly can’t stop them in society at large. Add to the figure on jails the fact that about 54 inmates in state prisons also die by homicide each year–again about three out of every 100,000 prisoners–and 184 per year die of suicide. Plus there are homicides in federal penitentiaries (The New American). This statistic is so high, that our honicices in prison outweigh the number of murders per the same 100,00 for some entire countries. For example, the UK has .92 homicides per 100,000, France has 1.58, and Sweden has 1.55 (The New American). Switzerland is at a .69 and it just so happens that the national pastime there is target shooting. Along with this, young men are to keep guns in their home as a requirement for the militia yet the country has one of the lowest homicide rates in all of Europe. This goes to show that when most of the population has guns in their homes or on their person, like in Switzerland, homicide rates are way down, especially firearm related homicides.
A major myth in this country, believed by those on the side of stricter gun control, is that the increase in legal gun ownership is responsible for the increase in gun violence. Decades of data collecting and analysis reveal that nothing about the gun/crime relationship is true (Gun Violence). “Since 1978, criminological studies examining the relationship between violent crime and private gun ownership have typically found no significant positive effect of gun ownership on the violent crime rate (Gun Violence).
Since 1978, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has done criminological studies that look at the relationship between private gun ownership and gun violence. Most of these studies have found that gun ownership has no effect on violent crime. Some of the studies even show that there is a negative impact and that people owning guns actually reduces violent crime. If people are armed, not just the criminals, it is only logical that violent crime would go down due to the risk of the criminal’s life being at stake as well.
For the most part, using a gun to rob someone, or go in and kill them, is relatively low risk as far as the chances of the victim pulling a gun on the perpetrator. But if the majority of our population was armed, it’s a fact that there would be much less gun violence. “The national homicide, gun homicide, robbery and gun robbery rates, as well as the percentage of guns involved in aggravated assault, have not significantly increased from what they were in 1974. However, the number of firearms in this country increased 75 percent between 1974-1994, for a total of nearly 236 million guns” (Gun Violence).
Now imagine if everyone in this country was on the same page about owning a gun and they they make it a safer place, not the opposite, when doing so. The percentage of Americans that own guns is still much less than the percentage that doesn’t, which is why the gun violence rates have only stayed the same, instead of decreasing. There are a lot of people who believe that gun control laws are the only thing that keep people from getting access to guns and thus stricter laws will cut down on the violence, or banning guns all together will eliminate the problem.
The reason for this is because of the myth that the strict gun control laws found in the United Kingdom and Canada have successfully lowered the crime rate, however, this is once again totally false. On the flip side there is also the typical argument in favor of guns that if you look at counties with high amounts of guns and low crime rates, like Switzerland and Israel, that it proves that strict gun control laws aren’t necessary. This common comeback for pro-gun supporters also fails to support the opposite side in an accurate comparison. “The futility of pairwise comparisons between nations’ crime rates relative to their gun ownership becomes apparent once one realizes that there are countries with every permutation: the U.S. (high guns/high crime); Switzerland and Israel (high guns/low crime); Japan (low guns/low crime); and Mexico (low guns/high crime). Any two countries can be compared or contrasted to make any point desired” (Gun Violence).
Advocates for gun control believe that the UK has a lower crime rate because they have less guns than the US, but Europe has always had a lower crime rate. Furthermore, the crime rate in the UK and other countries is steadily increasing faster than the US (Gun Violence). Now how could this be true if they have such strict gun control laws? Well, if you look at the news, the UK is home to some of the most brutal mass stabbings in the world. It doesn’t require a gun for crime or violence to happen, strict gun control simply pushes criminals to use a different tool. On top of that, for some reason people believe that criminals are using legally obtained guns, or those committing mass shootings owning guns wouldn’t have done it if we had stricter laws. What most don’t realize is that a criminal doesn’t follow any law, it’s very easy for someone to obtain a gun, one that is often untraceable to their person, thanks to the black market and the deep web.
Tightening laws on law abiding citizens is simply going to make things worse for everyone and reduce our ability to protect ourselves, not help the situation or reduce the crime rate at all. “Gun control as a whole has not worked to reduce violent crime rates in this country. A large amount of the research on gun control measures, particularly that referenced by gun control advocacy groups, is technically poor. Out of the 21 most accurate studies, 17 found that gun control laws did not reduce violent crime rates; two studies resulted in ambiguous results and two studies indicated a negative (inverse) effect on violent crime rates” (Gun Violence).
Our counties largely uneducated, pro-gun control stance is largely due to the media’s biased approach. It’s no secret that the media pushes their own agendas and it’s easy to see what stories get aired and what ones don’t. Between 1995-1997 alone there was a 16:1 ratio of aired media stories supporting gun control to those that were pro-gun (Gun Violence). So many Americans being so uneducated about what they’re fighting for or against is why we have so many people pushing false gun control myths.
In this great country, we have the right to not only keep and bear arms, but to our own opinion. We also have a free education system up until 12th grade, and thankfully for you, I just educated you on gun control and its effect on crime for no charge. If more people were open to hearing the facts on something so many feel so strongly for or against, we might have more of an agreement on gun control. There will always be those hard heads who will hold their ground no matter what, but if everyone has an educated opinion perhaps most people will be on the same page that strict gun control laws won’t work like you may think. If anything, we need more guns and other avenues to reduce crime in the US.
- Otero, Glen. ‘Gun Ownership Does Not Contribute to Violent Crime.’ Gun Violence, edited by James D. Torr, Greenhaven Press, 2002. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010223210/OVIC?u=hccc&sid=OVIC&xid=97841cc1. Accessed 10 Dec. 2018.