Jim Clark: More guns do not equal more violence
November 17, 2015
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have people asking: "If you're not safe in the City of Light, where can you go? What can I do to protect my family and loved ones?"
American liberals, led by President Obama and wannabe President Hillary Clinton immediately intone: "Gun control … pass laws to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals."
The National Rifle Association and other gun owner groups counter: "The thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Full disclosure: Your columnist is a member of the NRA. I even own a few firearms, but they mostly gather dust just waiting for their big moment repelling alien raiders from another planet.
Even though I have tarnished my reputation for objectivity by maintaining membership in an organization on Hillary Clinton's "enemies list," I am not ready to swallow the NRA's prescription of a universally armed citizenship for world peace without questioning it.
My research shows that both camps' remedies for gun violence is questionable. There are a lot of studies that show correlations between carefully selected data, but none I found that shows cause and effect.
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Examples: The Obama-Clinton camp would love to confiscate all firearms now held by individual citizens on the theory that reducing the total number of guns in the US will result in proportionately fewer falling into the hands of criminals.
They cite Great Britain and Australia as proof of the wisdom of their counsel. But If you hand pick your data, you can prove nearly anything.
Did confiscation really reduce violence? A Harvard University study, which looked at a broader scope than the would-be confiscators like to use, found that in comparing "intentional deaths' in America with those in all of continental Europe the US ranked seventh in murders and 22nd in suicides.
This finding was irrespective of the gun control laws of the nations examined. It seems if you confiscate guns people will resort to knives, hammers, etc.
As further evidence of the lack of correlation between gun ownership and violence the study noted that in Russia 4 percent of the population owned guns and the murder rate was 20.52 per 100,000; in Finland, the gun ownership rate was 39 percent, yet the murder rate was 1.98 per 100,000, and in Norway, the respective rates were 36 percent and 0.81.
So, more guns do not equal more violence.
Is the answer a "good guy with a gun"? That depends on the correlation between concealed carry permits and violence (my dusty arsenal is unlikely to curb crime unless a burglar announces in advance that he's going to enter my home).
A recent study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that since 2007, the number of concealed handgun permits soared from 4.6 million to over 12.8 million (this does not include data from the eight states that do not require concealed carry permits); during the same period, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 per 100,000 to 4.2, about a 25 percent reduction.
Now there's a positive trend for which Obama can take credit. Since his election, gun sales and concealed permit issuances have ballooned.
On Obama's reelection in 2012, shares of Smith & Wesson rose 9.6 percent, while Sturm Ruger & Co. rose 6.8 percent, according to a Nov. 7, 2012, article in Bloomberg Business News.
The tragic events in Paris last week remind us of the feeling of helplessness when sworn law enforcement abrogates its duty, as in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, prompting a flurry of firearms purchases and concealed carry applications.
However, Umpqua Community College student and Air Force veteran John Parker was armed and ready when calamity struck, but didn't draw on the assailant for fear of being mistaken as the "bad guy" when the police arrived.
Seems like this whole subject needs more thought.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.