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Guns are Not the Problem

Justin Warner, Opinion

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The often-touted line to end crime in America is that gun control is necessary. “It’s just common sense!” people will say, “Other countries do it, and they have far less crime!”. This is false, and data supports this.

Detroit and Chicago

Take Detroit and Chicago, two of the most crime-ridden cities in the entire US, (1) and also some with the strictest gun control. (2) Yet, still, their crime rates – and gun crime rates – are vastly inflated in comparison to other parts of the country. It’s not that people can bring in guns from freer states, either. If that were the case, those states would have just as much crime, and yet they don’t.

Australia and the 1994 AWB

In April 1996, there was a shooting in Port Arthur, Australia. After this, political pressure for an assault weapons ban increased, and that is precisely what was implemented. (3) Since then, there has not been a mass shooting in Australia, and the murder rate has decreased! So, why is this not a good argument for gun control? Well, to start, the murder rate had been decreasing even before gun control was established, and continues to fall today. (4) Additionally, New Zealand had a similar decrease in crime despite their relatively lax gun laws, as did the United States and Canada. (5) It is clear that many other factors were involved than gun laws, which is why the comparison is not valid. In 1994, similar legislation was enacted in America following various shootings. There is little consensus on its effectiveness, however, it is generally believed to have none or negligible effects on crime rates and mass shootings. (6)

“Assault Weapon” is a Misnomer

There is no precise definition for “assault weapon.” Often the definition comes down to aesthetic differences, which is not sufficient for laws which require precise definitions to avoid loopholes. The best definition I have heard for the term is “semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines.” (7) This is very very broad, and encompasses nearly all rifles, including those used to hunt and for sport. There is nothing about this definition that would indicate they are “too powerful” for civilian use. I’ll elaborate on why “too powerful” is also a poor idea in the next section.

No gun is “too powerful” for civilians

The “power” of a gun is highly variable. Mostly it comes down to specific calibers, and even that can vary from weapon to weapon. The damage a gun does is dependent on where you hit, how fast the bullet was going, what the target was wearing, the size of the bullet, the angle it entered from, what type of bullet it was (For example, hollow points do not penetrate very far and damage internal organs but are easily stopped by body armour). There are far too many variables to say that one type of gun is always “more powerful” than any other type. Not even automatic weapons are necessarily more powerful than semi-autos. Automatic weapons are far less accurate because you have less control of the gun, and semi-automatics can be effectively fired nearly as fast and far more accurately with proper training. Manual weapons can be fired nearly as fast as that still.

The use of guns

Guns have many legitimate uses. Some of which include sport shooting, self defence, and hunting. Guns can be a good tool for the defence of liberty as well, as an armed populace is far more difficult to control than an unarmed one. This is relevant even today, as though technology has significantly improved, the US Government has no desire to rule over a crater. A controlled population is far more useful than a dead one. After all, society is made of civilians. In the case of the United States, it is unlikely that the government would be able to control the population. There are around 330 million people in the United States, and around 400 million guns. However, there are only two million soldiers, and it is likely that many would defect. On top of this, the world would not trust a rouge authoritarian government, so the States would be crippled economically due to sanctions, and some countries may even send troops to help civilians. This is not unheard of, it happened in Syria very recently (8). Overall, a civil war in America would be huge trouble for the government, and civilians have a significant chance of winning.

Potential solutions and remedies to crime

Given the above information, it is evident that gun control is ineffective and unnecessary. So, how can we solve problems with crime? There are many approaches, which can be used together. I’ll now run through a few I think will be especially useful.

1. End the war on drugs, and look to legalize psychedelics

The drug war has consistently failed to actually reduce drug use, and is not useful in any way, shape or form. Adults are mature, and should decide for themselves what they consume, Habeus Corpus. In addition, prohibition creates white collar crime and black markets. We saw this in the 1920s with the mafia, and similar things are happening today with drugs. Because people cannot access something legitimately, they turn to people in back alleys with trench coats. If drugs were legal, people could buy them legitimately, they could seek treatment without fear of imprisonment, and black markets would dry up with no revenue stream. This alone would significantly reduce crime.

2. Abolish the minimum wage

Wages are determined by market forces and not government intervention. No corporation will hire someone for a wage that is greater than the value their job creates, so a minimum wage only serves to remove the lowest income jobs and increase unemployment. Abolishing the minimum wage will open up those opportunities for the poor and destitute, and because they will now have a more legitimate source of income, they will not be so inclined to turn to crime.

Sources:
(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_crime_rate
(2) http://crimadvisor.com/data/Brady-State-Scorecard-2015.pdf
(3) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/15/it-took-one-massacre-how-australia-made-gun-control-happen-after-port-arthur
(4) http://www.gunfacts.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/GUNS-IN-OTHER-COUNTRIES-Australian-Homicides-before-and-after-Port-Arthur-Masacre-and-Gun-Ban-Buyback.png
(5) https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/77898/width668/image-20150414-24627-1jnew19.jpg
(6) https://aneconomicsense.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/us-murder-rates-1980-to-2010.png
(7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapon#Definitions_and_usage
(8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War#Russian_intervention_and_Aleppo_offensive_(30_September_2015_–_February_2016)

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Guns are Not the Problem