We often hear gun control advocates say something like, “If it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it?” Well, of course it is – if it doesn’t cost many more in the process. The reality is that gun control costs lives, while guns save lives. That’s why cops carry them.
Let’s do a little reality check:
Crime – including violent crime and “gun crime” – is not going up; it has been going down pretty consistently across the country for at least 20 years.
Mass murders and rampage killings are not happening with more frequency, nor are such events resulting in more deaths. The number of such events and the average deaths resulting from them has remained relatively level for decades.
There has been no rise in firearm accidents or unintentional injuries – among adults or children. Firearm-related accidents, deaths and injuries have been steadily declining for decades thanks to increased safety awareness initiatives from the firearms and hunting communities.
All of these reductions in “gun crime,” reductions in firearm accidents and statistical stability in mass murder events have been achieved while the number of firearms in public hands has more than doubled, and the number of individuals with firearms has gone up dramatically. Also during this time, firearm quality, reliability, durability and capacity have been going up, as have the number of people able to lawfully carry firearms for self-defense.
The most conservative studies suggest that, at a minimum, for every crime with a gun, someone uses a gun to defend themselves or others from violent assault. Other reputable studies place defensive firearm use much higher, more than five times more frequent than offensive use – up to 2.5 million defensive uses per year. Usually defenders don’t have to shoot; just showing the gun is usually enough to stop an attack. These events often go unreported.
At a minimum, the best that even the most draconian of gun laws could hope to accomplish would be about a 50 percent INCREASE in violent crime, but possibly as much as a 250 percent increase, and no decrease in mass murders or suicides. Those are conservative estimates on my part, but regardless of the actual numbers, the reality is that if guns were more strictly controlled, perhaps some individuals might be saved, but overall, many more people would die.
The other seriously detrimental result of gun control laws is that they inevitably result in prosecutions of people who are not harming anyone, innocents whose only crimes are violation of some arcane aspect of a gun control law. These prosecutions are often devastating, costing jobs, marriages, families and sometimes lives.
It is impossible to say exactly what would have happened had gun control laws not been in place, but there are some pretty startling examples of what did happen thanks to gun control.
A few years ago, 69-year-old Mary Shepard was working in a church office in Anna, Ill., when a 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound man came in and violently assaulted her and a 76-year-old coworker, Leona Mount. Shepard is an experienced shooter, trained in defensive firearm carry, and was licensed to carry a concealed firearm in over 30 states. Unfortunately, her licenses and training were not recognized in her home state of Illinois, and Shepard was not able to be legally armed on the day that she and her coworker were attacked, beaten and left for dead.
In 1991, Knox family friend Suzanna Hupp was having lunch with her parents when a deranged security guard drove his truck through the front of the restaurant and began shooting people. Suzanna’s father turned over the table to provide some cover, and Suzanna, seeing the murderer’s back was toward them for the moment, reached for her purse to retrieve the gun she normally carried. She was sure she could effectively stop the assault before more people were hurt. Then she remembered that her gun wasn’t in her purse. Concealed carry was illegal at that time in Texas, and Suzanna had decided that the risk of breaking the law was greater than the risk of not having the gun. She was wrong. Twenty-three people, including both of Suzanna’s parents, were killed. Suzanna went on to spend a decade in the Texas Legislature fighting for legal defensive carry, which she eventually won. That victory was small consolation for not having the gun when she needed it.
There are numerous stories of people who have been injured by zealous enforcement of gun laws: The nurse who was arrested when she presented her unloaded, locked-up handgun for legal transport in her checked baggage. The fellow who pulled into a parking lot to catch some sleep in the wee hours of the morning while moving from Maine to Texas and was arrested because he had stopped in New Jersey rather than driving for another 20 minutes to stop in Pennsylvania.
In an outrageous recent example, a D.C. financial consultant was arrested for possessing a dud shotgun shell and a fired shell from a rifle in his home. A SWAT team raided his home, dragged his 16-year-old son naked from the shower and held his family at gunpoint while they searched for the “dangerous contraband.” The man is now facing felony charges and the possibility of several years in prison, based solely on his possession of “ammunition or ammunition components,” even though he had no guns in the city.
Gun control laws are expensive, ineffective, and they cost lives. Even seemingly harmless, “common sense” laws can ensnare the innocent and destroy their lives. On the other hand, guns in the hands of responsible citizens save lives and make criminals think twice before going after someone who seems vulnerable.
Next time you hear someone say, “If it saves only one life,” remember that gun control doesn’t save lives, it costs lives. Guns in the hands of responsible citizens save lives.