Does Gun Control Work?

By Danny Lewis

National attention shifted back to the gun control debate after the recent shooting in Louisiana. Many are arguing for stricter background checks.

MSNBC Reports:

The most recent mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, last Thursday, has re-focused the nation’s attention on the debate over solutions to preventing future instances of gun violence. In 2013, the White House released a report that suggested background checks were the first line of defense in preventing criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining firearms.

But, in the cases of Lafayette and the June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, background checks failed to prevent both gunmen from legally obtaining a weapon. John Houser, the Lafayette theater gunman, was able to purchase a handgun in Alabama despite having been previously admitted to a mental hospital in Georgia.

We should learn from both shootings that background checks are not effective at keeping guns out of the hands of bad people. But it’s not just background checks that don’t work its gun control as a whole.

Let’s take a look at the United Kingdom which has strict gun control laws. The Library of Congress gives an overview of UK gun laws:

Great Britain has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the world.  The main law is from the late 1960s, but it was amended to restrict gun ownership further in the latter part of the twentieth century in response to massacres that involved lawfully licensed weapons.  Handguns are prohibited weapons and require special permission.  Firearms and shotguns require a certificate from the police for ownership, and a number of criteria must be met, including that the applicant has a good reason to possess the requested weapon. Self-defense or a simple wish to possess a weapon is not considered a good reason. The secure storage of weapons is also a factor when licenses are granted.

Even with strict gun control in the UK, there were 7,714 firearm offenses according to 2014 ONS statistics.

Violent crime recently rose by 16 percent The Telegraph reports:

Violent crime recorded by the police soared by 16 per cent last year to nearly 700,000 offences, new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covering the 12 months to the end of September last year showed 699,800 recorded incidents of violence against the person compared with 604,100 offences in the previous 12 months.

The data also showed a new record level of rapes recorded by police in England and Wales.

There were 24,043 rapes in recorded crime figures for the year, a rise of 31 percent on the previous 12 months and 81 percent higher than a decade earlier.

Sky News also reports that knife crimes are up by 13%:

The figures show there were 1,577 more knife assaults (up 13% from the previous year) and 1,000 more cases of knife possession (up 10%).

Overall, knife crime rose by 2% in the 12 months up to March this year, said the Office for National Statistics.

These statistics show that gun regulation will not necessarily stop violence. Instead, violence used with a different weapon such as knives replaces illegal gun use. Should we have background checks to purchase kitchen knives?

USA Today reports that Baltimore and Chicago are the Top 2 US cities in homicide rate so far in 2015, both cities have strict gun control laws.

These trends show that gun control laws do not necessarily make us safer. If anything, they make us less safe. The shootings in Louisiana and South Carolina both occurred in gun-free zones where law abiding citizens are unable to protect themselves.

Gun safety is not achieved by government, but by the individual. The 2nd Amendment exists so gun safety is in the hands of the people to protect themselves. Violent criminals will always exist, no matter how many government regulations there are. Gun control hinders law abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves from the violent criminals.

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