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Quickly after the senseless school murders in Newtown, the president and some others call for renewal of past ineffective gun laws restricting what responsible, law-abiding people in our country can buy. The 1994-2004 ban on some semiautomatics did nothing to prevent the 1999 Columbine murders, any more than Colorado’s gun show law prevented the recent Aurora killings.
Gun control advocates, in support of a ban on modern sporting rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds, point to the decline in the homicide rate in Australia. The facts do not support that storyline; data shows that U.S. homicide rates dropped more rapidly since the federal ban on modern sporting rifles expired than homicide rates dropped in Australia after its strict gun laws were implemented. In the seven full calendar years that have transpired since the 1994 federal ban on “assault rifles” and high-capacity magazines elapsed in 2004, the U.S. murder rate has averaged 3.9 percent lower than it was before the ban expired. Correspondingly, in the seven years that followed the implementation of Australia’s gun laws, the Australian murder rate averaged 0.4 percent lower than it was when the laws took effect.
Laws to limit bullets that can pierce a bullet proof vest would include almost all hunting ammo. Some suggest waiting periods before someone can obtain a firearm, but that would only delay an individual set on murder, not prevent it, after all what mass murder happened within three, five or even 10 days of the gun purchase? A few have suggested stopping Internet gun sales, and yet they may not realize that all Internet gun sales have to be handled through a local federally-licensed firearms dealer. These suggested laws are nothing but feel good answers to a complex problem, much like trying to prevent teenage pregnancies by outlawing sex.
One of things most news media don’t address when talking about gun control is the number of times each year honest citizens prevent violent crimes from happening, often without firing a shot. Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.
Let’s face it, individuals set on mass murder will use whatever means is available to them. The deadliest school massacre appears to have occurred in Chicago in 1958. A student set fire to the school, killing 92 students and three nuns. And in 1927, in Michigan, a former member of the school board set bombs at three schools, killing 45, mostly second- to sixth-graders. Or look at the Oklahoma City bombing to see what a few can do with a homemade bomb.
We all can agree that the targeting of children is a reprehensible act. I wish I could believe that the gun control would stop the violent acts, but facts and history say they won’t.
Does something need to be done to try and prevent evil perpetrated by individuals set on using mass murder to make a name for themselves — yes. Is gun control legislation as currently proposed by the president and others going to prevent such violence, no more than weapon control in prisons prevents murders in that highly controlled environment. This is a complex issue that needs a broad rational look at the causes, and then reasonable solutions that actually have a chance at prevention.