Gun Control - A Look at Both Sides - My TakeSubmitted by John23 on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 10:31
So everyone keeps arguing back and forth on this and I didn't have a great knowledge of the stats on this topic so I decided to pick up two books on it. One book that the pro gun people believe to be very highly rated, and one book that the anti gun people believe to be pretty highly rated. I read them both to see if either side could convince me more than the other. The two books were
-Private Guns Public Health by David Hemenway (anti gun)
-More Guns Less Crime by John Lott (pro gun)
Anyone interested in this subject would find both of these books pretty good at summarizing each sides argument. After getting through them both, in my opinion, Lott blew Hemenway out of the water.
The major difference in the logic of each book is this. Lott (pro gun) says if you're going to measure the affect of guns and if you're hurting more people with them around, you must measure the TOTAL murder rate....not just gun related murder rates. Why? Because when people know the population could potentially be armed, they are more scared to commit terrible acts such as murder because they know they might get shot. So with guns around there is a deterrant effect that must be considered. How do you measure this accurately? You measure total murder rates before and after gun control laws are in place - IN THE SAME AREA.
Why in the same area? Lott shows how violence even within adjacent counties in the same state can be drastically different...so it's erroneous to take say, Great Britain, and try to compare it to the US. There are different population densities, cultural beliefs and a million other factors that makes this an invalid way to look at the stats. So what do you do? You compare the same geographical location to itself before and after gun control laws are enacted. this gets rid of all these uncontrolled variables like population densities and cultural beliefs.
So now we look at TOTAL murder rates because we have to see how many lives the deterrant effect of having guns i talked about above is saving. Because what we're trying to do is see how we can save the most amount of lives. It doesn't matter how a murder is committed....if a gun is used or a baseball bat....the person is dead. So what does Lott find? These stats compare the SAME area to each other before and after gun control laws. And he doesn't cherry pick the areas, he has found EVERY area that has stats to compare before and after gun control laws. When gun control laws are lifted and people are allowed to carry firearms....murder goes down, rape goes down, and aggravated assault goes down. Lott then takes it to the extreme and factors in a bunch of different variables that are known to cause shifts in murder rates, such as arrest rates. What does he find? The same conclusion.
So if we're really trying to save the most amount of lives, we should want guns around. Yes, more people die by GUN RELATED deaths when they're around....but when guns are around you SAVE THE MOST AMOUNT of lives because of the deterrant effect that guns have and the subsequent drop in TOTAL murder rates......meaning we save the most amount of lives.
Now Hemenway makes a lot of the arguments i hear against guns. Like gun related deaths in Britain are incredibly low compared to the US. Where there are guns there are more gun related deaths. Where there are guns it is more likely you'd be killed from a gun. But after reading Lotts book I kind of end up thinking that these arguments don't really matter.
I think it's pretty obvious when guns are around you'd have more gun related deaths, that just makes sense. You could do that with anything....when you have cars around there are more car related deaths...when you have kitchen knives around there are more knife related deaths. It's not looking at the broad picture though....because it's forgetting about the deterrant effect of having guns and if that deterrant effect saves more lives than the increased deaths by the guns...and it definitely does....you save more lives by having them around when you look at the overall picture.
I read Hemenways book first and I was surprised reading about the comparison of different countries that had banned guns to our own. But then when i read Lotts book it just completely blew Hemenways argument out of the water. You can't compare different geographical locations to each other without adding in 100's of unaccounted variables which end up making the comparisons junk stats. It's like comparing Mexico to Great Britain.....both have a ban on guns...one has just slightly more crime than the other (sarcasm). Lott shows, like i said above, that even counties right next to each other can have vastly different murder and crime rates.
Another important point is that ever since Lott has done this research....when you look at the TOTAL murder rates and see if there are drops in it...his work is uncontested....noone has been able to show that total murder rates increase when guns are around...not one single peer reviewed study.
So that's my take on it.
My personal opinion also factors in a historical argument for the population to be armed....but most people aren't concerned or worried about this and care more about their present safety...that's why i didn't jump into that side of it on the post.