Do strict gun laws reduce crime?

After the recent tragic mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the gun control debate has again come to the center of American politics. On one side are those who are demanding stricter gun laws, bans of certain types of weapons, and stronger restrictions on who can buy a firearm. On the other side of the debate are those who demand that the government not ignore the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The question that the title of this article asks is whether or not the gun laws that we already have are arming the citizens of the United States. Clearly, the gun laws are not arming people. It is the Second Amendment that gives people the right to own firearms if they so choose. The debate, then, has become one in which proponents of gun control are arguing that additional gun laws would somehow prevent gun violence.

A better question for the title might them be, “Do strict gun laws reduce crime?” One recent news story has seemed to indicate that strict gun laws do not work at all to curb violence. In Chicago, murder rates were up 38 percent in 2012. Most of these homicides occurred by firearm. The irony here is that Chicago has long had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Another city which saw a surge in violent crime 2012 was Washington D.C. There, violent crime was up by 40 percent from the previous year. Armed robberies were up by 50 percent. Washington D.C. is another city known for its strict gun laws yet violent crime is up dramatically.

Statistics never tell the whole story. There are probably many factors for the spike in murders and other violent crimes in Chicago and Washington D.C. One factor, though, that must be considered is that criminals do not obey gun laws or any other laws. That is why they are criminals. The strict gun laws are clearly not keeping the guns out of the hands of predators. Who, then, are these laws affecting? It would seem that the strict gun laws are keeping innocent people from getting guns and thus, robbing them of any means to protect themselves or their families. Rather than saving lives, it could be argued that strict gun laws are actually responsible for at least some of these homicide and other violent crime victims.

What happens in areas in which it is easier to purchase firearms? In Virginia, for example, firearms ownership was up 73 percent from 2006-2011. The most interesting aspect of this statistic, however, is that the crime rate involving firearms in the state during the same time frame is down 24 percent. This same phenomenon has been repeated all over the country. Again, maybe there are other reasons for this significant drop in crime. It cannot be ignored, though, that where citizens have access to firearms, they have the ability to keep from becoming a victim, a statistic themselves.  

The gun control debate will continue to rage on. No amount of statistics will change someone’s mind, no matter which side they are on. That is why it is so important that the government not be allowed to bypass the Constitution. It was written by men who understood the need for an armed society. It seems significant that the Second Amendment is placed where it is in the Constitution. The Second Amendment provides the citizens of the United States of America with the wherewithal to protect all of their other freedoms as well.