Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

Guns R Us

Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

Guns R Us

Article excerpt

Pro- and anti-gun-control forces tend to use the same caliber of ammunition in their arguments: statistics or--depending on your point of view--lies, damn lies, and statistics. Nearly half of all households in the United States have guns. There is nearly one gun for every man, woman, and child in the country. The homicide rate in the United States is eight times higher than in comparable countries.

Gregg Lee Carter reviews the statistical arguments used in the debate over gun control, but finds no clear answers in the numbers. Even in countries like the United States, where gun ownership and gun violence rates are both high, correlation does not imply causation, Carter maintains. In Switzerland, for example, virtually every adult male is a gun owner, yet that country has a low overall murder rate. In fact, social homogeneity may be more predictive than gun ownership of low rates of violence. Instead of trying to prove causality, Carter says that gun-control advocates are now underscoring the social and medical costs of gun violence as a rationale for instituting stricter gun controls.

The Founding Fathers--who hunted game, fought for freedom, and relied on their guns for self defense--may be rolling over in their graves at this precautionary approach. In fact, much of the discussion hinges on divining the intention of the authors of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. George Rice says the gun-control issue is just that, an issue of who controls the guns. The earliest gun laws were, in part, intended to keep guns out of the hands of African Americans. Likewise, laws were used to disarm Native Americans and send them to reservations. Legal, or illegal, possession of guns has been a norm in our national history. Rice says our gun nostalgia should be replaced with a collective consensus to uphold the right of society to be free of gun violence.

Yet the unarmed are easy prey for criminals. Paxton Quigley, a personal protection expert, decided to learn to use a handgun after a close friend was raped. …

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