Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

The Seven Myths of Gun Control: Reclaiming the Truth about Guns, Crime, and the Second Amendment

Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

The Seven Myths of Gun Control: Reclaiming the Truth about Guns, Crime, and the Second Amendment

Article excerpt

The Seven Myths of Gun Control: Reclaiming the Truth About Guns, Crime, and the Second Amendment

by Richard Poe

Prima Publishing * 2001 * 290 pages * $23.95

Guns increase the incidence of violent crime. Using a gun to deter crime is more dangerous to the intended victim than the perpetrator. Guns pose a special threat to children. Such statements, reinforced in the media, are accepted at face value by many Americans. But are they true?

According to Richard Poe, editor of, the answer is a resounding no. In The Seven Myths of Gun Control he identifies common fallacies used to promote gun control and sets forth arguments to refute them.

Five of the myths are of a practical nature, while two deal with the legal and social context of the Second Amendment. To his credit, Poe prefaces his discussion with the declaration that the issue is primarily a moral one: the right to keep and bear arms. His aim is to show that gun ownership is in fact more beneficial than portrayed by proponents of gun control. Were it not, however, there would still be no justification for authorities to forbid citizens a priori from owning firearms and using them in selfdefense.

Armed with this solid grasp of the concept of rights, Poe wisely avoids the "let's enforce the gun laws we already have instead of creating new ones" approach. Such a position accepts the premises of gun-control advocates and reduces the debate to a quibble over degree.

In each myth, Poe discusses the underlying assumptions and presents facts, arguments, and anecdotes to counter them. A recurring implication is the necessity of presenting statistics that are not only valid but also meaningful. So often the myths he cites rest on statistics that either omit vital data or consolidate disparate groups into a single category. For example, the level of gun violence among U.S. teens is not significantly different from that in other industrialized nations-when you exclude certain identifiable violence-prone subcultures. Gun ownership deters crime-when you consider that in 98 percent of cases in which U.S. citizens use guns to defend themselves from criminals, no shot is fired. Guns cause far fewer deaths to children than automobile accidents or drowning-especially when you exclude older teens engaged in violent criminal activity from the category "children." Crime has increased in Great Britain and Australia since those nations confiscated virtually all private firearms-when you consider burglaries, robberies, and assaults committed without a gun. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.