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More Guns, Less Crime?

More Guns, Less Crime? – Capitalism Magazine

One highly visible scholar in the media debate is economist and social scientist, John Lott, Jr., the John M. Olin Visiting Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago. The title of his 1998 book, MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME, may at first strike the reader as provocatively counterintuitive. Lott argues that states’ issuance of permits allowing private citizens to carry concealed handguns has NOT caused crime to rise, but has in fact dramatically REDUCED violent crimes. That’s one fact you won’t here on Rosie O’Donell.

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More Guns, Less Crime?

From Richmond Times-Dispatch: Central Virginia:

Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales. The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent. But the total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped more than 27 percent, from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 crimes in 2011.

The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

[...] “My opponents are constantly saying, ‘If you got more guns on the street, there’s going to be more crime.’ It all depends on who has the handgun,” Van Cleave said. “As long as it’s going into the hands of people like you or me, there’s not going to be a problem. Criminals are going to continue to get their guns no matter what.”[...]

“From my personal point of view, I would say the data is pretty overwhelming,” said Baker, who is new to VCU and studied under Florida State University professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, whose nationally recognized research on guns and homicides in the District of Columbia was cited in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that overturned the district’s handgun ban. “But we’re pretty cautious in the social sciences in talking about causality. We only talk in probabilities.”

The multiple years of data for gun purchases and gun-related crime help strengthen the premise that more gun sales are not leading to an increase in crime. Using what Baker calls the “lag model,” the data show that an increase in gun purchases for one year usually is followed by a decrease in crime the next year.

[...] Gun-control lobbyist Goddard, whose son was wounded during the Virginia Tech massacre five years ago, doesn’t dispute the numbers but questioned their significance.”It’s quite possible that you can sell a whole lot more guns and crime is still going down,” Goddard said. “But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?”  [Gun-related violent crimes drop as sales soar in Va. -]

So is he saying that guns don’t cause crime, but criminals do?

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Lessons from Zimmerman Tragedy — For Gun Owners

Writes Paul Hsieh on The Single Most Important Lesson Gun Owners Should Learn From The George Zimmerman Case – Forbes

Part of the ethos of responsible concealed weapons permit holders is to avoid getting into dicey situations whenever possible. We should remain aware of our surroundings at all times. We should avoid getting into unnecessary conflicts. If conflicts arise, we should attempt to defuse rather than escalate them. If some jerk gets angry because he thinks we stole his spot in the grocery store parking lot, we should back down or remove ourselves from the situation — precisely because we recognize the deadly consequences if things escalate out of control.

Hsieh’s strongest point:

Some politicians and pundits claim the Zimmerman case demonstrates the problem with Florida’s “stand your ground” law. In contrast, supporters of “stand your ground” observe that this issue didn’t apply in the Zimmerman case. Instead, Zimmerman drew his weapon only after he was pinned to the ground and physically incapable of leaving.

My concern is separate from the legal issue of “stand your ground” vs. “duty to retreat” in self-defense situations. Instead, my concern is over how Zimmerman ended up in a situation where he had to use his weapon in self-defense, and what other gun owners should learn from that.

Worth reading the full article.

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