The London Times wrote about the tragedy at Virginia Tech and the notion of gun control recently. You might expect them to decry the barbaric and unenlightened Americans whose lust for guns fuels death and violence, but in this case at least you’d be mistaken. As least some subjects have come to realize that banning guns simply emboldens the lawless while it restricts the lawful, fueling rather than abating violence. After banning guns in Britain, they now have a level of crime several times higher than we, and some are starting to understand why.
Lest we ever take seriously the notion of following the horrible path they blazed, this should be required reading for anyone developing public policy.
The short answer is that “gun controls” do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus. It is with a measure of bitter irony that we recall Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, recording the words of Cesare Beccaria: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
One might contrast the Virginia Tech massacre with the assault on Virginia’s Appalachian Law School in 2002, where three lives were lost before a student fetched a pistol from his car and apprehended the gunman.
Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only by the law-abiding. New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain).
H/T to the Virginia Citizens Defense League for pointing out this editorial in VA-ALERT.
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