A dozen or so of you have already completed my Gun Control survey. Several more of you have written to complain that the survey is too long. We all know, however, that survey results aren’t very useful unless a number of the surveys are completed, so that requires your participation. We don’t want sampling size error, do we? Go ahead and fill it out, won’t you? Also, did you notice I actually listened to the feedback from the last survey we had? Instead of check yes or no, I added a range of options. I’m a good listener.
So let’s talk about bear arms and our rights. During the Anglo-Saxon period, carrying a seax (a single bladed knife) was a mark of a free man, as slaves were forbidden to possess weapons. Times have changed since then, but as free Americans, we have the right to own and carry weapons. It’s in the Bill of Rights:
The second amendment:
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.
You might notice that the 2nd amendment is strangely worded. It poses more questions than it answers. Q. Who does the Amendment mean by “the People”? Q. Why does the Amendment protect the right to ‘keep and bear arms’, and not protect just the right to ‘bear arms’? Q. Who or what does the Amendment mean by the “militia”? Is the militia the same thing as today’s National Guard? Q. What does “shall not be infringed” mean? Q. what does “well-regulated” mean? Q. Is the ban from infringement speaking to the federal government or the state government or both? Q. What kind of arms are citizens allowed to have? pistols? hunting rifles? shotguns? military (assault) rifles? automatic weapons?
And then there is me. Where do I stand? Though I’ve never admitted on this blog to actually owning any weapons, I have blogged about firearms a few times. Ownership aside however, as a man of science, I’m heavily swayed by appeals to logic and common sense. Studies and surveys, carefully administered, are therefore very important to me.
Enter statistics. In particular, let’s compare two countries England and Switzerland. The two represent polar ends of the gun control spectrum. England has the some of the most severe gun control laws in the world. Handguns are banned for civilians, even for sporting purposes. You must get a certificate from the police to own a shotgun or a rifle for hunting, and the certificates are difficult to obtain. In Switzerland, on the other hand, every male between the ages of 20 and 42 can be called into the military should need require. After completing a short period of active duty, they are enrolled in the national guard until age or an inability to serve ends their service obligation. During that enrollment the men are required to keep their government-issued automatic rifles and semi-automatic pistols in their homes, alongside boxes of ammunition. As well, Swiss citizens are allowed to purchase surplus combat rifles.
Here is a PDF showing crime statistics in the UK in 2004/2005. Some points of interest:
- Only 1% of violent crimes involved a firearm.
- A low percentage of homicides (11% of male victims and 5% of female victims) involved firearms. Most homicides were committed with “sharp instruments.”
- “Less than three per cent of firearm crimes resulted in a serious or fatal injury”
- “a big increase in imitation weapon offenses… “
- 40% of the violent crimes involving firearms were with pistols, even though pistols are illegal to possess.
And then there is Switzerland. Between 1998 and 2000, the entire country had only 69 Murders, which equates to a Murders (per capita) rate of 0.00921351 per 1,000 people, that despite the aforementioned 600,000 issued M-57 assault rifles. Anti-Gun Control advocates have claimed that widespread access to firearms acts as a deterrent to criminals and dramatically decreases crime. A recent study comparing serious crime in eight developed countries might help buttress that claim. Switzerland had the lowest crime of the eight in nearly every category. Check, for instance, the graph below on burglary rates.
On to another aspect: you should know that I’m concerned about a matter of delegation. If you don’t carry a weapon yourself, you’re delegating the task of protection to someone else. The police. What about in times of civil unrest or martial law or invasion? And then there is a question of who is policing the police.
Let’s not forget the University of Utah. That university believed it could institute anti-gun laws in direct contravention to state laws. ‘Cause they’re liberal and gutsy like that. The Utah Supreme court, on the other hand, predictably reminded the Utes that, as a state funded organization, they were in no position to legislate against state mandates. So, now people can carry their concealed weapons on that Salt Lake campus without fear of harassment by the unarmed mobs. On a related note, recently, while browsing at Cabelas, I might have seen Utah’s attorney General (Mark Shurtleff) in front of me in line, purchasing a pistol. Mark, of course, was the defendant named in the above referenced case concerning the University of Utah.
State-by-State Overview of Gun Laws
Visit my funny gun control picture album:
Gun Control PropagandaClick the image for the complete gallery