Italians are beginning to questioin the reasonableness and effectiveness of their complex, strict gun control laws.
While 26 percent of people questioned in 2015 said they supported looser laws on owning a gun for self-defence, the latest research carried out by social studies institute Censis and private security sector organization Federsicurezza found that 39 percent were in favour.
The percentage was highest among people with a low level of education and the elderly, rising to 51 percent among respondents who hadn’t completed high school and 41 percent for the over-65s.
The study also found that the number of Italians with guns is rising: there were a total of 1,398,920 gun permits in Italy in 2017, an increase of nearly 14 percent in the last year. Factoring in specialist licences for trap shooting and other sports, the authors estimate that some 4.5 million Italians have a gun in the house.
Italy has a long history of brave armed men. The illustration shows an Italian saint who inspired a campaign to make him the patron saint of handgunners, Saint Gabriel Possenti.
Most of Europe lacked strong gun restrictions until after WWI. Most European gun control was instituted between WWI and WWII, as totalitarian governments sprouted across the continent. English gun control started in 1921, French in 1936.
The current Italian gun control scheme dates back to Mussolini. The laws came from a fear of political opposition.
Modern Italian gun control laws date from the Fascist period; the Public Safety Act was passed in 1931 as one of a series of measures designed to put an end to leftist violence. Addressing the Italian Senate Benito Mussolini explained:
“The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements. … They were elements of disorder and subversion. On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind. This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.”
Yet after the fall of the Fascist regime, the gun-control law remained and was gradually made even more stringent. In response to Communist terrorism in the 1970’s, a variety of laws were passed to disarm law-abiding people. More recent amendments force those who need the permit to carry firearms to demonstrate a “necessity,” and to give the government extremely personal information, such as medical certificates.
The crime rate dropped as Europe became more nationalized and educated in the 19th century, but before the gun laws were adopted. Italy tended to lag behind with a higher crime rate than Northern Europe. In the 20th century, it caught up.
The idea that gun control reduces the homicide rate is a myth. In fact, it’s mostly unrelated. Homicides were dropping before the gun control laws were put in place in 1931. Homicides were at a low of 1.3/100K of population. They rose after the gun law was passed, and peaked at 4.6/100k in 1950. Criminal homicides tend to drop during a war, but Italy lost the war.
They dropped to a low of 1.0 in 1972 (more controls put in during the 70’s), peaked again at 2.2 in 1986, 3.3 in 1991, and have dropped to .9/100K in 2015, relatively little different than they were when the whole mess started in 1939. Homicides have gone up and down in Italy, in spite of gun laws.
Now people in Italy are being exposed to more ideas of freedom and individual responsibility. Those ideas include taking responsibility for your own safety.
Currently, Italy’s rigorous gun laws require anyone who wants to buy a gun to be over 18, have a clean criminal record, get certified by a shooting range and attest that they don’t have mental health or addiction problems. Once purchased, guns must be reported to a police station and you need an extra permit to carry one in public.
And even though crime rates in Italy have remained fairly constant, Italians are feeling less safe.
The study pointed to fears over crime as possible factor in changing attitudes to guns. Around one in three Italians believe they live in an area at risk of crime, according to figures released this month by national statistics office Istat, an increase of nearly 12 percent from the last survey carried out in 2008-9. Nearly 28 percent said they didn’t feel safe going out alone in the dark, while 38 percent said that concern about crime affected the way they lived their lives.
Control whether or not a people are armed, and you control how they think. A person who has no choice to be armed will think differently than a person who can chose to be armed. Much of the push for gun control in the modern state is a desire to control how the common man thinks.
Gun control has never been about guns, but always about control. Of the populace.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.