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By Rob Morse

I hope you’ve fallen in love at some point. It’s an exciting time when your new partner is simply beautiful and the world is full of possibilities. Eventually, the honeymoon ends and you find out that all relationships take work. When you begin to see you see your partner’s flaws, you wonder how you overlooked them before.

The theory of gun control might be a beautiful utopian vision to some, but the reality of disarming the good guys is heart-breakingly ugly with any examination at all.

The theory is that we can somehow make criminals harmless by restricting the right of and regulating the people who obey the law. When that doesn’t work, the gun control idealists say we need still laws to reach that elusive utopia.

Eventually, we realize that the honeymoon is over and that the 23,000 firearms regulations we have today have only made us less safe. It’s more than a cliché to say that a gun rights supporter is a liberal who was mugged. I’ve met them and I’ve heard their stories. I want all of us to learn from them.

The popular political theory is that we we can regulate honest people so extensively that we somehow disarm the bad guys. How that’s supposed to work in practice remains a mystery. We’ve never seen that happen anywhere or at any time in history. Prohibition works every time until it’s actually tried.

For a moment, let’s give the gun prohibitionists the benefit of the doubt. Suppose we made their theory reality and we disarm society. All the guns are magically gone. But guns are easy to make. They’re even easier to transport. Criminals could and would have guns tomorrow.

Now the criminals are armed while you and your law-abiding neighbors are disarmed. The scheme that sounded so good in theory is a disaster in practice. If there are only a few guns in society (outside government, of course), it will be the criminals who will have them.

It doesn’t take many guns in the wrong hands to leave us with shocking levels of violence,. day after day. I give you Washington, DC as a glaring example. Prohibition always fails in time, and not even people authoritarian police states like China are safe.

Let me turn that entire fantasy scheme on its head for a minute. Today, lots of us own guns. Estimate range from 35 to almost 60 percent of us live in a homes where someone owns a firearm.

Suppose we increased those numbers so that everyone was armed, even the criminals. Would crime go up or go down? I think criminals would learn their lesson in a hurry.

Bloomberg Arlington gun control protest
Courtesy Jeff Hulbert

This is more than a theory. We saw crime go up in Washington, DC and in San Francisco where honest citizens are disarmed and the thugs and gangs have the guns. I think that crime would go down if criminals expect that their victims was likely to be armed. We have some history to back that up.

Today, armed citizens stop more violent crime than the police do. That sounds violent, but it’s actually great news since the good guys rarely have to press the trigger to prevent an assault, a robbery, a rape or a murder.

Time after time, bad guys run away when they discover that they’ve chose a target who’s armed. It’s also good news that in those rare cases when we did have to pull the trigger, the bad guy usually lived. A few hundred violent attackers die each year lawful self-defense incidents.

That comes out to a little more than one bad guy a day. Each act of armed defense is closely examined by law enforcement and prosecutors. When all is said and done, honest citizens kill a few more bad guys each year in legal self-defense than police do.

That’s from nationwide FBI data, but I almost forgot that we’ve conducted this experiment time after time on a smaller scale. The crime rate drops in city after city when 30 to 40,000 armed citizens come to town for an NRA convention (respect the science).

A utopian dream world isn’t real. A handful of bad guys with guns gives us places like Washington, DC, Baltimore, or Chicago. In contrast, 100 million gun owners aren’t a problem to anyone…unless you kick in their door in the middle of the night.

A society that depends on the better angels of our nature isn’t very practical. I hate it when the angels get hurt. Please take care of you and the people you love.


This article originally appeared at Slow Facts Blog and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
    – George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776

    “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

    “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

    “…the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone…”
    – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

    “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
    – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

  2. 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256: The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be In agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail.

    Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1885) p. 442 “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

    Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 155 (1966), cited also in Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649.644 “Constitutional ‘rights’ would be of little value if they could be indirectly denied.”

    Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 426, 491; 86 S. Ct. 1603 “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no ‘rule making’ or legislation which would abrogate them.”

    Sherar v. Cullen, 481 F. 2d 946 (1973) “There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of his exercise of constitutional rights.”

    Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377 (1968) “The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime”… “a denial of them would be a denial of due process of law”.

    West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnett, (1943). “One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

    Boyd v. United, 116 U.S. 616 at 635 (1885) Justice Bradley, “It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest form; but illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way; namely, by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions for the security of persons and property should be liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of the Courts to be watchful for the Constitutional Rights of the Citizens, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. Their motto should be Obsta Principiis.”

    “If the State converts a right (liberty) into a privilege, the citizen can ignore the license and fee and engage in the right (liberty) with impunity.” (Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Alabama, 373 U.S. 262)

    Marbury v. Madison, 5 US 137 (1803): “The Constitution of these U.S. is the supreme law of the land. Any law that is repugnant to the constitution is null and void of law.”

    Murdock v Penn, 319 US 105 (1943): “No state shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it and attach a fee to it.”

  3. And finally:

    According to the US Supreme Court, it is unconstitutional to:

    1) Charge a fee for the exercising of a right (Harper v Virginia Board of Elections 1966);
    2) Require a precondition on the exercising of a right (Guinn v US 1915, Lane v Wilson 1939);
    3) Require a license (government permission) to exercise a right (Murdock v PA 1943, Lovell v City of Griffin 1939, Freedman v MD 1965, Near v MN 1931, Miranda v AZ 1966);
    4) Delay the exercising of a right (Org. for a Better Austin v Keefe 1971);
    5) Register (record in a government database) the exercising of a right (Thomas v Collins 1945, Lamont v Postmaster General 1965, Haynes v US 1968).
    So a mass majority of these gun laws are unconstitutional at best.

    • And yet they still exist and those who continually pass and enforce them are still in power. They are no different than what the British Crown was to the Founding patriots and must be dealt with accordingly or their tyranny will never cease.

    • “3) Require a license (government permission) to exercise a right (Murdock v PA 1943, Lovell v City of Griffin 1939, Freedman v MD 1965, Near v MN 1931, Miranda v AZ 1966)…”

      Tell you what – Organize 20,000 folks on the internet to gather in Washington, D.C., in front of the Lincoln Memorial for a protest and see what happens to you.

      Tell me what happens when you mention Murdock v PA (1943), et. al as to why you have no permit…

  4. And what’s the reality of all these “no state” and “shall not be infringed”? The States do as they wish, with NO CONSEQUENCES! If a law is upheld by the Supreme Court, you stay in prison. If the Supremes overturn it, you go free, but NO ONE FROM THE STATE GOES TO PRISON.
    There’s even a Federal Law that’s supposed to protect the people from Government Overreach. Federal Statute 18.242. Has any politician EVER been prosecuted under it?

  5. Criminals are bad enough, but when only the government has guns, trenches full of bodies surely follows.

    History is clear.

  6. RE: “The theory is that we can somehow make criminals harmless by restricting the right of and regulating the people who obey the law. When that doesn’t work, the gun control idealists say we need still laws to reach that elusive utopia.”

    WELL it begins and ends with Gun Owners who have spent decades and written documentaries trying to explain things about guns to their foot tapping Gun Control nemesis.

    After all the smoke clears it comes down to drawing the following lines in the sand…

    1) The Second Amendment is one thing.
    2) The criminal misuse of firearms, bricks, bats, knives, fists, feet, vehicles, etc. is another thing.
    3) History Confirms Gun Control in any shape matter or form is a racist and nazi based Thing.

  7. “The popular political theory is that we we can regulate honest people so extensively that we somehow disarm the bad guys.”

    We keep missing the point; logic doesn’t penetrate the mind driven by emotion.

    First, no matter whether facing a drive-by shooting in a crime infested neighborhood, or the brand new venue everyone is eager to visit, the first though that goes through the emotional mind is, “That might have been me who got shot.”

    Second, if we ban firearms, we can at least eliminate some of the deaths, among both criminal and peaceful elements, reducing my risk of being shot.

    And, the conversation ender….”If it saves only one,….” (it might be me).

    And the show-stopper: only one view of the argument is permitted to gain national attention; the emotion of bearing the loss of a loved one to random criminal action.

    Apparently, there is no widely winning emotional argument rendering majority personal self-defense. (“constitutional/permitless carry” is simple legislation, always at risk of being overturned at the next election)

    On a personal level, I have encountered anti-gunners who are using a not common response to private ownership of guns, “If there were no guns, I wouldn’t need to defend myself with a gun.”

    • Sam
      Next time you get some anti gunner using that not common response, ask them, what about their 80 year old grand mother against a 22yo 200lb thug home invader.
      Is granny any good with a base ball bat?

      • “Next time you get some anti gunner using that not common response, ask them, what about their 80 year old grand mother against a 22yo 200lb thug home invader.”

        Have done something similar. The response falls along the line of, “Call 911, and run away.”

        • 1. Granny is too old to run anymore.
          2. Granny won’t have time to call 911…or anyone else for that matter.
          3. Granny was taught that guns are bad so she never prepared.
          4. Granny will never see 81.

  8. King Alfred the Great (reigned 871-899), realized that his army was not large enough to protect all the villages on the east coast of England against Viking raiders. So he issued a Royal Command, everyone must be armed.

    It worked.

  9. First thing, not 1 law ever written has ever prevented anyone from committing a criminal act once they chose to do so. Laws can only provide for consequences or retribution against those who commit said crimes. Next, prohibition only makes the prohibited item more desirable to many people. This is proven by the prohibition of alcohol and drugs. The only people benefiting from prohibition are the criminals supplying the prohibited item/substance to those who want it.
    Next issue. Economic and cultural problems alleged to cause/promote crime/violence. On the economic side, the only realistic way out of poverty is education. Education makes the person employable. Employment leads to better economic situations.
    Culture is harder to change. It has taken decades to destroy the basic family and basic moral codes imparted by earlier generations. It will take as long or longer to bring such ideals back to the fore.
    Lastly, disarming and otherwise limiting or denying the rights of the law abiding will only encourage the criminal element, and encourage those in government who have tyrannical impulses.

  10. Take the gunms and bullets.
    Now the criminals got bats, bricks, knives, chains and I got a spoon and a pudding cup.

  11. This article is BS, I’m sorry to say. I support gun rights based on principles, facts, and good arguments, and this article is light on all three.

    The author claims that the crime rate drops when the NRA comes to town, but then links to articles about the rate of firearm injuries nationwide. Setting aside that the studies are observational (read: not science), they simply don’t say what the author is implying that they say.

    The larger point is also bogus. Lots of cities in Western Europe and Asia have very low crime rates even though the populations are disarmed. The idea that it’s somehow just a utopian ideal is ridiculous — what’s the murder rate in Tokyo?

    Let’s make this a forum for information and quality analysis, not an echo chamber where we nod along with bad arguments and false information just because it supports our conclusions.

    • “what’s the murder rate in Tokyo?”

      Define ‘murder’?

      Officially, the homicide rate in Tokyo is approximately 0.7 recognized homicide cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

      That word ‘recognized’ – that’s a key ‘concept’ used in Japan (and most of Europe and gun-ban countries as well in some form). Murders have to be ‘recognized’ (basically meaning ‘officially acknowledged’) as ‘murder’ in Japan to be included in stats, however, thousands happen annually that are not ‘recognized’ but they are murder none the less. Its the same for other deaths, for example, a suicide in Japan is not recorded in stats unless its ‘recognized’ and their official stats are low yet there are thousands each year that are not ‘recognized’. The ‘recognized’ is at the ‘governments discretion’ and not like it is in the United States where its largely reported in stats as soon as, for example, a conviction, takes place or an ‘official inquiry’ decides a cause of death. Another example where ‘recognized’ is used, in the U.K. over 40% of the sex workers are murdered annually but in stats for the UK only those ‘recognized’ appear and its a lot less than the numbers in that 40% but they were murdered none the less. Its the same with crime rates in all of Western Europe and Asia, they all use a ‘recognized’ concept for their official stats and its actually a lot more than what appears in their official stats.

      So you really can’t compare such stats to that of the United States, in the United States we don’t do ‘recognized’ to determine stats.

    • “I’m okay with background checks being required for voting. Every time.”

      Now you’re talking.

      But it must be combined with a government approved, implanted, tracking device for each voter.

  12. “we nod along with bad arguments and false information just because it supports our conclusions“

    TTAG in a nutshell.

    • “we nod along with bad arguments and false information just because it supports our conclusions“

      Just like anti-constitution and anti-gun people, which includes Miner49er and dacian, and even Joe Biden does.

        • sigh…. once again for you… learn what ‘context’ means and stop cherry picking things out of context to make inane and false points.

        • Gotta bring your own fruit, 40, otherwise any discussion you have with miner/dacian/al will be fruitless. Me, I like to have a piece of pie same time because at least then I get something out of it. You did mention cherry picking, so you’re on the right track.

  13. Criminals would still want guns.
    Supply vs demand.
    The cartels that are currently running our Southern border, would provide the supply of not only guns, but magazines and ammo. This kind of utopia would just provide them another revenue stream. Guns would flow over the Southern border, criminals would still have guns and no one would be able to stop them, assuming the brain dead Democrats in this utopia would also say the police do not need guns as no one has them!


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