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.
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.