Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Firearm Series Part II: Are Firearm Bans Effective?

            My last post made it painfully clear that firearms are dangerous. While they are not the leading cause of fatal or non-fatal accidents, they still account for a significant percentage of each. They also have been statistically proven to increase the homicide rate of a home. (The jury is still out on whether this is a property of the gun itself or not) There, it is essential that we, as responsible citizens, do something about this deadly plague that has spread across our land. Gun restrictions and bans are the most common answer to this need, but are they effective? To answer this question, let’s look at three examples of gun restrictions and bans: Britain, Washington D.C., and Chicago.
            Britain is a very striking example of a gun restriction and a gun ban affecting the number of homicides committed in the country. Britain had an essentially free policy on firearms until 1968. In this year, a law requiring the licensing of firearms was enacted.  Ostensibly, this was supposed to decrease the homicide rate by making it more difficult to obtain a firearm as well as making it easier to track down killers because their guns would be registered. After 1968, the homicide rate in England and Wales increased by 52%. Obviously the law did not produce the desired effect, so almost thirty years later, in 1997, another law was passed making it illegal for civilians to own guns. Using the licensing information that was available as a result of the 1968 law, the police were able to round up all but 8 legally owned guns. As a result of this law, the homicide rate in England and Wales increased by 15%.
            Another example of a gun ban in a specific area affecting the number of homicides committed is that of Washington D.C. In 1976, the Washington D.C. City Counsel passed a law that generally prohibited civilians from owning firearms as well as placing trigger lock restrictions on people who were allowed to own firearms. This law had a huge effect on the district by effectually restricting the increase in murders in the city to 73%. Obviously if the law wasn’t passed, the murder rate would have gone up even further, possibly so high that the entire city would have been killed. It is interesting, though useless, to note that the murder rate in the United States during this time period decreased by 11%.
            The most convincing example of gun restrictions helping to decrease murder in a city is that of Chicago. In 1982, Chicago enacted a restriction on handguns, allowing only those who had registered their handguns with the government prior to the law to retain them. Following the enactment of the law, the murder rate in Chicago decreased by 17%. It must have also influenced the rest of the country because the murder rate everywhere else decreased by an average of 25%. Obviously the handgun ban had a vast effect to decrease murders. Interestingly, since the handgun ban, the percentage of murders in Chicago committed with handguns increased by about 40% culminating in 96% on the Chicago murders in 2005 being committed with a handgun. These statistics are obviously a result of the decreased number of total murders.
            Are gun restrictions and bans a good way to decrease the danger from firearms? By examining the examples of restrictions and bans in England, Washington D.C., and Chicago, we have been able to see that not only are bans and restrictions effective, but they are absolutely necessary to keep our citizens safe. Just think about it; if we were to pass a federal law banning all firearms, we could permanently increase the murder rate by a significant percentage! Take that innocent civilians!

NOTE: All of the statistics in this article can be found at

To whoever reads this:
I hope that you have enjoyed this second installment of my three part series on firearms. Hopefully it has been informative to you about the effectiveness of firearm bans and restrictions. Tune in next time for the conclusion to this series.

Peter Last

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