by Rod D. Martin
July 11, 2000
Four years into the British and Australian gun bans, the verdict on gun control is in: disaster.
Those who argue for the right of self-defense have always said that banning guns would disarm the law-abiding while encouraging the criminals. Yet even by the standards of most pro-gun arguments, the actual results of total gun control have been startling, leaving anti-gunners and government officials at a loss to explain the debacle.
Take Australia. Just over one year ago, the Australian government spent more than $500 million to confiscate 640,381 privately-owned firearms, even using deadly force. This followed a partial ban of over 60 percent of the country’s private weapons in 1996. The promise: a dramatic reduction in crime, in exchange for the right of common citizens to defend themselves.
The results: utter mayhem, showing yet again that, as in most things, government cannot take care of you as well as you can.
In the first year of the ban, Australian homicides increased 3.2 percent, and in the state of Victoria, gun homicides shot up 300 percent. Assaults increased 8.6 percent. Armed robberies rose a whopping 44 percent, after having dropped for 25 straight years before the ban. Since then, homicides have jumped 29 percent, kidnappings have risen 38 percent, assaults have increased 17 percent, and armed robberies have skyrocketed an additional 73 percent.
In Australia today, police can go house to house, enter your home without a warrant, search for guns, copy your hard drive, seize your records, and take you to jail. What they cannot do is protect you.
It’s worse in Britain, where virtually all guns were banned in 1996 following the Dunblane massacre. Americans tend to believe Britain a peaceful place with little crime. Post-confiscation, quite the opposite proves true: the crime rate in England and Wales is now 60 percent higher than in the United States. Indeed, it is higher than in every one of the 50 states.
As in Australia, British police are incapable of stopping this growing anarchy. Despite having more policemen per capita than the U.S., despite installing more electronic surveillance equipment than any other Western country, robbery and sex crimes have shot ahead of U.S. numbers, property crime is now twice as high, and assaults and muggings are now between twice and three times as high as in America.
Perhaps the most telling statistic is the “hot burglary” rate; i.e., those burglaries which are committed while the homeowner is present. In the United States, these burglaries account for just over 10 percent of the total: criminals fear getting shot. In post-gun-ban Britain, however, “hot burglaries” account for more than half of the total, meaning that vastly more Britons face an armed intruder each year, with absolutely no way to defend themselves either from the burglary itself or from whatever other assaults, rapes or murders the criminal may choose to commit.
The contrast between this horror story and the American experience is vast. The U.S. crime rate has fallen precipitously throughout the 1990s, largely driven downward by those states which have enacted concealed-carry laws. And in fact, gun ownership has been shown in survey after survey to be one of the single most important factors in preventing violent crime.
Of particular note, Janet Reno’s Department of Justice commissioned a survey in 1994 by the openly anti-gun Police Foundation. That exhaustive study, “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” was completed in 1997, and its conclusion was clear: “Guns are used far more often to defend against crime than to perpetrate crime.”
In the year studied, 1.5 million Americans used guns to defend their homes, families or property. In the words of the study, literally “millions of attempted assaults, thefts and break-ins were foiled by armed citizens during the 12-month period.” And as the study itself admits, its conclusions are “directly comparable” to other similar studies: the Police Foundation’s work was the fifteenth national survey to reach this same conclusion in the past twenty-two years, every one of them having found results in the same range.
The common sense of gun ownership is inescapable: a family, or a single mother, alone at home, facing an armed intruder in the middle of the night, does not have time to call 911. By the time the police arrive, no matter how competent they are, no matter how quickly they respond, she and her children will be dead. It’s that simple. She can defend herself and her children, or she can face her merciless predator, alone.
The fact is simple: guns save lives. Lots of lives. Every day. Criminals would far rather prey on the weak than on someone who can fight back. Private gun ownership means people can help protect their families and keep the peace; it also makes certain that crime does not pay.
And if you don’t believe it, just visit our British and Australian cousins.