After the Texas church shooting, gun control activists are chomping at their bits again. This is not in itself surprising, since these people will call for increased gun control when guns weren’t even used by the murderer in question. Considering that some misguided souls are now suggesting “car control” as the way forward merely serves to prove how out of touch with reality they are. The manner in which gun control advocates present their argument is riddled with major problems and logical fallacies. I will deal with them individually.
Firstly, let us slay some terminological demons: if you are going to use terms like “high-powered”, “military-grade”, and/or “assault weapon” – please familiarise yourself with what exactly they mean before using them. Too many people just throw them around whilst clearly having no idea what they even refer to. It is frustrating for me, and embarrassing for you.
Secondly, there is no such thing as “gun violence”: there is only violence. “Gun violence” is a made-up nonsense term. Fixation on the object of perpetration, in order to reclassify something in order to promote an agenda, is intellectually dishonest. We do not (as of yet) have a campaign against so-called “knife violence” in South Africa, despite well over 60% of all homicides being perpetrated by use of sharp objects. Perhaps this is due to us understanding how ridiculous it would be to even attempt regulating cutlery. A beer bottle has the potential to become an edged weapon within seconds, after all. It is not possible to regulate every inanimate object that can be used to kill.
Thirdly, and most importantly: gun control does not work. There is not a single example of a gun ban or tighter gun control legislation being followed by a decline in homicide – the opposite effect is always observed following such legislative action. Claiming that having fewer firearms in society will somehow lead to a decline in murder is nonsensical and untrue, and not backed by the available evidence. We frequently oversimplify this phenomenon by stating gun laws don’t work because criminals do not obey laws. It may be oversimplifying the argument, but it is completely true none the less. Additionally, there has never been a successful gun ban that completely disarms the entire civilian populace outside of North Korea. The amount of civil rights that have to be forfeited in order to make it a workable policy is simply unthinkable to any person who values individual liberty at all.
The UK & Australia gun control fallacy
In countries held-up as shining examples of gun policy successes, there have been upsurges in (surprise, surprise) so-called gun violence. England and Wales have seen an increase of 27% this year alone, and Australia is not far behind in that regard. London alone has seen an upsurge of “gun violence” equal to a whopping 42% during the last year, which forms part of a national upward trend in violent confrontational crime. Snopes has attempted to debunk claims of Australia’s homicide rate increasing after the 1996 NFA gun ban. They did so by focusing solely on the criteria of firearm-related homicide, which did indeed decline. What they fail to mention is that the overall homicide rate increased by nearly 12% within 3 years, and that it stayed well above 1996 levels until 2003, 7 years after the NFA was implemented. Australian criminals performed a near-seamless weapon substitution in favour of knives over guns. But because more people were being stabbed to death than shot, the fact that overall murder increased is held-up as some sort of perverse success story.
It is also entirely untrue that there have been no mass shootings in Australia since Port Arthur. There have been no fewer than 13 mass killings in Australia since the NFA, of which at least 5 were classified as mass shootings.
More guns, less crime
There is, however, a strong positive correlation (I am willing to say even causation) between increased lawful civilian firearm ownership and decreases in violent confrontational crime. The so-called “Lott Model” holds true even for South Africa. This model has never been debunked, and thus remains relevant. It is not surprising, since a stable society (from a safety and security point of view) is built on three foundational pillars: effective policing, a working justice system, and lawful civilian firearm ownership. If any of the three pillars are removed, then we will obviously see notable increases in violent confrontational crime.
For starters, here is research by Dr. Richard Wesson pertaining to increases in South African firearm ownership with a simultaneous decrease in violent crime. It makes for compelling reading.
Again, this is nothing new nor remarkable. The continued failure of gun control legislation is well documented. The Mises Institute has done multiple studies on the topic, as has the Pew Research Center. Other acclaimed think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation have also found comparable results with their research.
The problem is that none of these arguments seem to matter to gun control advocates at large. They are completely dismissive of all scientific evidence that goes contrary to their personal belief system. Anything that does not fit the narrative is dismissed as being “right wing” or “fake news”, done by “discredited” researchers and academics. Even when the credentials and conduct of the individuals in question are well beyond reproach.
Unless those who consistently clamour for more gun control are willing to let go of their personal bias and prejudice, this debate is going nowhere. Doing nothing is fortunately preferable to doing something that has disastrous consequences.
Written by Gideon Joubert.
Gideon is the owner and editor of Paratus.