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Thomas Sowell - Invincible Ignorance 


Anti-gun zealots continue to deny the facts.

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of “gun control” advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas.

The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, handgun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

The few counterexamples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries— and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.

Neither guns nor gun control were the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.

In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s— after decades of ever-tightening gun ownership restrictions — there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.

Gun control zealots’ choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem — including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates.

Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a “study” that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates.  But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.


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Reader Comments (8)

Dagnabit! These confounding variables are so ... confounding.
– C. dog
December 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
Welcome to "Single Mother America" - no questions asked - no price to pay.

Or is there?
December 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterEd Naile
Those are hurtful words, Ed. Speaker's license and registration. Single mothers are the backbone of Amerika!
– C. dog, Uncle Sam's orthopedist
December 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
Interesting that Tea Partiers and right-wingers always are the first to point the blame at other people, instead of ever realizing that their own ideas might be the problem.


And single Moms and Dads are to me just amazing people -- they do twice the work, and usually do a mighty good job at it.

But, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine
Yes, Jimbo, the preferred mode of child rearing should be single parenting – 'cuz they are sum amazin'. We all know that's how Dumbocrat pols buttress their voting block – on the backs of libotomized dependents on the Grate State. So you're right in your wheelhouse; Enjoy!; FORWARD!
– C. dog extending a most merry X-mas to Jimbo and friends during this holy-day season X-change
December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog

Your quick to blame us for blaming other people...You total confuse me. After reading Dr. Sowell's statement of society (if you will) you are implying that all of the woes are somehow the fault of "right-wingers" and "tea partiers," the implication that we blame others. Single Moms and Dads' children always pay a price for being single moms and dads. It is an undeniable fact, regardless of how good a parent he or she is. Ah yes, but then again! we cannot really have a clear definition of "what" a family is or is not because you and your ilk see to that!

And just so you know, the mother/father/children family dynamic is still the prevailing family dynamic in this country, regardless of what you say/think/try to impose on America in terms of your new age progressive fiats. That family dynamic crosses all ideological, social and economic lines, liberal, conservative, tea-party, occupy idiots, apolitical, and even the pandering class. But I am sure there is some screwed up way you and your pals will create some counter argument to that....I await with laughter under my breath. Such loathsome positions you take these days, gratuitous and useless.
December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRick Olson
Wow, Rick -- I enjoy getting your blood pressure up, and your whole body a-shaking. Reading your response I can tell that happened. My job was done well.
December 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine
So Jimbo returns to his government subsidized dwelling, diving into his hot pocket, and reveling in anticipation of his X-mas exchange with e-visions of sugar fairies dancing on his palms ...
– C. dog, and to all a good nite
December 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog

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