Use of Guns: A Cause or a Symptom?

19 Dec

Thomas Sowell has once again written an essay in which he uses facts to dissect the gun ownership and control issue.  His latest essay can be found at

There are countries where a larger proportion of the populace is armed with guns, but where the incidence of murder with guns is far less than in the U.S.

Extracts from Sowell’s essay:

[I]f 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 was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

. . . 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.

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, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

[End of excerpts]

Honestly, although I support the Second Amendment, I’ve never seen the need for private citizens to own assault weapons, and if such weapons are laying around, some monsters or mentally-deranged persons are going to get their hands on some.  So why not make it really tough for private citizens to acquire them.

On the other hand, there seems to be a great deal of statistical evidence pointing us toward the cause of too many Americans working out their issues by murdering people – the problem is largely cultural – pure and simple.  Our high murder rate, whether by gun or otherwise, is merely a symptom of a deeper sickness within our society.  But I have little confidence in Biden’s committee to recognize this.


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