Ever since the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the gun control debate has arguably become more fiery and intense than the nation has ever seen before. That fateful day, December 14, 2012, twenty school children and six teachers were brutally killed by a possessed lunatic bent on mass murder. Since that day, the debate arguing for and against gun control has little abated. Reactions range from the ideas of Piers Morgan to repeal the second amendment, to that of the National Rifle Association to increase penalties for gun crimes. All of these views have opposition on both sides of the aisle, but when we step back from the debate and look at numbers, what do they tell us? Do the numbers argue in favor of stricter gun control, or do they have a different message?
In my own home state of New York, the SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act was signed into law January 15, 2013. This new law has, from what I have read of it, one beneficial aspect to it, and that is to prohibit the publication of gun owners’ personal information (as was demonstrated by the Journal News’ action of publishing CCW owners’ information). However, when I looked over other restrictions made by the law, I saw that this would not be beneficial to New Yorkers. Some negative aspects of the law include limitation of magazine size to just seven bullets, an “assault weapons” ban, universal background checks for all gun purchases, and ability for police officers to confiscate a citizen’s firearm without a warrant if the officer has probable cause that the person may be mentally unstable, or intends to use the gun in a crime.
Recently, a New York Times article said that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has stated that he is willing to ease restrictions imposed by the law, as many of them are unenforceable. Governor Cuomo said this before the law had even come into full effect, showing that the law has many undermining factors. Aside from these extreme restrictions on legal gun owners, will this kind of a law actually prevent more crime? According to statistics, it most certainly will not.
An example of how strict gun control has caused more problems than it has solved is the city of Chicago. In this city, there is the toughest gun control legislation in the United States. However, there is also the highest rate of armed crime in the nation as well. In 2012, Chicago had over 500 reported murders. That number, surprisingly, is higher than the number of troop deaths in Afghanistan for 2012. According to icasualties.org, the number of foreign troop deaths was 402. Therefore, it is safer to be a soldier in Afghanistan than a citizen in Chicago. The Huffington Post reports that the murder rate for 2013 is already outpacing that of 2012; at this rate, the number of murders will be over 730.
With these statistics, do the strict gun control measures make Chicago a safer place than the rest of America? The numbers say absolutely not. What the politicians say they are aiming for is to make guns harder for the criminal element to obtain them, but criminals in their very nature do not follow the law. Ordinary, law-abiding citizens will do their civic duty, and turn in their guns if required, but will the criminal element do so? The obvious answer is no.
Looking at the new SAFE Act passed in New York, will this law really do more than criminalize law-abiding gun owners? I argue that it most certainly does not. Now if we put this concept into a national context, what would the crime rate look like according to these statistics? The crime rate will not decrease, but almost assuredly increase. Why is this? Because the criminals will still own their guns while the law-abiding citizen will no longer have the right to defend him/herself, family and property.
With these statistics in mind, does it really make sense to further increase gun restrictions? What would America look like if Chicago level gun control was passed into law? I beg to say that America would not be as safe a place as it is now. Still, why are we even calling this view “gun control?” The fallacy about gun control is that it does not, in fact, control guns.