Why do we need guns at all? They lead to gun crime and cannot stop an oppressive government. However, much like a gun is not bad per se (gun crime is), gun crime is not the specific type of crime we are trying to stop – rather, we are trying to stop violent crime, because we are specifically concerned with people dying or being wounded due to criminal activity rather than the means by which so happens.

Violent prevention

Here, the tide turns in favour of guns. Although the ban on guns in the UK has decreased the number of violent accidents, the murder rate has gone up by over 50% in the 6 years immediately following the ban. This is not only a British phenomenon. Although the gun ownership rate in Honduras is 7% (as opposed to USA’s 89%), its homicide rate is 19 times higher than that of the US. Indeed, there appears to be no correlation between gun ownership and homicide; Switzerland, Finland, and Serbia all have an ownership rate of over 24%, and yet all have a murder rate of under 1.7 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.

Although the US has a fairly high murder rate of 4.8, it has far lower violent crime rates than the UK; the violent crime rate in the US is over 4 times higher than in the UK. This suggests that guns deter crime, but once they fail to do so, the crime is far more likely to be deadly. When American felons were polled, 60% of them said that they would be deterred from confronting a person if they knew they have a firearm. In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia, passed a law requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in the house and as a result, the residential burglary rate dropped by 89% in Kennesaw, compared to just 10.4% drop in Georgia as a whole. Guns do deter criminals and reduce crime. Not only this, responsible gun owners are some of the most-abiding people in the developed world – licensed Texan gun-owners have a homicide rate of 0.4, lower than any European country with a population of over 80 000 (out-done only by San Marino, Andorra, and Monaco).

Stopping homicide

Surely, yet, the death toll is unacceptable – the American homicide rate is still far higher than that of any almost any other developed country. There must exist a way to reduce it. To do so, we should look at a link at what has changed in the US together with the homicide rate, and what links the people who conduct such crime together.

Of the seven perpetrators of mass shootings under 30, only one grew up with his father around. Some like to point at this as proof of mental health issues facilitating gun crime, however, the suicide rates in the US do not appear to be linked to homicide rates. Nonetheless, there is something that has clearly happened in the recent years that triggered this drastic increase in mass shootings; prior to the 1990s, since the records begun, there has not been a single year with more than 5 mass shootings a year. Aside from mass shootings, the homicide rate has also started to drastically increase since the 1960s (with a period of higher murder rate during the Great Depression, but still not as high as it is today), though something is being done right recently. The firearm homicide rate has fallen from 7 people per 100 000 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010. While it is hard to draw any direct correlation, perhaps it is the state of the modern society that should be explored in order to stop deaths from gun crime. Since the 1960s, we have seen a decrease in traditional morality, increase in divorce rates and a culture of consumerism. As people feel less detached from moral duties towards the society they live in, they do not refrain from violence against it.

It should also be mentioned, in many parts of the US guns are a necessity that cannot be completely taken away. A citizen of Nevada or Wisconsin living far away from any major towns may have to deal with wolves, bears, cougars, and wild horses around their house; they need a gun not to prevent violence done by man (which can be responded to by the police and defended from using other means), but to defend oneself from animals. The same goes for professional hunters – it is unfeasible that we should take away their guns without taking away their living. As such, guns would remain in some limited circulation in sparsely populated areas, making a complete and comprehensive ban impossible, therefore making it possible for organised criminals from towns to access firearms should they be re-sold. That said, a permit to people who need to shoot at animals alone still seems to be effective in reducing the firearm homicide rate, as has happened in Australia.

Conclusion

Someone may still, in consideration of this, desire to ban guns. Why? Perhaps they cause a psychological fear in them; I know some people who claim that they “would not leave [their] house” should firearms be commonplace. Other means of self-defence, like martial arts, do not cause this fear. However, that is an irrational fear, often driven by personal political biases. Surely, discouraging violent crime is more important than personal insecurities, and while an attacker trained in ju-jitsu can silently take someone out unsuspected rather quickly, much like a shooter, not everyone can learn ju-jitsu, while an elderly lady in a dangerous neighbourhood can, largely, shoot a gun just fine; at any rate, it is easier to shoot a gun to an adequate level than to learn ju-jitsu.

To conclude, therefore, a rational and informed observer cannot say that a ban on guns would effectively decrease violent crime. It could be a temporary solution to the problem until societal issues are not resolved, but the logistical difficulties of it mean that it would come with great difficulty. Adjusted for all factors, restrictions on and the number of guns do not lower violent crime. Regional restrictions on guns merely worsen the situation – of the 22 mass shootings that took place in the US since 1950, 19 took place in gun-free zones. While a complete and comprehensive ban on guns would likely reduce the frequency of firearm-related homicide, it would likely worsen the frequency of violent crime, and the necessity of possessing a firearm for some people would make a truly complete ban impossible.

In that, the freedom to own firearms in the US should remain. A different means of combatting the homicide rate should be sought, yet the fact is that guns lead not to more violence – but less.

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