Answering reader questions about gun control and public safety

We’ve been getting a lot of positive response from both liberals and conservatives on our piece about the police response to the Boston Marathon bombers.  However, our liberal readers have found one hurdle they can’t seem to get over: why would I advocate higher gun ownership rates in Boston?  

Take this question from a reader in Australia:

The answer is simple: legal gun ownership promotes a safer citizenry.

Boston Massachusetts already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. These laws did not prevent the Tsarnaev brothers from obtaining their firearms illegally.  Neither of them had legal gun permits, but they were able to engage police in a massive firefight anyway. Meanwhile, the residents of Boston were left to cower at home with no means with which to protect themselves. The gun control laws did not inhibit the criminals, only the law-abiding citizens. 

Consider this question: If a terrorist was on the loose in your neighborhood, would you or would you not rather own a gun with which to defend yourself?  The answer is pretty simple.  

Massachusetts’s violent crime rate has skyrocketed since they enacted their gun control laws in 1998.  Study after study consistently affirms that violent crime rates are lower when gun ownership is higher. Take the US vs the UK. Yes, the US has a higher GUN crime rate, but the UK has a much higher overall violent crime rate.  The UK’s violent crime rate is, in fact, astronomical for a wealthy nation.

According to the FBI, there were 1.2 million violent crimes in the United States in the year 2011 with a US population of approximately 314 million. By contrast, the UK had 1.94 violent crimes with a population of only 63 million

According to a study published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, there is no data to affirm that nations with high gun ownership have higher murder rates than nations with low gun ownership.

Let me reiterate: the crime statistics DO NOT affirm that tougher gun laws reduce violent crime.  On the contrary, the opposite is true. Chicago, Illinois currently has one of the highest murder rate in the country, yet they also have some the nation’s toughest gun laws and some of the lowest gun ownership rates. Despite a near-total gun ban, the homicide rate in Chicago actually went up in 2012.  Now, consider the State of Virginia, which has enjoyed a declining violent crime rate even as gun ownership has skyrocketed in the state.  Even gun related crimes fell in Virginia. 

In the United States, 92% of police officers believe that legally armed citizens are important in the reduction of violent crime rates.  A safe citizen base is one that is able to defend itself with firearms. 

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