Guns Don’t Kill People, But Gun Bans Do

Guns Don’t Kill People, But Gun Bans Do

It is far more common for Americans to use guns to defend themselves or others against violence than to use guns to commit violence. Do those lives matter?
Justin Haskins
By

On May 18, another tragic school shooting occurred, this time in Santa Fe, Texas. Like always, far-left liberals across the country immediately began clamoring for the federal government “to do something” to stop future shootings, which is merely code language for “take everyone’s guns away because gun owners are too reckless, stupid, or violent to have them.”

Perhaps the most ironic part of the gun control debate is that most of the time and energy spent arguing over whether people should be permitted to keep their God-given right to defend themselves and their families focuses almost exclusively on instances in which people are murdered by criminals who legally possess guns, and almost never on those much-more-common occasions when law-abiding citizens stop murderers or are the victims of gun violence perpetrated by people who don’t possess guns legally.

For instance, the gun-grabbing Left mostly ignored and downplayed the heroism of National Rifle Association instructor Stephen Willeford, who in November 2017 rushed barefoot from his home to save countless lives at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Armed with an AR-15 rifle, Willeford fended off the murderer, shooting him twice. The murderer fled in his vehicle, but Willeford hopped in a truck driven by good Samaritan Johnnie Langendorff and the two men chased him down. The evildoer eventually crashed his vehicle and took his own life before Willeford and Langendorff could get to him.

If all guns, or even most guns, were banned, how would Willeford have been able to fight off the mass murderer? How many more lives would have been lost?

The Left also ignores the overwhelming evidence that every year, tens of thousands of people use firearms to defend themselves against attackers. According to data from the Department of Justice, “In 2007–11, there were 235,700 victimizations where the victim used a firearm to threaten or attack an offender.” In another 103,000 instances, people used a firearm to defend their property against an offender.

That means over the five-year period from 2007 to 2011, there were more than 338,000 instances in which people defended themselves with a firearm, about 67,000 instances each year. Many researchers believe those figures are too low. A far-reaching survey conducted in the 1990s by Gary Kleck, a professor at Florida State University, found there are 2.1 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually.

By comparison, in 2011, the most recent year available in the Department of Justice data cited above, there were 11,101 firearm homicides, and in the overwhelming majority of those cases, the offender possessed the weapon illegally. Even if you add all instances in which a person was injured but not killed by an offender, there are more instances of guns being used to defend lives and property than to illegally harm people.

The data are clear: Legal firearms owners do not pose a public threat to safety. In fact, they save countless lives every year. Why don’t these lives matter to the far-left?

Firearm bans and restrictions designed to make it harder for law-abiding people to possess guns make it less likely people will be able to protect themselves against violent offenders. This is particularly disconcerting for the countless women who own guns to protect themselves against stalkers, violent ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands, or other men who might feel inclined to attack women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 29 million women have experienced “contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of [intimate partner violence]-related impact.” How many of these women would have been able to stop an attacker had they possessed a firearm at the time of the attack? Why don’t these women matter to the far-left?

Gun laws don’t have to be egregious and burdensome, and states have passed or should pass plenty of laws to keep guns out of the hands of violent men and women. But most “common-sense” gun proposals aren’t about keeping people safe; they are about taking freedom away from gun owners who could or have saved lives.

Proponents of gun bans argue the reason statistics show gun bans don’t work is because they aren’t enforced in every state equally. In other words, criminals purchase weapons in states where it’s easy to buy firearms then use them in states where it’s more difficult to do so.

Despite being widely repeated, this argument is devoid of reality and can’t be supported by any available evidence. Many of the states with the fewest gun restrictions are exponentially safer than states with numerous regulations and mandates. Even if you could argue states with restrictions aren’t safe because criminals are buying guns in states without restrictions, why aren’t those states without restrictions even more dangerous?

Additionally, evidence shows over the past two decades, the number of gun-related crimes has dropped dramatically, even though the number of guns bought and sold, as reflected by government-reported firearms background checks, has increased. If the presence of additional legal guns in society leads to more violence, there should have been more gun crime over the past two decades, not less.

It’s also worth noting that when applied logically, effective gun control plans necessitate massive border walls and other forms of security, because even if you could ban and destroy America’s 270 million firearms (an impossibility), guns could easily flow across America’s expansive borders. So, why aren’t the same leftists calling for gun bans and the end of the Second Amendment also calling for huge border walls?

Many evil people use guns illegally to commit crimes against innocent people, including children, but many more good people protect their friends, families, communities, and states with guns. Why should we punish them with absurd gun restrictions? It’s foolish to think doing so would magically stop people willing to commit mass murder, rape, or other horrific crimes from harming others. If a murderer doesn’t care about the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison or being executed for murdering others, how will an army of paper-pushing government bureaucrats convince him to do otherwise?

By taking guns away from innocent people, the government would not only be violating people’s basic human rights, it would also be putting everyone at greater risk. America doesn’t need additional gun bans, it needs more law-abiding gun-owner heroes like Willeford. The sooner the public realizes that, the better off we’ll all be.

Justin Haskins is a pro-liberty writer, editor, and research fellow. You can reach him on Twitter @JustinTHaskins.
Photo U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker/

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