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Common sense gun control?

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I am a liberal, but I do not advocate for additional gun control. I also used to share the liberal belief that controlling guns is a good idea. This belief was turned around when I saw a news program in the UK where a gang member was able to buy a hand gun within 5 minutes of being asked if it were possible. Hand guns are illegal for civilian ownership in the UK (since 1997). It really is true, "when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns."

By most American's definition, I am a liberal. I believe the government can do some things better (e.g. run the military, police, law system, health insurance). Some things do not benefit from the profit motive. Imagine the police system were private. Not only would the poor have no legal help, but we would have multiple police forces fighting each other. The poor might complain the police system does not work for them now, but I believe it could be even worse.

A common question from the gun haters is why would anyone have a legitimate use for something like an AK or AR rifle? The answer is obvious. If someone breaks into my house with an AK, I would prefer to have an AK or AR to defend myself. If several people break in, then I really need a high capacity rifle.

Note: I actually don't own a rifle. I prefer handguns for easier concealment and rapid deployment around the house.

Note that AK and AR rifles are not assault or high powered rifles. By definition an assault rifle is capable of automatic fire (see Wikipedia). Deer hunting rifles in 270 caliber (6.9x64mm) are much more high powered than either the normal 5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm calibers of the AR and AK respectively. The mass of the bullet and effective range are on the low end of the spectrum for both the AR and AK. Common high power calibers are the 308 and 30-06 (7.62x61mm and 7.62x63mm). For example, the AR typically fires a 3.5 gram bullet with a useful range around 200 meters. The 308 typically fires a 10 gram bullet with a useful range of over 400 meters. The difference is huge.

When the news reports them as assault rifles or high powered rifles they are incorrect. At best this is sloppy reporting. At worst it is propaganda.

Would we be safer without guns? If there were no guns (legal or illegal), the answer is yes. We would be less likely to be killed. It is harder to kill a person with a knife than a gun. If you also outlaw knives, what are you going to do about pointy sticks?

Are we safer with lots of guns in America? There are plenty of advocates on both sides of this debate, but I agree with those who say it is a wash (see for exampled The Skeptical Libertarian).

The facts are as follows.

1. The murder rate in the US is higher than European countries. However, violent crime is comparable to most European countries. It is difficult to be quantitative because there is no consistency in the available statistics (see Wikipedia Violent Crime).
2. The US does not have the highest rate of gun deaths. We are 12th on this list. We are 18th if you only count homicides. Again the statistics are questionable, but it is clear that the US does not stand out any way you slice it. Here is another reference.
3. Violent attacks with guns are also occurring in countries with tight gun control (e.g. France and Norway).
4. Terrorists can operate without guns (e.g. the UK).

The conclusion is clear. Gun control does not protect people from criminals. Common sense would then indicate we need to work on peoples minds, if we want to reduce violence. That is a lot harder and does not lend itself to easy solution via legislation or executive order.

Note: I classify terrorists as criminals. Terrorists may have different motives, but their acts are criminal. To me motives are secondary because they are subjective. The act of using a gun is objective.

Whew. I am really getting long winded. I will save a discussion of the justification for the 2nd amendment for another post.