Last week, Thomas Sowell argued in his column that there is a dearth of evidence in the gun control argument, and we need some. I couldn’t agree more.
“The gun control controversy is only the latest of many issues to be debated almost solely in terms of fixed preconceptions, with little or no examination of hard facts,” Sowell wrote. “Media discussions of gun control are dominated by two factors: the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. But the over-riding factual question is whether gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes in general or murder rates in particular.”
“But, if the hard facts show that gun control laws do not actually control guns, but instead lead to more armed robberies and higher murder rates after law-abiding citizens are disarmed, then gun control laws would be a bad idea, even if there were no Second Amendment and no National Rifle Association,” he adds (http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/01/22/do-gun-control-laws-control-guns-n1493958).
So I decided to take Sowell up on his word, and looked at the evidence. You can follow along too, at this site (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl01.xls).
In 1993, the violent crime rate was 747.1 crimes per 100,000 individuals. The homicide rate was 9.5 per 100,000 people, and the property crime rate was 4,740 per 100,000 residents. After the Assault Weapons Ban was put in force in 1994, the crime rate fell in all factors in 1995. In fact, it fell in every category in every two year increment of measurement, save the homicide rate (5.6 in 2001, 5.7 in 2003).
By 2003, the year before the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire by Congress, the violent crime rate was 475.8 per 100,000. The homicide rate was 5.7 per 100,000 and the property crime rate was 3,591 per 100,000. These all represent dramatic declines in crime.
“The central issue boils down to the question: What are the facts? Yet there are many zealots who seem utterly unconcerned about facts or about their own lack of knowledge of facts,” Sowell concluded. But there’s a reason why Sowell didn’t provide them himself.
Had he done the research, Sowell may have also concluded that all three crime rates fell after the Assault Weapons Ban expired, though not as dramatically as the 1994-2004 decline.
There could be other factors associated with the low crime rate. The Freakonomics team chalks it up to abortion reducing the number of potential criminals. Another claims that banning lead paint helped. Some associate the vigorous law enforcement tactics also included in the crime bill that contained in the 1994 crime bill (more funding for cops, fewer appeals).
It should also be noted that not all guns were banned, allowing people to keep rifles, pistols and shotguns for home defense. Despite what the RandPAC web ads say about Obama banning all guns, that’s not in any executive action or legislation introduced (also a fact). When you chastise your opponents for not having data, you should investigate what the evidence shows first before you make your argument.