Ban guns in Los Angeles?

January 25, 2007 at 4:41 pm in Politics


Using our submission form someone suggested we check out Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles’s plan for a gun free Los Angeles. You know I was on that in a second. I was hoping for some new information or perhaps well thought out arguments -unfortunately what I found was old statistics and extremely loose connections. The most recent statistic mentioned on their site is from 2000, and some are as old as 1986! Has nothing been written since then? Of course it has, the problem is that the new information doesn’t back up these old claims so people with knee jerk anti-gun reactions tend to ignore them.

One of the most disgusting claims made by the PSR-LA is that guns in the house cause suicides. They go as far as to say “To put simply: suicides… would be much less likely if the gun were not in the house in the first place.” This is right after they state that Japan, which has extremely strict gun control laws, has approximately zero children killed each year from guns (which I’ll get back to in a moment). So, if Japan has no guns, and guns cause suicide, then how come Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world? The US has a rate of about 10.9 suicides per 100,000 people, meanwhile Japan had a rate of 26.1 in 1998 and 24.8 in 2003. And even worse, youth suicide is rising. I’ve never met any normal, happy person who suddenly wanted to kill themselves when they were near guns. I think it’s safe to say suicide is ugly problem that has much more to do with the society at hand than the tools within arms reach, and suggesting otherwise is flat out irresponsible.

But what about all those kids in the US dying from guns? Remember that a child is classified as anyone under 20 years old. The vast majority of those handgun deaths are children over the age of 14, and are gang related. (more on that misleading fact here) It’s not news that we have a gang problem in the US, but again possession of a gun does not make someone a gang member. Additionally, Sheriff Baca has said on countless occasions that guns used in crimes in LA are not legally owned, and is stepping up efforts to find out how criminals are getting these guns. People who own guns legally are not the problem, and making new laws doesn’t effect criminals who already get their guns though illegal means.

Another often touted claim that the PRS-LA is waving around is Great Britain’s gun ban. They state:

Great Britain, for example, banned all handguns in 1997 when 16 children and their teacher were killed in a primary school gun massacre in Dublane, Scotland. The county’s gun-related offenses fell by 21% following ban.

Sounds positive right? Well, that’s from 1997. What’s happened since then? It’s gone right back up. And keeps going up. This article was published today:

“Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies. Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year – a 10% jump – including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

“There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals. Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales – up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.”

While it would be fantastic is eliminating crime and violence was that easy, this is the real world and things aren’t that simple. Most of the statements made byt the PSR-LA stem from Hoplophobia and have little basis in fact. The fact is, in the US, since 1987 more and more states are passing laws allowing law abiding citizens to carry guns which has lead to more and more guns being owned by these law abiding citizens. In 1986 there were 8 shall-issue states, 20 may-issue, 21 no-issue, and 1 unrestricted state, in 2006 there were 35 shall-issue states, 12 may-issue, 2 no-issue, 2 unrestricted state. In 20 years not a single state that has passed one of these laws has gone back to remove it, and there have been no mass shootouts or blood running in the streets as folks opposed to the idea predicted. It’s made people safer. So, as much as I’m sure the PSR-LA has good intentions with this site and this campaign, it’s unfortunate that they are ignoring the current statistics to back up their position.

[image from A Human Right | some links from CACCW ]

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