- Misleading people about the risks of guns in the home
will harm people's safety in a very real way.
- The Author Says The Positive Impact Of Guns On Citizen
Safety Is Being Completely Ignored
- (CBS) Dr. John Lott Jr. is a fellow in law and economics
at the University of Chicago School of Law. He is author of More Guns,
Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.
- The current debate over gun control focuses only on the
benefits of restrictions. But regulations can also involve significant
costs. Completely ignored are the more than two million times each year
that potential victims use guns to stop violent crimes and that guns are
used about five times more frequently to stop crimes than they are used
to commit them. No one asks whether it is the law-abiding citizens or criminals
who are going to obey these laws and bear the burden of their costs.
- President Clinton refuses to ever mention that guns save
lives. According to him, the only cost of more regulation is that they
"incovenience" hunters. Consider, then, the costs and benefits
of Mr. Clinton's main proposals:
- Waiting periods. A waiting period may allow people to
cool off before they do something that they regret, but people many times
are being stalked or threatened and waiting periods can make it difficult
for them to quickly obtain a gun for defense. The data suggest caution
before reinstituting the waiting period that lapsed last year. I have found,
in the only research done on this question, that the Brady Law's national
waiting periods had no impact on murder or robbery, but slightly increased
rape and aggravated assault rates by a few percent. Thus, for two crime
categories, the major effect was to delay law-abiding citizens from getting
a gun for protection. The risks were greatest for crimes against women.
- Mandatory gun locks. Gun locks can prevent some accidental
firing of guns, but they also limit a gun's use in self defense. In 1996,
even though there were around 80 million people owning guns, there were
only 44 accidental gun deaths for children under age 10. It is hard to
think of any other household item that is anywhere near as common in American
homes that has as low of an accidental death rate. Indeed, about twice
as many children under 10 die from drowning in bath tubs. Misleading people
about the risks of guns in the home will harm people's safety in a very
- New rules for gun shows. There is no evidence that such
shows are important in supplying guns to criminals. What's more, the rules
for purchasing guns at a gun show are exactly the same as for gun purchases
anywhere else. Dealers who sell guns at a show must perform the same background
checks and obey all the other rules that they do when they make sales at
their stores. Private sales are unregulated whether they occur at a gun
show or not. The issues are whether regulating private sales only within
the confines of a gun show are enforceable and whether the rules will be
obeyed only by law-abiding citizens who will endure the 72 hour waiting
period and burden of the new fees.
- Age limits. Mr. Clinton proposes a federal ban on possession
of handguns by anyone under 21. Under a 1968 federal law, 21 is already
the minimum age to purchase a handgun, but setting the age to possess a
handgun is a state matter. But people between 18 and 21 are not generally
criminals and they also include victims of crime. Many of these young adults
benefit from gun possession. My own research indicates that laws allowing
those between 18 and 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun helps
reduce violent crimes just as well as those limited to citizens over 21.
- Mr. Clinton's proposals will unfortunately cost more
lives than they save.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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