Draconian Gun Control Does not Reduce Gun Numbers or Homicide Rates

gun control
A large number of people who wish to disarm the population start with the premise “If there weren’t any guns”, as if, with extreme restrictions on owning and using guns, guns will eventually go away.

Under extreme legal restrictions, the number of guns has increased.

I recall a prominent talk show host in southern California, wailing about confiscated guns being sold: “But if that happens, we will never be rid of guns!” he cried as if his wish were plausible.

Guns are a 700 to 100-year-old technology. Guns can and are being made, in homes and small shops around the world, that are beyond state control.

Firearms have had extreme legal restrictions imposed over most of the planet. The United States is exceptional, with the Second Amendment. Most governments allow only small numbers of their people to legally have firearms.

People under those governments actively resist those laws. In spite of a century and a half of stringent restrictions on gun ownership, the number of guns in private hands has risen significantly.

The Small Arms Survey has created the best estimates of the number of small arms in private hands in other countries of the world. The number increased from 650 million in 2006 to 857 million in 2017.

Most people will accept the Small Arms Survey as a legitimate source. They are based in Switzerland, and have, as  their mission:

Our main objective is to reduce the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their impacts.

To achieve this objective, we generate policy-relevant research and analysis, and provide both resources (publications, podcasts and a wide range of relevant outputs) and services (training and capacity-building).

Small Arms Survey tries to objectively gather data, although their mission has an inherent bias toward disarmament.

My estimate for firearms in civilian hands in the United States in 2017, was 418 million. The Small Arms Survey estimate was 393 million.  A six percent difference is close agreement in these hard to know numbers.

Severe gun restrictions were implemented in India, under the British Raj. It happened very quickly after the mutiny/insurrection in 1857. The law was codified into statute in 1877. There have been 160 years of strict controls on the ownership of firearms in India.

What country that has the most firearms in civilian hands after the United States? According to the Small Arms Survey, it is India. Only 13.6 percent of those guns are legally owned.

Citizens of India are said to have 71.1 million firearms in private hands, with 9.7 million of them being registered, and thus legal.

A Small Arms Survey paper reported that in India,  2.5 million illegal craft-made guns are manufactured annually. 53,272 were reported to have been confiscated in 2014. The quality of craft-made Indian guns has been improving from simple single shots to semi-automatic handguns.

This is not surprising. The education of Indian citizens is improving, as is access to electricity and machine tools.

The Small Arms Survey estimates only 12 percent of firearms owned by civilians in the world are registered.

The next largest number of privately held firearms is in China, at nearly 50 million!  Only 1.4 percent of those are registered. Education and industrialization in China have been increasing. The Small Arms Survey reports that craftsmen in the Songtao Miao Autonomous County in Guizhou province make black market semi-automatic pistols for about $45 each. In the coastal cities, they sell for about $1500.

Only small numbers of guns are needed for criminals to use them in crime. Violent criminals are a tiny minority in all cultures.

Brazil has very strict gun control laws.

According to the Small Arms Survey, Brazil has 8.29 total firearms per 100 people. Of those, illegal firearms are over half, 4.52 per 100. China has 3.53 illegal firearms per 100 people. India has 4.58 illegal firearms per 100 people.

The United States has more than 120 firearms per 100 people. It is hard to say how many illegal firearms are in the United States. Few firearms are illegal in the U.S.A. Very few firearms in the United States are registered or required to be registered.

Brazil has roughly as many illegal firearms per person as India or China. The United States has a private firearm ownership rate, per 100 people, 14 times the rate of both legal and illegal firearms ownership in Brazil.

Ten percent of the murders committed, in the world, are committed in Brazil.  The vast majority of them are committed with illegally owned firearms. There were four times as many murders in Brazil as in the United States, in 2017. Brazil’s population is smaller.

The comparison of firearms ownership in India, China, the United States, and Brazil is illustrative of two things.

First, the number of legally owned firearms has little to do with the number of illegally owned firearms.

The United States has about a hundred times as many legally owned as illegally owned firearms. Brazil has roughly the same number of legally owned as illegally owned firearms.  India has about six times as many illegally owned as legally owned, and China has about 74 times as many illegally owned firearms as legally owned.

Second, the number of firearms per person has no correlation with the number of homicides.

Brazil, India, and China all have roughly the same number of illegally owned firearms per 100 people.  The homicide rates vary from six times the rate of the U.S. (Brazil) to 2/3 the rate of the U.S. (India) to one eighth the rate of the U.S. (China).

These numbers verify the research of John Lott, which shows there is no correlation between homicide numbers and the number of guns owned per 100 people. Lott’s study compares all the countries in the world he could obtain data from. (from 2014)

Consider the first point: there is no correlation of the number of legally owned guns to the number of illegally owned guns. This alone shows that legal restrictions on guns does not reduce the number of illegally owned guns.

Making guns hard to legally own and use does not reduce the homicide rate. It does not reduce the number of guns owned illegally.

The hard evidence, from 160 years of highly restrictive gun control laws, is they do not affect the murder rate or the number or rate of illegally owned guns. Governments have not been able to confiscate illegally owned guns faster than people are able to make, buy, steal or smuggle guns to add to the illegal stockpile.

The idea that gun control works by limiting the number of guns, and thus reducing crime is false. Demonstrably false.

The studies that purport to show a correlation, suffer from various forms of statistical sleight of hand. They limit their study scope to short time periods and/or geographic areas. They limit the homicides counted to those committed with guns. They create artificial definitions of “developed nations” to cherry pick what numbers to look at.

Making guns hard to legally own, at the whim of a government, is a form of virtue signaling. It sends the message: Guns are bad.

It has nothing to do with crime or the homicide rate. It has nothing to do with the numbers of illegally owned guns. The theory that restricting legal gun ownership reduces crime rates is false.

Well-governed societies have low crime rates. Some have few restrictions on gun ownership, some are very restrictive. It does not change crime rates.

There may be a few hundred thousand or a hundred million legal gun owners. It does not matter. There is no correlation between legally owned guns and homicides or crime.

The similarities of the number of illegally owned guns in Brazil, India, and China, and the enormous differences in homicide rates, from 30.9 in Brazil to .63 in China (per 100,000) shows that illegal gun ownership is inconsequential compared to cultural, political, and other factors.

Gun control is not about homicides or safety. It is about telling you what the ruling establishment wants you to think.

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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