Commentary Magazine


Gun Laws, Crime, and Freedom

To the Editor:

Opposing gun control, as suggested by Benjamin Domenech [“The Truth About Mass Shootings and Gun Control,” February], is not wise counsel. Maybe violent video games are connected in some minor way to mass shootings, but we have such games in Australia—as do the British, New Zealanders, Canadians, and others—and we do not have the mass shootings that occur in America.

Family breakdown might also be relevant to societal violence, but families are breaking down in all Western nations. Guns may not cause mass attacks, but they certainly provide the means to carry them out. Take away the means and you have fewer incidents.

No other nation allows its citizens to carry firearms as liberally as does the United States. And there is a good reason for the more restrictive policies of these governments. I’m sure that if one surveyed police chiefs—who often seem to support hearty gun-control legislation—the reason would be made very plain, very quickly.

Conservative magazines that go along with this nonsense give the left a free kick at the goal. Don’t think they won’t use it. The left is in the right on this one because its contentions are in accord with common sense.

Greg Byrne
Wantirna South, Victoria, Australia

_____________

Benjamin Domenech writes:

Greg Byrne poses Australia’s gun-control program as a solution the United States ought to consider, but his proposal fails the basic test when it comes to public policy: Will more restrictions on gun ownership, and therefore less legal ownership, lower the likelihood of mass shootings? The overwhelming data shows that this is simply not the case in the United States, and that mass shootings have not increased even as gun ownership has risen dramatically.

In the mid-1990s, Australia spent half a billion dollars destroying more than a million banned guns—including not just rifles, but shotguns—and eliminated personal protection as an accepted legal justification for owning a firearm. Such an approach may serve Australia well (the impact on crime rates has been negligible), but it clashes fundamentally both with the U.S. Constitution and our traditional American understanding of the right of self-defense. And it seems even the Australians still like their guns: According to a recent study by the University of Sydney School of Public Health, steady gun imports have now replaced the million guns destroyed more than a decade ago, bringing private ownership back to what it was before the stringent gun controls were put in place.

Restrictive policies in European nations have not prevented mass shootings from occurring there. More gun ownership has not increased the occurrence of these shootings in America. If they care about the facts, even proponents of gun control would be better off admitting it is simply not a viable approach to preventing such tragedies.




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