In Canada, it’s not uncommon to hear Canadians say things about Americans, their guns, and their stubborn refusal to join the civilized world and enact “sensible gun control,” even in the aftermath of tragedies like the one in Charleston, South Carolina.
I’m not going to say that Canadians shouldn’t be talking about non-Canadian issues, since I do that all the time. But, in my opinion, it makes you look foolish to do so when you don’t understand all the issues at play (I’m sure I’ve done that before too, but whatever). The issue of guns in the US is not as black and white as most people make it out to be.
It is a pretty easy conclusion to come to that guns need to be “controlled” in the US to reduce gun violence. After all, the US has far more guns per capita than any other country in the world, and it has more gun violence than the enlightened European countries.
However, within the United States, the statistics suggest something else. Wyoming has the highest rate of gun ownership in the United States, and one of the lowest murder rates (that is Wikipedia, but the statistics come from the FBI). Vermont has very few gun control laws, and it has the second lowest murder rate. The District of Columbia has a much lower gun ownership rate than any state, but it has an astronomically high murder rate.
International statistics are also interesting. Switzerland has a very high gun ownership rate, much higher than Brazil. And yet, Brazil has a much higher murder rate (Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world). Another interesting country is Norway, which has the 11th highest rate of gun ownership in the world, but only had 2 gun-related homicides one year (less than 10% of homicides in Norway were by firearm). It has one of the world’s lowest rates of gun violence. Iceland had no gun-related homicides and 30.3 guns per 100 people (the 15th highest rate in the world). Honduras has 14 times fewer guns per capita than the USA (only 6.2 guns per 100 people, compared to the USA’s 88.8) and 23 times the firearm-related murder rate (Honduras, a country of 8 million or so, had 5,201 firearm-related murders in whatever year these statistics are for. The United States had 9,146 firearm-related murders. It has 40 times more people than Honduras but less than 2 times the total number of firearm-related murders).
It is obvious that there is no correlation between gun ownership and crime rate (or even gun-related crime rate). If you think about it, that makes sense, since most gun owners aren’t going around shooting people. The kinds of people that shoot other people with their guns are those that are predisposed to criminal behaviour. The root of the problem of American gun violence isn’t guns. Most of the violence in the United States is gang-related, so whatever factors promote the widespread existence of gangs are more relevant than gun availability. Those would be things like poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of parental guidance, etc. Instead of lecturing responsible and law-abiding gun owners, a better approach might be to increase opportunity in the inner cities (perhaps by opening up the markets, allowing inner city students to attend better schools, and generally doing things that Democrats. Democrats have almost invariably been in power in these cities for decades). As for mass shootings, which, while tragic, account for a very small fraction of overall gun violence, improving mental health infrastructure and eliminating gun-free zones (which seems to be where most of the shootings happen) would probably be more effective than gun control. How mental health infrastructure should be improved is another issue, but it is obvious that it is deficient in the United States.
I titled this post “Statistics Support the Right to Bear Arms” because they do; the statistics indicate more of a correlation between gun ownership and low crime rates than gun ownership and high crime rates. So it seems that it is true that “an armed society is a polite society.” But, as leftists are entirely incapable of grasping, the right to bear arms is a fundamental right that it is no less relevant than it was in Revolutionary America. Perhaps the most important right there is, because it is necessary to defend every other right. It is the ultimate expression of individuality. If you own a gun and know how to use it, you don’t need to rely on the government to defend you from criminals (which the government can also be).