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The U.S Gun Control Law Debate: Looking To Other Countries for Guidance: Part 2
Welcome to part 2 of my ongoing look at how the U.S could look to other major countries for guidance on the topic of gun control. Today, I will be looking at a very common anti-gun control argument. Here's how their logic goes: if further gun control is imposed, criminals will simply find other ways to kill people. They will use knives, bats, or anything, really. Every time you bring up how other countries have such lower gun violence, the first thing they say is, "But, they will just find other ways of killing people and it will do no good!"
Well, I decided to look at the statistics surrounding that. The two countries I am looking at are the United Kingdom and Germany, both of which have very strict gun control laws. The United Kingdom has essentially banned all guns and Germany allows people to have guns, but they have very, very tight requirements as to maintaining and even acquiring them in the first place. So, let's see how their criminals have simply resorted to using other methods as the gun control has only gotten tighter in those two nations.
What about the UK?
The main argument against further gun control is that is causes other violent homicides (using other weapons, such as a knife, bat, etc.) to increase. The United Kingdom is a great example because they have essentially banned all guns. Even their police officers don't have standard issue guns. So, let's have a look at how the homicides (which include gun homicides) inevitably rose.
First, a little bit of history. The United Kingdom has had a long history of tightly controlling their guns. More recently, they passed the 1968 Firearms Act, which put further controls on shotguns and prohibited criminals who had been sentenced from possessing a gun. In 1997, however, they passed the 1997 Firearms Act that essentially banned all private firearm ownership.
Now, as you can see, the homicide rate steadily increases until 2002 when it finally starts to drop. But, shouldn't it have started decreasing after such tough gun control measures in 1997? That would have been the optimistic option, but in reality, there could be many reasons for this. Here's one that I think contributed to it. After the 1997 Firearms Act was passed, gun license numbers were steadily on the decrease. It took until about 5 years later that they had achieved a large decrease in the amount of gun licenses. This could explain the temporary increase in homicides.
My take: This chart does help to disprove the notion that violent crime went up drastically after the gun control measure was passed in 1997. Overall, violent crime is down to new lows. The data from 2010-12 was not available from gunpolicy.org, so I found it elsewhere. Taken from the citizensreportuk.org website, the data from 2010-2012 is as follows: 2010- 648, 2011-564, 2012-550. The data from 2011 and 2012 is still provisional, but should not be discarded. This clearly shows that gun control did not cause an increase in violent crime overall. The argument could still be made that it helped the eventual decline, but I'll just let the chart speak for itself.
What about homicides in Germany?
The next country we will look at is Germany. They have some of the tightest gun control laws in the world. It enacted the Federal Weapons Act in 1972, which created some of the toughest restrictions on guns. It was revised and updated throughout the years, most recently in 2008 and 2009. So, the logical argument is that as gun control gets tighter, homicides of other types must go up, right? Let's have a look at that. Sadly, the statistics from 1972-1994 are not available, but the from the year 1995 and on are available.
As the chart shows, homicides of any kind were steadily on the decline since 1995. This is as gun control was only getting tighter with the revisions to the Federal Weapons Act. In Germany, self-defense is not a legitimate reason for having a firearm license, which is required for you to obtain guns legally. As I said in my 'Part 1' of this article, in Germany, you have to prove why you need a gun license and what you would use the weapons for. In America, the process is reverse. The Government actively looks for reasons why you shouldn't have them. It's really a different outlook on the culture of guns.
My take: Once again, this chart clearly shows that homicides in general are clearly on the decline. Their increasingly tight gun controls have not forced the "evil-doers" to simply find other ways to kill people. It has actually reduced overall homicides.
What have we learned, boys and girls?
Based on the charts provided, it is quite clear that the connection of increased gun control to an increase in other forms of homicides (using knives, bats, etc.) is simply not true. Now, I know there are many figures and facts that relate to this very complex debate. This evidence is by no means the be-all-end-all that will disprove the whole argument of the anti-gun control folks. But, it is clear that this evidence does question the integrity of that particular point. As gun control laws got tighter, homicides were reduced overall in both countries.
In my part 3, I will perhaps look at other countries and see if their numbers agree with the ones I have found for the UK and Germany.