Arguments for Gun Control

Why Argue for Gun Control?

The issue of gun control concerns whether firearms should be banned or significantly restricted from public use. It is a divisive policy that is particularly contentious in the United States of America where the Constitution grants the use of all forms of weaponry. As a result, firearms are present in about 40% of American households. One argument for gun control suggests a potential link between this statistic and the American murder rate (murders per 100,000 people), which is about three times higher than all other industrialized nations. Furthermore, while other countries see firearms used in about 15% of murders, victims in the U.S. are shot in 68% of cases.

The most recent UNODC international statistics for murder and firearm homicide rates for a wide selection of industrialized nations.
The most recent UNODC international statistics for murder and firearm homicide rates for a wide selection of industrialized nations. | Source

These statistics show legal firearms could be a factor in the U.S. murder rate being high. Conversely, they could indicate that Americans are just a very murderous people. Very few people would agree with the second possibility.

Arguments For and Against Gun Control

This article will investigate the arguments for gun control by setting up a mock debate between pro-gun (italics) and anti-gun (normal text) supporters. International murder rates and crime rates will be used to extract the key points in this ongoing debate.

  • Lots of countries like Venezuela, Colombia, Iraq and South Africa have higher murder rates than the USA.

To compare the U.S. with second and third world countries that contain powerful drugs cartels, mafias, or militias; that experience racially or religiously aggravated civil or external wars; or that are stricken with poverty, famine, or epidemics, is to make the anti-gun supporter's point for him/her. America is a first world, industrialized country with none of the above problems. The only comparison is with countries that fit the same category.

  • Crime is higher in Europe than in America.

Some European countries have higher crime rates than America (UK, Finland), but others do not (Germany, France). With roughly the same crime rate, it is surprising that America has three times more murders. What is it that turns crimes into murders? Could it be that if guns are readily available to thieves, drug addicts, jealous lovers (etc), this will turn many crimes that would be non-lethal when firearms are not involved, into murders?

  • Switzerland has lots of guns, and they don’t have many murders.

Switzerland has very low levels of crime as they are an extremely rich, developed nation with low levels of poverty. With a low crime rate, it is impossible for their murder rate to be high. However, if the previous argument is correct, we can expect more of their crimes to escalate to murders. Indeed, like America, we find that a large percentage of the crimes in Switzerland are murders.

The positive correlation between crimes that are murders, and gun ownership. Crime and Murder rates from the UNODC (see earlier citation). Gun ownership statistics from:
The positive correlation between crimes that are murders, and gun ownership. Crime and Murder rates from the UNODC (see earlier citation). Gun ownership statistics from: | Source

This internationally consistent correlation between the percentage of crimes that are murders, and levels of gun ownership, is a key finding of the present work. There will be other factors that could improve the correlation such as population density, climate, poverty, police effectiveness, and the harshness of criminal justice, but even without these factors, the correlation is clear.

  • States enforcing gun control in the U.S.A have higher murder rates than states that allow people to freely own firearms.

This is one of many deceptive arguments against gun control. No reference is made to the murder rate prior to the introduction of firearm control laws. A high murder rate is probably why the laws were passed in the first place. It is irrelevant if the rate remains high when compared with a stretch of desert in Nevada; it is the change from previous levels that is important.

  • Gun control has not significantly reduced the murder rate in states that use it.

This is debatable. However, state borders are not enforced by the authorities, and do not have any detection equipment to prevent the trafficking of illegal weaponry. The only firearm control that is in any way effective comes with the deterrent presented by national borders.

  • The murder rate in the U.K. increased despite gun control laws.

Gun control was enforced in the U.K. in 1997 and there was a highly publicized increase in the U.K. murder rate during 2003. However, pro-gun advocates fail to mention the 215 murders that were added to the results in that year upon discovery of serial killer Harold Shipman’s crimes. This accounts for all of the difference from the previous year. More recent statistics show the UK murder rate to be falling.

The UK murder rate before and after firearm control.
The UK murder rate before and after firearm control. | Source
  • Guns are needed for self defense.

Compared with other developed nations you are three times more likely to be murdered in the U.S.A. and 27 times more likely to be shot to death. Clearly people are finding it difficult to defend themselves against guns. Either armed civilians are not a sufficient deterrent for criminals, or the positive aspects of being able to better defend yourself are outweighed by the increased risks of living in a gun-saturated society. Indeed, criminals will arm themselves to succeed against an armed populace, cancelling out defensive benefits. This arms race may actually reduce your defensive capacity; after all, how do you defend yourself with a gun pointed at you? You can't pull your own gun without being shot.

Furthermore, countries saturated with guns will experience the theft of legally bought guns, or the illegal sale of guns that were bought legally (straw purchases). In 1994 a U.S. National Institute of Justice document stated “About 211,000 handguns and 382,000 long guns were stolen in non-commercial thefts.” Nevertheless, criminals were once regular citizens, and could have bought a gun legally without any problem.

  • When guns aren't available, knives, bombs or home-made guns are used instead.

A person intent on murder will use whatever means available. However, one should expect the murder success rate and the number of attempted murders to decrease when such an efficient weapon is not available. Victims will be able to defend themselves better against a knife, and may be able to run to safety. An attacker armed with a knife will need to get close and personal, requiring greater physical force, risk of injury, and tolerance for contact with blood. Without a gun, the attacker may not risk the attack, or the victim may avoid being murdered. Bombs and home-made guns are difficult for most people to construct, and are rarely chosen as weapons.

Poverty levels for industrialized nations.
Poverty levels for industrialized nations. | Source
  • Minorities are the reason why America has a high murder rate.

African-Americans are often the perpetrators in murders. However, compared with the white population, a much larger percentage of blacks live in poverty. Either we believe that blacks have a biological susceptibility for committing murder, or we accept that if whites were the poorer race, they would be more murderous. Since there is no evidence that blacks are inherently murderous, we can conclude that ethnic diversity is not the reason for America's high murder rate. Similarly, the rate cannot be blamed on poverty levels, which are not higher than other industrialized nations.

  • A Gun-ban won’t take guns out of criminal hands.

Most criminals would hold onto their weapons if a ban was imposed, but it is possible that firearms will disappear from society over time. A gun control law would mean the mere sight of a firearm would be enough for an arrest. Guns would be claimed by the police, turned in by the public, lost, or could fall into disrepair. The numbers would dwindle, but it could take a number of years. The UK murder rate didn't fall significantly for about a decade.

  • Guns are a deterrent against break-ins.

Unless you have a sign outside your door saying “gun owner” then criminals will be undeterred. Rather, they may be encouraged to steal your firearms to sell on the black market.

  • Criminals will still find guns even if they are banned, just look at drugs.

Even in gun controlled countries there are still shootings. The point is the number of firearm homicides is drastically reduced. This occurs because the acquisition of guns through legal channels (e.g. theft) is cut-short, reducing the supply. The only option is to import, which is riskier and more expensive. The increased price prevents thugs and petty drug-users from being able to easily afford guns, leading to less shootings.

  • It’s my right to own a gun.

Rights are only rights when the populace agrees they are needed. If a right over-rides the democratic choice of the people, it becomes a tool to oppress. Any decision on gun control should have the blessing of the majority.

  • Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.

People kill people, but people with guns find it much easier.


There are numerous arguments for gun control, but the key finding of this article is that for a number of industrialized nations, high numbers of civilian owned firearms cause more crimes to escalate into murders. There is an internationally reliable correlation between the percentage of crimes that are murders, and levels of gun ownership.

Arguments for gun control do not need to be emotionally appealing; they are borne out in the proper use of international murder rates and crime statistics. The ways in which the pro-gun lobby misuse statistics and manipulate their audience with fallacious arguments against gun control suggests they are desperately seeking evidence to support an indefensible position. Given the findings of this article, it is likely that gun-control could work for many nations, including the United States of America.

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Comments 56 comments

texshelters profile image

texshelters 4 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

I salute you for taking on a forbidden topic, making sense, and using rational arguments. Yes, that should be the norm, but unfortunately, it's not.


Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment tex! I have researched this topic for a number of years, and have seen the irrational bias you mention. All the arguments against gun control in this hub have actually been put to me before in discussions.

Talking of... I just had a very personally-directed comment that I had to delete. If the person that made that comment reads this, I will be happy to answer your criticisms if you can do so without telling me what I personally think and desire, and how I would personally act in dangerous situations. That was more than a little offensive.

Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

Absolutely wonderful! Your examination of gun control is unemotional and multi-demensional. Thank you for taking this topic on, and examining it in such a logical manner.

Now be prepared for some serious slamming by anti-control hubbers. They can be very strident, verbose and rude. I learned that first hand.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment Healthy Pursuits! I do try to approach these things scientifically, so I'm glad you appreciate that. I've already had one nasty comment, which surprised me a little, because hubpages is normally such a friendly place. They tend to focus on the whole "freedoms" issue, but I don't see them arguing for freedom to buy nuclear weapons, tanks, or anti-personnel mines for their backyards. Lines are always drawn, it's a matter of where you draw them. When the current line is harmful, it needs to be moved. In my previous hub I argued for movement in the opposite direction for another issue.

wilderness profile image

wilderness 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

You have excellent points, and the only one I would seriously disagree with is that murderers won't use something else if guns are not available.

My own research says that they will; that removing guns from society does not materially affect the murder rate. Even your graph of the UK points this out; while it is faintly possible that it was just took time until the guns disappeared it is also very likely that other changes occurred in the ten years it took to see the homicide rate fall.

I also find your second graph, showing that the percentage of crimes that are homicides rises with gun ownership interesting. I'll have to think about that one, though, to even decide if it actually means anything. Maybe it shows that lots of guns means that, as the homicide rate remains constant, other crime rates will fall with more guns around. Statistics like that aren't always easy to interpret; although it sounds silly in the extreme and it would take a LOT to convince me, it just could be.

Nice hub.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks wilderness. I do say "A person intent on murder will use whatever means available". They will use knives, poison, or whatever they can find to club someone over the head with. Guns are a more effective weapon because they can be used from range with minimal risk to the user. Soldiers don't use knives as their primary weapon, they use guns, and for good reason. This has to mean that murderers with guns will be more successful than murderers with knives. It also has to mean that murderers will be a bit more reluctant to use knives because of the risks involved. Just look at drive-by shootings; it's so easy and cowardly, can you imagine all of those murders being committed using knives? Can you imagine a woman gutting her abusive husband with a knife? Sure, it happens sometimes, but guns make it easier.

You're right, the UK murder rate could have fallen due to other factors. I don't make any assertions about that. I say gun control could take a number of years to work, and this is consistent with the UK figures.

Good point, pro-gunners are always saying how people are too scared to commit crimes when there is an armed public. I think it has a lot more to do with other factors though. Population density and wealth would be the biggest factors in crime rate. Switzerland is a very wealthy country. However, any of these affects on overall crime should also affect the murder rate. If people are too scared to commit crimes because of guns, then they should be too scared to attempt murders too. Also, the statistics don't show that guns lower the crime rate. Finland's crime rate is very high.

As ever, there needs to be more data, and more standardizing of the data we already have. The effectiveness of law enforcement and the different cultural ideas of what constitutes a crime will skew the data.

Sanxury 3 years ago

To fight this battle from the aspects of a responsible gun owner is the best way to go. Violent offenders should not have guns and back ground checks should be made to work. A lock system on the weapon with a key or something should be implemented. It protects the gun owner from having it stolen and used to commit a crime and if it is not on his person it prevents a small child from hurting them self.

Things that will not work and dumb arguments. You can not logically stop murder by proxy with gun control. Murder by proxy is the equivalent of stopping a suicide bomber. Most would qualify to purchase a weapon and would never show up on radar. You can not determine who is likely to do such a thing. Are you going to ban anyone who takes medication or seeks counselling? Maybe someone who is having a bad day at work or just poor surviving on the street? The number of people killed by means other then guns is pretty high, do you plan on controlling all kitchen knives to. Last of all you can not ban a culture created by hostile work places, court systems and bullies at school, we have to change our culture.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

If we made bomb-vests, tanks, rocket launchers, bazookas, land-mines, and nuclear weapons legal to buy in shops, do you think the murder rate would stay the same? Of course you can't make knives illegal, but that clearly isn't the point. Do you think drive-by shootings would happen with knives? Think of all the murders that are so easy to commit with a gun, and how much more difficult they'd be with a knife. Lets take the argument to the extreme; lets say you could kill someone with the power of your thoughts while sitting in the bathtub with a glass of wine. I'm willing to bet the murder rate would go up if that became possible.

You can't ban someone who takes medication or seeks counselling, but you can bet that by allowing all of them firearms, some small percentage will shoot someone while in a manic state. The same goes for the general populace, some small percentage will reach for their gun when finding their loved one in bed with someone else. It's too easy to just shoot someone. It removes the victim's capacity to defend themselves or run away. It can be done with no physical force beyond pulling a trigger. It can be done from a distance to avoid any personal risk.

With a gun ban there'd be fewer attempts at murder, and more success in defending against murder. Guns aren't the great equalizer, they give the advantage to the attacker, because when you have a gun pointed at you, how do you draw your own?

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Hi Thomas, an interesting hub. The problem with guns is that it is too easy to pull the trigger in the heat of the moment, when perhaps without a gun, the person would have just swung a fist instead. Guns make killing easy, which is why the murder rate is so high in countries with guns. Yes, there are always those people intent on killing, who would find another way, but many gun murders are committed without forethought. Also, in the U.S. it's way too easy for a mentally ill person to get their hands on a gun without having to buy one themselves. Many shootings recently have occurred with weapons taken from a family member, so this call for better background checks may do little to help the situation.

I find it interesting that many Americans are obsessed with having guns to protect themselves in their own home, yet don't realise that this gun culture also makes it more likely that they, or a loved one will be killed by a gun outside their home! Sure, it's a tradeoff, but I know what I'd choose.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks MayG for a very insightful comment. I couldn't agree more when you say many gun murders are committed without forethought. Pro-gunners seems to have this idea of a perfect criminal who is vastly different to the average citizen, and who premeditates all his crimes. I'm sure their response to my saying that would be "you just want to treat ordinary people like criminals", as if they're different species. I stole a few times when I was a toddler, I guess that makes me a criminal by the definition they use.

The point about mentally ill people getting guns is a good one because whenever they do flip out, 20 people die. The question then is always "why was there no-one there with a gun to stop them?" In many cases there are people there with guns who are just too scared to act. So either we live in the wild west, or we have gun control. The current situation cannot continue, and we've had the wild west once before. Thanks again for the well thought out comment.

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Thanks Thomas. Another thing to consider is that someone planning a shooting also has the ability to buy protective gear - bullet proof vests etc, which also would make it much harder for an ordinary citizen to stop him.

Whenever I hear people saying that the answer is 'more guns' in order to stop the 'bad guys' I think of the shooting at the foot of the Empire State Building last year. About 7 people were injured by stray bullets fired from the guns of highly trained policemen. Imagine the chaos if ordinary citizens are whipping out guns trying to take out a shooter. Mark Kelly made an interesting point on Piers Morgan's show recently: when his wife, Gabby Giffords was shot, the man who actually stopped the shooter was then nearly mistaken for the criminal by an armed man arriving on the scene. How awful would it have been if this heroic man had been shot by another citizen trying to do the right thing?

tammybarnette profile image

tammybarnette 3 years ago

I am so glad I found this article. Emotions are running high on this issue. I like the matter of fact style you use with facts to back up your statements. I am all for protecting our constitution and Iam all for protecting our citizens and our children. Thank you for such a great hub:)

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

More good points May, I can see you've thought about this a lot. Indeed, a person planning a shooting would plan to get shot at, and this wild west scenario would be a disaster unless everyone were trained to be perfect shots. I guess I hadn't thought as much about mass-murderers when writing this, but with the latest shootings, these are good points being raised.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Tammy. This article arose out of several months/years of arguing with pro-gunners, so I'm glad that didn't turn out to be a waste of time. My study of, and respect for, science has helped me to avoid getting emotionally biased, so I'm glad you appreciated my attempt at objectivity.

jrncarter 3 years ago

I find it fascinating that the police in Great Britain have only felt it necessary to shoot dead 9 people since 1980. The last occasion, in 2011 triggered mass rioting. This is out of a population of around 60million. I wonder what the equivalent figure is for the US? I suspect it is a lot higher and you can't blame the US police. They don't know when they stop a car or knock on a door whether the occupant has a gun. In the UK, generally the police can assume they don't. Taking guns out of general society makes the job of the police safer and means the police have to discharge their weapons less (when the carry them in the case of British police).

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment jrncarter. It also shows that gun control works. Otherwise the criminals would all be armed, and shooting the unarmed police. Thanks for the interesting statistic.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

A very useful hub Thomas with many well thought out points.

Most interesting for me is the graph which relates gun homicides to all other homicides. One of the arguments put forward by the pro-gun lobby is that guns do not affect the murder rate - merely the method employed ('if guns were not available criminals would just use other weapons'). The graph you present makes clear the falseness of this argument. In the graph, most developed nations actually have quite similar non-gun homicide rates (between 0.5 and 2 per 100,000). The difference in America's overall homicide statistics (nearly 5 per 100,000) is almost entirely due to the prevalence of gun murders. In societies without guns these murders are clearly not being carried out with other weapons.

The information on Switzerland is also valid. One other point about Switzerland as I understand it is that many guns are not bought either with intent to commit crime, or out of fear of crime. Rather they are provided by the Government to citizens who serve as conscripts in the army. The reasons for owning guns are perhaps quite different to America.

All the other arguments you present seem very clear and convincing even allowing for the difficulties of interpreting crime statistics. Unfortunately Thomas, as you may see from the arguments expressed by some in my hub, no level of logic or evidence will persuade some. Beliefs in the value of gun ownership have an almost 'faith' like element or else a 'human right' to them which is not really dependent on evidence. In addition, many will use arguments not based on conventional crime to defend gun ownership, but rather arguments based on the 'need' to protect against a tyrannical government.

However, your points are well thought out and explained, and deserving of a wide audience. Voted up. Alun.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks greensleeves. Yes, that first graph is pretty damning. What alarms me most is when gun owners say "oh that's just black kids shooting each other" or something to that effect. It's as if they think minorities are a sub-species that kill each other because they're uncivilized. The Switzerland figures are interesting in that graph too - supports my later point about that country.

Yes, I suppose with Switzerland there isn't the mentality that comes with owning a gun. When people buy guns they do it because they can imagine a situation where they'd want to use them. Without that mentality, there's more chance of the weapon being left to gather dust.

It interests me how guns, religion and right wing politics go together like that. I think there's a persecution and abandonment issue that elicits increased individualism and independence. It's the idea that no-one else will take care of you, so you must take care of yourself against the exaggerated threats created by a panicked mind. This exacerbates the underlying anxiety and abandonment issues, forcing one to find comfort in the company of God; a being that is always there; a father figure who looks after you... whilst not being part of the human race that caused the initial pain. I'm willing to bet they're more likely to be dog owners too. Seems they just need a hug! hehe

Marquis profile image

Marquis 3 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

Are you firehat from bubblews? Just checking -

Anyway, I am against gun control.

I like when people, like yourself, for instance bring up graphs and this little argument about self defense. Well, everyone doesn't know self defense. So even if guns were banned, a person who is trying to defend him/herself could still take a fatal stabbing from someone else.

You need to check this website out. Some of the stuff refutes things you have said.

The Nazi Left Wing gun haters need to stop now.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

One thing I've noticed with pro-gunners is this constant referral to everything they dislike as "little" - little graphs, little arguments, little people... as if calling it little somehow refutes it. Most peculiar. Some people have said that guns are used as a substitute by men with little manhoods. Perhaps that's why they need to call everything else little. Just a theory from a "Nazi Left Wing gun hater".

Marquis profile image

Marquis 3 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

Did you know Washington D.C had a gun ban? Did it stop the high rate of homicides? No, it did not.

Listen, I meant nothing personal with the NAZI Leftist gun hater comment. I just find it interesting that the NAZIs banned guns and that the Left wants to do the same thing.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Washington already had a high murder rate though. I don't think banning guns within a city, or even within an individual state would have any effect at all. You'd have to make the ban nationwide because national borders can be properly policed. State borders cannot. Even with a national ban, it may take years for the number of guns in private hands to dwindle to the levels seen in some Western European countries. I guess that's the cost of Americans allowing their country to become so saturated with guns.

Marquis profile image

Marquis 3 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

Do you understand truly why things were set up like it is concerning guns? Thank England for it.

It is the right of any American to bear arms to counteract a violent government takeover. Too bad for UK because they can not fight their government back.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Yes, the right to bear arms was a useful law for a country threatened by invasion. Two hundred years later, it isn't needed. If it looks like China might invade though, go ahead and arm the population. Wait, do you think the American government will try to enslave its own people too? Who do you think forms the army and police? Robot automatons? They won't blindly enslave their families and friends because some nutbag President decided it was the right thing to do.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

One point I would make in correction of Marquis's comment re-Nazi left wing gun haters - The Nazis did NOT ban guns. Quite the opposite in fact. In 1938, gun laws were relaxed under the Nazis for the majority of the population. It was only certain minorities such as the Jews (who had never traditionally been a gun owning community anyway) who had greater restrictions imposed upon their ownership of guns. The idea that the Nazis banned guns is just one of the many myths without foundation which are put forward by the gun lobby.

Marquis profile image

Marquis 3 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

I am being double teamed here.

Ok, but he made sure German-born Jews could not own guns via the 1938 weapons law.

Sanxuary 3 years ago

Checking up on my blog you fail at understanding America. The inability to negotiate at any level is your stance on the issue. I am not pro-gun but I really doubt that any common sense can be found and the lack of any measures taken is proof of that. You on the other hand simply want all guns abolished, good luck with that narrow view. Gun fanatics in this country believe that any control measures will eventually lead to your idea of no gun utopia. Quite honestly, you our their worst nightmare and no one they would ever reason with. In America that kind of reasoning will never work. I believe gun ownership requires responsibility and better safety measures. Guns are simply to numerous and every American knows that the Government should never be trusted. The police respond and seldom prevent crime. There are never enough police in a single disaster in this country. We would probably send more to help your country then our own. The largest helicopter fleet in the World was enjoying a Government holiday when Katrina struck New Orleans. Less then a dozen helicopters air lifted over two thousand people from the tops of their houses. There were no police capable of responding and a few bad cops had fun shooting people. I bet in your country all the rich people can afford to own a gun. I hope that never happens in this country. Any real change requires baby steps in the right direction with positive results that do not diminish trust. A all or nothing agenda will usually get you nothing.

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I read a very interesting article on CNN the other day which looked at quotes from Thomas Jefferson. The one which struck me was this, from a letter he wrote to James Madison in 1789. "It may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. ... Every constitution, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years." Jefferson wrote this in a letter to James Madison in 1789. So if a one of these revered founding fathers could see that it was important to constantly rewrite the law, why are so many Americans reluctant to change the 'rights' given to them by the founding fathers? Times are very different to back then. I don't believe for a second that those who created the 'right to bear arms' would still agree if they could see the tragic consequences of this law today.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks MayG. I have to say, the more I read from Thomas Jefferson, the more I am amazed by him. In my mind, only David Hume can rival him in terms of profundity, sagacity, and foresight. That quote is a great find, and the idea is something that many liberal-minded people support. For him to have written it 224 years ago though... that's a bit more remarkable!

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

MayG; You make very good points. Although I have seen many quotes by Thomas Jefferson, I had not seen this one before - unsurprising really, because it's not one that the gun enthusiasts would be very keen to publicise. Clearly even the founding fathers recognised that the needs of one generation may not be the same as the needs of the next.

As you indicate, the world of 1789 was very very different from the world of 2013, and the requirements of society were very different too. Then, democracy was in its infancy and far from secure, and guns were necessary tools in pioneering America. Today, democracy - for all its detractors - is stable, and we have police forces and armies to protect us. The time for militias, individual vigilante style action, and lethal means of personal protection, is over. And I suspect Thomas Jefferson would indeed recognise that if he were alive today.

Jeff Porter profile image

Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

I would highly disagree that the time for lethal personal protection is over.

Rapes happen all the time. Home invasions happen all the time. Armed robberies happen all the time.

Sure, you can hide and call 911, but, the cops are minutes away, and minutes can be life or death when someone is in your house trying to harm you.

You have a right to protect yourself.

I had a lengthy discussion with someone who lived close to me about gun control. They were a gun control advocate and told me I shouldn't have a gun in my house.

I asked them to suppose that someone broke into their house and was trying to do them harm. And suppose they were cut off from a phone and hadn't been able to call 911. And suppose that the criminal that broke in was trying to rape and kill them. And suppose I realized what was going on, and I entered their house with my legally licensed firearm and subdued the criminal before they could rape and kill them. Then I asked would they still think that I didn't need (or need the right) to have a firearm in my house?

They stated that yes, they would thank me for saving them, even if I used a firearm to do so.

There are many reasons for citizens to possess a firearm, and that right is guaranteed in our constitution.

We have some major cities in our nation with strict gun control laws, above and beyond what certain other areas have. Interesting, that in those cities, gun crimes are higher than elsewhere in our nation.

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Hi Jeff, I disagree with your argument for several reasons. Firstly, it's so easy to obtain weapons in the U.S. it's likely that this hypothetical attacker you're going to stop is already armed - you have as much chance of being shot by him, as you do of having the opportunity to shoot him. Unfortunately, the slack gun laws in the U.S. make it easy for a criminal to have a gun. Time and time again innocent people are slain by people who should not have a gun, whether it's guns that get into the hands of young children, criminals or the mentally ill. These slack gun laws cause far more deaths than they save. You only have to look at the gun death statistics in the U.S. compared to nations with tight gun control laws to see this. Secondly, I disagree that the constitution 'guarantees' that right. It's the interpretation of it that allows that right, but like anything should be restricted by common sense limitations - unfortunately severely lacking in this case.

Jeff Porter profile image

Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

No, MayG, if you are unarmed, you do NOT have as much of a chance to shot your armed intruder as they do of shooting you. you have zero chance of shooting them.

So, in a society of armed criminals, you want to pass more restrictive laws to keep the hands out of ....who's hands? Out of the hands of the people who break the law. You won't stop a criminal from breaking a law. That's why they're criminals; they do not care about breaking a law.

The guy who shot up the school in Connecticut broke over 40 laws in the commission of his crimes. Do you honestly think that, had there been one or two more laws in place, it would have made him change his mind?

There are news stories, daily, about how the legal use of a firearm save life and property from criminal activity, many times without a shot ever being fired. Daily. Yet, you never hear much made of it, beyond the local news. Why is that? Agenda.

A shooting can happen that fits the storyline that 'guns are bad', and it makes national news for two weeks.

To say the 2nd doesn't guarantee gun ownership is ridiculous.

I'll tell you something about 'interpreting' the Constitution: read it and show me where it says abortion is legal. That's what 'interpretation' will get you; especially from a bunch of progressive liberal justices. You cannot find abortion in our Constitution.

A gun is a gun. An inanimate object. Semi-automatic weapons have been around for over a hundred years, yet these types of shootings is a problem that we've seen in the last fifteen or so years. The gun is the same. Inanimate.

Has the gun changed? No.

Morals and values have changed. The regard for life has changed.

Work on the cause of THAT, because there is where the problem lies.

We do not have a gun control problem.

We have a sin control problem.

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Jeff, you're crazy if you think that a country shouldn't change with the times and adapt as necessary. Read my comment above about Thomas Jefferson's quote. I think he would agree with me. Abortion back when the constitution was written would have been a life-threatening operation for a start. It's ridiculous to think that the only laws of the US should be stated in the constitution or not exist. And regardless of your opinion on sin, it's the abundance of guns in American society that lead to gun deaths. Period. Again, all you have to do is look at the gun death rate compared to other countries. Yes, criminals can get hold of guns in Australia and the UK, but it is much, much harder, hence the lower gun death rate. We could go around in circles all day, but I'm not interested in getting into a morality debate, or an abortion debate either for that matter.

Jeff Porter profile image

Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

And yet, it's also a provable fact that the abundance of guns in American society that has saved many lives.

I was just thinking the same about the circles. Ha!

And if you think our founders would have condoned murder of unborn humans; and written it into the Constitution, we are worlds apart anyway.

We base all our laws on the Constitution; it's only when it's wrongly interpreted that we find ourselves making poor laws.

Interpret the constitution:

"abortion is legal." Though nowhere in it does it even come close to proving it. Trouble is, progressive judges 'read into it, and 'found' it', though it's NOT there.

"gun control (should be) highly restricted." Even though the 2nd Amendment says nothing about it. Trouble is, progressive judges would love to 'read into it and 'find' it'.

Again, the same gun that was around 100 years ago is now, suddenly, just opening fire on people, if we're to believe the anti-gun crowd. Surely it's not people's fault?

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Well, I'll say it time and time again Jeff - there's not a lot of difference between morals in countries like Australia and the UK and the U.S. What distinguishes the U.S. is the ridiculously high gun death rate, because of the ridiculous gun laws.

And don't even try to suggest that society is less moral now than when the constitution was written - remember back then slavery and inequality was condoned and women couldn't vote. We've come a looooong way.

Jeff Porter profile image

Jeff Porter 3 years ago from Georgia

We've come a long way? Oh yeah, our rap music morals prove that. Washington and Jefferson listened to Lil Wayne and others glorify dealing drugs and prostitution, etc. I'm sure John Adams watched vapid plot-less gore 24 hours a day. I'm sure they all played Halo and Doom and games like that, which encouraged pointless killings in stunning and graphic reality. I'm sure Martha Washington got on stage dressed in her underwear and ground her backside into James Madison while they sang a song.

Yeah, we're paradigms of virtue now.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

Although popular social belief is inclined to be pessimistic about our society there is absolutely no doubt that we live today in a more caring and civilised society than was the case in past centuries - and believe it or not our democratic leaders are also more civilised than ever they were in the past. It may be true that certain sub-cultures - city gangs, fanatical religious groups, for example - are responsible for major problems today, but almost every problem today other than those which are purely technological in their origins, will have its more extreme and much more brutish counterpart in past centuries - and that includes the times during which the United States of America was in its formative years.

As for gun control, almost none of the arguments in favour of gun ownership for personal protection against criminals carries any real weight because almost nobody as I understand it is suggesting an immediate removal of all guns from private ownership in America. What they are suggesting is responsible gun ownership, registration or licencing, and limitations on the type and number of guns owned. In conjunction with stringent border controls and extremely harsh penalties for anybody who uses a weapon in the carrying out of a crime, there is no reason on Earth why America - like all other civilised countries - should not be able to reduce the number of guns in circulation among the criminal class - and the number of deaths both accidental and deliberate - which result from the excessive number of guns currently in private ownership.

MayG profile image

MayG 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I'm giving you a standing ovation right now Greensleeves.

Jeff, at least there is freedom of choice now! I know which century I'd rather be living in.

Wacky Mummy profile image

Wacky Mummy 3 years ago from UK

Very interesting hub, which gives food for thought. However I personally think owning a gun would make it far too easy to kill someone in the heat of the moment. It is a pretty balanced argument, however if there isn't a gun in the house, it reduces the likelihood that someone would be murdered (that's they wouldn't use something else though...) and it also makes gun related accidents less likely, especially in the case of children who aren't old enough to know how to use one properly.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Wacky Mummy, and agreed. I think people invest their safety in having a gun, such that when they feel threatened, or just angry, they reach for it. It does seem to be the crux of the matter that more crimes become murders when there are so many guns about.

Jeff Porter profile image

Jeff Porter 2 years ago from Georgia

Thomas, I contend that some of those rapes and murders are thwarted by guns. I read news reports of just such events every day.

In many cases, the criminal flees the scene upon simply seeing the gun. In many cases, the gun never even has to be fired to stop a crime.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand Author

Agreed Jeff. In some cases, having a gun will make the situation better.

Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 2 years ago

This is one of the best articles I have read about gun control. You did an awesome job! Shared, tweet & up. :-) Would as well like you to know that this has been selected for the Gold Award for March!

cheers and thank you for writing informative and thought

provoking articles. :-)

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thank you Jo for sharing and for the Gold Award! This article was like a summary of all the debates I've ever had on the issue. I think (hope) my science training allowed me to extract the key variables. Thanks again!

AJDonkin profile image

AJDonkin 2 years ago from Newport News, VA

Great Hub! I've never been a gun control person but lately I've been questioning this position. I've read the second amendment over and over again and I get the distinct feeling that it is widely misinterpreted. I agree that there is a correlation between high murder rates and the ease in which one can get a gun. This is a hotly debated topic and one in which more people should be having....thank you for a very informative article. I look forward to reading more from you

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks AJDonkin! You might be right about how the second amendment is currently interpreted. In a comment above, MayG provided a quote from Thomas Jefferson that I thought was very profound. The quote is: "It may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. ... Every constitution, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years."

Larry Wall 18 months ago

Miracles never cease--we are in virtual agreement. I have raised the issue that the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms--it says nothing about the right to fire those guns or owning bullets--a point I know that would not stand up in court, but could have some validity. My wife, a retired teacher, had a student who was killed when a gun fired into the air to celebrate the Fourth of July, fell and hit the child in the middle of the head. The gun was found, but the shooter escaped. Your research was very good. Goes by to that "thy shall not kill" thing, right?

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 18 months ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for commenting Larry and for the ironic story. I think another argument could be made by comparing guns with drugs. One is used to harm the self; the other is used to harm others. Basic morality should dictate our approach to their legality.

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 18 months ago from The Midwest

How odd... on any given day you can find in the news many stories about teachers who have sexually abused their students. While teachers may have a "right" to that profession nothing says they have the right to actually teach or even set foot in a school.

Based upon the safety of our children I think we should just ban teachers.

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 18 months ago from The Midwest

Tom, it will be interesting for you to attempt to make the case that my guns have ever "harmed others." Go for it. Be specific. Give detail.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 18 months ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for commenting Jack. I don't think I said guns harm others. You seem to have missed out the words "used to" in order to straw man me as saying something absurd. Regarding your other comment, why would we ban teachers? Who would teach us about logical fallacies and gun safety? You'd have to ban parents too, since they're more likely to abuse their kids than teachers. Thankfully pedophilia, like murder, is against the law; but if parents and teachers used some object that they purchased over a counter that serves no significant purpose other than to help them abuse children, I'm sure it would be illegal, wouldn't it?

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 18 months ago from The Midwest

Tom sez: I don't think I said guns harm others.

Jack replies: Well, someone posted, "..the other [guns] is used to harm others" Oh... that was you who posted that. You still have not explained how my guns, or even my "use" of them has harmed anyone.

Tom sez: You seem to have missed out the words "used to" in order to straw man me as saying something absurd.

Jack replies: Well, you were the one who said the absurd comparison between guns and drugs, eh.

Tom sez: Regarding your other comment, why would we ban teachers?

Jack replies: For the obvious safety of our children. Are you really that cold hearted that you would subject innocent children to the sure possibility that a teacher might one day molest them?

Tom sez: Who would teach us about logical fallacies and gun safety?

Jack replies: Apparently some teachers in your past have fallen down on both counts.

Tom sez: You'd have to ban parents too, since they're more likely to abuse their kids than teachers.

Jack replies: Go for it, for the sake of our children.

Tom sez: Thankfully pedophilia, like murder, is against the law;

Jack replies: Hmmmm... so someone actually has to harm someone before they are punished. But gun owners, who have harmed no one, can still have their rights curtailed even though they have harmed no one. This is part of the famous "common sense" amoung the anti freedom crowd.

Tom sez: but if parents and teachers used some object that they purchased over a counter that serves no significant purpose other than to help them abuse children, I'm sure it would be illegal, wouldn't it?

Jack replies: There ya go again, with that word "use." Are you stating for the record that it is the "use" of a product and not the product itself that is the "wrong" in this situation? That there is no reason to have pre-emptive gun control that is designed to reduce the availability of a product that, in itself, is harmless unless it is "used" wrongly?

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 18 months ago from New Zealand Author

Thank you for commenting Jack.

Your guns haven't harmed anyone. That would be impossible unless they somehow misfired unaided, which seems very unlikely. Suggesting I've said otherwise in order to reduce my argument to an absurdity is childish and demonstrates an inability to support your opinion in less fallacious ways.

Your guns presumably haven't been used to harm anyone either, unless they had a previous owner who used them for that purpose.

Guns can be used to harm someone. It's what they're designed to do. Before you raise other examples, let me explain what I mean by this.

1. They're an extremely effective means of killing a person.

2. They have no other essential use. Recreational use (e.g. hunting) doesn't count as essential.

So lets look at other weapons. Knives are a less effective means of killing someone (no range), and they have an essential use for cutting food. Our society couldn't function if knives were illegal. However, excessively large knives, such as swords, typically aren't useful in any way other than to kill, which is why they're illegal in many urbanized countries, though you could make a case for allowing machetes in countries with large jungles.

Lets go to an extreme and talk about nuclear weapons. These have a singular function and are highly effective killing machines. Do you think you should be allowed to buy one of those? If not, why? (Now do you understand what I'm saying?) If yes, let me know how that goes and whether you'll argue if your Constitution includes those "arms". And if you can have one, can everyone else?

Lets scale back a bit... what about a rocket launcher, or a lethal strain of Ebola to infect the next criminal you come across who deserves it. Or is this also overkill? When does a weapon become too effective for the public to own? What about assault rifles? Surely you don't need one of those to kill a burglar or mugger.

You said "But gun owners, who have harmed no one, can still have their rights curtailed even though they have harmed no one." - We'd all have our "rights curtailed". So it would be the same for everyone. I wouldn't be allowed to buy a gun either. It's interesting you called it a "right". What would happen if there was a vote, and say 60% of Americans wanted guns made illegal. Would this "right" stop them being listened to? I would hope not. I mean, even Thomas Jefferson recognized the possibility that the Constitution should change to reflect current opinion. In a letter to James Madison, he said "It may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. ... Every constitution, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years."

Regarding the question in your last paragraph, that's not quite what I'm saying. A product with nobody using it is of course harmless. However, a product is designed to fulfill a function, and how well it performs that function affects a person's ability to use it. In simple terms, a man with a gun is a more efficient killer than a man with a knife. Furthermore, guns are not necessary for everyday life, but knives of course are. I think guns should be outlawed for public use for the same reasons that I think nuclear weapons should be outlawed for public use (but to a lesser extent).

You didn't answer my question though. Please answer the question you quoted, and the questions in this comment. Otherwise, I'll assume you're not here to debate the matter and will delete further comments.

Dr PsyTech profile image

Dr PsyTech 18 months ago from San Antonio, TX

Interesting Hub Sir!

The question I have is that you refer to correlations in favor of gun control, but dismiss correlations that are not convenient for the argument, may I respectfully ask the specific correlation analysis applied to this study?

It would be interesting to see the statistical analyses of all the data and control for variables such as immigration or the term poverty as relative to world living standards. Good points and well articulated, but really would like to see a correlation analysis applied, as the statement of 'correlations' existing should be upheld with statistical analysis. It's a broad statement and many broad correlations can be stated, such as 'there is a correlation among jean size and IQ'...there probably is not a correlation between jeans and IQ, but the data would have to be subjected to statistical analysis to make a definitive statement either direction.

I am truly interested in the topic and look forward to understanding the correlations as applied from country to country and regulatory topics.

Thank you!

Larry Wall 17 months ago

If I am off target (really no pun intended) please excuse me. From a U.S. standpoint, guns will not be banned. Police need guns. That National Guard needs guns, and responsible hunters need guns because some herds of animals have to be thinned to prevent over-population. We can and we should disallow individuals to own military-style weapons. People should understand they can shoot invaders in their home or property if there is a clear danger. Citizens should not be allowed to pursue people they think may have been on their property for illegal purposes and left. Once the gunman starts to leave, let him go and call the police. Gun sales should be limited to in-person sales only and only after completion of necessary training courses. Unfortunately, we have two distinct groups in the U.S., those that want reasonable gun control and those that believe no regulations are needed. Guns have a use, but the use should not be to make everyone a law enforcement officer.

Finally, people harm people in more ways than I can possibly comprehend. Cigarettes, illegal drugs, abuse of legal drugs, guns, fads such as tanning booths and so on all involve personal freedoms. People have to use some common sense, but laws can be drafted that would set some parameters without imposing on basic rights.

As a former journalist, I had the right to free speech and the press. I could not yell fire within a building full of people when there was no fire. As a journalist, I had to be aware of libel and slander laws, so I could avoid court action and had to recognize, there are some limitations on a reporter's right to protect the identity of his sources. I use to always dispose of notes after a week and would not quote unnamed sources. I might learn from an unknown source that leads somewhere, but would not use it as a direct source. I do not want to get further off point, other than to say there can be freedom for many things, guns, drugs, the press and so on, but regulations to define those rights to fit the times and conditions have to constantly be updated.

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