Updated: Jun 22, 2019
I recently came across an article written by Jill Silos‐Rooney on ThoughtCo titled, “The Top 3 Arguments for Gun Control.” Rooney earned her Ph.D. in history and is an assistant professor at MassBay Community College. Being a responsible gun owner and Second Amendment advocate, I thought it would be interesting to take on gun control arguments from someone who researches and writes about constitutional history and rights for a living. I am a big believer in challenging your beliefs and forcing yourself to back up your own position at every angle.
Silos‐Rooney opens the article with a story about a 9‐year‐old girl who accidentally shot her gun instructor with an Uzi. Now, from here, I can go a lot of different ways. First, I wouldn’t suggest opening up a defense for your position with an emotional appeal in which the incident was an outlier.
Second, the link she provided to the story of the tragic accident is from NY Daily News. In the Daily News report, the gun is described as “an automatic Uzi machine gun.” This type of gun is covered under the 1982 ATF ruling, rendering it extremely difficult to obtain. So, this story is a complete anomaly. Although, I don’t argue with Rooney’s assessment that a 9‐year‐old should probably not be learning to shoot a submachine gun. But let’s move on to her arguments.
Argument #1: “Gun Control Saves Lives”
As evidence for this argument, Rooney cites the large drop in the gun‐homicide rate in Australia after the government implemented strict gun control measures. She mentions the restrictions resulted in a 59 percent decrease in gun-related homicides. The Australian example is the most commonly used case among gun control supporters. It also happens to be my favorite because it’s the easiest to debunk.
The Australian gun control policy that Rooney is referring to is the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms, which was one of the world’s largest mandatory gun buybacks. The gun confiscation resulted in one‐third (a high‐end estimate) of firearms being turned in, which means two‐thirds of Australia’s firearms stayed in the hands of citizens.
Furthermore, the gun‐homicide rate was already extraordinarily low and falling for 15 years prior to the massacre that initiated the gun control policy. Due to the numbers being so small in the first place, the “59 percent decline in gun‐homicides” is within the margin of error and therefore statistically irrelevant. The Australian example doesn’t hold statistical merit to be a valid argument.
Argument #2: “You Do NOT Have the Right to Own Any Gun You Want”
Rooney’s leading statement in her second argument is as follows, “The Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) that while private citizens can own weapons, they are also subject to restrictions on those weapons.” I was a bit confused at her analysis of this case, as it’s widely known as a victory for gun rights advocates. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5‐4 against Chicago’s restrictions and regulations of handguns. The court stated that Second Amendment protections apply on a local and state level as well as federal. The ruling was preceded by Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that the Second Amendment is a guaranteed individual right rather than a collective right.
I’m not sure how the ruling of McDonald v. Chicago is evidentiary in her argument of not having the right to own any gun you want, so I will simply address her direct contention.
When the founders created the Second Amendment they knew, as evident in the Federalist Papers and wording of the amendment, that an armed populace would own guns equivalent to those of the Continental army. The founders knew there was no point in having the right to form a militia if said militia wasn’t armed to the capacity of the federal armed forces (“military‐style” weapons anyone?).
Not only that, but the Founders lived in a time with extraordinary technological advancement in weaponry. For example, the Puckle gun, an early version of the Gatling gun, was created pre‐Revolutionary war. They were very intelligent men — they knew further technological advancement would occur well past their time and drafted an amendment to include this notion.
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Silos‐Rooney goes on to argue that since we have regulations on the purchase of alcohol and cold medicine it means we can also have regulations on guns. Well, alcohol and cold medicine are not constitutional rights. They’re privileges. Moving on.
Argument #3: “Few Guns Means Fewer Gun Crimes Period”
In her final argument, Silas-Rooney simply states that fewer guns in a society make it harder for people to obtain guns legally or illegally. She then links an extensive piece written by Joshua Sager on “The Progressive Cynic.” Silas-Rooney doesn’t supply any evidence of her own, merely relying on a blog post from a self‐proclaimed “progressive cynic.” So, I’ll start with the basics.
The most stubborn fact for gun control advocates is that there is not a shred of evidence that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher rates of violent crime. There is also no evidence that gun control policies are associated with lower rates of violent crime or homicide. Violent crime has been on the decline for decades. According to the left‐wing Brookings Institute, violent crime in 2011 was half of what it was in 1991 and continues to decrease. Meanwhile, gun ownership has continued to increase, with well over 300 million firearms in the United States.
New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago are among the cities with the strictest gun control laws, yet have some of the highest homicide rates.
This doesn’t only pertain to the United States. Countries like Israel and Switzerland have much higher rates of gun ownership than the U.S. but have fewer homicides and violent crimes than countries in Europe with strict gun control policies. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our good‐natured Canadian neighbors, with some provinces having higher homicide rates than U.S. states who are considered to be gun friendly. The Crime Prevention Research Center notes that if any correlation had to be made, it’s that higher gun ownership correlates with lower homicide rates. However, correlation doesn’t automatically equal causation. Although, it is still quite a hit against the gun control narrative.
Another common talking point at the expense of the Second Amendment is that the United States leads the world in mass shootings. This example comes courtesy of Adam Lankford, whose study on mass shootings has become a major talking point for gun control proponents.
However, the results came across as so biased, that when economists started questioning the methodology, Lankford himself refused to disclose the data behind his findings. This led to economists from both sides of the aisle unable to support his conclusions. What objective statistics have found is that the United States actually ranks 11th in the world in mass shooting frequency and death rate. In case you were wondering, Norway is number one.
Silos‐Rooney concludes by stating, “These three points are rooted in logic, fairness, and the idea that we all have to live together in this society … The time has come to bring common sense to the dialogue on gun control.”
Logic? I’d say misguided logic.
Fairness? Only if your logic is misguided.
Rooted in the idea that we all have to live together in this society? We do all need to live together, so we should all look at objective fact instead of giving in to the temptation of pandering to our own ideology.
I’m all for rationale. When I’m shown evidence that counters my view, I’ll change that view. However, “The Top 3 Arguments for Gun Control” failed to do that.
Published on: The Western Journal