Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does a ban on “assault weapons” reduce gun violence?

From the freaking New York Times, of all places.

Excerpt:

Over the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned.

[...]But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.

It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.

In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows.

[...]This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense. (In 2008, the Supreme Court said there was a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.)

Banning sales of military-style weapons resonated with both legislators and the public: Civilians did not need to own guns designed for use in war zones.

On Sept. 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban into law. It barred the manufacture and sale of new guns with military features and magazines holding more than 10 rounds. But the law allowed those who already owned these guns — an estimated 1.5 million of them — to keep their weapons.

The policy proved costly. Mr. Clinton blamed the ban for Democratic losses in 1994. Crime fell, but when the ban expired, a detailed study found no proof that it had contributed to the decline.

The ban did reduce the number of assault weapons recovered by local police, to 1 percent from roughly 2 percent.

“Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement,” a Department of Justice-funded evaluation concluded.

So what does work?

“We spent a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of political capital yelling and screaming about assault weapons,” Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu of New Orleans said. He called it a “zero sum political fight about a symbolic weapon.”

Mr. Landrieu and Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia are founders of Cities United, a network of mayors trying to prevent the deaths of young black men. “This is not just a gun issue, this is an unemployment issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s a family issue, it’s a culture of violence issue,” Mr. Landrieu said.

More than 20 years of research funded by the Justice Department has found that programs to target high-risk people or places, rather than targeting certain kinds of guns, can reduce gun violence.

So if banning guns doesn’t stop the crime, then what is causing all the crime?

Dr. Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute explains in his testimony to Congress:

Welfare contributes to crime in several ways. First, children from single-parent families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. According to one study, children raised in single-parent families are one-third more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior.(3) Moreover, O’Neill found that, holding other variables constant, black children from single- parent households are twice as likely to commit crimes as black children from a family where the father is present. Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates.(4) Research indicates a direct correlation between crime rates and the number of single-parent families in a neighborhood.(5)

As Barbara Dafoe Whitehead noted in her seminal article for The Atlantic Monthly:

The relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. The nation’s mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime.(6)

Don’t ban guns, ban welfare.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , ,

Doctor shoots man who opened fire on hospital staff

I’ve bolded the interesting parts of the story, which is from USA Today.

Excerpt:

A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist’s office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said.

The suspect, Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, Pa., was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at an evening news conference.

The unidentified 52-year-old doctor shot Plotts three times and suffered a graze wound when the suspect returned fire, Whelan said at an evening news conference. Two guns were recovered.

[...]Whelan said Plotts, who has a history of unspecified psychiatric problems, and his caseworker arrived at the doctor’s third-floor office about 2 p.m., Whalen said. Soon after, another staffer heard a loud argument and opened the door to find the suspect pointing a gun at the doctor. The worker then closed the door and call 911.

Minutes later, gunfire erupted.

[...]Plotts, described as being in his mid-30s, was in surgery at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. He was shot twice in the torso and once in an arm.

[...]A sign tells visitors to the wellness center to check weapons at the front, a medical technician told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hospital policy allows only on-duty law enforcement officers to carry weapons on campus, a Mercy Health System spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

So there was a “gun-free zone” sign. That didn’t stop the crazy person from coming in with a gun. And thankfully, it didn’t stop the DOCTOR from having a licensed concealed-carry firearm. But what if the doctor didn’t have a firearm? Well, then he’d be dead. The police would NEVER have got there in time to save him. And who knows how many more people the crazy person would have shot? I think this story shows the reason why law-abiding people need to own and carry firearms. When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

St. Louis couple uses guns to defend their daughter against two criminals

The Blaze explains who no one in the mainstream media (or the White House) seems to understand: Guns Save Lives.

Excerpt:

Two armed criminals reportedly put a gun to a 17-year-old girl’s head on Monday night as she was outside retrieving something from a car. The man, whose intentions still aren’t entirely clear, then ordered the teenager to take them into her house — a decision that would prove to have deadly consequences.

Peering out the window of the St. Louis home were the girl’s mother and father, each prepared to protect their daughter with deadly force. There was also a 5-year-old boy in the house, though his relationship to the family wasn’t known on Tuesday.

The girl’s father, a 34-year-old man, reportedly observed the men walking towards his home while holding a gun to his daughter’s head, a sight that no father ever wants to see. He quickly retrieved his firearm and his wife did the same.

The brave dad then confronted the two criminals and opened fire, hitting both suspects with accurate shots. The girl’s mother also fired off some rounds, but failed to hit either suspect.

One of the men was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene while the second suspect escaped only to later be arrested after calling his brother to take him to the hospital because he had been shot.

“Police identify the suspect who was killed as 31-year-old Terrell Johnson from north St. Louis,”KTVI-TV reports. “The second suspect- a 33-year-old man- is hospitalized in critical but stable condition with gunshot wounds to his chest and both thighs. Police say he will face charges.”

No one other than the suspected criminals were injured in the incident.

So, now might be a good time to review the science on guns and self-defense.

A quick refresher on why people own guns

People own guns so that they deter criminals and reduce the crime rate in their communities. The more guns there are in the hands of law-abiding citizens, the lower the crime rate goes, because criminals don’t like being shot at by their crime victims.

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[...]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people.

A more recent study – from 2014

A new study that was in the news just last week confirms these findings. Newsmax reported on it.

Excerpt:

A recent study showing a reverse correlation between concealed weapons and murder rates has renewed the contentious national debate about the effect of gun controls on violent crime.

Reason magazine reported last week on economist Mark Gius’ study of gun controls, published in the journal Applied Economics Letters showing states with restrictions on concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states.

The study looked at the effects on murder rates of both state-level assault weapons bans and concealed weapons restrictions from 1980 to 2009.

[...]The findings come as A 2007 study has been also getting a new look from those who dispute gun control efforts aimed at stemming gun violence, Boston magazine reported last summer.

In research first published in Harvard’s Journal of Public Law and Policy, criminologists Don Kates and Gary Mauser looked at the correlation between gun laws and death rates.

“International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths,” the pair wrote in their introduction. “Unfortunately, such discussions [have] all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative.”

The pair found “correlations that nations with stringent gun controls tend to have much higher murder rates than nations that allow guns.”

It’s not a reasonable position to think that disarming law-abiding citizens will reduce crime rates. The evidence is against it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Can the negative effects of fatherlessness be attributed to other factors, like poverty?

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Here’s a blog post from the Institute for Family Studies to answer that question.

Introduction:

Growing up without a father—whether that’s due to divorce, a nonmarital birth, or a father’s death—is associated with a host of negative effects. But given that children from low-income families, for instance, are more likely to live apart from their father in the first place, it can be hard to tell to what extent an absent father causes the problems that father absence is associated with, and to what extent other factors related to both family structure and child outcomes (like household income) are to blame.

Researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider published a paper last year on exactly this problem. They reviewed 47 studies that used a variety of methods designed to uncover the causal effects of father absence, such as lagged dependent variable models, natural experiments, and individual fixed effects models.

Here’s one of the findings:

Labor Force: McLanahan and her colleagues found few studies on how father absence affects children’s employment and income in adulthood. The handful of analyses they did find are not entirely comparable; however, some of their findings were consistent. “Divorce was associated with lower levels of employment” in two studies, and in two other studies there were “higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.” In a fifth study, growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stably married parents.

Here is Dr. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation to add some more evidence for this view.

He writes:

Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.[19] Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.

The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:

  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;[20]
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;[21]
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school;[22] and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.[23]

The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families. [24] Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.[25]

Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.[26]

Yesterday, on the Dennis Prager show, Dennis was discussing this article and this article during the male – female hour. He made the point that children raised by single mothers and divorced mothers don’t have the experience of growing up and seeing their mother love her husband and act like a wife towards him. No government program can provide that. It is important that boys and girls have that experience of seeing a woman love her husband, and seeing a man love his wife. Of seeing them in a committed, stable, purposeful relationship, trying to provide for and raise their children.

Today, a lot of women are watching Hollywood movies and TV shows where men are portrayed in a very negative way, e.g. – Mad Men. These shows are often written by people on the hard left – radical feminists and/or gay activists. A girl growing up in this environment is just not going to have access to a positive view of how men and women get along in a marriage, making them less marry-able. Less safe to marry. That example of man and wife would act as a counter to Hollywood, but too many boys and girls are growing up without it.

So what’s the take-home lesson? The take-home lesson is that we need to be more careful about choosing partners and having children. It’s probably a good idea to be less driven by emotions, peer approval and hormones, and more driven by rational thought and studies. Choose wisely, and test well.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Federal judge rules Chicago’s ban on gun sales unconstitutional

Guns are for self-defense against criminals

Guns are for self-defense against criminals

From Fox News.

Excerpt:

A federal judge on Monday overturned Chicago’s ban on the sale and transfer of firearms, ruling that the city’s ordinances aimed at reducing gun violence are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said in his ruling that while the government has a duty to protect its citizens, it’s also obligated to protect constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. However, Chang said he would temporarily stay the effects of his ruling, meaning the ordinances can stand while the city decides whether to appeal.

The decision is just the latest to attack what were some of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s long-standing gun ban. And last year, Illinois legislators were forced by a federal appeals court to adopt a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the only state that still banned the practice. The resulting state law largely stripped city and officials of surrounding Cook County of their authority to regulate guns, which especially irked officials in Chicago, where residents had to apply for concealed-carry permits through the police chief.

[...]Chang wrote that the nation’s third-largest city “goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.”

Chicago last year had more homicides than any city in the nation. City officials have long acknowledged the ban on gun sales has been weakened due to the legal sale of guns in some surrounding suburbs and states.

Chicago has one of the highest crime rates in the United States, if not the highest of all. The only rival might be Washington, D.C., which is also extremely opposed to self-defense against criminals.

A quick refresher on why people own guns

People own guns so that they deter criminals and reduce the crime rate in their communities. The more guns there are in the hands of law-abiding citizens, the lower the crime rate goes, because criminals don’t like being shot at by their crime victims.

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[...]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people.

A more recent study – from 2014

A new study that was in the news just last week confirms these findings. Newsmax reported on it.

Excerpt:

A recent study showing a reverse correlation between concealed weapons and murder rates has renewed the contentious national debate about the effect of gun controls on violent crime.

Reason magazine reported last week on economist Mark Gius’ study of gun controls, published in the journal Applied Economics Letters showing states with restrictions on concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states.

The study looked at the effects on murder rates of both state-level assault weapons bans and concealed weapons restrictions from 1980 to 2009.

[...]The findings come as A 2007 study has been also getting a new look from those who dispute gun control efforts aimed at stemming gun violence, Boston magazine reported last summer.

In research first published in Harvard’s Journal of Public Law and Policy, criminologists Don Kates and Gary Mauser looked at the correlation between gun laws and death rates.

“International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths,” the pair wrote in their introduction. “Unfortunately, such discussions [have] all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative.”

The pair found “correlations that nations with stringent gun controls tend to have much higher murder rates than nations that allow guns.”

It’s not a reasonable position to think that disarming law-abiding citizens will reduce crime rates. The evidence is against it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

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