An ongoing NRA meme states that it would be dangerous to pass any sane gun control laws because law abiding citizens will follow them but criminals will not. Thus, we will be left with a country where only the criminals have guns. On a visceral level this does not appear to be a good outcome. However, the reality is that we would have a far safer society if “Only The Criminals Had Guns.” How do we know this?
There is a country where only the criminal have guns—England. In England handguns have been outlawed. No one can own them. The only guns private citizens can own are long guns (the kind used for hunting) and they can only shoot 2 bullets at a time. Further, there are strict requirements for a private citizen to obtain a license for the long gun including references, interviews with the applicant and people who know them. FIREARM LICENSES ARE NOT GRANTED FOR SELF DEFENSE, WHICH IS NOT CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE REASON FOR OWNING A GUN. However, the criminals illegally get all the guns they want. They can get semi-automatics hand guns that shoot 32 bullets at a time – in under 15 seconds—just like the Tucson murderer. Or assault rifles that shoot 50 to 100 bullets at a time just like the Aurora murderer.
England is a country very similar to ours. They hunt, they collect guns and marksmanship is a big sport. They have serious drug problems, poverty, gangs and immigration issues. Because this is a country where only criminals have guns, we would expect there to be rampant gun violence – huge numbers of gun homicides and gun crime assaults. Even the police do not carry guns. England has 75 gun homicides per year.
As our population is 5 times that of England’s (300 million vs. 60 million) we should expect 5 times their gun homicides each year or 375. In fact, because our gun laws are not sane, we have 12,000 each year. But in our country, not only do criminals have all the guns they want*, but so do the law-abiding citizens.
There is only one explanation for these facts: It is the law-abiding citizens with guns, not the criminals, who are committing the majority of the gun homicides. Each of the recent high-profile gun massacres (Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oikos University and the Sikh Mosque) was committed a law abiding citizen—not one was from the hand of a criminal.
We would have a fraction of the gun homicides we have if only the criminals had guns. Criminals are interested in getting money and goods, not in killing people. 2/3 of U.S. gun homicides are due to arguments not criminals. Juvenile gang – gun homicides are 7%-8% of all firearm homicides. (FBI Annual Uniform Crime Reports “Murder Circumstances by Weapon”)
* The NRA and gun lobby block any law that would make it harder for criminals to get guns. WHY?, Because sales to criminals represent 25% of the Gun Industry’s annual sales. (Source: Expert witness report filed as part of the 1999 NAACP lawsuit vs. the Gun Industry.) Then the NRA claims everyone needs to carry a gun at all times to protect themselves from armed criminals.