Those of you outside of the Washington, DC viewing area may have missed a Super Bowl ad that featured New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Tom Menino calling for “common sense reforms” to existing gun laws.
While the mayors may say they “support the Second Amendment,” their actions show something entirely different. Michael Bloomberg's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns actively works to increase restrictions on gun ownership, and make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain and use concealed carry permits.
It’s easy for these mayors to point the finger at an inanimate object (the gun) as the source for their cities’ crime problems. People who have never been exposed to guns or gun owners only learn about firearms from Hollywood movies and TV shows, where the only “good guys” that have firearms are the police, and anyone else with a gun is a “bad guy.”
So, if we just get rid of so-called illegal guns, the crime problem will be solved, right?
Wrong. Guns don’t commit crimes; people commit crimes.
I repeat: guns are not the problem. Guns are merely a tool—like a knife, a baseball bat, or even a car—and are only as deadly as the person using that tool makes it.
We already have numerous federal gun laws, including laws that make it illegal for felons to possess firearms or ammunition. We also have federal gun laws requiring instant background checks whenever a firearm is purchased. And Massachusetts and New York also have very restrictive laws barring who can purchase a firearm, how many firearms can be purchased per person, when and where a person can legally possess a firearm.
Despite all of this gun control, violent crime increased in New York City in 2011.
Criminals by definition are law-breakers, and so laws restricting gun ownership and availability only affect law-abiding citizens. More laws would only make it harder for the woman who is being stalked by an ex-boyfriend to purchase a gun for protection, the small business owner to ward off robbery attempts, or make it more difficult for the elderly couple living in a bad neighborhood to use firearm to defend themselves and their home.
The Cato Institute released a study last week showing that over tens of thousands of crimes were prevented in the past eight years by law-abiding citizens with guns. In most of these incidents, they did not even have to fire their weapon–the mere presence of a firearm in a law-abiding citizen's hands was enough to thwart many crimes. (The paper is here, and an interactive map listing incidences of defensive firearm use across the country is here).
Instead of going after inanimate objects, Mayors Against Illegal Guns should focus their attention on the source of crimes: the person who actually commits the crime. I could support a group called Mayors Against Criminals Who Use Guns To Commit Their Crimes.
Glenn Reynolds has pointed out that members of Mayors against Illegal Guns “are almost eight times more likely to be convicted of crimes than Florida concealed firearm license holders.” Mayor Bloomberg should get tough on crime committed by his group’s members.