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Shot in the Dark? The Relationship Between Guns and Crime

Sunday's New York Times examined the relationship between gun laws and crime. The survey of research (cited in the Supreme Court opinions regarding Washington DC's ban on handguns) pondered the question: Do guns kill people, or do gun control laws kill people?

Here are some of the findings I found to be the most interesting:

  • A before-and-after study found that although Baltimore did not have a similar law, its crime rate mimicked Washington’s.
  • Reduction in suicides and gun accidents are cited by proponents of the DC law as positive effects that go unnoticed or underestimated.

To see how the US compares to Europe,


  • In Europe, seven nations with the most guns per capita had 1.2 murders annually for every 100,000 people. In the nine nations with the fewest guns the rate was 4.4. The US rate is 5.7.
  • Legal scholars have found that denying guns to people who might use them in self-defense tends to increase crime rates. Also evidence suggests that the possibility that a victim has a gun can deter criminals.
  • Background checks at the state level have been paired with lower homicide rates.

The mixed bag of research brought the US justices to diverging conclusions — the dissent felt it gave legislatures an opening to assess community needs with ban laws, while the majority insisted the constitution already answered the debate, and overturned DC's overreaching ban. How does the conflicting evidence regarding the usefulness of gun laws leave you feeling? Do you think gun laws are the cause or effect of crime?


Join The Conversation
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Thanks GS! I certainly don't want this to turn into an arguement. It hasn't yet righ?. :) I'm a big 2nd amendment junky! Power to the people! :fogey: Guys, the purpose is for the people (you and me) to be stronger than the gov't. However, I'm certainly not saying that everyone should have a gun-because not everyone wants one. I will say that everyone has a right to defend themselves. Off my soapbox now. :)
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
And Jill and Janneth, thanks! I love this avatar. It was my main pic for myspace for awhile.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
Hart, :notworthy: :notworthy: :jumpin: Exactly.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
That's funny! Because I would be sad and scared if I were told I couldn't have one.
janneth janneth 9 years
All these comments make me so sad and scared that everybody wants a gun.
janneth janneth 9 years
GreatSom, I appreciate your avatar bacause I now know Montoya's first name. I could never understand it, tho I saw the movie so many times.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I'm sorry, I meant to direct that to Lovelie. :)
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Go to They are pretty one sided. I'm only putting them there for education of guns and ammo. As far as politics go, they are one sided. Not that I have a problem with that. ;) Go to their search engine and put assault weapons. They have a lot of info about that. There's nothing wrong with not knowing about guns or not being savvy about them. Asking a question about something you don't know doesn't make you nieve (sp?). No more than not knowing about any other subject. There's a lot of stuff I have to ask people about. I fricking hate that word b-t-w! I never ever spell it correctly. :irk:
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"The capitalist market doesn't just work on Wall Street it works in the alley ways as well." I was listening to an interview with a police officer on NPR, and he was saying that they had limitations on weapons that were fully automatic (I believe that was the category, could be wrong) in Florida. The officer said that when the ban was lifted, tons of very deadly weapons from Eastern Europe flooded the communities, and because of this they became very, very cheap. The police officers started encountering them way more frequently on the street.
lovelie lovelie 9 years
Hartsfull-thanks for the clarification! :) The only reason I ask is in one of my Constitutional Law classes, we were having a discussion about gun control. A fellow classmate suggested that ammo companies cut production for assault weapons that are distributed to unlicensed dealers, so that only government agencies really could purchase ammo for traditional assault weapons. I really am not that savvy about how any of that works, but without sounding naive, it had a little merit. Unfortunately, my Professor really did not have any answers either.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
:cheer: Cravin!
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
"Gun control also makes it impossible for a regular citizen to get a gun. Criminals use the black market to get what they want. Law abiding citizens get left out." Exactly UD! :) I'm fine with the background checks that are already in place. Safety coures are definately a good thing. Mandatory for someone who has never owned a gun-I don't really have a problem with that. Well, there are some things I could understand being said. Eh, nevermind though. Lovelie, Just to answer your question, :) gun manufacturers make ammo and vice versa. They don't have to be the same manufacturer used together though. I mean, I don't have to buy from the same company for ammo as my rifle or shotgun. Did I explain that well? It seems like I struggled with that. :D
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I'm excited about this ruling. I live in northern virginia and decided a few onths ago to begin searching for a handgun to purchase. I will be going to the range to rent a couple next month, and then I will purchase 1 and get a permit to carry concealed. Then, I can take my little gem along with me into dc, where it will be my legal right lol. And why do i want a gun you may ask? because i can. simple as that. plus it looks like fun to go to a range and shoot. and i think i would be good at it lol.
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
I always wondered how to buy things on the black market but I wouldn't know where to find it. Therefore, I have to go the legal route and while I do not own a gun currently I am taking safety classes and learning to shoot. My family didn't own a gun when I was growing up but many family friends did and from a young age we were taught that guns weren't toys and to keep our hands off the gun case. This type of lesson taught me not to fear guns but to know what they can do and respect their use. I think safety classes should be mandatory before a person is allowed to purchase a gun because it really has helped me learn how to responsibly own and carry a weapon. The more information available the less scary it seems. A complete ban isn't the answer to preventing gun deaths but the dissemination of information will help legal gun owners feel more comfortable and it teaches a respect for guns I was taught growing up. It does bother me that here in Texas the only thing a person needs is to pass a criminal background check to get a gun but not show they can use it responsibly.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I do believe that the ban had an unwitting part to play in the increased violence. IMO it did not make the criminal more criminalized what it did was take away competition from the (black market) if you will. Once legitimate points of sale could no longer sell fire arms this opened up the market on hand guns on the down low and every Tom Dick and Harry that had who had hand guns to sell ascended on the city like vultures. The capitalist market doesn't just work on Wall Street it works in the alley ways as well.
stiletta stiletta 9 years
As far as I know, crime existed long before guns. It's silly to think that guns are to blame. We need to look for real reasons: poverty, drugs, etc.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
YY: "why is the fact that the burglars were illegal columbians relevant? " I was just putting it in context. In fact, the story I referenced in typing that post specified that they appeared to be part of an organized burglary ring of illegal Columbians. I wanted to highlight that these were not neighborhood pranksters or misguided youth. Another issue on gun control: during the Rodney King riots, it was amazing how many liberal folks, who would normally be in favor of gun control, scrambled to borrow weapons to defend their homes and businesses. My ex-BiL was one of those folks, so I'm not just talking out of my hat.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
There were some other things after fire and before guns, I think one was knives which I was really surprised at. But guns came in last.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Jill - Last week when the ruling came out and I was looking up gun facts I came across that stat. I believe it was that gun deaths account for 1.5% of all accidental deaths, car accidents accounted for something like 40% followed by drowning and fire I think.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
GS, I love your avtar!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I agree about stricter background checks and safety courses, Lilkimbo. One thing that the thread doesn't address (but I haven't read the article yet), is ACCIDENTS. They are counting murders, meaning intentionally shooting someone. What about possible increases in accidental shootings? To me, that is the biggest threat of a gun.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I remember that shootout in North Hollywood years and years ago that lasted 45 minutes. The bank robbers had, basically, bazookas while the police had these .38s and .45s and they were completely outgunned. I say as long as criminals can get their hands on illegal guns, we should be able to defend ourselves too.
lovelie lovelie 9 years
Question: (This may be quite obvious but I've never really thought about it) Do the companies that make guns also make the ammunition...or are there separate companies that make ammunition?
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
a couple things: 1. lainetm: why is the fact that the burglars were illegal columbians relevant? is that why he was not charged? it doesn't sound like it. so i'm just curious why you chose to throw that bit of info in. 2. the comparison to europe: if the murder rate is lower in the european countries where gun ownership is highest, how does the US stack up compared to those countries in terms of gun ownership? aren't we the highest in guns (legal or not) per capita? not sure where i can find this data.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
gs: "...banning guns will have no effect on criminals. " Beg to differ, you're clearly not thinking this through. Gun control will greatly increase the number of easy victims those criminals have. This will prove to be a boon to many of the poorer members of our society and could contribute to an economic renaissance across America. (Do I sound like a liberal yet? :evil: )
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