“All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but which is based on observed facts.”
by Auguste Comte




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the suicide of gun control

“Gun control” is a dying cause, and rightfully so.  You know it, I know it, and even the anti-rights cultists themselves know it (which could explain why their tactics are becoming increasingly vicious, abusive, and thuggish).  But the interesting thing is how many of those anti-rights cultists (aka “gun control” supporters) are acknowledging their failure and rationalizing it to themselves

WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR the strange death of gun control? Paradoxically, the story begins with two supposed victories for the gun-control movement, both during the Clinton administration. The first was the Brady Act, which established a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases, to be replaced by instant background checks when a system for those checks was developed (which occurred in 1998). The second victory for gun control was the assault-weapons ban, which prohibited domestic manufacturers from producing 19 specified models of guns and other weapons with certain characteristics such as bayonet mounts and pistol grips.


But for interrelated reasons involving politics, policy, and law, both the Brady Act and assault-weapons ban turned out to be Pyrrhic victories.

In this regard, Carl Bogus (er…?) is correct – the last two major victories, such as they were, the anti-rights cultists have had were the Brady Bill and the Ban on Evil-Looking Firearms.  Unfortunately for the, there is simply no evidence to support the notion that the Brady Bill had any significant impact on overall crime rates, and not only did the Assault Weapon Ban not get renewed, the very administration that initially supported it admitted it failed to affect violent crime

“Pyrrhic victories” is, dare I say, an understatement. 

Since then, “gun control” supporters have suffered failure after failure after failure – permitted concealed carry is allowed, to some degree, in almost every state in the union; permitless carry has grown from one state to four; open carry is being normalized in those states where it is legal; the AWB has failed to make it out of committee any time a lame-brained politician has thought to bring it up; and we now have not one, but two separate Supreme Court cases setting the juridical precedent that the Second Amendment protects a pre-existing, individual right.  And through all of this time, society has demonstrated that not only is there a strong, negative correlation between firearm ownership and firearm-related fatalities, there is also a strong, negative correlation between firearm-ownership and firearm-related crime

“But wait,” cries Carl, “I have some statistics of my own!” 

Epidemiologists and social scientists have been studying different schemes of gun regulation for years. Gun availability varies markedly by region and state—for example, handguns are present in about 11 percent of New York households and 30 percent of Texas households—and these differences have allowed cross-state comparisons. Researchers report that homicide rates in high-gun states are triple those of low-gun states. Studies have also tracked the impact of the adoption of new gun-control laws. For example, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, during the nine years after the District of Columbia enacted a handgun ban, D.C. saw gun-related homicides fall 25 percent compared with contiguous areas in Maryland and Virginia. International comparisons yield similar results. One study found that stringent gun control works, while modest regulation does not.

Uh, no, Carl, you have nothing, and I will tell you why.  First, you failed to cite your sources, and you and I both know that naming the New England Journal of Medicine does not constitute a “cite”.  Second, “gun deaths” is a meaningless, made-up statistic fabricated by anti-rights cultists to maliciously limit the debate to the point where neither the salutary effects of private firearm ownership nor the detrimental effects of disarming victims can be considered.  And, third, your numbers are bulldren. 

You name Texas and New York as “high-gun” and “low-gun” states – the former had a murder rate of 5.4 in 2009, and the latter was at 4.0.  Yes, Texas’ was higher than New York’s, but nowhere near “triple”, and New York does not have an unsecure border with a drug-cartel-run, violent country to deal with. 

Moving on, the DC handgun ban (formally known as the Firearms Control Regulations Act) was passed in 1975 when the District of Columbia had a murder rate of 32.8 and a violent crime rate of 1774.3.  Ignoring your creatively editorial geography and self-serving “gun death” metrics, Virginia’s murder rate was 11.5 and its violent crime rate was 380.9, with Maryland’s numbers being 10.7 and 709.8.  Already DC’s murder rate was 2.8 times higher than its worst neighbor, and its violent crime rate was almost 2.5 times higher.  Moving forward to 1984, DC’s numbers were 28.1 and 1721.5, Virginia weighed in at 7.7 and 295.6, and Maryland “scored” 8.1 and 792.3.  DC’s murder rate was thus 3.6 times higher than VA’s and 3.5 times higher than MD’s, and DC’s crime rate was 5.8 times higher than VA’s and 2.2 times higher than MD’s. 

To break it out a little better: 

  D.C       Virginia       Maryland      
  Murder Violent Crime Murder Violent Crime Murder Violent Crime
1975 32.8 1774.3 11.5 380.9 10.7 709.8
1984 28.1 -14.3% 1721.5 -3.0% 7.7 -33.0% 295.6 -22.4% 8.1 -24.3% 792.3 +10.4%

In short, the only place the District of Columbia did better than its neighbors in those nine years was when you compare its violent crime rate against Maryland’s, which means its handgun ban accomplished no appreciable decrease in crime whatsoever.  And given that these are rates, this takes into account the precipitous drop in population the District suffered from during this time… a population that, no doubt, migrated to VA and MD, and thus affected those state’s rates as well.  All of my numbers for this comparison and the previous one came from Disaster Center, who pulls data from the FBI.  See, Carl, that, along with the links above, is a citation. 

Finally, your “international comparisons” fall short as well – not only is the very slight correlation between firearm ownership rates and murder rates overseas negative, but there is also no discernable correlation between firearm ownership rates and suicide rates. 

Whoops.  That would be three strikes; you are outta here! 

Of course, none of this matters – my individual rights are not subject to your interpretations of whatever ham-handed statistics you bring forward

So what is Carl’s solution to “gun control” failing to accomplish anything it purported to achieve?  Why, do it again, only harder, of course! 

Whatever significantly reduces the number of handguns in general circulation—-whether through culture or regulation—reduces homicides. Other measures such as waiting periods, required training for gun owners, and enhanced sentences for criminals have no discernable effect.


Under the Court’s ruling, however, laws designed to reduce the prevalence of handguns in general circulation may now be unconstitutional. At the moment, no strong form of gun control is going to get enacted anyway. But circumstances change, and Heller may permanently bar the only kinds of regulation that work.

Ah, no, D.C. v. Heller specifically and clearly labels any ban of any weapon “in common use for lawful purposes” as unconstitutional; there is “may be” involved.  That test was applied to the DC’s handgun ban, and it failed, and I dare say that the same would happen to a new Assault Weapon Ban, given how prevalent “evil black rifles” have become amongst the recreational shooters and hunters of our country. 

So, yes, you, as an anti-rights advocate, are specifically and Constitutionally limited to “commonsense gun regulation” that has been historically proven to fail at worst, and be completely irrelevant at best.  It must suck to be a “gun control” supporter with that albatross hanging about your neck, eh?  Of course, speaking of, how is something “commonsense” if even its supporter admits that it generally fails?  Oh right

Carl indirectly brings up an interesting point, though: “gun control” supporters are the “extremists”.  The Supreme Court has made it very clear that the Constitution protects the right to own and use firearms that are “in common use for lawful purposes”, which specifically included handguns.  On the other hand, anti-rights cultists like Carl here and Michael Bonomo and MissMarciaC want to explicitly and totally ban those handguns from civilian ownership.  By definition, the “ban” position is the extreme opposite of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which makes anti-rights cultists extremists. 

Ok, you have to admit – that is just damned high-larious! 

This revelation adequately illustrates and describes the fashion in which the “gun control” movement has been murdering itself for decades, though – they have consistently adopted positions that run contrary to the Constitution, contrary to jurisprudence, and contrary to the notion of protecting and preserving individual rights and liberties.  When compared to the beliefs that our country was founded on and still continues to loosely operate upon, “gun control” is about as extreme a position as you can take, and it is no wonder it has been suffering a slow death by its own hands as it progressively alienates the American people and loses ground in the courtrooms and legislatures around the country. 

I do wish the anti-rights cultists would acknowledge and act upon the writing that is clearly on the wall, though… there is yet time for them to abandon their blatantly anti-rights, anti-Constitutional, anti-freedom, and anti-liberty campaign and try to accomplish something actually meaningful with their lives… 

[Update] Amusingly, I was not permitted to post a comment linking back to this post, despite providing a summary of it in the comment and pointing out all of the ways Carl was mistaken/wrong in his article. I guess the moderators at The Prospect have something against people accurately observing that their authors’ articles are riddled with glaring factual errors… [/Update]

21 comments to the suicide of gun control

  • You know, you’d add nicely to any books out there shredding the anti’s arguments. Ever thought about writing one?

  • Brad

    That malarky comparing state murder rates and state gun ownership rates goes all the way back to the 1960’s and that hack Franklin Zimring. He made a lot of noise by claiming that states with higher gun ownership rates also had higher murder rates, in particular NE states vs southern states. But that was a trick, and a convenient one for anti-gun ‘researchers’ such as Zimring.

    The state comparison is directly contradicted by the urban vs rural comparison. As rural areas not only have higher rates of gun ownership but also lower murder rates than urban areas. So why did the Zimring study show higher murder rates for southern states?

    It’s not pretty but I suspect the answer is the different racial demographics of southern states.

    One well know statistic is that the murder problem is focused amongst Americas black population. Both perpetrators and victims of murder are concentrated there. And though black people make up about 12% of the population of America, they make up about 25% or more of the population of the southern states. The differing demographics of southern states compared to NE states is the reason for their different murder rates.

  • Braden Lynch

    Yes, this is brilliant and entertaining. More please.

  • @ Groundhog: Honestly, I doubt my ability to cover anything that Lott and Kleck and all the rest have not already touched on, especially since much of my material is drawn from theirs. I would have to think about it, though :).

    @ Brad: When it comes to crime, there are so many elements at play, it is difficult – if not impossible – to pick out one and hold it entirely to blame, be it firearm ownership or ethnic backgorund. In general, economics (especially compared to cost of living) and future prospects are two of the largest driving elements for criminal activities.

    @ Braden Lynch: I write them when I find them :).

  • Wade

    I think the victories of the Brady bill and the AWB did more than anything else to wake up the progun movement. The new legislation got non-political gun owners to realize that laws could get passed that would have meaningful effects on them. That new realization, combined with the rise of the internet in the years immediately following those bits of legislation caused gun owners to unite and recognize that they were not the tiny minority that the antigun forces wanted them to think they were.

    Finally, the rise of right to carry laws (also starting in the early and mid 1990’s) allowed a few conservative but populous states (Florida, Texas) to demonstrate that blood wouldn’t run in the streets if responsible people started carrying guns.

  • You bring up a very valid point – I know for a fact that Sebastian and Say Uncle were nowhere near the pro-rights advocates they are now before the AWB, and that particular piece of legislation was one of the prime motivating factors that pushed them into this arena. I am quite certain there are others… after all, having the spectre of your rights being unjustly stripped away from you by legislative fiat has a tendency of getting people’s attentions.

    Or at least it used to.

    Likewise, we know that the rise of the internet has been a knife in the back of anti-rights cultists… they used to be able to control the message through the media, and they still desperately attempt to do so, but they cannot any more, and they have not yet adapted to this change in paradigms. Their lies, misinformation, fear-mongering, and hysteria simply will not stand up to the scrutiny this site and thousands of others force upon them.

  • […] So did I surrender my principles by untucking my shirt?  Of course not.  As much as I know, first hand, how much of a useful tool open carry is and can be to pro-rights advocates, I also know how not-useful showing up on the nightly news as the person responsible for locking down a college campus can be, and contrary to the specious stereotyping of open carriers, I have absolutely no desire to be That Guy™.  And yes, open carry is unquestionably a social and political tool for those of us interested in preserving our individual rights – not only does it normalize the presence of lawfully borne firearms in public (something I think all pro-rights advocates would support), it also prevents “gun packers” from being demonized as faceless, nameless boogeyman that the anti-rights cultists can paint to be anyone.  After all, once your next-door neighbors realize you carry a firearm, and remember that you have not, in fact, gone on a shooting spree… ever… they may start paying less attention to the pants-wetting hysteria being peddled by “gun control” extremists.  […]

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