Recently I have read articles produced by anti-gun groups which painted the picture of an America without guns. These articles argue that if we were to ban guns tomorrow, that the country would be a better place. I’ll leave aside the fact that firearm ownership is a right protected by the 2nd amendment, and address the substantive argument: Such anti-gun propaganda fails to take into account practical considerations, as well as human nature. Rather than reducing crime, such a ban on firearms would leave criminals with a monopoly on guns, and law abiding citizens would have their own monopoly on defenselessness.
From a practical standpoint, banning guns would not get rid of the hundreds of millions of guns that are already in existence. Even if law abiding gun owners were to voluntarily comply with the hypothetical law and turn in their guns, the criminals would not do the same. Since we as a country value our 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the police would be unable to go door to door searching for the guns without probable cause, and even were the police to do so, the criminals could simply hide their guns. Additionally, the cost and time needed to exhaustively search the country for guns would be prohibitively high and simply unfeasible. In short, the hundreds of millions of guns in the country aren’t going anywhere, no matter what laws are passed, and even if the guns were to somehow magically vanish, criminals would simply import new guns, just as they import drugs and other contraband.
Human nature is another aspect. A cursory study of human nature makes clear that (1) criminals disobey laws, including gun control laws, (2) that whether criminals have guns or not, they will commit their crimes, (3) that the law abiding citizens who would follow such a hypothetical gun ban are not the people we need to worry about having guns.
Addressing the first point that criminals disobey laws, including gun control laws, should not require much explanation. The fact is that there are people in our society who feel that they don’t have to obey the laws. Some of them unlawfully park in handicapped parking spaces, others never use their turn signals, and some commit murder. In each case, humans have chosen to disobey a law, and for such people, gun control laws are just one more law to ignore. I would be willing to be good money that there has never been a criminal ready to commit a murder who changed his or her mind because there was a gun ban, and he or she didn’t want to face a gun possession charge.
The second point that criminals will commit their crimes with or without guns should be equally obvious. Guns are a (relatively) new thing in human history, yet crime has occurred since before the start of recorded history, showing that guns are not a necessary tool of criminals. Criminals who do not have guns also ply their illicit trades, and the majority of violent crimes are committed by criminals without guns.
The third point is that law abiding citizens, who are the only ones that would obey a gun ban, are not the people we want to take guns away from. Rather, armed and law abiding citizens stop criminals every single day, providing security for us all since the police can’t be everywhere all the time. A criminal who is stopped by a law abiding citizen today cannot victimize another law abiding citizen tomorrow. Indeed I would argue that any citizen who would give up their guns rather than face a gun possession charge is someone who wouldn’t commit a more serious crime such as murder or robbery. This is because it simply doesn’t make sense that a person would fear a relatively minor gun possession charge, but not fear a murder or armed robbery charge.
In short, an America where guns are banned by law would be a place that criminals, who, by definition, won’t obey the law and will still keep their guns, would have a monopoly on force. The law abiding citizens would be left without the means to defend themselves in a timely fashion, and would instead have to hope that the police somehow show up in time. Criminals, who don’t fear murder or robbery charges, wouldn’t give a second thought to the gun ban and would keep their illegal guns, and import more just as they import drugs. Secure in the knowledge that the citizens are unarmed and defenseless, criminals would be emboldened. Even the most anti-gun politicians recognize this, and keep armed body guards close by for their own security.