During a recent interview with Mick Dumke, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley asserted that each gun seized by the Chicago police saves somewhere between 1 and 40 lives. This is simply not the case, for the reasons discussed below:
Mayor Daley’s Anti-Gun Statements and My Responses
“Oh!” Daley said. “[The gun ban laws have] been very effective!” . . . Daley went on. “[the police seizure of a] gun saved many lives—it could save your life.” . . . “We save all these guns that the police department seizes, you know how many lives we’ve saved? You don’t realize it. First of all, they’re taking these guns out of someone’s hands. They save their own life and they save someone else’s. You cannot count how many times this gun can be used. Thirty, forty times in shooting people and discharging a weapon. I think it’s very important.”
The first problem with Mayor Daley’s assertion is the idea that all gun owners are criminals who would have gone and committed a crime. The fact is that many of Chicago’s gun owners are otherwise law-abiding citizens who have a gun for self defense. They are citizens who don’t wish to fall victim to the illegally armed criminals, after having seen Chicago’s attempts at gun control fail for over 20 years. As an example, this man illegally carried a gun at the border of Chicago and Oak Park (which both ban handguns), in the state of Illinois (which bans the carrying of a gun), and used that gun to stop a drunken racist attacker who was swinging a baseball bat. Confiscating a gun from these citizens doesn’t prevent a murder – it only creates a future crime victim. Indeed, there are well over 300,000,000 guns in the United States, yet fewer than 10,000 gun-related murders each year. Clearly, each gun is not used to commit a murder, and certainly no 40 murders.
Secondly, Mayor Daley’s statement assumes that a gun confiscated from a criminal stops that criminal from simply getting another gun. That is a patently incorrect assumption. Criminals who want guns have no problem getting them, just as criminals who want illegal drugs have no problem acquiring that contraband. Instead, criminals who want guns will buy them on the black market, steal them from police, or manufacture their own illegal guns. Indeed, one need only turn on the news to read about cases where a criminal is released from prison, only to promptly acquire a gun and commit a violent crime. The fact is that until criminals start obeying the law, gun bans will fail to disarm them, just as having laws against murder and robbery fail to stop criminals from committing those crimes.
Finally, even if Mayor Daley were actually correct in his beliefs that every gun confiscated came from a violent criminal, and that those criminals will be unable to get another gun, it doesn’t follow that those criminals will give up their lives of crime. Instead, crime is the result of the intentional actions of a human being, rather than the presence of an inanimate object such as a gun. Terrible crimes can be and are committed by people armed with knives, cars, hand tools, acid, flammable liquids, and every other imaginable item from everyday life. Until we ban those tools – as well as fists – crime will continue.
A Solution to Chicago’s Crime Problem: Armed Self Defense
The solution to Chicago’s rampant crime is not to have a gun ban, which 20 years of history shows will only disarm the law abiding citizens, leaving them vulnerable to the still-armed criminals. Instead, the solution is to allow those law abiding citizens to arm themselves for self defense. The fact is that guns allow the elderly, the disabled, and the physically weaker to defend themselves against violent attackers, rather than being overpowered. They allow women to defend themselves and their children, instead of becoming domestic violence statistics. Guns also allow a single person to successfully defend themselves against multiple attackers, who would otherwise be able to use their numerical advantage to deadly effect. This article goes into much more detail on that point, and those who would like to read pages of real-life self defense examples may click here. Those who prefer peer-reviewed studies are encouraged to see the National Self Defense Survey, which concluded that Americans use firearms for self defense about 2.5 million times each year.
My thanks to Christopher and Jason for pointing out Mayor Daley’s recent anti gun statements.