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Clyde H. Spencer

Copyright 2000

Those who promote so-called “gun buy-back” programs, or who advocate other ways of attempting to reduce the number of guns in the public’s hands, rationalize their actions by claiming that for each gun destroyed, a life is potentially saved. The implicit assumption is that guns are only used to take innocent lives, which is demonstrably wrong.

Considering that there are an estimated 200 million guns in the U.S. – at least one in nearly every other household – and fewer than 12,000 murderers, one can easily see that the availability of guns is such that even several thousand guns taken out of general circulation would not impact homicide rates unless they were the guns owned by murderers. Unfortunately, the “gun buy-back” programs rarely take in guns that are typical of the kinds used by murderers. Therefore, it is obvious that the murderers are not being disarmed. Like most programs associated with gun control, those who are potentially victims are being disarmed and being deprived of their best means for protecting themselves and their family.

The fallacy of the efficacy of small reductions in gun ownership might best be illustrated with the problem of the overpopulation of unwanted cats. It obviously takes a fertile male and female cat to produce offspring, just as it takes a gun in the hands of a killer to result in a firearm murder. Now, if a conscientious effort were made to sterilize all the male cats by passing a law that all male cats had to be licensed and neutered, it would appear that the problem of unwanted kittens would be solved. One might righteously claim that for each male cat that was neutered there would potentially be one less unwanted litter of kittens. The problem, however, is that some owners of male cats would not comply with the law, and that there would be feral cats with no owners to take them to the vet. So, as long as all the females remained fertile, there would be an adequate number of unneutered males cats to impregnate all the female cats, male cats being what they are!

The situation is very similar with criminals. As long as the criminals remain on the streets, there are more than enough guns available to meet their needs, even if tens of thousands are willingly bought by well-meaning, but misguided, prohibitionists. Only if there were far fewer guns available than criminals, would any effect be noticeable. While some people are actually working to ban guns entirely, it is highly debatable whether a country without guns would be desirable; as long as there are criminals, people will need a means to defend themselves against knives, baseball bats, or an assailant’s hands – particularly women and elderly people of both genders.

The most effective solution for reducing the number of unwanted cats is to spay the females, because every spayed female is unable to have kittens regardless of how many fertile males are available. Similarly, the most effective solution to reduce murder rates is to take the criminals off the streets and change the social conditions that cause people to adopt a life of crime. Without a criminal, guns are an inanimate object, incapable of murdering anyone. A criminal without a gun can still kill and rob people, however.

So, all our efforts at buying guns from law-abiding citizens, pressing for licensing and registration of law-abiding citizens and other misnamed “common sense laws,” such as requiring trigger locks be sold with guns, are misdirected! They may give the appearance of doing something, and give politicians a claim to fame to get them re-elected, but all that is really being done is neutering the domesticated male cats. Meanwhile, the criminals are purring all the way to their next heist.

Printer Version

"There's no legitimate use for a gun like this." --Chicago Police Superintendent Philip Cline, brandishing a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at a news conference (Chicago Tribune, "Special unit hauling in guns, drugs" by Glenn Jeffers, January 29, 2004)

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