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A Gun Free Utopia
by Dr. Michael S. Brown

Advocates of gun control are well known for supporting their position with emotional words and images.  When called on to back up their argument with facts, they almost always fall back on the most basic statement of all: "If there were no guns, there would be no gun deaths".  It is impossible to refute this because it is true, but basing public policy on this utopian concept is utterly irrational.

Unfortunately, many gun control lobbyists truly believe that prohibition is a worthwhile political goal.  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated it clearly in 1995: "If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them... 'Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in,' I would've done it."  Other anti-gun speakers use the phrase "ban them all" as a rallying cry.

What would it be like to live in an America where guns are prohibited by law?  There is plenty of well-documented history on which to base our conclusions.  Everyone is familiar with our costly war on drugs and the failure of alcohol prohibition in the 1920's. New information is now available on British, Australian and Canadian gun laws. The adverse results of gun control in major American cities must also be considered.

A reasonable interpretation of this history suggests that gun prohibition would not decrease the overall crime rate.  In fact, it would probably increase for a wide variety of reasons:

Police agencies would be forced to divert resources to gun enforcement, leaving fewer officers available to deal with real crimes.  Courtrooms and prison space would be insufficient, placing more convicts on the streets.

Criminals would be emboldened by the thought of more unarmed victims to rape or rob. If caught, they will serve less time in prisons overcrowded with gun law violators.  Frightened by the more aggressive criminals, citizens would be under great pressure to arm themselves illegally.  More crimes would go unreported, since an officer investigating a crime might stumble upon an illegal gun kept hidden by a citizen. 

Overworked police departments would reduce routine patrols.  As in the past, resources would be devoted to protect areas where the most influential citizens and politicians live.  A population shift might occur, as families flee high crime neighborhoods.

Suicide victims would switch to other methods, like hanging, as they have in Australia, but the overall rate would be unchanged.  Gun accidents might increase, since gun safety classes would cease to exist and safe storage practices would be abandoned in favor of better concealment from authorities and quick protection from criminal attack.

Given the independent nature of Americans, compliance with the new gun law would be poor.  Increased police power would be necessary to enforce the law, leading to more corruption and erosion of civil rights, as we have seen in the war on drugs.

Organized crime would enjoy a gold rush of profits supplying smuggled guns to criminals and to citizens who feel their need for protection outweighs the law.   Large amounts of money would be available for bribes.  Criminals might be better armed than before, as they are now in Britain.

The often stated plan of gun prohibitionists is to move their agenda forward in small steps. This incremental movement won't stop after prohibition becomes law. History shows that when any new gun law does not produce the desired results, they will call for even stricter laws and increased police powers.

This hypothetical society does not sound at all like the vague utopia of the gun control advocates.

It's a society in which the government makes no distinction between criminals and law-abiding citizens.  All people are assumed to be equally violent and dangerous.

It's a society in which citizens are dependent on government for their personal protection, even though the government is not legally required to protect them and will never have the resources to do so effectively.

It's a society in which the concept of personal responsibility has been weakened and  criminal behavior is blamed on inanimate objects. 

This scenario is a reasonable prediction based on real evidence from history, but gun control lobbyists will ignore the facts and simply label it paranoid or extremist.  They may respond with junk science from dishonest medical researchers, but they will not look beyond their shallow concepts and emotional appeals. 

The American way of maintaining public safety has much in common with our free market economic system. History tells us that attempts to intervene in free markets often result in disaster.

As long as people are free to make their own security decisions, a kind of balance prevails.  It may not be perfect, but it is relatively stable and crime has decreased dramatically in recent years.  Some experts say that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens have played a role.

There is no evidence to show that gun control works as advertised and much to show that it is harmful.  The simplistic slogans and sound bites of the gun control lobby are not sufficient to justify new legislation. We should insist that they honestly address the true consequences of their proposals before any vote is cast.

Dr. Michael S. Brown is an optometrist in Vancouver, WA who moderates a large email list for discussion of gun issues in Washington State. You can reach the rest of his archive here.  He may be reached at

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The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right. [Nunn vs. State, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243, at 251 (1846)]

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