The serious wounding of U.S. Representative Giffords and killing of 6 others this January in Tucson, Arizona by a young man using a semi-automatic pistol naturally stimulated considerable anguish. As in all other mass shooting rampages there were also immediate calls for greater gun control, so that guns could not get into the hands of individuals who might use them to kill many innocent victims. In this piece I will consider how successful gun control can be, and the best ways to implement any controls.
This would probably be a safer and better world if no civilians had any guns, aside from policemen, and perhaps some sportsmen, since guns are involved in the majority of murders, at least in the United States. I say “probably” because in such a world criminals would turn to knives, baseball bats, tire chains, even grenades on a very small-scale, and still other weapons. Potential victims, such as shopkeepers and residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods, would in self-defense also acquire similar weapons in order to defend themselves. Nevertheless, since guns are far more lethal than most other weapons, the number of deaths from crime and senseless violence would likely significantly decrease if neither criminals nor victims had access to guns. The total amount of crime would also tend to decline.
(photo credit: Sean)