The following letter was sent October 19, 1996 to
The Economist magazine in response to an editorial in the October 19, 1996 issue titled "A Tale of Two Lobbies." An edited version of this reply was the lead letter in the November 9th-15th issue.
A Letter to The Economist
Economist Misrepresents American and British
"A Tale of Two Lobbies" demonstrates the anti-gun bias the writer
has of seeing the firearms issue from the usual British and European
perspective -- the perspective which is also representated in the
mainstream American media.
The availability of legal firearms is not a factor in the presence
or absence of violence, in either Britain or America. In the nineteenth
century, both Britain and America enjoyed universal gun availability
and the violent crime rate in both countries was a fraction of what
it is today in either country. As recently as 1963 -- when any American
could anonymously purchase any firearm (except for machine guns or
sawed-off shotguns) through the mail, the homicide and violent crime
rate in the United States was half what it is today.
Further, a recent study at the University of Chicago by criminologist
John Lott, Jr., and economist David Mustard has found that homicide,
assault, rape, and robbery are lower in areas of the United States
where the public is allowed easy access to carrying concealed firearms
in public. The areas of the United States where violent crime is the
highest are also the areas with the strictest gun controls. Washington
D.C. has a complete ban of legally-owned handguns. It also consistently
ranks among the U.S. cities where the homicide rate is the highest.
The homicide rate in the United States varies not according to
availability of guns, but according to ethnic and cultural differences.
Japanese-Americans enjoy a low homicide rate comparible to the Japanese
in Japan; African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans living in the
inner cities suffer high rates of homicide, yet legal gun ownership
among African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans ranks well below that
of Anglo-Americans, who have lower rates of homicide and violence. A
study comparing homicide rates along the American-Canadian border
states and provinces, among ethnically and culturally similar
populations, finds that homicide rates are similar to both each
other and to Great Britain, also.
In America, where we have well-armed criminal gangs who use their arms
to enforce drug-selling territories, restrictions on legal firearms
serve only as unilateral disarmament of the potential victims of
violence, and increases violent crime by shifting the balance of power
to the illegally-armed criminal.
If Great Britain ever develops a violent criminal class equivalent
to that which already exists in America, Brits may need to rethink
the gun issue -- much as the post-Soviet Russians are doing, now that
their criminal classes have been unleashed to terrorize the public.
J. Neil Schulman,
Author of Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
(downloadable from http://www.pulpless.com/stopower.html)
The British clamor for banning guns was caused by a massacre of 16 schoolchildren and a teacher at Dunblane, Scotland, in March 1996. Read Neil's commentary on that tragedy, "A Rude Awakening."