Proposed gun control measures lack empirical evidence they reduce crime, experts say


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Calls for gun control have echoed across the country following a series of devastating mass shootings. Some experts, however, say there is little to no evidence showing that tougher gun laws will prevent violent crimes and similar shootings.

“Not really,” Crime Prevention Research Center President John Lott told Fox News Digital when asked if there is any empirical evidence that shows gun control measures can prevent violent crime. “There’s been a lot of studies on things like assault weapons bans, background checks…Even for the assault weapons ban, even the Clinton administration – who did it. enacted – paid for research on this. And even their studies couldn’t find any benefit in terms of reducing any kind of violent crime or in terms of stopping things like mass public shootings.”

President Biden addresses the nation following the Uvalde, Texas school shooting last month that killed 19 children and two teachers, demanding ‘common sense’ laws on firearms and argued that the Second Amendment was “not absolute”.

“We need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to buy them from 18 to 21; strengthen background checks ; enact safe storage and red flag laws; repeal immunity, which shields gun manufacturers from liability; address the mental health crisis, compounding the trauma of gun violence,” said Biden said on June 2.

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People take part in the second March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in front of the Washington Monument, Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Lawmakers responded to some of the president’s calls in June, with a bipartisan group of senators announcing they had reached an agreement in principle on a gun package. The proposal includes a expansion of mental health services for children and families; an improved review process for gun buyers under 21; penalties for straw purchases and additional funding for school resource officers.

Biden also argued that “we know [gun laws] work and have a positive impact,” pointing to the 1994 assault weapons ban and claiming that “mass shootings tripled” after the ban expired in 2004.

Experts who spoke to Fox News Digital, however, pointed out that the 1994 ban had “no appreciable impact on crime”.

“President Biden’s proposed measures to limit guns would NOT reduce gun crime and would also raise constitutional issues,” Joyce Lee Malcolm, professor emeritus at George Mason University, told Fox News Digital. “We had an assault weapons ban for ten years. It was allowed to expire because Justice Department research found it had no appreciable impact on crime.”

A Justice Department study published in 1999 that examined the short-term effects of the ban found that it “failed to reduce the average number of victims per murder by firearm or multiple bullets” .

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 02: US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the recent White House mass shootings on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 02: US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the recent White House mass shootings on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Malcolm is the author of the empirical study, “Guns and Violence: The English Experience”, which investigated England from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century and the country’s level of gun crime before modern law. on firearms and the impact of these laws on crimes committed with firearms.

She found that in 1954, when there were no shotgun laws in the country, London recorded 12 cases of armed robbery. Gun laws grew tougher in the country over the following years, and in 1974 London recorded 1,400 armed robberies.

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The study has been widely applauded for its thoroughness, including by Thomas Sowell in 2016, who said it “illustrates the difference between isolated, hand-picked facts and relevant empirical evidence”.

“Many gun control advocates have cited the much higher murder rates in the United States than in England due to stricter gun control laws in England. But Professor Malcolm’s study points out that the murder rate in New York has been a multiple of the murder rate in England London for two centuries – and, for most of that time, neither city imposed serious restrictions on the possession of ‘guns,” Sowell wrote in an op-ed.

Malcolm added in his comments to Fox News Digital that “there is no real definition of an assault weapon” as Democrats rally to ban such weapons.

“People think of an AK47 or some other automatic. The AR-15, most often cited by gun control folks for a ban, is not a ‘weapon of war’ like the Democrats don’t. keep saying it. It’s not an automatic weapon, but the most popular shotgun in the country, owned by MILLIONS of law-abiding Americans,” she said.

As for banning high-capacity magazines, Malcolm said such a move could actually make law-abiding gun owners less likely to defend themselves.

“High-capacity magazines that are described as magazines holding more than 7 or 10 rounds are not the magazines that accompany or even fit the popular handguns and long guns that most Americans own. Banning them would make useless all these legally purchased guns,” Malcolm told Fox News Digital. “And it won’t make a difference to the crime rate, maybe doing the opposite by making it harder for people to defend themselves.”

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However, gun control activists have made banning “assault weapons” the basis of their proposals to curb mass shootings.

“In a less broken society, we would be able to require background checks every time someone wants to buy a gun, and we would ban assault rifles outright,” David Hogg said in a statement. statement this month after the bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on an arms package. “But if even a life is saved or a mass shooting attempt is prevented thanks to these regulations, we think it’s worth fighting for.”

Hogg is the co-founder of March for Our Lives, a gun control group that was formed after the 2018 Parkland school shooting, which advocates for “a higher level of gun ownership. fire”. The group has issued various proposals on tackling crime through gun control, including “a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and other weapons of war; policies aimed at disarming gun owners of firearms that present a risk of harm; and a national purchase of firearms”. return program.

The United States has been rocked by a series of mass shootings this spring, including a grocery store shooting in Buffalo, New York, a church shooting in California, a shooting on Philadelphia’s notorious South Street, the shooting of ‘Uvalde and others.

Fox News Digital asked Lott what variable contributes to the increase in mass shootings, noting that gun laws have become more restrictive in recent decades as mass shootings have increased. Lott said the increase in these high-profile shootings is likely due to criminals wanting media attention and killers who may want to outdo themselves with shocking attacks.

“People have always killed themselves. But somewhere along the line, people who wanted to kill themselves feel like they weren’t valued by society, realize they could get a lot of attention by going out and killing a lot of people in public,” he said. “You read the newspapers, you read the manifestos, you read the other stuff from these killers, and they’re looking for media attention.”

Lott said perpetrators who want to commit violent and shocking crimes will aim for “soft targets” such as schools and grocery stores because they are less likely to face an armed individual who could thwart the attack.

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“To me, that’s obvious. Look out there and you see about 96% of mass public shootings happen in places where guns are banned. These people want to kill as many people as possible. And they know that if they go to a place where the victims cannot go to defend themselves, they will have more success,” he said.

He chose the Buffalo Grocery Shooter’s Manifesto, which “explicitly talks about his ideal target. And he says he wants to avoid places where he knows people have concealed handguns.”

Lott said eliminating “gun-free zones” would be “the only thing that would work” to curb such violent crime.

“These weapon-free zones actually serve as magnets for these killers to attack. Because they know they will be more successful in terms of killing,” he said.

For Malcolm, “the best course is to do something about facilities for people who have proven to be a danger to themselves and others”.

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“Red flag laws aim to do this, but they allow police to disarm someone deemed dangerous before the individual has a chance to be heard. There is no due process “If this can be solved and we can expand the facilities that are needed for the dangerously mentally ill, that could really help. Right now prisons have more mentally ill and violent people than hospitals,” said she declared.


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