The Basic Case Against Gun Control – Part I: Trends in Public Opinion

In this post and the one that follows, I want to put up a draft of some stuff I will have in “State Exempt.” Rather than argue over Second Amendment matters (which are totally irrelevant in other countries), I want to focus entirely on why gun control is a bad idea from a law and economics perspective. Three categories of legal issues will be discussed: The effects of concealed carry, bans on particular firearms and accessories (e.g. assault weapons and magazine capacity limits), along with more general restrictions on firearm acquisition and possession (background checks, “liability” insurance, and registration). Each of those will have their own section in a subsequent post, but for now I want to devote a section to trends in public opinion for this one.



Public Opinion on the Matter


About two years ago, I shared a pessimistic state of mind with millions of others about legislation that was under consideration. One of the worst school shootings in US history had taken place weeks prior and it seemed like every other major news story was thinly disguised advocacy for banning things that have little effect on overall crime rates.


Little did I know, public opinion and grassroots activism had a different say on the matter…


More Americans Say Guns Make Home Safer

Recent Pew studies and Gallup polls have shown that this awesome trend has continued!


This trend of public opinion looks pretty unstoppable at this point, and yet most Americans have no idea that gun homicide rates have actually dropped over the last two decades. If they did, the more recent surveys showing six in ten being supportive would likely show even more prominent results.


But obviously this isn’t the case. Despite becoming more anti-gun control in a broad sense over the past couple decades (I’m sure internet access helped out there), the public tends to be lightly supportive of some specifics. These tend to have less to do with whether or not various firearms should be legal (the first two categories I listed at the top of this post), and more to do with how you may acquire them. Sure, the public has mixed feelings on so-called “assault weapons” – something I blogged about before here. But even this is turning out to be a fading opposition; to the point where even a staunchly left of center writer in the New York Times wrote that such a ban was pointless.


The focus thus far has now turned towards the question of how background checks are conducted, as well as the possibility of things such as “smart guns” or “liability insurance.” Oh, did I mention 3D-printed guns and magazines? In the next post I want to go over three main categories of gun control, and make the case for scrapping all such laws. Here they are again described in greater detail:



1. The Effects of Concealed Carry: What can we infer from international data as well as longitudinal data in the US about the effects of allowing civilians to carry firearms for personal defense? Has gun control worked in other countries? Are you more likely to use a gun to kill yourself or a loved one than to use it to stop a crime?


2. Bans on Weapon Types and Accessories: Do “assault weapons” bans make any sense? Does limiting magazine capacity (how much ammunition a gun may hold before you must add fresh rounds) boost public safety? What about things like suppressors or other “unnecessary” accessories? Should those be regulated?


3. Firearm Acquisition and Possession: How effective are background checks at stopping criminals? Do we need to expand them for any reason? What about forcing gun owners to have liability insurance of some kind for the weapons they own? Last but not least, should we ban people from using new technologies (3D printing) to make firearms?


The post won’t be exhaustive; the best comprehensive (as opposed to concise) guide to the debate over gun control can be found at GunFacts.Info.

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