NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Legislation is Misguided

June 15, 1999

Some criminologists believe gun-control legislation passed by the Senate would not have stopped the killings in Littleton, Colo., and warn some of the provisions will actually reduce public safety.

  • The federal government cannot require anyone to use gunlocks even if they are made mandatory -- and such locks are easy to defeat.
  • Moreover, they diminish the defensive value of a gun in an emergency -- a major drawback considering that guns are used about five times more often to stop crimes than to commit them.
  • Although 70 million to 80 million Americans own some 240 million guns, only 40 children die each year from accidental discharge of guns -- compared to 150 who die from fires they start with cigarette lighters.
  • Restrictions on sales at gun shows will do little good since criminals obtain their guns through black-market deals and thefts.

A mid-1980s survey of convicted felons in 12 state prisons found that fewer than 1 percent obtained guns at gun shows. A 1997 Justice Department survey put the figure at only 2 percent.

Although the Littleton shootings have placed gun control on the front political burner, none of the remedies being proposed would have kept guns out of the hands of the two youths who rampaged there.

Source: Morgan O. Reynolds and H. Sterling Burnett (both of the National Center for Policy Analysis), "Gun Control Frenzy," Washington Times, June 15, 1999.


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