NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Gun Control Controversy

May 12, 1999

Nationwide, there are more than 20,000 gun-control laws that regulate everything from who can own a gun and how it can be purchased to where one can possess or use it.

In the wake of the Littleton, Colo., shootings, gun control has again assumed priority status and President Clinton has proposed and Congress is considering a broad range of gun-control laws.

Here are some considerations being raised by firearms-use researcher John R. Lott Jr., of the University of Chicago:

  • Experience with the three-day waiting period for gun purchases -- which expired last year -- had no significant impact on murder or robbery rates and was associated with a small increase in rape and aggravated-assault rates.
  • Requiring gun locks would increase innocent deaths resulting from intruders in the home -- since mechanical locks require that the gun be unloaded, offering far less protection.
  • A mandated three-year prison term for parents whose gun is used improperly by any minor is draconian -- akin to sending the owner of a stolen automobile to prison if the thief kills someone while driving that car.
  • Dealers who sell guns at gun shows must already perform the same background checks and obey all the other rules that they are subjected to when they sell guns at their stores -- and private sales are unregulated whether they occur at a gun show or not.

Lott predicts that, if adopted, the Clinton package will lead to more gun deaths, not fewer.

Source: John R. Lott Jr., "Gun Laws Can Be Dangerous, Too," Wall Street Journal, May 12, 1999.


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