NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Other Countries Illustrate The Futility Of Firearm Bans

April 30, 2002

Sixteen people were killed last week in Germany's school shooting. This follows the killing of 14 regional legislators in a Swiss canton in September, and the massacre of eight city council members in a Paris suburb last month. Yet Europe has the kind of gun laws gun-control advocates admire.

  • Germans seeking a hunting rifle, for example, must undergo checks that can last a year -- and the French must obtain gun permits, which are granted only after a similar exhaustive check.
  • Swiss federal law now grants gun permits only to those who can demonstrate the need for a weapon.
  • In 1996, Britain banned handguns; since then, gun crimes have risen by 40 percent.

Australia also passed severe gun restrictions in 1996 and made it a crime to use a gun defensively. In the subsequent four years, armed robberies rose 51 percent, unarmed robberies by 37 percent, assaults by 24 percent and kidnappings by 43 percent.

The problem with these harsh gun laws, experts say, is that they take guns away from law-abiding citizens, while would-be criminals ignore them, leaving potential victims defenseless. The U.S. has shown that making guns more available is actually a better formula for law and order.

In the U.S., 33 states have right-to-carry laws. In those states, deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fell on average by 78 percent.

Source: John R. Lott Jr. (American Enterprise Institute), "Gun Control Misfires in Europe," Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2002.


Browse more articles on Government Issues