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Gun Control: The Seventh Paradox
Written by Dr. Michael S. Brown - March 3, 2000
Article reprinted courtesy of
www.NewsMax.com

NEWSMAX.COM -  Few public policy discussions have become so bitter 
and divisive as the endless debate over guns. None is so burdened with 
contradictions and misinformation. The dictionary defines a paradox as, 
"something or someone with seemingly contradictory qualities or phases." 
Here are seven paradoxes that have developed during the course of this 
conflict:

1. Women are usually at a physical disadvantage when confronted by a male
attacker and violence against women has been a major societal issue. Some
women know that a firearm combined with training is a true equalizer. They
have taken steps to educate themselves and safely provide for their own
security. However, many women reject this opportunity. They seem to accept
the concept that guns are evil and promote violence. Thus, those who could
benefit most from gun ownership are least likely to own one.

2. Police chiefs are famous for blaming crime on "guns flooding the
streets", and generally support more gun control. However, rank and
file police officers are overwhelmingly opposed to stricter laws. Why the
disagreement? Most police chiefs are political appointees selected by the
Mayor. Most Mayors favor stricter gun laws and would be unlikely to choose or
keep a chief who disagreed. Officers who work on the streets are much more
practical. They know they can't be everywhere at once and are usually limited to
processing crimes after they have occurred. Unlike the chiefs who are
surrounded by tight security and influential people, officers who work on the
streets know all too well what the world is like for the rest of us.

3. Celebrities and politicians who promote gun control are the ones
who don't need to protect themselves. They have access to the best
bodyguards that money can buy. Even if the strictest imaginable gun laws are
enacted, armed men will still protect them.

4. As a result of state laws passed in recent decades, citizens in 31 states are
now entitled to concealed weapons permits if they have a clean record and
fulfill various requirements. Data gained from this change has provided
important new knowledge for gun law discussions. To the great surprise of
anti-gun groups, it turns out that permit holders are far less violent than the
general population. Even more significant is the fact that crime
decreased in the areas where permits were made available. As one
researcher put it, "more guns, less crime".

5. Criminals victimize minorities at a much higher rate than the general
population, yet many gun control efforts such as buy-backs and
neighborhood sweeps of low income areas are aimed at reducing gun
ownership by minorities. This paradox has operated as long as human
history. Immigrants, political dissenters and ethnic minorities have been
disarmed many times by governments seeking to bring them under tighter
control. They are always told that itís for their own good.

6. The position that gun issues have assumed in the political spectrum is very
interesting. Liberals, who defend the right of a woman to have an
abortion, would generally deny her the use of a firearm to protect
herself and her family. Conservatives, who typically feel that the
government should allow people to make their own important
decisions, want more government control of personal reproductive
choices. Since these are both matters of life and death, one might expect
more consistency, but somehow the positions have become reversed.

7. The seventh paradox is the most profound. The conventional wisdom is
wrong. Gun control simply does not work as crime control. Case after case
shows that when cities, states and nations implement gun control, crime goes
up. Washington, Chicago, New York, Australia, Britain; the list is long and
getting longer as the seductive appeal of gun control spreads. Criminologists
explain that disarming the law-abiding population makes life easier for
criminals who are going to ignore the law anyway. 

No other major political issue is so plagued by paradoxes. They arise from a
variety of sources that could serve as a list of societal ailments; racism,
sexism, classism, political corruption, excessive media influence, fear of the
unknown and honest disagreement.

Whichever side you choose to support, it is fascinating to observe the debate.

The author is an optometrist who moderates an email list for discussion of gun
issues in Washington State. He may be contacted by email at: [email protected]

Copyright: Michael S. Brown, 2-27-2000

Article reprinted courtesy of www.NewsMax.com

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