Guns and our Heritage of Libery
by Ron Lewenberg, May 1999
In light of the recent tragedy in Littleton Colorado, it is to be expected that the opponents of the right to keep and bear arms are calling for the end or limiting of these rights. Some obviously want to save lives. This is a noble idea, but banning guns is not the solution. According to FBI statistics compiled under that anti-gun reign of Attorney General Reno, 99.8% of guns are never used in committing a crime. Moreover a recent study by John Lott shows that guns prevent crime and protect lives in the US. Now we could ban all private firearm ownershiop. Of course, this would leave all honest citizens at the mercy of criminals. Of course we could take this line of reasoning further. More American children are killed every year in car accidents than by misuse of guns. Thus, we should ban all cars. Furthermore, let us start making homes safer. Most homes have dangerous items like knives or potentially dangerous chemicals like cleaning fluids. In schools, we find baseball bats, lacrosse sticks, and footballs. Why not have the government ban or regulate all of these? The lists, in fact, is endless. The reason is clear. It is not the inanimate objects which kill, but the willful misuse of these items which lead to injury or death.
Other gun control advocates have a very different agenda. Theirs is to protect themselves from the public. The Founders of this Republic understood the mentality of the gun control advocates. The Battle of Concord, whose anniversary we celebrated on April 19th, occurred because the British Army tried to appropriate the gunpowder stores of the colonists. The reason for the Second Amendment was to guaranty the Natural Right of Americans to protect themselves not only from criminals but the government. The first complete gun bans passed this century were in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In Nazi German and the USSR, the disarmament of the populace allowed for totalitarianism and the deaths of over 40 million of their own citizens by the government. Is it any wonder, that this pattern was followed in Communist China, Cambodia, and Vietnam? After a century of murderous governments it is sad that educated people blame the weapons. They don't understand that individual gun ownership has protect lives and freedoms, while governments have callously taken both.
We all mourn the 13 students and teachers gunned down by the disturbed shooters. But this is no reason to let emotion override logic. No one knows what would have happened if the teachers or security guards had been allowed to carry guns, but there is a historical model. In the late 1970's, after a series of terrorist attacks on schools and school outings, the Israeli government relaxed gun laws to allow parents and teachers to carry weapons. Within a month, all of the attacks ended. It is no coincidence that the single successful attack on school children occurred in the Park of Peace last year, after the teachers had given up their guns to the Jordanian Army. Admittedly this is not a perfect model, but there is evidence that conceal and carry laws would be effective to prevent these tragidies. Proffessor John Lott of the University of Chicago has released a study expounded upon in his book, More Guns Less Crime, which shows that there are 81% fewer public multiple homicides in states with conceal and carry laws.
The solution is not to disarm every American, but to allow us to protect our own freedoms. We cannot allow any event to be an excuse to make us give up our heritage of liberty.
Ron Lewenberg is a member of Columbia University Students for Freedom.