Thomas Sowell: The Invincible Ignorance of the "Gun Control" Crowd

Ken 2012/12/18 20:57:54

Invincible Ignorance

By Thomas Sowell


Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do
not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens,
while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have
discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual
studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws
being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been
places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic
example, but just one among many.

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural
areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas.
The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks,
but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole,
hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder
rate went down.

The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand
up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that
Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower
murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has
had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two
centuries-- and, for most of that time, the British had no more
stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither
country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London
with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the
stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had
several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times
the London murder rate with other weapons.

Neither guns nor gun control was the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both
sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward

In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun
ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even
most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime
rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in
Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few
restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by
the 1990s-- after decades of ever tightening gun ownership
restrictions-- there were more than a hundred times as many armed

Gun control zealots' choice of Britain for comparison with the United
States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the
history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other
countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as
Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder
rates than the United States.

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results.
Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany,
but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high
rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand,
and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem-- including people
who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the
facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and
self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out
examples of both among gun control advocates.

Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control
led him to produce a "study" that became so discredited that he resigned
from his university. This column predicted at the time that this
discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates.
But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

more guns less crirme
Add Photos & Videos

Top Opinion

Sort By
  • Most Raves
  • Least Raves
  • Oldest
  • Newest

  • redhorse29 2012/12/19 23:19:06
    Once again, I agree with Thomas.
  • bipolarbear 2012/12/19 19:32:52
    The Hoover Institution?Another right wing think tank filled with conservatives and libertarians who cannot think. Great!!!!!
  • Ken bipolar... 2012/12/19 20:39:54
    In 1990, Thomas Sowell won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 1998 he received the Sydney Hook Award from the National Association of Scholars. In 2002, Sowell was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholarship melding history, economics, and political science. In 2003, he was awarded the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement. In 2004 he was given a Lysander Spooner Award for his book Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. In 2008, getAbstract awarded his book Economic Facts and Fallacies with its International Book Award.

    "Thomas Sowell is, in my opinion, the most originaland interesting philosopher at work in America." Paul Johnson, eminent British historian.

    Not bad for someone who "cannot think." Do you actually think the facts will just go away if you ignore them?
  • bipolar... Ken 2012/12/19 21:26:50
    Really, so conservatives kiss each others butts. Like I wasn't aware of that. Where is his award from the Heritage Foundation, the only crazy right wing organization you left out?
  • Ken bipolar... 2012/12/19 21:50:37
    The only "crazy' people in this country are the lefties who say "Forward!" and immediately try the failed policies of the past - over and over again. Einstein is the one who defined that as insanity!

    Einstein insanity trying the same thing over and over and expecting a differenct result
  • bipolar... Ken 2012/12/20 04:14:28
    Failed policies of the past ? That would have been Romney. We said no to that.
  • Ken bipolar... 2012/12/20 18:39:25 (edited)
    Central planning, high government spending, high taxes, disarmament, welfare and social engineering, etc., et al, the list goes on and on. I suggest you read Thomas Sowell's "Intellectuals and Society" and perhaps recognize the failures of liberalism.

    Regarding "Intellectuals and Society":

    "Extraordinary on several counts. . . There is nothing tendentious or one-sided about his argument. . . He makes his case lucidly and persuasively." -- The New York Times Book Review

    Hardly a right-wing reviewer!
    Intellectuals and Society
  • bipolar... Ken 2012/12/21 00:04:32
    So a right wing nut have never written a review for the New York Times ? The only had an extremist on the editorial staff for 30 years.
  • Ken bipolar... 2012/12/21 00:23:43
    Thanks for confirming my opinion - you don't have the intellect to enter into an intelligent discussion.
  • mind-pilot 2012/12/19 17:25:51
    Everybody is nuts in this country. You'll never control guns in this country. You have no clue how many "unregistered guns" there are. And there are many. The gun enthusiasts will only be stifeld by their own stupidity. Case in point: Lanza's mother was a teacher, a gun enthusiast and a gun collector and she was killed with her own gun. Irony? Reality?
    You're not going to get rid of guns. You're not going to get rid of stupid "responsible gun owners" you're not going to get every gun registered. Just take responsiblity for you own kids. If they're nuts, commit them. Be a responsible parent and take care of them yourself don't let them in to the general population.
  • Lady Whitewolf 2012/12/19 11:15:22
    Lady Whitewolf
    Good post!
  • mrdog 2012/12/19 09:32:19
    I'm gun owner...as a Redneck...I've had my own gun since the age of nine... of course I couldn't use it at that age without my dad being with me on hunting trips....
    But I will say gun control on some weapons are okay for me...and background are
    fine.... this is reasonable change for me... An example... how can a bad dude go to a gun show and buy a weapon of choice without background check....? Dumb...bark

    p.s. I do agree guns is not the problem..but dumbing down of our moral values...plus
    many other factors in our country...too many to mention...
  • scottcleaves 2012/12/19 07:50:04
    Hey, Thomas: Get a clue. Gun laws are already being written up for passage. And guess what: they're going to go through.
  • Defend ... scottcl... 2012/12/19 10:15:06
    Defend Western Civlization
    Thomas Sowell is smarter then you and the Muslim terrorist loving democrats
  • XZQZQ scottcl... 2012/12/19 11:01:46
    Maybe.... but it takes time, and people have very short attention spans.
  • Cliff scottcl... 2012/12/19 11:59:26
  • Ken scottcl... 2012/12/19 20:43:56
    Guess what? Chicago has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation and they are approaching 500 murders this year as well as 62 killings of school-age children, this year.http://cnsnews.com/news/arti...
  • Cat 2012/12/19 07:39:36
    Right on Mr. Sowell!
  • santa6642 2012/12/19 02:48:35
    Great post , thank you.
  • chicago 2012/12/19 02:33:38 (edited)
    Food for thought (put whatever political spin on this you like, the numbers are intriguing)

    What are there more of? Number of retail gun outlets in the U.S., or number of Starbucks worldwide?

    Number of Starbucks in the entire world 20,366...

    Number of retail gun shops in the U.S. 51,438
  • Cliff chicago 2012/12/19 12:03:20
  • Embalmer 2012/12/19 01:42:29
    Would Jesus own a gun? I trust most people to do unto others as I would do unto them, but you can't say that for all humans. With that said, how can anyone see the value of gun rights as being more sacred than a human life is? Are the dead children in Newtown just sacrifcal lambs?

    It's all about where your priorities are and what's most important to you.
  • Ken Embalmer 2012/12/19 01:49:21
    You are making a connection that isn't there - people who support Second Amendment rights are just as distraught as anyone else over the deaths of two-dozen kindergarteners. They do not, repeat, do not, value gun rights as being more sacred than human life. That is an error the the left almost always makes, ascribing ulterior motives to their "enemies" on the right. (I'm not saying you are a leftist, and I appreciate the respectful nature of your post.)
  • Embalmer Ken 2012/12/19 02:05:19
    The NRA has remained silent since last Friday, are they distraught too? I'm not saying all of those who are pro gun advocates weren't distraught, I'm just reflecting on my observations.
  • XZQZQ Embalmer 2012/12/19 11:03:53
    The NRA is simply keeping silent for the moment.... it is not the time to push political agendas.
  • Lady Wh... XZQZQ 2012/12/19 11:15:43
    Lady Whitewolf
  • Embalmer Lady Wh... 2012/12/19 19:17:29
  • Embalmer XZQZQ 2012/12/19 19:17:06
    What does political agendas have to do with acknowledging the slaughter in Newtown? Sympathy doesn't work hand in hand with anyone's political agenda.
  • FU Hussein Embalmer 2012/12/19 13:44:08
    FU Hussein
    The NRA and gun owners are guilty of nothing! They just haven't used the tragedy for political gain like barry and the media has.
  • Embalmer FU Hussein 2012/12/19 19:22:14
    I didn't imply showing sympathy meant guilt about anything. I implied it looked awful on the part of the NRA.

    Don't you get the real news? Republicans have made statements about the murders and about opening up gun control discussions, so it isn't just President Obama and the media.

    If you think the president should've remained quiet on this you're you're crazy and if you think it was for political gain you're brainwashed.
  • santa6642 Embalmer 2012/12/19 02:49:41 (edited)
    Yes, Jesus had a CC.
  • Cliff Embalmer 2012/12/19 12:11:29 (edited)
  • Embalmer Cliff 2012/12/19 19:29:18
    I did. That's my observation, if you don't like it, tough.

    I was hoping someone would bring abortion into this, it took y'all a few days but I knew you'd come around purty quick. I support abortion because it's always a woman's decision first and foremost concerning her own body, and because it has to be one of the toughest decions a woman will ever make, so I support them for those reasons. I'm a man, I have no business being in a woman's business, and abortions aren't done by using a gun.

    Jesus was not God, He's a part of the trilogy - The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.
  • Cliff Embalmer 2012/12/19 20:14:52
  • Embalmer Cliff 2012/12/19 20:22:13
    LOL, right, whatever dude.
  • FU Hussein Embalmer 2012/12/19 13:42:00
    FU Hussein
    You're right! It is all about what's most important to you. What about the unborn and partially born? Sacrificial lambs for the progressive cause I guess.

    Bottom line; The children in Newtown had six/seven years that hundreds of thousands of children didn't thanks to the liberals/democrats/progressives. Cry me a river.
  • Embalmer FU Hussein 2012/12/19 19:29:59
  • goatman112003 2012/12/19 01:27:49
    Guns have never been the problem but the people behind them. Sowell is correct the areas where the highest crime and most lenient sentencing are the ones with the most restrictive gun controls. What is missed in this whole argument is the government is not held responsible if you are a victim of crime and this is Supreme court rulings. So you are looking to disarm the law abiding to give the lawless more targets.
  • Embalmer goatman... 2012/12/19 01:54:16
    No, Sowell is not correct, Australia is a good example of that. I don't mind an honest debate about gun control, and I am pro gun control, but skewing the numbers and constantly repeating NRA propaganda is dishonest and it makes people not credible.
  • goatman... Embalmer 2012/12/19 02:20:17
    Different cultures. Look Britain always had a lower death rate before gun control than the United States and probably Australia the same. It isn't the gun control which causes it but the way the societies view violence. Remember the first gun control was in the United States with the Sullivan Law i New York when Britain and Australia had nothing.

See Votes by State

The map above displays the winning answer by region.

News & Politics

2016/02/09 05:53:00

Hot Questions on SodaHead
More Hot Questions

More Community More Originals