Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The life-and-death cost of gun control

Article by John Lott, on the recent Mumbai terror attacks and NFL player Plaxico Burress' illegal weapons possession case in NYC:
In India, victims watched as armed police cowered and didn’t fire back at the terrorists. A photographer at the scene described his frustration: “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything. At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”

Meanwhile, according to the hotel company’s chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi, security at “the hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government.”

India has extremely strict gun control laws, but who did it succeed in disarming?

The terrorist attack showed how difficult it is to disarm serious terrorists. Strict licensing rules meant that it was the victims who obeyed the regulations, not the terrorists.

Academic research has continually found that police are the single most important factor in reducing crime, but police can’t always be depended on to be quick enough.

The attack also illustrates what Israelis learned decades ago. — Putting more soldiers or police on the street didn’t stop terrorist’s machine gun attacks. Terrorists would either wait for the armed soldiers or police to leave the area or kill them first. Likewise, in India, the Muslim terrorists’ first targets were those in uniform (whether police or security guards).

Terrorists only stopped using machine guns to attack Israelis once citizens were allowed to carry concealed handguns. In large public gatherings, a significant number of citizens will be able to shoot at terrorists during an attack — and the terrorists don’t know who has them.
It would be great if the police were always there to rescue would-be victims, but as the police themselves understand, they virtually always arrive on the scene after the crime has already occurred. Fortunately, just as criminals are deterred by higher arrest rates or longer prison sentences, the fact that potential victims own guns deters some attackers. The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, which covers almost 30 years, also shows that having a gun is consistently by far the safest course of action for victims.

Over the last three or four years, numerous professional players can attest to the benefits of owning guns. For example, Corey Fuller, the 5-foot, 10-inch, 210-pound defensive back for the Baltimore Ravens, was confronted by two armed robbers outside his Tallahassee house. One robber chased Fuller into his house where his wife and children were sleeping, but Fuller was able to grab a gun and fire at the attackers, who then ran away.

T.J. Slaughter, a 6-foot, 233-pound linebacker, was arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at motorists who pulled up next to him on the highway. Slaughter denied that he had pointed the gun at the motorists and claimed that they had threatened him. No charges were filed, though, possibly following Dikta’s rule, the Jacksonville Jaguars still cut Slaughter the next day. Jacksonville claimed Slaughter was performing poorly.

Professional athletes’ physical strength hardly makes them immune to crime. Take a couple additional examples.

– The Oakland Raiders’ Javon Walker (height: 6-3, weight: 215 lbs.) was robbed and beaten this past June while visiting Las Vegas. He was hospitalized with a concussion and facial injuries.

– The Houston Texans’ Dunta Robinson (height: 5-10, weight: 184 lbs.) was robbed by two men in his home a year ago. The robbers bound him with duct tape and stole jewelry.

Unfortunately all of the nation’s four leading pro-sports leagues — the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball — trivialize the athletes’ concerns over safety. The NFL’s official advice: “In some circumstances, such as for sport or protection, you may legally possess a firearm or other weapon. However, we strongly recommend that you not do so.” The league advocates passive behavior when confronted by a criminal.

Fred Taylor (height: 6-1, weight: 228) a running back with the Jacksonville Jaguars made the point clear: “League officials tell us we need to take measures to protect ourselves. But the NFL says we can’t have guns in the facility –even in the parking lot. Crooks know this. They can just sit back and wait for us to drive off, knowing we won’t have anything in our vehicle from point A to point B.”

Even professional athletes are not supermen. T.J. Slaughter expresses no regrets for having a gun despite running afoul of political correctness and being cut by the Jaguars. He says, “I believe legally owning a gun is the right thing to do. It offers me protection. I think one day it could save my life.” It seems a lesson that many who are not quite as strong can also learn from.

Article here.

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