Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 62

Consequences Of Gun Control

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16 June 1999
Wednesday, June 16, 1999

1999 Ron Paul 62:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I recommend that my colleagues read today’s Washington Times article entitled “Disarming Good People” before voting on unconstitutional and counter-effective gun legislation. Outlined within, are some of the disastrous consequences of enacting more gun control. While the lawmakers demand even more restrictions on the sale, ownership, and the use of firearms, we currently have the highest level of gun control in our Nation’s history. Yet only 50 years ago, there were no violent incidents in schools like the recent tragedy. Instead of rushing to disarm the law-abiding, let us first examine the current 20,000 gun laws already on the books for their effectiveness.

1999 Ron Paul 62:2

Editor’s note: The following is an open letter from 287 economists, law-school professors and other academics to Congress, regarding gun-control legislation before the House of Representatives. Some but not all of the names of the signatories appear here.

1999 Ron Paul 62:3
After the tragic attacks at public schools over the last two years, there is an understandable desire to “do something.” Yet, none of the proposed legislation would have prevented the recent violence. The current debate focuses only on the potential benefits from new gun control laws and ignores the fact that these laws can have some very real adverse effects. Good intentions don’t necessarily make good laws. What counts is whether the laws will ultimately save lives, prevent injury, and reduce crime. Passing laws based upon their supposed benefits while ignoring their costs poses a real threat to people’s lives and safety.

1999 Ron Paul 62:4
These — gun control laws will primarily be obeyed by law-abiding citizens and risk making it less likely that good people have guns compared to criminals. Deterrence is important and disarming good people relative to criminals will increase the risk of violent crime. If we really care about saving lives we must focus not only on the newsworthy events where bad things happen, but also on the bad things that never happen because people are able to defend themselves.

1999 Ron Paul 62:5
Few people would voluntarily put up a sign in front of their homes stating, “This home is a gun-free zone.” The reason is very simple. Just as we can deter criminals with higher arrest or conviction rates, the fact that would-be victims might be able to defend themselves also deters attacks. Not only do guns allow individuals to defend themselves, they also provide some protection to citizens who choose not to own guns since criminals would not normally know who can defend themselves before they attack.

1999 Ron Paul 62:6
The laws currently being considered by Congress ignore the importance of deterrence. Police are extremely important at deterring crime, but they simply cannot be everywhere. Individuals also benefit from being able to defend themselves with a gun when they are confronted by a criminal.

1999 Ron Paul 62:7
Let us illustrate some of the problems with the current debate.

1999 Ron Paul 62:8
The Clinton administration wants to raise the age at which citizens can posses a handgun to 21, and they point to the fact that 18- and 19-year-olds commit gun crimes at the highest rate. Yet, Department of Justice numbers indicate that 18- and 19-year-olds are also the most likely victims of violent crimes including murder, rape, robbery with serious injury, and aggravated assault. The vast majority of those committing crimes in this age group are members of gangs and are already breaking the law by having a gun. This law will primarily apply to law-abiding 18- to-21-year-olds and make it difficult for them to defend themselves.

1999 Ron Paul 62:9
Waiting periods can produce a cooling-off period. But they also have real costs. Those threatened with harm may not be able to quickly obtain a gun for protection.

1999 Ron Paul 62:10
Gun locks may prevent some accidental gun deaths, but they will make it difficult for people to defend themselves from attackers. We believe that the risks of accidental gun deaths, particularly those involving young children, have been greatly exaggerated. In 1996, there were 44 accidental gun deaths for children under age 10. This exaggeration risks threatening people’s safety if it incorrectly frightens some people from having a gun in their home even though that is actually the safest course of action.

1999 Ron Paul 62:11
Trade-offs exist with other proposals such as prison sentences for adults whose guns are misused by someone under 18 and rules limiting the number of guns people can purchase. No evidence has been presented to show that the likely benefits of such proposals will exceed their potential costs.

1999 Ron Paul 62:12
With the 20,000 gun laws already on the books, we advise Congress, before enacting yet more new laws, to investigate whether many of the existing laws may have contributed to the problems we currently face. The new legislation is ill-advised.

1999 Ron Paul 62:13
Sincerely, Terry L. Anderson, Montana State University; Charles W. Baird, California State University Hayward; Randy E. Barnett, Boston University; Bruce L. Benson, Florida State University; Michael Block, University of Arizona; Walter Block, Thomas Borcherding, Claremont Graduate School; Frank H. Buckley, George Mason University; Colin D. Campbell, Dartmough College; Robert J. Cottrol, George Washington University; Preston K. Covey, Carnegie Mellon University; Mark Crain, George Mason University; Tom DiLorenzo, Loyola College in Maryland; Paul Evans, Ohio State University; R. Richard Geddes, Fordham University; Lino A. Graglia, University of Texas; John Heineke, Santa Clara University; David Henderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Melvin J. Hinich, University of Texas, Austin; Lester H. Hunt, University of Wisconsin- Madison; James Kau, University of Georgia; Kenneth N. Klee, UCLA; David Kopel, New York University; Stanley Liebowitz, University of Texas at Dallas; Luis Locay, University of Miami; John R. Lott, Jr., University of Chicago; Geoffrey A. Manne, University of Virginia; John Matsusaka, University of Southern California; Fred McChesney, Cornell University; Jeffrey A. Miron, Boston University; Carlisle E. Moody College of William and Mary; Craig M. Newark, North Carolina State University; Jeffrey S. Parker, George Mason University; Dan Polsby, Northwestern University; Keith T. Poole, Carnegie-Mellon University; Douglas B. Rasmussen, St. John’s University; Glenn Reynolds, University of Tennessee; John R. Rice, Duke University; Russell Roberts, Washington University; Randall W. Roth, Univ. of Hawaii; Charles Rowley, George Mason University; Allen R. Sanderson, University of Chicago; William F. Shughart II, University of Mississippi; Thomas Sowell, Stanford University; Richard Stroup, Montana State University; Robert D. Tollison, University of Mississippi; Eugene Volokh, UCLA; Michael R. Ward, University of Illinois; Benjamin Zycher, UCLA; Todd Zywicki, George Mason University.

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