Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why do People Want Guns so Much?

Those who demand a disarmed population claim that it is the easy availability of guns that causes people to do bad things with guns.

The core assumption is that guns have no useful function.  The people who wish to disarm the population constantly say that guns are only made and used for one thing - to kill people.  It is implied is that no person actually wants to kill people, and they would not, if there were no guns.

From that follows the idea that people do not really want guns.  If only some barriers were put in place to make it a little harder for them to get guns, people will give them up, and the number of killings would go down.

That is a naive and simplistic view of reality.

It is easy to see how people who have no experience with guns, and no experience with violence, could believe these naive notions.  They have never used a gun in defense of themselves or others; their narrow view of the world is constrained to believing that everyone else is just like them.  We hear the echo of this in a popular song:
 "People are the same all over the world"
Fortunately or not, the song flies in the face of reality and experience.  Everyone is not the same all over the world.  In fact, everyone is not the same across even most cities in the United States.  Many people have pivotal experiences in their lives that make the demand for guns strong, determined, and inflexible.

People who have experienced violence up close and personal have strong desires for firearms.

People who have had military or police training understand that personal power and safety grows out of the barrel of a gun.

People who live in rural areas have many cultural experiences that reinforce the utility of firearms. 

All of these people have something in common.  They are outside of the cultural set of President Obama and those who desire a disarmed population.

Their desires are not soft and squishy desires easily met by a DVD or a new pair of shoes.  Most people in the United States equate firearms with personal safety.  Making firearms a little harder to acquire with more regulations will not deter people who equate them with safety.  It will make them suspicious of the motives of people who wish to disarm them.

A recent study in Chicago reinforced that fact.  It is very difficult for people to obtain firearms in Chicago.  There are no gun stores.  Buying a gun in Chicago carries a risk of arrest and imprisonment. That does not stop people from illegally acquiring firearms. Phillip Cook has studied the availability of guns in Chicago.  He found that firearms were difficult to obtain. From the study JCrimLC 2015 Guns in Chicago.pdf:
In our 2007 article Underground Gun Markets, we found evidence that guns are surprisingly difficult to obtain in the underground gun market in Chicago.20 This evidence includes substantial price markups for guns on the street relative to the purchase price in legal transactions, substantial legal or physical risk and delays for criminals in their attempts to get a gun, and the existence of a system of retail brokers who charge a fee to facilitate exchanges between gun buyers and sellers.21 Yet despite the difficulty for most people in getting guns on the streets, roughly four in five homicides in Chicago are committed with guns.22
President Obama is exactly wrong when he says:
"We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than to get his hands on a computer"
Second Amendment supporters have been correct when they say that Chicago has high levels of homicide with guns in spite of stringent infringements on Second Amendment rights.
Phillip Cook doesn't draw the obvious conclusion that people who strongly desire guns will go to considerable lengths to obtain them.  He thinks strict gun controls on places outside of Chicago (where the crime rate is much lower) could reduce the number of guns that get to Chicago.  It seems unlikely.

Chicago is a text book case of inflexible demand.  Brazil is another.  In spite of extremely strict gun controls and no Second Amendment,  the murder rate, including with guns, is one of the highest in the world.  One of the favorite guns in the Brazilian underworld is the homemade submachine gun.  The demand for guns is so strong that when factory made guns are unavailable, a supply is generated by individuals and small shops. 

People who desire a disarmed population point to Europe.  They fail to note that homicide levels did not drop when strong gun controls were imposed.  They stayed the same.  Guns do not cause crime.  Guns do not cause death. Guns are used to commit crimes or to kill.  They are also used to prevent crimes and to save lives.  People who see their utility will not give them up.  Historicaly, it has not happened.

In the much touted case of Australia, with an incredibly law abiding population, only 20% of banned guns were turned in.  Now, 20 years later, the number of legal guns and gun owners is as high as it was before the ban was put in place. Now, there is a significant black market in illegal guns and homemade guns.

To understand this inflexibility of demand, anti-gunners would have to step outside their comfort zone.  A few do, every day.  The number of people who actively support the Second Amendment has been growing for decades.

That is why Second Amendment rights are slowly being restored, and why pushes for more infringements are defeated again and again.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch



Anonymous said...

"We flood communities with ... guns ..." - Obama.

Obama has outed himself!

His statement confirms his and his administration's involvement in gun running.

After all, if HE and his buddies aren't the ones flooding communities with guns, well, then, who IS?

Anonymous said...

Operation fast / furious must still be running. "We" flood communities with so many guns.....

Anonymous said...

The Dilbert guy, Scot Adams, had written that he sees (bad) Democrats using guns to kill each other, and innocent bystanders, while Republicans seem to be primarily interested in guns for sport and self-defense. So when (good?) Democrats talk about restricting access or confiscating guns 'for our own good', Repubs ain't buying it.