The Logic of Gun Control Advocates

I’ve heard this one a few times.

“We need federal gun control laws because gun control laws done by a state don’t matter because people can just go to another state to get guns.”

You hear this a lot when people point out that states Washington D.C. or cities like Chicago, IL have strict gun laws yet very high crime rates. The logic is that the strict gun laws don’t work because the surrounding areas have lax gun laws and that’s where people are getting the guns and it’s because of this that these places with strict gun control still have such high crime rates.

This logic is flawed.

Why is this logic flawed? The crux of this thought process is that it is guns that are the problem. Guns that are restricted by a state or city are still attainable and brought into the areas where the guns are less restricted. Lets use Chicago as an example. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws of any city in the United States. While you can own a gun in Chicago, the ability to do so is blocked by forms and red tape. The surrounding states all have some variation of laws allowing concealed or open carry, meaning their gun laws are less restrictive than that of Chicago.

Below is a chart comparing the various kinds of crime in Chicago to those of the surrounding states.

State Population Murder (per 100k) Rape (per 100k) Robbery (per 100k) Assault (per 100k)
Chicago, IL 7,906,889 6.8 n/a 213.4 221.6
Illinois 12,869,257 5.6 28.8 157.4 237.5
Missouri 6,010,688 6.1 24.3 104.3 312.7
Indiana 6,516,922 4.8 27.0 107.1 193.0
Wisconsin 5,711,767 2.4 20.4 78.2 1.5.9
Iowa 3,062,309 1.5 27.2 26.9 199.9

Chicago data was supplied by the FBI crime statistics by metropolitan area, while the surrounding states were provided from Disaster Center. All numbers are from 2011. The reason for the split data is that the Disaster Center (which uses the same reports the FBI uses), doesn’t have a break down by city. The Chicago numbers are for Chicago-Joilet-Naperville, IL which includes Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendal, McHenry, and Will counties.

What we see here is that a states with less gun restrictions have lower rates across the  board than those of a single city with the strictest of gun laws. This is the point at which a gun control advocate would say “well of course because people go to those other states to buy guns.”

If guns were the actual problem, wouldn’t those states with less restrictive gun laws have higher rates than a single city? Could it possibly be something else that’s the problem for all the violence in Chicago, and not guns? Even the state of Illinois has a lower overall murder rate than Chicago (other cities in Illinois have less restrictive gun laws than those of Chicago, but this changes soon due to some recent laws that passed in Illinois state legislation).

I argue that less restrictive gun laws do not lead to more violent crime. If I look at these numbers, it certainly doesn’t help anyone trying to make that case. If you’d like another example you can look at Washington D.C. and compare it to the surrounding states that have less restrictive gun laws. You’ll see a similar pattern.

Maybe it isn’t the guns that are the problem.

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