Guns and freedom

Does the presence of guns in a society increase or decrease freedom?


The NRA says, “Vote Freedom First“. But is it really true?


The answer is obvious to you and I. But it’s also “obvious” to the people of the Brady Campaign. David Kopel, Carlisle Moody, & Howard Nemerov did the research, crunched the numbers and concluded:



There are many causal mechanisms by which guns and freedom can advance or inhibit
each other. The mechanisms which are most influential at a given point in time can vary widely
from nation to nation. Historically and today, we can find ways in which freedom has increased
guns, guns have increased freedom, freedom has reduced guns, and guns have reduced freedom.
International firearms scholars, except those based in North America, have tended to focus their
research only on the latter two relationships, while ignoring the first two. Some of the more
enthusiastic proponents of gun prohibition have asserted that the relationship between freedom
and guns is always negative.


The data in this Article reveal a more complex picture. As general (but not invariable
rule), countries with more guns have more economic freedom, less corruption, and more
economic success. The broad international data do not support theory that more guns means less
freedom, for any of the measures of freedom.


The data provide reason for caution about embracing global agenda of reducing civilian
gun ownership. There may be particular countries where reductions might enhance freedom, but
the data raise serious doubts about whether the gun-reducing agenda makes sense as a categorical
imperative, at least if freedom ranks highly in one‘s hierarchy of values.


When we acknowledge that guns can have a positive and a negative relationship with
freedom, then we can begin to look for more sophisticated, carefully tailored approaches to gun
policy, which attempt to address the negative effects, and which are careful not to reduce the
apparently significant positive effects. Such an approach offers a better possibility of enhancing
freedom than does a simplistic program that only considers negative effects.


I’ll be reading the whole thing tonight after work.

One thought on “Guns and freedom

  1. There are a lot of words in there, and the word “civilian” appears only once.

    I believe that our “gun policy” was pretty well settled when the Bill of Rights was ratified, but if we want to play the game of revisiting the 2nd as though it were up for renewal, we should be addressing who, exactly, it is that we’re talking about having the guns. Simply having “more guns” in the hands of a dictator’s army for example, or in the hands of a similar criminal organization, is one thing. Having the guns in the hands of the general citizenry within a rational and just (capitalist) society in a no-brainer.

    If we want to discuss the “gun policies” regarding the populations of socialist, communist, and other repressive and irrational countries, aren’t we really getting into the subject of when and how the revolution will be fought, and what might be the results?

    I find the subject of how we should punish those who attempt to undermine our constitution and our rights here in the U.S. to be very interesting also. There’s a public debate I’d like to see.

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