Think it through Dennis

Dennis Henigan tells us guns aren’t useful as a deterrence against violent crime:

Apart from the statistics, the deterrence theory poses an interesting conundrum. If criminals are deterred by the prospect that their victim may be armed, how can we account for attacks by armed criminals against other armed criminals? Why do armed drug dealers have anything to fear from other armed drug dealers? Why do armed gangs have anything to fear from other armed gangs? Pro-gun researcher Gary Kleck of Florida State University reports that street gang members are over eight times more likely to own handguns than other youths, and nineteen times more likely to be homicide victims. Drug dealers are almost four times more likely to own a handgun and six times more likely to be homicide victims. Why doesn’t their gun possession deter attacks on these criminals? Surely it can’t be true that bad guys fear only armed good guys, but not other armed bad guys.

Half-Truth Henigan, as is usual, only explores a subset of the situations. The missing part is where one side is armed and the other is disarmed. How much deterrence is there then?

It’s obvious Henigan is only a lawyer for the Brady Campaign instead of an engineer, a scientist, or a carpenter. If carpenters built houses like Henigan builds his theories of criminal behavior the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization*.


* I’m plagiarizing Wienberg’s Second Law.

5 thoughts on “Think it through Dennis

  1. Ahh, Dennis Henigan, he’s a bloody borderline genius, he is. Witness a drowning man grasping at seaweed.

  2. The term “homicide victim” as applied to gang members and drug dealers is a misnomer. I’d be more willing to call it an “industry related foregone conclusion”.

  3. His entire point is based on a false assumption.

    He’s assuming that any deterrent effect less than total is no deterrent at all.

    That if ANY criminals are undeterred by the threat of an armed victim, then NO criminals are deterred by such.

    Logical fallacy.

  4. He’s also ignoring incentives.

    From what I’ve read, low level dealers generally don’t carry guns because the penalty for dealing while armed isn’t worth the risk of getting robbed for what is basically chump change to a drug gang. The further up the food chain, the more money & product you have on hand, the more likely you’ll find guns to defend it. When you hear of drug gang shoot outs, usually it’s either a turf war, or a major heist. High reward vs high risk at play.

    The guys who rob law-abiding citizens are either low-level punks, or users looking for cash for a fix. These are people who have an incentive to rob, but generally not to risk their lives. Low reward to high risk equals deterrent.

  5. Wait wait wait. We totally fixed the armed gang problem by making it illegal for criminals to have guns.

    Here’s how it works; pass a “reasonable” law you know is going to either do nothing or make things worse. Call for more restrictions after it fails. Rinse, repeat.

    All the crime and safety talk is just smoke and mirrors. Forget about all that. The restrictions themselves are the goal.

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