Just One Question

[Update: Get your t-shirt here!]

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten into gun control debates but it’s probably in the hundreds. Sometimes it will degenerate into a question of ‘proof’. As long as the anti-freedom bigot can imagine some sort of reason, no matter how implausible, why the data could possibly be faulty or the conclusions erroneous they will claim that the pro-freedom position is wrong. Other times it will boil down to “I just don’t want people carrying guns around”. Some people just say, “I’m entitled to my opinion.” Other times it will be “I don’t believe your facts” (the RCOB moment this last one generates will be discussed some other time).

I’ve become very weary of these debates. Recently, unless it is a public or semi-public debate I rapidly loose interest and let it drop. Failing to convince (essentially no one will admit they were wrong no matter how badly they get “beaten up”) just one person isn’t worth the effort to me. A few years ago I came up with my “one question” response to bring the debate to a quick close but I tend to let myself get drawn into refuting their points rather than bring them to my playing field where they don’t stand a chance of survival. I now want to present this “one question” in as much detail yet as succinctly as I can. Then I can just refer people to this post and be done with them.

There is only one real question (this is NOT the “one question”) to ask, “Does gun control make the average person more or less safe?” Yes, we could debate what the 2nd Amendment really means. And we could debate how even if all guns were banned you would still have to reanimate your cold dead fingers before you could take it from me. But that is a distraction from the real question (again, NOT the “one question”), “Should firearms be restricted?”

There are essentially just two ways to look at the data–each has their weaknesses. You can look in one political or geographical area over two or more time periods where the gun laws are different. Or you can look at one time period in two or more political or geographical areas where the gun laws are different. There have been so many gun and weapon control laws passed over the years that there is no need to do any more experiments. The data is all out there. Researchers have written hundreds of papers and books on the subject.

My “one question” is this:

Can you demonstrate one time or place, throughout all history, where the average person was made safer by restricting access to handheld weapons?

There are three possible answers to this question.

  1. “I don’t know.” In which case my response is, “Come back to the debate when you can answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”
  2. “No.” In which case my response is, “Then you should be advocating the repeal of ALL gun control laws and I don’t want to hear a single anti-freedom word from you on this topic again.”
  3. “Yes and here is my demonstration.”

I have researched this fairly extensively and I can’t find the data to support a “Yes“ answer. I have asked a lot of people this question and I haven’t yet heard a “Yes” answer demonstrated. In October of 2003 the CDC released a study on this topic and couldn’t come up with a “Yes” answer either. I’m not the slightest bit worried someone will be able to come up with a defensible “Yes”.

If you are someone that has a “Yes” answer and believe you can conclusively demonstrate that then write it up and email it to me. Plan to have your work posted on a website of my choosing along with my comments. I will give you credit for your work or keep it anonymous–whichever you prefer. I will put links to those responses in the comments to this post.

Hint to potential takers–the U.K. versus the U.S. fails in a big way.  Look at before and after gun control was introduced in the U.K.

If you can’t come up with a defensible “Yes” answer and still persist in supporting gun control then you are either a bigot or an ignorant bigot.  Prepare to be called that to your face if you persist.

Any comments to this post presuming to support a “Yes” answer will be deleted.

Done. I’ll be referring people to this post in the future and severely reducing the time I spend debating.

Update January 26, 2009: We have a possible winner. Confirmation of the details are lacking but it looks promising. The gun grabbers aren’t going to like though.

Update January 14, 2013: More statistics and comparisons to other countries and between states:

I found no dataset proving civilian disarmament made anybody safer.

Do note: all data cited below are from sources supportive of gun control.

Update January 4, 2013: Another study came out on November 26, 2013. It claims:

The purpose of the present study is to determine the effects of state-level assault weapons bans and concealed weapons laws on state-level murder rates. Using data for the period 1980 to 2009 and controlling for state and year fixed effects, the results of the present study suggest that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states. It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level. These results suggest that restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level. The results of this study are consistent with some prior research in this area, most notably Lott and Mustard (1997).


13 thoughts on “Just One Question

  1. Should one assume that you will tolerate no conclusions other than your preconceived ones? You presume average, and that in itself is open to interpretation. Consider the “average” Joe Sixpack. He works every day, is good to his kids, then beats his wife on weekends. Should he have a handgun? After all, he has a clean record.

    Should there be a “Well…maybe” question? Not everything is black and white.

  2. Try this…

    I just got out of prison after serving my full 25 years for armed robbery. Should I be allowed to buy a handgun? After all, I served my debt to society.

    Just an argument for argument’s sake.

  3. Sorry, Joe. Was thinking along other lines, distracted by Fishface and other things…

    In answer to your question…NO!!!

  4. People may bring New York City up as a case in which they have strict gun control and their crime is at an all-time low.

    It’s a challenge, except that, if you know the facts, it fails as well.

    New York has had strict handgun laws/bans since 1927. Their crime skyrocketed in the Vietnam Era and again in the early 90s with the crack epidemic. Gun laws were static through these periods.

    What caused a drastic drop in crime in NYC were the following three changes:

    1) Huge economic rebound

    2) Aggressive persecution, supervision, and scrutiny of parolled criminals in the city.


    3) Brutal racial profiling.

    (I’m not suggesting that Black people are criminals. However, in cities like NYC, the urban poor are predominantly Black. Poverty is the deciding factor, not race. However, in many cities, they unfortunately coincide.)

    Don’t let them pull that one on you.

  5. I’ve been contemplating the “just one question” approach for a while now. There’s a series of town meeting-style forums coming up in Boston with our Mayor Tom “Never Met a Gun Control Scheme I Didn’t Like” Menino.

    I’m going to put my name in for one of the limited slots available. Shoudl I get the chance to address the Mayor, I’d ask:

    “Mr. Mayor, as you know, the City of Boston over the last year has seen a marked increase in the rate of homicides and armed robberies. My question for you is a simple YES or NO question. Do the hard-working, law-abiding citizens of Boston have the right to defend themselves from violent criminals?”

    A “yes” answer woudl be an outright lie.

    A “no” answer, though truthful, would be cause for his immediate removal from office (not that that’s very likely, though).

  6. I have another question.

    When a constitutionaly guranteed right (gun ownership)is infringed upon by local, state or federal laws that do not go through the constitutional ammendment process, what is to prevent other local, state or federal laws from infringing upon other rights like freedom of speech, religion etc..


  7. There is only one answer to Darrell’s question. The last resort is always force. But that option must be available if a people are to remain free. The right to keep and bear arms guarantees all the other rights cannot be permanently infringed.

  8. “Please answer my question, even though I will never agree with any answer that’s not the one I already agree with. Also, please don’t post a correct answer I don’t agree with in the comments, because if I allow open discussion, I will very likely be proven wrong. Please send an answer to me and I will display it myself when and where I choose. Or, more likely, I’ll delete it and forget about it, because facts that don’t fit my perspective trouble me so very much.”


    “Why hasn’t anyone answered my question?!?!?!!?”

  9. Please don’t trying to read my mind and/of predict my actions. You ability to correctly do so is non-existent.

  10. What comment are you talking about? Did something end up in the “bit bucket”. If you can’t get the normal method to work send it to me in email and I’ll make sure it shows up.

  11. ^^Spammer — posts “great blog man!” only to allow him to post his link to “http://[.probably.some.phishing.site]party-poker.ionline-poker.com/”

    I inserted “[.probably.some.phishing.site]” in his URL to prevent the witless from following it…

    Maybe you can tell I hate jerks who spam comments just to feed their click-counters.

    Note I left out *my* homepage when I said “*GREAT* bog man!!”


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