The Corner

More Guns, Fewer Guns, Whatever

Last year, I summarized the current state of the debate about gun control and crime for The American Spectator. My main conclusion was that more than a decade after the academic firestorm kicked off by More Guns, Less Crime, the evidence was inconsistent as to whether gun control has any effect on crime whatsoever.

New information out of the District of Columbia, which lifted its handgun ban in response to a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, may shed some light on why this is the case: Since the end of the ban, more than 1,400 residents have registered firearms, but registration has been far more common in wealthy areas than in the poor neighborhoods where crime is highest and law-abiding citizens need protection most. It’s not hard to understand why: Handguns cost hundreds of dollars, and the D.C. registration process tacks on another $60.

In other words, just as gun control succeeds in disarming only the law-abiding, the relaxation of gun control succeeds in arming mainly those who are at little risk of becoming crime victims.

Of course, this does not mean that gun control is harmless or irrelevant. Rather, it means that gun control restricts liberty without having any discernible effect on security. Anyone who thinks that’s a good deal truly deserves neither.

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