Most everyone living in Baltimore is aware of the fact that the population is reducing by about 1,000 a month. There are at least two interpretations of why this phenomenon is taking place: either it’s from flight to the suburbs or lower birthrates.
In either case it seems safe to say that the 300-odd people murdered by gun violence every year are a significant factor in Baltimore’s decline--both population-wise and perception-wise.
Comes now the most visibly conservative columnist in our city’s only daily to tell us why this is so. In a recent article sub-headed “Arming people deters, not increases, killings” (The Sun,2/5/00) Gregory Kane avers that fewer people would be killed every year if just about everyone walking around were packing concealed heat. (Note that Kane’s family has been victimized by gun violence a few times.)
He bases this opinion largely on his observation that Florida has less crime than Maryland and they have laws allowing for people to carry handguns.
Also, Kane tells us that John Lott’s book, More Guns, Less Violence, conclusively refutes theories in favor of gun control. However, Kane doesn’t think it is necessary to share with his readers a single statistic put forth by Lott.
Kane also tells us that “Anti-gun folks, who can neither refute nor explain Lott’s study, resort to their usual bleating about how ‘irresponsible’ Second Amendment advocates are.”
With just a couple of sentences, citizen Kane delivers to this hurting town yet another highly objectionable column filled with faulty logic.
First, if Kane believes Lott has something worthwhile to say, he should devote a column saying exactly what it is. No one is going to go out and read a book just because a very sloppy, barely readable newspaper columnist assures us it is worthwhile.
Second, the January 1-15, 2000 issue of CounterPunch has an excellent article on how crime statistics, as compiled from local police forces as well as the FBI, are increasingly fudged to make things look better than they are. Logically, this makes sense since the public’s faith in their performance rests in no small part in how they measure themselves.
Third, even if Florida has less crime than Maryland, how can we know for sure other factors are at work that limit crime: Is it because they have a warmer climate? More celebrities residing there? An older population?
Besides, if we can use the crime statistics from other places to argue that change is needed here, it would be more logical to look at the number of gun-related deaths that take place every year in a western, industrialized country that has the sense to ban most handgun sales. For example, England has about 25 gun deaths a year; the U.S. about 35,000.
Lastly, it is the gun control advocates who are the real advocates of the Second Amendment. There is no right for individuals to possess handguns in this country. Modern jurisprudence on the Second Amendment is founded on U.S. v. Miller, a 1939 Supreme Court Case which has been upheld by every federal court since then (Howard Friel, Extra!, September/October 1996). In upholding Miller, the Sixth Circuit of Appeals (Stevens v. U.S.) ruled in 1971 that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies only to the state in maintaining a militia; not with individuals.
Until the Supreme Court changes its thinking, gun control advocates not only have common sense but the law on their side. Unfortunately, this isn’t good enough for Kane and the rest who insist that the first clause of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated Militia being necessary for a Free State...” doesn’t exist. They then call themselves Second Amendment advocates and claim the right for individuals to own every kind of gun, grenade, even rocket-launcher without the same governmental oversight that one sees with motor vehicle registration.
Meanwhile, that sound you just heard was 1,000 more anxious people putting down their copies of the Sun and now moving to Columbia.