(Columbia) - In Richland County alone, there have been ten murders in the past eleven days. So far the only connection is that a gun was used at each crime scene.
But some are asking if there could be another link? [sic] Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says he believes there’s a correlation between the murders and South Carolina’s gun laws.
“Anytime we make it easier to get guns, you’re going to see an increase in gun violence,” Helmke said.
Helmke said South Carolina’s laws are some of the most relaxed in the nation because there’s no state background check and no registry that tracks the sale and ownership of all guns.1
The More Things Change…
Brady Campaign replaced one voted-out government official with another as president, and the message hasn’t changed: more guns equals more crime. Using Brady’s own annual reports and FBI crime data, one can quickly determine if this hypothesis is true.
Brady comes out each year with their report card, which analyzes a set of gun-law criteria and arrives at a grade from “A” through “F”. As noted in a previous paper, there is a strong correlation between lower grades and right-to-carry (RTC) status, with shall-issue states regularly assigned “D” and “F” grades.2 Brady graded South Carolina “D+” in 2005, because guns are too freely available, as per Helmke’s statement above.
Since 2001, RTC states, where more people carry guns in public, consistently average a “D”. Brady continues to be unhappy with the country’s direction regarding gun control: between 2001 and 2005, RTC states increased from 32 to 38 and Brady downgraded the U.S. average from “C-” to a “D+”. Their response is curious, since the national violent crime rate fell 7.0% during this time frame.
Even worse for Brady, violent crime trends are not spread equally across all states. RTC states (average Brady grade “D”) saw an aggregate 7.8% drop in violent crime, while non-RTC states (average Brady grade “B”) saw a 5.2% decrease. Even when Brady grades synchronize with violent crime trends, it fails to give an accurate picture: Brady dropped the national average grade from “C-” to “D+” in 2005, the same year that the violent crime rate increased 1.3%. This would seem to make sense, as a lower grade is supposed to reflect less safety for citizens. Unfortunately for Brady, most of that increase occurred in non-RTC states, which saw an aggregate increase of 2.8%, while RTC states increased 0.6%. Using Brady’s criteria of grading each state as an equivalent entity, non-RTC states averaged a 5.6% increase in violent crime, while RTC states averaged a 0.6% increase. Since 2001, the violent crime differential between RTC and non-RTC states increased from 26.0% to 27.5%, meaning that RTC states are becoming relatively more law-abiding compared to non-RTC states.3
Bad News Brady
Helmke’s last comment about a registry is the main thrust of the Brady misinformation campaign. He continues:
“If they maintained a registry–had someone saying when they had a gun stolen or gun lost during a certain period of time–those are things that could help police enforce the laws,” Helmke said.4
Gun banners know that registration enhances their chances of enacting confiscation. Since only law-abiding gun owners would register their weapons, the government would know where to go and what to look for, as happened in Britain and Australia. Unfortunately for those promoting the fantasy that a gun registry is useful for any other purpose besides civilian confiscation, there are numerous studies debunking the idea that registries help fight crime:
· The Centers for Disease Control found that firearm registration and licensing of owners had no positive affect on crime;5
· Civilian confiscation around the world placed women in greater danger;6
· Violent crime in Australia and the UK, especially rape of women, increased after confiscation;7
· Canada’s gun registry cost billions and failed to reduce violent crime.8
All That Is Old Is New Again
All we have here is the same empty talking points of the gun ban lobby, but that will not hinder their attempt to portray recent congressional changes as a vote for gun control.
It is incumbent upon you to relay this information to your federal representatives. Brady will continue to repeat misinformation and manipulate partial data sets to “prove” that more guns equals more crime. The good news is that we have the truth on our side, but people will only know this if you do your part.
About the Author
Howard Nemerov is a frequent guest on NRA News. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign] Netvista.net.
1 Would Tougher Gun Laws Decrease Violence? WLTX-19, downloaded November 7, 2006.
2 See Explaining the Brady Campaign Report Card, ChronWatch, January 24, 2005. http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=12569
3 Spreadsheet compiled using Brady Campaign report card data and FBI crime data 2001-2005. Email request for spreadsheet.
4 Would Tougher Gun Laws Decrease Violence? WLTX-19, downloaded November 7, 2006.
5 Task Force on Community Preventive Services, First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws, Centers for Disease Control,
6 See Does the UN Protect Women’s Rights? ChronWatch, September 27, 2006. http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=23948
7 See What Gun Controllers Don’t Want You to Know¸ ChronWatch, June 11, 2004. http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=7862 and The Australian Experiment, ChronWatch, June 23, 2004. http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=8073
8 See Only the Truth Will Set You Free, ChronWatch, May 26, 2006. http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=21413