This is a short response to Paula Huff's column arguing against gun control (Feb. 16). I agree with most of the points made about the desire of the government to disarm the citizenry and the inability of the police to protect us. However, there are some flaws in the argument that gun control laws lead to increased crime.
The primary one is that correlation does not prove cause. Statistics are given for crime rates in Washington, D.C. (79 per 100,000) and adjacent Virginia (8 per 100,000), and the fact is stated that crime rates remain high in several large cities with gun control laws. Considering the difference in crime rates in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, there exist obvious environmental factors which must be taken into account. The socioeconomic conditions, for instance, in Washington are vastly different from those in the largely bucolic Virginia.
Finally, the conclusion that the crime rate will be ten times higher in a population with gun control laws, as compared to that in an adjacent population without gun control, is a broad generalization based on the faulty assumption that correlation proves cause.
I want to reiterate that by and large I agree with the points made in the column. However, the argument must be made more carefully or it risks being "shot down," shall we say, too easily by the opposition.
civil engineering graduate student