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(DAILY_WILDCAT)

Guns don't create crime; black markets create crime


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There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them . One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

One of the biggest excuses used by government to tread on an individual's right to bear arms is criminal abuse of firearms. The more criminals and the more horrific the abuses, the more inconvenient and expensive firearm ownership becomes for the rest of us.

Even if punishing all citizens for the wrongdoings of society's predators was ethically sound, which it is not, it doesn't work anyway. Crime rates have, in the last few decades, grown at a staggering rate, causing statists to call for more laws. The para dox is that it is these laws that seem to be at the root of the growing crime statistics, on two fronts.

One is a statistical fallacy. What do politicians use to garner support for expensive and questionable policies? Fear. How does Sally Politician incite fear in audiences during her campaign? The desperate support you can stir by feeding a crowd enough fri ghtening statistics is amazing. But what comes to the mind of the average audience member when they find out that the numbers of felons, arrests, incarcerations, homicides, and thefts are skyrocketing?

Does Joe Average raise his hand and ask how many of these statistics are manufactured? When government outlaws a widespread victimless activity, "criminals" are created. Before the racist, anti-drug campaign of 1914, cocaine, opium, heroin, and cannabis w ere legal and drug-related crime was low. The use, purchase, sale, and cultivation of these drugs took place remarkably peacefully. The day the legal status of these commodities changed, the number of criminals increased by one for every person involved i n any of these peaceful economic exchanges. Today there are about 40 million users of illegal drugs listed in the public records as criminals.

This statistical phenomenon is not peculiar to the drug war. In 1989, a California assault weapons ban and gun registration push created possibly as many as 300,000 new criminals (the numerical uncertainty is the result of the poor wording of the law, whi ch failed to clearly identify what an "assault weapon" is). After New Jersey's 1990 assault rifle ban, another 300,000 owners of "assault weapons" faced up to five years in prison for this ownership. Furthermore, Jerold Levine, counsel to the New York Rif le Association noted: "Tens of thousands of New York veterans who kept their rifles from World War II or the Korean War have been turned into felons as the result of this law."

So the government creates a "crime wave" verifiable by "statistics" every time it outlaws a victimless activity such as possession, creation, modification, sale, purchase, or cultivation. What is the other front on which government bloats crime statistics ? You can create a criminal by changing a definition or you can create incentive to kill, injure, and steal. Alcohol Prohibition doubled the homicide rate. The repeal of Prohibition returned it to its previous rate. This year, the federal incarceration ra te set two records: It saw its largest increase since record-keeping began in 1923, and the United States locks up more people than any other country.

Economics tells us that the higher the price of a black market commodity, the more a criminal seller is willing to do for it. At the same time, the stiffer the laws, the higher the prices will be, since the seller must go through more to deliver the goods . So while the načve think that when a drug ring is busted up, the drug banners win a battle, economic theory tell us that high penalties and increases in drug war spending are increasing the crime problem. This is the theory. Since the war on drugs began , drugs which used to be traded on a peaceful open market took on artificial black market prices that made these commodities worth killing for, stealing for, pushing on children, and corrupting officials over.

Now we know that our government is creating criminals in two ways. If we know why fear and crime are so high, what do guns have to do with the price of beans, outside of the fact that bans on ownership, creation, and modification create criminal statistic s? One word: scapegoat. It is easier for a politician to sell the idea of gun control than it is to face the fact that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legis lation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Jackie Casey is a non-degree-seeking graduate student studying statistics. This is the first of her series of three anti-gun control columns.

By Jackie Casey (columnist)
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 3, 1997


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