Prohibition is the idea that we control human behavior by removing physical items from society. It’s a simple idea, and it sounds good. We simply put a few words on paper. We pass a law, and then p o o f , things get better as if by magic. Has that worked for us, or only for politicians?
Prohibition is also a simple idea for a politician to sell. It’s been tried many times with consistent results.. and prohibition simply has not worked. During the 1920s we passed a law prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. Not only was alcohol available during prohibition, but our government became corrupt with payoff money. Do we really want to try that again? Maybe we’re smart enough to learn from our history, but then again, maybe we aren’t. Let’s see what we’ve learned since the 1920s.
Some traffic accidents are caused by impaired drivers. Since no one likes traffic accidents, some clever legislator might suggest we outlaw drugs and alcohol (again). You can hear them now-
“I’m only proposing sane regulations for public safety. Let’s keep alcohol and drugs out of the hands of those who can’t handle them responsibly. These dangerous substances will be regulated and sold only to those who really need them. You simply apply for a permit, and after a short waiting period and background check, you get your prescription. Think of the lives we’ll save. The fees and taxes we collect will help support public schools. Even if it is a sacrifice for you and your community, please do it for the children!”
Wow! That sounds so simple I’m tempted to believe it, but I know prohibition didn’t work a hundred years ago when they prohibited alcohol. I know prohibition didn’t work forty years ago when they prohibited drugs. I know prohibition isn’t working today for gun control.
Yes, gun control. Gun control is the idea that we can stop human violence by removing firearms from society. It fails, like previous prohibitions failed, only this time the cost of failure is much higher. Not having a gun when you need one is very different from not having a teaspoon of cooking sherry in the cupboard when you want one. Having a gun is like knowing CPR in that you hope to never need to need either. Just like knowing CPR, your need for a firearm will be intense and immediate should you need it. The reason is simple and justified. Firearms allow the weak and peaceable to defend themselves against someone strong and violent. Robbery, assault and rape rates go up after gun prohibition. Again, the reason is simple. We make honest citizens easy prey for criminals when we take away their means of self defense. It is no exaggeration to say we’ve lost lives because of gun control.
Here is an example. Victims of domestic violence are often threatened and sometimes murdered when they finally break the relationship with their abuser. Gun bans and mandatory waiting periods disarm these victims of domestic violence at their very time of need. Gun control laws may have been well intentioned, and it may not be a large number of victims, but these deaths are tragic. They are tragically avoidable. Some people think battery and rape are acceptable. Some think domestic violence is simply too small an issue to matter.
We’ve seen the effect of gun prohibition on a larger scale. England used to have lower crime rates than the United States of America, but that isn’t true in 2011. England outlawed handguns in 1996, and their crime rate soared after gun prohibition. The incidence of unarmed robbery and assault rose as you would expect. I was surprised that the incidence of armed robbery and rape rose also. It really is true that once guns are outlawed, the outlaws go get guns. Even the police became more vulnerable to violence. Before 1996 when citizens were armed, the English Bobbies patrolled with only a baton. Now that English citizens are disarmed, the Bobbies have to carry handguns, and they wish they could carry more. Some special interest groups want that same future for the United States.
I hope the example of increased crime across an entire island nation convinces you. Maybe we’ve learned from our history of prohibition, but then again, maybe we haven’t. Maybe you think gun control is somehow special, and prohibition will work this time.
So I ask you. Are you in favor of gun prohibition?
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