" THE 'PSYCHIC COST' OF HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING"
By Dr. Paul Gallant and David Kopel
The approach of the holiday season brings a perennial problem:
what to give the relative or good friend who already has a VCR?
For many American gift-givers the answer has often been a
high-quality firearm. Perhaps that long-admired hunting rifle, for him?
Maybe a LadySmith revolver for her?
"Don't do it --- you'll frighten your neighbors!" warn some latter-day
Scrooges, citing an article "Firearms and Community Feelings of
Safety," from the Journal on Criminal Law and Criminology. Polling
information "provides suggestive evidence that possession of
firearms imposes, at minimum, psychic costs on most other
members of the community," wrote David Hemenway of Harvard's
School of Public Health.
Like Dickens' character, the contemporary Scrooges would cast a
cloud over the joy of holiday gift-giving among many of their fellow
Americans, invoking unwarranted fear.
I must have missed the bit where the the Ghost of Christmas Guns
converted Scrooge from his support for gun controland he dashed out
and bought Tiny Tim a shotgun or two.
Hemenway studied the "psychic costs": the psychological effect a
gun-owner's possession of firearms has on her neighbors. According
to Hemenway, "eighty-five percent of non-gun-owners report they
would feel less safe if more people in their community acquired
guns; only 8% would feel more safe."
But "psychic costs" are imaginary.
Odd, that doesn't seem to be the position of pro-gun folks when they
argue that a benefit of gun ownership is making gun owners feel safer.
The reality is that non-gun-owners
benefit when their neighbors possess firearms.
Social science research has shownthat the regions with the highest
rates of gun ownership are the safest.
This is, at best, misleading. Social science research that controls
for other factors finds either that higher gun ownership has no relation to
crime rates, or that it is associated with more homicides.
Conversely, in gun-banning
cities like Washington, D.C., and Chicago, criminals run wild, knowing
that victims cannot legally protect themselves.
I checked the UCR - Chicago has the same homicide rate as Miami.
In a study of 15 years worth of data on concealed-carry of handguns
in America, University of Chicago Professor John Lott showed that all
Americans are safer when the good guys are armed. When law-abiding,
trained citizens can carry concealed handguns for protection, the violent
crime rate drops six to eight percent.
Except that it only seems to have worked in Florida.
Similarly, America has a much lower rate of home invasion burglaries
than does England or Canada,
Untrue. Canada has a lower rate than the US.
Because American burglars can't be sure exactly which homes have
guns (about half of American homes do), American burglars must
avoid all dwellings where somebody might be present. Thus, people
without guns enjoy greater safety in the home, thanks to the large
number of Americans who do own guns.
This is a novel definition of "greater safety". Apparently having a
much much higher homicide rate means you have "greater safety".
Complementing the evidence about individual criminals is the evidence
about criminal government. In the book "Lethal Laws", the group Jews
for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership provides incontrovertible
proof that whenever genocide takes place in the 20th century, the
government first disarms the intended victims.
The "incontrovertible proof" seems to be that they found some sort of
gun control law enacted before the genocide in each case. I am
unaware of any country without any laws regarding guns, so this is
just another example of the mother's-milk-causes-murder fallacy.
In the end, Scrooge achieved salvation through a miraculous transformation,
which vanquished his fear of mankind. Perhaps at least a few members
of the anti-self-defense lobby, like Scrooge, will overcome their
misanthropy in a dream this Christmas Eve, and wake up shouting the
truth to everyone in the street: "Gun owners are your friends and
neighbors, not your enemy. Gun ownership by good people makes all of