26 September 2013, 00:40

Every mass shooting in US has taken place where guns are banned - expert

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May gun laws to change something after mass shootings in US? John Lott, an American economist and political commentator, who is best known for his numerous works and debates on gun control, also referred to as "The Gun Crowd's Guru", in interview with the Voice of Russia shares his opinion on the issue.

John, welcome to the show! How are you?

Thanks very much for having me on.

Do you think that gun laws may change after these recent mass shootings?

There are some states that have changed their laws this year. I don’t think any federal legislation will get through. My concern is that there should be changes. I’m concerned that there are a lot of restrictions that make these types of mass shootings that you are talking about possible. I mean, one thing people need to recognize is that with just two exceptions every single mass shooting in the US has taken place where guns are banned, where victims are unable to go and defend themselves, that these attackers search out and commit these crimes in those tiny areas within the states where people aren’t allowed to own guns. I mean, the easiest way to think about this is – let’s say somebody who was a criminal was stalking you and your family, was threatening you. Would you feel safer putting a sign in front of your home that said your home is a gun-free zone? Would that make it less likely that they would attack you?

Absolutely not!

I don’t know anybody in the US, even gun control advocates, that would put up a sign like that. And yet, even though nobody would put up a sing like that in front of their own home, we end up putting these signs in front of movie theatres or in front of schools, or even in front of military bases. Since the early 1990’es soldiers and officers on military bases can’t have guns. The Navy Yard attack this last week, one amazing thing about it is you could see an interview with the father of one of the marines who was stationed on the base. He was less than 2 minutes away from where the attack occurred, the marine was an expert in urban warfare and yet, because he wasn’t allowed to have a gun with ammunition on the base, he wasn’t able to go over there and stop the attack.

Is there an economic incentive that could convince some, maybe even the NRA, on agreeing to stricter gun laws, which, as I understand, you are not advocating here?

I didn’t understand a lot of the introduction claiming that there are virtually no background checks. Anybody who goes and buys a gun at a gun store or other places has to go through a criminal background check. The problem with the background checks is that virtually everybody, about 99.8% of the people who are stopped from buying guns because of background checks, are law-abiding good citizens who shouldn’t be stopped. The criminals get their guns through other places. Basically, the way the background checks system works in the US is – if you have a name similar to somebody who shouldn’t have a gun, you’ll get stopped.

And so, the bad thing is that somebody who may need, you know, a woman who is being threatened or stalked, who may need to get a gun quickly will be stopped from being able to go a buy a gun for months because her name is similar to somebody that the system wants to be stopped from getting a gun, rather than having her be the one that should be stopped. And that means that then she doesn’t have a gun to be able to go and defend herself if a criminal were to go on and attack her.

And what is your view on people like, perhaps, Jesse Ventura and Ted Nugent who are anti-stricter gun control laws and who have this fear that there might be some kind of a government tyranny if there was more gun control implemented?

I don’t really focus on government tyranny. To me the issue is safety. And I know Ted Nugent and I met Ventura, and my guess is – a lot of their concerns, especially for Nugent, is what should people do when they have come in front of criminal by themselves? And just as you can deter a criminal with high arrest rates and higher conviction rates, the fact that would-be victims might be able to go and defend themselves helps deter criminals from attacking.

You look at the former Soviet Union during the 1980’es and 1970’es, you had murder rates that were about 60-70% higher than the murder rates in the US at that same period of time, sometimes even higher. And yet you guys had extremely strict gun control regulation, bans essentially, and you had a totalitarian state to go and enforce those types of rules. And yet criminals at that time were obtaining guns to go and commit crimes and murders.

Right! It seems the more restraints you put on something, the more demandable it becomes.

The problem is who obeys these laws? When you ban guns, it is basically the law-abiding good citizens who obey them, not the criminals. And if you disarm law-abiding citizens relative the criminals, you actually make it easier for people to go and commit crimes and make us to worry about in terms of victims not being able to go and defend themselves.

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