It's time to address the "more guns" argument

Glock Model 21" by Michael @ NW Lens is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED.

In the course of debate over the Second Amendment, gun control, and pretty much everything else to do with firearms, we will invariably reach a bit of a stalemate. Part of that is because a lot of people equate guns with, well, guns.


In their minds, all firearms are the same. There is fundamentally no difference in their mind between different people owning them.

And that’s a huge issue.

A prime example comes from an op-ed talking about gun ownership and the NRA National Convention that was held this past weekend. Much of it is kind of rambling, which is why I’m not bothering to do a total takedown of some of the stuff said, but there was one section that I figure needs some serious attention.

Despite what the NRA insists about needing guns to fend off a tyrannical government, living in a heavily armed society isn’t safe for anyone. As multiple studies have shown and old-fashioned common sense will tell you, more guns just means more guns are likely to get stolen and more people are likely to get shot, both deliberately and accidentally.

So it’s not at all surprising that deaths from firearms, both by homicide and, more often, by suicide, reached a record high in 2021, up 23% from 2019, before the pandemic and before we had so many guns floating around.

Now, this is a far more nuanced view of the “more guns means more crime” argument than we normally see, but it’s still absolutely wrong.


“How can you say that, Tom? She shows the statistics right there!”

Sure, but you can present valid statistics and still get everything else wrong, and that’s assuming this is a good-intentioned mistake rather than an outright lie.

First, 2021 wasn’t some record year for gun deaths. What that link shows is that there was a massive increase in gun deaths among a particular segment of the population, one that’s generally skewed by the actions of lawful adults who get lumped into the category of “children.”

In fact, 2021 wasn’t even a record year for homicides at a whole.

For example, homicides were much higher in the early 1990s, and yes, most of those were committed with a firearm. That’s why Democrats pushed for the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban.

As bad as things were then, though, they were even worse throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, as The Trace noted. In fact, the last couple of years has been an anomaly since around the 1990s.

Want to know what else happened during that time period? Near record gun sales month after month.

Millions upon millions of firearms were purchased by private Americans, based on the NICS numbers we’ve seen time and time again. Since the NICS checks began, we’ve seen an increasing number of people buy firearms, and these aren’t military or law-enforcement sales, since they don’t undergo those checks.


So if the author’s premise–that more guns facilitate more crime simply because more guns can be stolen–we should have seen a huge uptick in violent crime steadily over the decades. We simply don’t see anything of the sort, though.

That’s because it doesn’t work like gun control advocates like to claim.

For all the “more guns make us less safe” rhetoric, the truth is that if that were true, history would look very different than it does.

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