It is believed by some, that if you eliminate gun ownership in a community you make the community safer. The theory goes: If you take the guns out of the community then the criminal has no access to the tools needed to victimize the people living in the community. Sounds great, right? Well, if you think so, you’re not alone. Many city, state, and federal laws are making it harder and more expensive for law-abiding citizens to own firearms. These laws are only the first step in accomplishing this gun free Utopia that so many believe will make our communities safer.
Can disarming the citizens of a community make the community safer? Well, let’s look at the evidence. In Washington D.C. the Firearms Control Act of 1975 was passed. The gun control law made private ownership of a handgun virtually illegal. Even having a handgun in your home would get you thrown in jail. Furthermore, if you had a rifle or shotgun in your home you were required to render the weapon inoperable and keep it far from any ammunition. So in essence, Washington D.C. removed the guns from the community and created the free from violent crime community only gun control could accomplish. Well, that’s how it was supposed to play out but the reality was quite different.
Since the passing of the Firearms Control Act of 1975, violent crime was on the rise in Washington D.C. through the late 1980s. In 1991 the homicide rate in Washington D.C. peaked with 479 homicides dubbing the city “the murder capital” of the United States. To be fair, the homicide rate had gone down about 60% in 2007 since that peak in 1991, but was still 5.5 times the national average (rate per 100,000) with 181 homicides, according to an FBI report released in September of 2008.
The most troubling statistic was put out in a study completed in October 2001 by the D.C. Metro Police Department concerning the weapons used to commit the homicides. From 1998 to 2000, 76.4% of all the homicides (578 out of 757 cases) were committed with a firearm and the majority of the firearms used were handguns. So much for removing guns from the community and taking the “tools” away from the criminals.
Perhaps removing firearms from the community is not the solution, but the problem. Maybe promoting the idea that private citizens should take an active roll in protecting themselves and their families could be the answer to reducing crime.
Take for instance, rural areas. You know, those areas of your county that lie outside of the city limits. The areas not affected by senseless municipal firearms ordinances, the areas rich with farmland or deep in the forest. The areas where houses aren’t built one on top of the other and, in many cases, neighbors can live well over a mile away from each other. The areas where you hardly ever see a cop and when you do he’s just passing through. Yes, I’m talking about rural areas of America where hardly anyone has an alarm on their house and the kids run around the front yard without a care in the world. The kind of areas where the FBI doesn’t conduct crime analyses, because the report would fit onto a 3” X 5” index card. If rural communities seem like a pretty safe place to live, it’s because they are; I know, I live in one.
Now we have to ask ourselves, why? Why is an area with hardly any police coverage, hardly any alarms, no witnesses, and in many cases no cell phone coverage for people to call for help, not prime hunting grounds for criminals? It’s a question you probably answered for yourself the very second it was asked and I think most people, to include criminals, would have a similar response: Because the people who live in a rural area will shoot you without a second thought if you threaten their family’s lives or break into their homes.
In other words, people who live in rural areas understand that if they want security for their family and their home, they must provide it. They could never afford to wait for the police to make the long trek to their home in a futile attempt to save them and their loved ones before time ran out. They take their duty to protect their families seriously and they not only arm themselves but also practice and become proficient with a firearm. Criminals know this and in their minds the risk of being shot outweighs the personal reward of whatever crime they want to commit. Thus the people who live in rural areas reduce crime in their communities by simply exercising their right to arm themselves.
Lucky for us the Second Amendment of the Constitution still has some life left; and lucky for the citizens of Washington D.C. that the Firearms Control Act of 1975 was repealed in 2008 due to the land mark case District of Columbia v Heller. All law-abiding Americans have the right to keep some sort of firearm in their home. Even states and cities that have the strictest gun control laws cannot restrict their citizens the basic right to keep arms in their homes; but for some reason so many citizens voluntarily give up this right relying on an overworked, understaffed police force or a lifeless alarm system to protect them and the most valuable and irreplaceable people in their lives, their family. Perhaps if we fulfilled our duty to our family by being their first line of defense, not just by owning a firearm but knowing how to defend ourselves with a firearm, the criminals would find a different hunting ground for their victims, like a gun free community.