If you caught the Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have seen an ad featuring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Tom Menino claiming they “support the Second Amendment” but want to keep “illegal guns” off the streets and “save lives.”
The ad might appear innocuous, even laudable. After all, who doesn’t want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals? However, the group sponsoring the ad, “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” is blatantly anti-gun and openly supports strict limits on the ability of all citizens — including law-abiders — to own and possess firearms.
Of course, the media often reports on violent crime, which aides anti-gun politicians in their never-ending crusade against firearm rights. After all, bad and salacious news sells. The facts, however, tell another story. According to a seminal study published in the mid-1990s by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, firearms are used in self-defense about 2.5 million times each year in this country.
Unfortunately, news stories that feature law-biding citizens using firearms to fend off attackers often either go unreported or wind up buried in the back pages of newspapers.
But even though these stories aren’t being reported, a new paper from the Cato Institute confirms what Kleck and Gertz discovered nearly two decades ago — that guns are frequently used to ward off all manner of crimes, including assaults, home invasions and rape.
This latest report, which undercuts Bloomberg’s message, is based on extensive and sound factual research. Authors Clayton Cramer and David Burnett examined more than 4,600 incidents over an eight-year span — October 2003 to November 2011 — that involved the use of a firearm in self-defense during a crime or some sort of serious injury.
The results are interesting. The authors found that home invasions made up the largest share of the incidents they examined (more than a quarter, or 1,227 incidents). They also identified 488 burglaries where guns were used in self-defense.
Cramer and Burnett identified 14 instances where college students in off-campus housing used firearms to defend themselves. This is important because of the ongoing debate over whether guns should be allowed on college campuses, which are often considered or mandated to be “gun-free zones.” Of course, the “gun-free” designation matters only to law-abiding citizens; criminals don’t care about the law. That’s why there has been a rash of violent crimes over the last couple of years on the campuses of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, both based in Atlanta. Lives could have been saved if students at those schools were allowed to carry weapons.
For Cramer and Burnett, the evidence leads to the obvious conclusion that the “rationale for [anti-gun] legislation is to reduce accidental shootings and the criminal use of guns against people. But if harm reduction is the goal, policymakers should pause to consider how many crimes — murders, rapes, assaults, robberies — are thwarted by ordinary persons who were fortunate enough to have access to a gun.”
None of these facts will matter to Bloomberg and his anti-gun cohorts, whose crusade to disarm all potential victims of criminal assault will continue unabated. These misguided nanny-staters continue to prove the point that Winston Churchill made many years ago: People may occasionally trip over the truth, but most of them simply pick themselves up, dust themselves off and continue merrily on their way.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.