MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Comments: 56
Article views: 1035
Latest Badges:

View all Licence's badges.

Is gun control irrational?

18 January 2013, 12:55

Gun control opponents often make the claim that no scientific study has ever proven that gun control law caused a reduction in violent crime. The suggestion is that gun control laws are irrational, and that proponents are either ignorant and paranoid or, more ominously, looking for a way to oppress the population. But is this claim and its conclusions fair? Let’s look closer.

As most social scientists can attest, it is very difficult to design a social study which conclusively proves a specific effect of a singular aspect in society at large. That is because society is complex and changing, with observables constantly being influenced by multiple variables with complex interactions.

You may try to compare different societies that seem similar – and this has been done. There is a high correlation between violent crime rates and availability of handguns (3), a correlation which easily beats any statistical error. But correlation does not prove causation: it is just as possible that societies with high levels of violence seek to arm themselves with guns, rather than the guns causing the violence.

Another strategy may be to compare the same society against itself in the past against a time when gun control laws were different. But you essentially run into the same problem – once you move through time, you are changing variables that are important to what you are trying to measure, without knowing exactly what they are and how they affect your results. For example, studies have shown that violent crime levels in Australia has reduced since the enactment of strict gun controls (4). But crime rates have been falling even before the laws were enacted. It was not necessarily gun control laws that caused the drop in violent crime, but some other factor like better welfare or economic growth.

Another approach is to compare various groups within the same society. At least one researcher compared homicide rates between young adults and older teens in a society where young adults are allowed to carry firearms, and teens not (2). His conclusion was that homicide rates increased for the gun-carrying age group. Once again, the gun owners argue, you can’t compare apples and pears. There may be other reasons why young adults in this country are prone to being murdered than teenagers.

In fact, a one important study on the effect of gun control came to the inevitable conclusion that there may not exist a statistical method that can settle this question one way or another. In “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review” Appendix D: Statistical Issues in the Evaluation of Right-to-Carry Laws (1), the researchers state:

..there is little likelihood that persuasive conclusions about the effects of right-to-carry laws can be drawn from analyses of observational (nonexperimental) data.”

Without the ability to experiment (which is morally dubious) or isolate individuals within a society (because gun violence affects everybody, not just classifiable individuals), researchers are basically saying that it is impossible to declare with certainty that gun control laws have either a positive or negative effect on violent crime rates. They do not state that there is no causative relationship – they state that this relationship is not provable. 

This is a far weaker conclusion than what pro-gun lobbyists would have you believe. Their claim is technically true, as no study has conclusively *proven* that gun control laws reduces violent crime, but that is because the conditions for proof is difficult to obtain for such a complex study. It is unjustifiable to suggest that this settles the debate.


(2)    Ludwig, J. 1998: "Concealed Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data." International Review of Law and Economics, 18, 239-254.

(3)    Carter, G.L. 1997: The Gun Control Movement. New York: Twayne Publishers.


Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Michael Ernest Meder
OUTA on EToll Debr

I really believe Outa is "smoking something" - they are now calling EToll laws unjust and irrational, a far cry from their initial stance of lack of public involvement. Read more...

0 comments 511 views
Submitted by
Monika Rohlwink
Medical Aid for pets versus medic...

I think Malema's statement that people are more willing to take out medical aid for their pets than for their employees is grossly exaggerated.  Read more...

0 comments 309 views
Submitted by
John Stoltz
Madiba versus Malema,....or is it...

Dear Mr Malema, how can you ever make a derogatory remark about our beloved Madiba? Read more...

0 comments 224 views
Submitted by
Thulane Che Trosky637
21 Years later of absolutely noth...

South Africans before 1992 was lead to believe that Nelson Mandela deserved to be serving a life sentence apparently because of his ‘high treason’ case and the apparent acts that he committed before being sentence in the 60’s. Read more...

0 comments 107 views
Submitted by
Joshua Glenny
Ballito Drought Solution

I live in Ballito and I have "made a plan" to reduce my water bill. I have installed 3 x 2200l rain water harvesting tanks. Read more...

0 comments 1200 views
Submitted by
Shelly Bowling
The Oscar Pistorius through the e...

The fact forensics determined OP was on his stumps rather than his prosthetics when he fired the gun is the most significant finding. Read more...

0 comments 591 views


E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2015 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.