Lawrence B. Lindsey was director of the National Economic Council (2001–2002), and the assistant to the president on economic policy for the U.S. President George W. Bush. He played a leading role in formulating President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut plan, convincing candidate Bush that he needed an “insurance policy” against an economic turn-down. He left the White House in December 2002 and was replaced by Stephen Friedman after a dispute over the projected cost of the Iraq War. Lindsey estimated the cost of the Iraq War could reach $200 billion, while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld estimated that it would cost less than $50 billion..(Wikipedia)
His new book, Conspiracy of the Ruling Class, is an excellent and worthwhile read. In it he has a powerful argument against further gun controls and a fascinating conclusion as to the reasons the elites continue to pursue this goal, their failure to protect and the dissolution of legitimacy.
The US Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that between 2007 and 2011, only 9 percent of gun-related murders occurred between people who were or had been “intimate,” and another 7 percent involved other family members. Obviously some of those in-family murders were also done with guns that were illegal for the perpetrator to own because those convicted of domestic violence are also banned from gun ownership. So perhaps 2,000 murders were committed where the perpetrator probably could own a gun legally under current law. That number is the upper bound on the number of murders that might be potentially preventable by extending and successfully implementing additional gun laws.
Put that number into some perspective. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States. That means that there is roughly 1 potentially avoidable murder by further gun legislation for every 150,000 guns in the country! Every death is a tragedy, but from a purely statistical point of view, the amount of upside that can be obtained through further gun legislation—even assuming that it worked—is quite small by most metrics.
Another way of putting this into perspective is to consider that guns are also a way of preventing crime. Data on this vary widely. For example, the National Rifle Association (NRA) estimates that there are roughly 2.5 million instances per year in which a gun owner deters a crime due to the threat (implied or real) that it poses to the criminal. The number is impossible to verify independently. In practice, most such instances are probably not even reported to the police because the crime technically did not occur.
So let’s place this on the “high end” of potential crime deterrence effect of gun possession. An intermediate estimate was done by Just the Facts, a statistical analysis outfit. It placed the annual number of defensive uses where “someone likely would have been killed” but for the threatened use of the firearm at 156,000, based on a 1993 survey. This is, of course, a much higher standard than the NRA uses, as there was the expectation of a death in the statistic.
There is also a “low-end” estimate provided by the pro–gun control group the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center. Based on a “special run” of FBI statistics, they estimate that from 2007 to 2011, 235,000 violent crimes and 103,000 crimes against property were prevented by the threat or use of a firearm by the victim. Because these statistics came from the FBI, these were cases of actual crimes that were reported by the victim and with sufficient evidence that the police included them in their official crime tabulations.
But even if one takes this low-end statistic as the basis for comparison, that means that 47,000 violent crimes and 20,600 property crimes were prevented by the use or threatened use of a firearm. Combined, that is thirty-three times the maximum number of potentially preventable murders by the passage of and the completely successful enforcement of more gun laws. This type of finding only makes sense.
Compliance with any new gun legislation is only going to be made by those who comply with the law. As the trite but still accurate saying goes, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” The experience of other countries bears this out. India, for example, passed new gun legislation and found that 85 percent of its gun-related crimes were now committed with illegal weapons. This is not unusual.
In 2007, the Swiss-based International Small Arms Survey looked at seventy-two countries with various new gun control measures and found that after the laws were passed, there was an average of 2.6 illegal guns for every legal one. Further complicating the picture is that most Ruling Class proposals on gun control are very specific about the types of weapons they would ban. Most proposals have loaded words. For example, the word “assault weapons” sounds scary. But the definition included guns with pistol-type grips and adjustable stocks. There was no effect on the guns’ ultimate lethality.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 88 percent of all gun violence and 73 percent of all deaths involving guns were committed with handguns. Ohio senator Howard Metzenbaum, a Democrat, opined tellingly at a 1989 hearing on gun control, “If you don’t ban all of them, you might as well ban none of them.” Therein lies the real political rub. Gun rights advocates see gun control proposals as being driven toward their ultimate end of drastically limiting, or even ending, private gun ownership entirely.
President Obama, like Hillary Clinton, endorsed the Australian model in October 2015. Setting aside the Second Amendment, in America that would mean the confiscation of roughly seventy-five million guns. Presumably the government would have to compensate owners for taking their property. At an average cost of roughly $1,000 per gun, that would mean $75 billion for the program. (The Australian program cost more than $500 million to destroy just 650,000 guns.) By contrast, the entire budget for the US Department of Justice is just $27 billion. Setting aside simple dollar cost, consider the logistics involved in confiscating tens of millions of anything!
As the National Review pointed out, “The mandatory confiscation of the American citizenry’s guns would involve tens of thousands of heavily armed federal agents going door-to-door to demand of millions of Americans that they surrender their guns.” Given that historically the Ruling Class were willing to arrest and fine a man for growing too much grain on his farm to feed his own horses, one might suppose that carrying out a massive gun confiscation program is not beyond the realm of possibility.
But this is not the simplest explanation of the Ruling Class attitude toward guns. More true to form would be that their failure to provide an acceptable level of safety to the American people, those in charge need someone or something to blame. Since the Ruling Class can’t accept blame themselves, blaming it all on guns serves that need. They try to convince us that people don’t kill people, guns kill people. The most standard behavioral pattern we have discovered for the Ruling Class is to avoid blame for their failure to use the extensive powers they already have is to seek still more power.
As noted before, what is most startling is that given the power and resources at their disposal, those in charge have not provided the facts to back up their claim. There is no national evidence on the rate at which gun crimes are now being committed by those for whom existing law makes it illegal to own a gun. If there were, of course, and it showed that most gun crime is committed by people for whom existing law already bans gun ownership, then it would be hard to make the case for more bans on gun ownership. Maybe that’s why the data aren’t collected?
A willingness to provide such data might provide good reason not to think the worst about Ruling Class motives; that it is not forthcoming is quite troubling. So when one examines the evidence and does not rely on emotional rhetoric, two facts become obvious.
First, that existing gun control legislation is ineffective. Second, that the incremental benefits from further tightening of rules would be ineffective, since there are far fewer potential gun murders caused by “legal” users. So one does not have to believe that gun control is simply a power grab by the Ruling Class to explain their motive. They are in need of a defense for their failure to control crime.
Their answer is, “It was the gun that did it.”
==Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever (Lindsey, Lawrence B.)
Fourteen Signposts To Slavery
1. Restrictions on taking money out of the country and on the establishment or retention of a foreign bank account by an American citizen. (Already happened)
2. Abolition of private ownership of handguns. (Soon?)
3. Detention of individuals without judicial process. (Happened)
4. Requirements that private financial transactions be keyed to social security numbers or other government identification so that government records of these transactions can be kept and fed into a computer. (Happened)
5. Use of compulsory education laws to forbid attendance at presently existing private schools. (The progressive left would love this, so would the teachers unions that back them)
6. Compulsory non-military service.
7. Compulsory psychological treatment for Non-government workers or public school children. (Happening)
8. An official declaration that anti-Communist (replace with domestic Patriot) organizations are subversive and subsequent legal action taken to suppress them. (Happened)
9. Laws limiting the number of people allowed to meet in a private home.
10. Any significant change in passport regulations to make passports more difficult to obtain or use. (Happened)
11. Wage and price controls, especially in a non-wartime situation (Not needed in a deflation)
12. Any kind of compulsory registration with the government of where individuals work. (Happened)
13. Any attempt to restrict freedom of movement within the United States.
14. Any attempt to make a new major law by executive decree (that is, actually put into effect, not merely authorized as by existing executive orders.) (Happened)
==None Dare Call It Conspiracy (Allen, Gary) 1976
Guns: How the The NY Times Manipulates Data
Through the entire exercise by Quealy and Sanger-Katz, the subtext is that countries with more gun control (i.e., European countries) have lower homicide rates. Not only is this not even true if we include the Baltic states and Russia (all European countries), but it’s not true if we include countries with stringent gun control in the Americas. This holds up in stable democracies like Argentina and Uruguay, and also in the US territory of Puerto Rico where gun control is far stronger than on the American mainland.
Gun control advocates have long struggled with how exactly they should define away high-gun-control countries with homicide rates comparable to — or larger than — the US. (i.e., Brazil, Russia, Mexico, the Baltics). In the past, some have employed membership in the OECD as a criterion which has long been regarded as a list of “advanced” countries. However, since the 1990s, the OECD has expanded to include Mexico and Estonia, and has pursued membership talks with Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Brazil, and Colombia). Clearly, membership in the G20 is also out since that would include Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.
Clearly, the definition of the “civilized world” as imagined by gun-control advocates must be limited even more in order to make the United States seem “special.” With this latest effort from the New York Times, Quealy and Sanger-Katz have attempted to do just that, although they employ arbitrary cut-offs, focus on the wrong metric of “gun homicides” and conveniently ignore major, industrialized countries like Russia.
Guns: How the The NY Times Manipulates Data
Last week, the New York Times featured its latest article implying that the United States has the highest homicide rates in the “developed” world — defining any other country with a higher homicide rate as somehow unfit for comparison to the United States.
This is a common tactic among gun control advocates who make claims such as “the US has the highest homicide rate of any developed country.” The qualifier “developed” is then manipulated to make the US seem like a freakish outlier. As I’ve explained here, this common tactic requires a lot of cherry picking of data and ignores the way that many American states — many of which have few gun control laws — have some of the world’s lowest homicide rates.
Nevertheless, the Times is back at it. In an article titled “Compare These Gun Death Rates: the US Is in A Different World” the authors Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz carefully construct a model using per capita GDP data and gun homicide data to make the US appear all by itself in the world. Here’s the graph they’ve constructed: