Gun Control Won’t Make Mass Shootings Less Likely to Happen, Academic Says

  • Affirmative Argument Week 3

By: Joseph Ng

An article by Christopher Goins titled, “Gun Control Won’t Make Mass Shootings Less Likely to Happen, Academic Says,” contains support from author John Lott who wrote “More Guns, Less Crime,” that debunks common beliefs concerning gun control. Too often people are quick to blame the presence of guns for the violence and mass shootings that occur through the United States. Goins and Lott address popular issues and explain why it is not necessarily the guns that people should be worried about, but rather how people are using them. A lot of arguments have appeared since the shooting in Aurora, Colorado in a movie theater. First, the movie theater had a “no guns allowed” policy. However, this did not stop the act of violence and Lott argues that regulations and rules “actually make them (mass shootings} more likely to happen. They don’t stop those events from occurring.”

The main argument of the article is what Lott just mentioned. There is belief that more strict gun regulations and rules on guns may make mass shootings more likely to happen. Goins and Lott explain that gun control is not the answer. Lott continues to explain that “laws that restrict gun ownership do nothing to deter someone who’s decided to fire on fellow citizens,” rather it was already pre-meditated or a decision was made before they opened fire.

The next argument states that even if a location is a gun-free zone, it will not stop the shooter from breaking the law. Almost all cases of public shootings have taken place where concealed handguns are not allowed. It is publicly known that carrying a gun around, even a handgun, if you are not a police officer is seen as deviant behavior, as in it is not commonly acceptable. However, when someone makes the decision to shoot innocent citizens, they have taken their place as a law-abiding citizen out of the equation.

Later, Lott explains that any argument that makes guns bad and easier for people to kill others, there is an argument for people to use guns for self-defense. The counter to ban all semi-automatic weapons is that they can benefit someone who needs to defend themselves. In relation to self defense, there is an issue with killings occurring in a gunowner’s home which comes from the claim that guns are more likely to end up killing someone you know. Lott picks apart this argument by recognizing that “if you own a gun in the home and you died from a gunshot that it was that gun that was used in the death.” The data shows that the majority of killings occurring in a home have occurred from weapons being brought from the outside.

Another argument is guns being used as part of suicide attempts. Lott provides statistics that “14 percent of the deaths that were being attributed to guns being in the home could actually be attributed to those guns in the home” the remaining 86 percent were from weapons brought from outside. Instead of looking at each scenario on a larger scale, it is important to observe each situation as its own. As a whole, guns look bad because of acts of violence and crime, but each situation is different.

The final topic that Lott argues is the ease of obtaining guns and using them to kill other people. Lott claims that the “cities that have the highest murder rates, they are the ones that tend to adopt the strictest gun control laws.” This statement piggybacks  off the idea that most crime involving guns happens from a weapon that is brought from the outside.

While this article did not provide many statistics, it gave a new perspective and outlook on gun control. Lott’s explanation and counter arguments to gun control emphasized how important it is to look at the individual situation rather than gun violence as a whole. The media portrays guns as the problem, but Goins and Lott target the individuals who commit the crimes and create the mayhem of mass shootings. If someone is willing to murder others, the law does not register in their mind.

Increased Guns, Less Violence

By: Mona Zaini

Graph from

This Mother Jones article attempts to correlate the increasing amount of guns in the United States with an increasing number of mass-shooting victims annually.  The trend in the chart is immediately noticeable but also obvious is the bold inclusion of famous mass shootings that have happened within the past 8 years(Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Virginia Tech) and one from 15 years ago (Columbine). Conspicuous reminders of notable mass shootings from 1982 to 1998, an additional 16 years, are intentionally left off the chart.  In 1991, 23 people were shot and killed in a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. In 1984, 21 people(including five children) in a California Mcdonalds. Several other shootings are never mentioned, despite having more victims than Columbine.

Another problem with the article is that it fails to account for differences in population. In 1982, when the graph begins, the population of the US was roughly 230,000,000; in 2012, it was around 313,000,000. Of course more people would equate to more shooters and naturally, more victims. But even those conclusions are not cohesive—in 1984, there were around 28 mass murder victims, this is even more than the 18 victims seen in 2011 despite a substantial increase in population. 2012 is an outlier with nearly 80 fatalities and skews the appearance of the trend in the graph. I’m not denying that a slight increase can be seen regardless of that end-year, however when considering the total population increase, the inconsistent data (1999 had over 40 victims, yet the subsequent five years have astonishingly low victim counts), the use of numerical victims instead of rates, and the unusual addition of injuries to obscure results, the articles argument comes off as a bit far-fetched. The questionable nature of the trend is even further reinforced when considering homicide rates over the years. In 1982, the homicide rate was 9.1; in 2012, it was 4.7. With these statistics, a legitimate trend contradicts the dubious trend in the Mother Jones article—the rate of homicides is steadily dropping each decade, despite an increasing number of guns.

The biased article makes outlandish claims that there will soon be significantly more guns in the US than people. The article tries blame “Republican-controlled statehouses” for allowing people to carry concealed weapons, suggesting that this somehow could be responsible for mass shootings. People aren’t “allowed” to murder, yet they do it anyway. Someone who has the intent to murder innocent people is not worried about the legality of carrying a concealed weapon. Again, there is little correlation. Republican states with relaxed gun laws do not necessarily have the most mass murders. California, a Democratic state, has had an overwhelming amount of mass shootings. Similarly, the New England states from New York to Maine have had a substantial amount of mass shootings, despite being largely Democratic. Republican states such as Louisiana and Alabama have never had a mass shooting.

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This article has some decent points yet falls short at proving the supposed trends beyond coincidence. Perhaps more guns could mean more murders, however it is likely that if a shooter wanted to acquire a gun, they will do so(and have done so) irrespective of the abundance of guns. The fact remains that majority of the guns in the country do not get used for mass shootings or even murders and that mass shootings have been committed regardless of firearm abundance and laws.

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