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Washington report.

* In my January 1984 "Washington Report" column I cited official FBI statistics which showed that gun control laws did not stop crime. I pointed out that areas with the highest crime rates invariably have the most restrictive gun laws, and that those with few anti-gun statutes have among the lowest crime rates in the nation. I noted that according to the FBI data, overall U.S. crime continues to drop, particularly in states which have adopted mandatory penalties for the criminal misuse of a weapon in a violent crime. I emphasized the tenet that more guns mean less crime, calling the evidence "over-whelming-simply overwhelming."

I was wrong. I should have called the evidence "indisputable--simply indisputable." Since that column appeared, two more pieces of evidence have emerged which douse the claims of the gun control gang that gun laws work and that guns cause crime.

The first piece of evidence comes from Gary Kleck, PhD., professor of criminology at Florida State University. Citing extensive research into the attitudes of convicted criminals toward gun owners, Kleck said in a published interview with the Associated Press that private gun ownership produces a "social benefit" in that it helps to deter crime.

According to Kleck, surveys of prison inmates have shown that burglars are aware of private gun ownership and consider this fact when planning crimes. He pointed to a 1983 study of 1,800 inmates, 80 percent of whom said they did not burglarize occupied dwellings because "they fear getting shot during the crime." Kleck told the AP that although the chances of a burglar being caught and sent to prison are less than three percent, "there's a distinct possibility (the burglar) will run into a householder with a gun because about 50 percent of U.S. households have guns."

Armed civilians killed more than 1,200 felons in 1981 in shootings considered justifiable homicides, he noted, compared with less than 400 recorded killings by police for the same time.

the criminologist told the AP that he feared "the more restrictive types of gun control (will) take guns away from law-abiding people but have no effect on gunusing criminals."

Earlier examinations by Professor Kleck concluded that if handguns were banned, criminals would switch to rifles and shotguns, particularly the sawed-off variety. He estimated that a total ban on handguns could result in an estimated 3,500 additional deaths annually, if only one third of the criminals switched to long guns, because crime and accident statistics show long guns to be generally more lethal than handguns.

The other piece of evidence which should come as a shock to gun control advocates is a study published recently by the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics. Entitled "Report to the Nation on Crime and Justice," the 108-page document marks the first attempt to weave all of its crime statistics--from the FBI, Census Bureau and others--into a complete portrait of crime in America.

The report concluded that firearms are used in only a relatively small percentage of all rapes, robberies and assaults. In fact, according to the DOJ analysis, knives are the weapons used most often in rapes and robberies, and are more likely than guns to result in injury to the victim.

According to the DOJ data, firearms were used in only seven percent of reported rapes, 18 percent of robberies and nine percent of all assaults. Knives were used in 21 percent of robberies, 15 percent of rapes and nine percent of assaults.

Amazingly, in most cases, no weapon was used in the commission of these violent crimes. The statistics reveal this was true in 77 percent of rapes, 68 percent of assaults and 54 percent of robberies.

Also, the report found that people who had been the victims of violent crime used a gun or knife to protect themselves in only about two percent of all recorded cases.

Stop and think about those numbers.

A majority of all rapes, robberies and assaults are committed either by an unarmed criminal, or a criminal armed with a knife. Yet only two percent of all crime victims used a gun or knife to protect themselves. It seems to me there is an obvious way to even out the odds: let law-abiding citizens carry guns. And let the criminal beware.

If honest citizens were allowed to carry guns, it may well mean that the U.S. rape rate may be cut 77 percent, when unarmed rapists suddenly encountered females packing .357 Magnums. It could be that 68 percent of the assaults would never happen because thugs would find themselves staring down the barrels of decent citizen's .38s. And it means that U.S. robberies could be cut more than 50 percent when hoods looking to lift watches were surprised by John Q. Citizens and their shortbarreled revolvers.

If that sounds harsh, all you have to do is consider the alternatives.

According to other DOJ studies (and corroborated by extensive related research), less than three percent of violent crime in the U.S. will result in prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of the offender. Of all violent crimes, 46 percent are not reported to police, 24 percent are reported but see no arrests, 20 percent of the criminals are not indicted or prosecuted, five percent are not convicted, two to three percent are convicted with a suspended sentence, probation or other non-imprisonment, and only 0.5 percent ever go to jail.

Worse, FBI statistics show that more than 75 percent of U.S. violent crimes are committed by career criminals, many on some form of conditional or early release. (Of criminals who killed police officers, incidentally, 73 percent have arrest records, 39 percent were granted judicial leniency, 25 percent were on parole or probation.)

To those who would accuse me of having a severely hard-line pro-gun attitude, or to those who would suggest I am a believer in "Wild West" justice, I have a confession to make. I do.

Like I said, it's time to make the criminal beware.
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Title Annotation:armed civilians deter crime
Author:Andrews, Reid
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1984
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