By Erich Pratt
An Australian student recently interviewed me on America’s “love affair” with guns and asked a series of questions, as he was working on a research paper dealing with gun control.
As you can see from his questions below, all the queries came from an anti-gun point of view. (Well, I did mention that he was Australian, right?)
I always welcome the opportunity to speak with students on the subject of the Constitution, and the Second Amendment in particular. I personally conducted an unscientific survey of Christian teenagers a couple of years ago and uncovered some disturbing results:
* A third of the students did not know that gun control policies around the world over the last 100 years have endangered people’s lives and, in some cases, paved the way for genocide.
* Almost 40 percent did not know that guns are used far more often in the United States to save life than to take life.
* And a whopping 90 percent did not know that the British effort on April 19, 1775 to steal the colonists’ guns (a.k.a., gun control) was the immediate event which precipitated the shots fired at Lexington.
These are not the survey results from President Obama’s church back in Illinois. They came from a conservative, suburban church in northern Virginia where almost every parent voted against Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
Clearly, the national media has been doing its job. And that’s why, at Gun Owners of America, we always welcome an opportunity to help change the prevalent thinking that exists in the generation that follows -- both in the United States and around the world.
So back to my recent interview. The Aussie student fired off a bunch of questions to me. Here are his queries and my answers to him.
Student: Do you believe that America should have stronger gun control laws? Why?
Erich Pratt: No. Besides denying people their constitutional rights, gun control makes people LESS SAFE because it prevents decent people from protecting themselves.
Take Amanda Collins, who was a student at University of Nevada’s Reno campus in 2007. Even though she had a concealed carry permit, she was unarmed the night she was brutally raped by James Biela. She had left her gun at home because she was scared of what could happen to her if she was caught disobeying the laws prohibiting firearms on campus.
Her inability to stop Biela resulted in two more rapes -- the last one being fatal. But Amanda feels certain she could have used her gun successfully on the night she was raped. “I would have at some point during my rape been able to stop James Biela,” she said.
Amanda has reason to be confident. There are women today who have escaped the ugliness of rape because there was a gun nearby. Take the Missouri teenager who was rescued by her handgun-wielding mother one night last year. Craig Kizer jumped on the sleeping teenager, but was forced to flee the house after the teen grabbed a knife and the mom entered the room with a firearm.
While this is just one anecdotal story, the same results are played out hundreds of times over throughout the United States. People are less safe when they enter a “gun free zone,” but have a better chance of protecting themselves when they can use a firearm for protection.
Consider El Paso, Texas, which was ranked by CQ Press as America’s safest big city in 2010. Residents there can carry concealed firearms (and live quite peacefully) despite being located across from Juarez City, Mexico -- a town with very stringent gun control laws and one of the highest murder rates in the world.
In Juarez, people are disarmed, they live in fear, and criminals still manage to get a hold of firearms. In El Paso, average citizens can carry firearms, and they live in peace. More (legal) guns mean less crime.
Student: Should America introduce a strict firearm licensing law like Australia & England?
Pratt: No. Why would America want to institute a policy that has resulted in rising crime rates -- not only in the United States where gun control has been tried -- but all over the world, as well?
England actually had lower crime rates BEFORE they began passing their gun control laws. In fact, it was not until they enacted a very draconian gun ban after the Dunblane school shooting in 1996, that their crime rates quickly became the highest in the Western World.
Likewise, a comprehensive international study showed that Australia (in 2000) had one of the highest crime rates in the world -- and, not to mention, a rate well above that of the United States.
Crime rates Down Under were declining before the 1996 ban, and then continued to rise and fall after the ban, leading the researchers of one exhaustive review of Australia’s crime rates to conclude that the “gun buy-back and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia.”
As a policy matter, the authors of this extensive study state, “There is insufficient evidence to support the simple premise that reducing the stockpile of licitly held civilian firearms will result in a reduction in either firearm or overall sudden death rates.”
I would also add that countries having much stricter gun control than that of the United States have failed to prevent gun-related massacres in their countries: Scotland (1996), Germany (2002, 2006, 2009),India (2008), England (2010) and Norway (2011).
Student: Do you believe that by restricting the gun laws it would reduce the crime rate? Why?
Pratt: No, that will only make citizens less safe. Consider, for example, the nation’s capital in the United States. In 1976, Washington, DC made it virtually impossible for anyone to legally obtain a firearm. If a homeowner did get a gun to defend himself, and the police found out, then the gun owner could go to jail.
These restrictions discouraged homeowners from obtaining firearms and, not surprisingly, the city’s murder rate skyrocketed -- so much so, the city was frequently ranked as the nation’s Murder Capital. This held true for several decades, until the Supreme Court struck down Washington’s gun ban in 2008. That year, gun ownership once again became legal in the District, and residents began purchasing thousands of firearms.
Not surprisingly, gun control advocates predicted that the murder rate in the nation’s capital would spike as a result of legal guns entering the city. But what was the reality? Murders in the nation’s capital immediately dropped to a 45-year low -- and it continues that way to this very day. More (legal) guns resulted in less crime.
Student: Should NFA weapons such as machine guns, 50.cal weapons, assault rifles etc., be completely banned throughout America? Why?
Pratt: No. As stated above, these bans would violate the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and make people less safe, even while criminals would still be able to get these types of guns.
These types of firearms accept magazines that can hold lots of ammunition -- and that is exactly what one needs when the police are not around and one is faced with mob violence. This was the situation during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. If there’s one thing that these riots taught us is that the police can’t be there to protect us.
For several days in April of 1992, Los Angeles, California, was in complete turmoil as stores were looted and burned. Motorists were dragged from their cars and beaten. Further aggravating the situation, police were very slow in responding to the crisis. Many Guardsmen, after being mobilized to the affected areas, sat by and watched the violence because their rifles were low on ammunition.
But not everybody in Los Angeles suffered. In some of the hot spots, Korean merchants were able to successfully protect their stores with semi-automatic firearms -- firearms with large magazines and lots of bullets. In areas where armed citizens banded together for self-protection, their businesses were spared while others (which were left unprotected) burned to the ground.
Student: Instead of each state having its own gun laws, should there just be one federal law? Why?
Pratt: No. Our Constitution grants LIMITED and ENUMERATED powers to the federal government. If a power is not delegated to Congress in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, then the Congress has NO AUTHORITY over that particular issue. Such is the case with firearms in the U.S. Constitution. There is no authority for gun control -- and the Second Amendment specifically states that individuals have a right to keep and bear arms.
The states retain far more plenary power to enact legislation, although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the states and cities cannot deny people’s right to keep and bear arms. (See McDonald v. Chicago, 2010.)
The fact is, we don’t want an all-encompassing national government that can ban anything it wants. History shows that FAR MORE tyranny has occurred at the national level as opposed to the state level.
Some gun control advocates -- such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- have argued that federal legislation is necessary to keep guns from coming into his city from “gun loving” states. However, people are far safer in those “gun loving” states than they are in New York City. Under Mayor Bloomberg’s reign, crime is rising. Notice that the murder rate spiked over 10% in 2010, even while it was dropping in the rest of the country (where guns are more plentiful).
Student: Thank you. You put a lot of depth into answering those questions which is greatly appreciated.
Pratt: You’re welcome!
Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members.
 Mayor John F. Cook, “El Paso, Texas -- The Safest City in the United States for Cities over 500,000 in Population,” athttp://www.elpasotexas.gov/police/_documents/press/El%20Paso,%20Texas%20...
 Gary Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, (1991): 393, 394; Colin Greenwood, Chief Inspector of West Yorkshire Constabulary, Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales(1972):31.
According to a Dutch study of seventeen countries in 2000, British citizens were more likely to become a victim of crime than are people in the United States. The report shows that the crime rate in England is higher than the crime rates of 16 other industrialized nations, including the United States. [See John van Kesteren, Pat Mayhew and Paul Nieuwbeerta, “Criminal Victimisation in Seventeen Industrialised Courtries: Key findings from the 2000 International Crime Victims Survey,” (2001). An abstract can be found at: http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=187198.]
Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?, Dr.
Jeanine Baker and Dr. Samara McPhedran, British Journal of Criminology, November 2006.
 Seventeen people were murdered at a schoolyard in Dunblane, Scotland (March 13, 1996).
Eighteen people were killed at a school in Erfurt, Germany in April, 2002. A former student murdered 11 people at a high school in Emsdetten, Germany on November 20, 2006. And another former student killed 15 people at a school in Winnenden, Germany on March 11, 2009.
 A coordinated shooting and bombing attack killed 164 people in Mumbia, India’s largest city (November, 2008).
 Derrick Bird (a British taxi driver) shot and killed 12 people in Cumbria, England (June 2, 2010).
Anders Breivik killed 77 people -- 69 of them with firearms -- in Norway (July 22, 2011).
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, the murder rate in Washington, DC (during the years its gun ban remained in force) was quite often the highest in the nation. The rate peaked at 80.6 murders per 100,000 people in 1991 and continued to remain high. Only once during the entire 1990s did DC’s murder rate drop below a rate of 50 murders per 100,000 people. Even 25 years after the ban’s enactment (in 2001), the murder rate was still 51 percent higher than it was in 1976—despite the murder rate having dropped 36 percent throughout the rest of the country during the same period.
DC v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).
 Paul Wagner, “DC Murder Rate Lowest in 45 Years: Murders in the District are down 25 percent,” MyFoxDC.com, (December 28, 2009).
 See the following Supreme Court cases which explain how the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms: DC v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010).
 “New York City sees 532 murders in 2010, up from the previous year,”Associated Press (January 03, 2011).