Stricter Gun Control
Debate Rounds (4)
In this debate, Con will be arguing against stricter gun control. Pro will be arguing for it.
Gun control - Government regulation of the sale and ownership of firearms.
Pro has the burden of proof and will present his/her arguments in Round 1. Con will rebut those arguments, followed by counter-rebuttals from Pro, and so forth until the debate reaches an end. Pro must pass the last round so that both contenders get an equal number of rounds to provide arguments.
No semantics. Good luck to my future opponent.
Thank you for the challenge, I accept.
I have previously debated the topic of gun control. Unfortunately, I lost that debate due to poor conduct on my part; I became too excited and lost my cool. Hopefully, there will be no repeat of this. I look forward to a spirited and civil debate!
As I carry the burden of proof, I will start in this round and forfeit my final round, as agreed.
Please find my original debate here: http://www.debate.org...
I have borrowed my first round largely from there, but am happy to take the debate in different directions or whatever if you don't like the format.
My first case study for precedence is Australia.
Historically, Australia used to permit gun usage, and although certain additional conditions were in place, for a long time it was a similar situation to acquiring a firearm in the US.
However, in the face of rising gun violence and paranoia about communism during the cold war, the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is) implemented controls on military-calibre rifles. In the 1970s these were once again relaxed.
However, guns were still a problem. In 1996 the Port Arthur Massacre saw the deaths of 35 people, including very young children, and the wounding of many more(1). The assailant used two military-standard rifles. He was apprehended the following day and is currently serving 35 back-to-back life sentences, plus 1 035 years in solitary confinement with no visitation provisions and no chance of parole, which is almost unheard of in Australia(1).
The government took this issue seriously, and instead of advocating for more people to own guns or running away from the issue, it grabbed the problem by the balls and initiated a gun buy-back scheme which has been tremendously successful(2). In addition, it initiated sweeping reforms to get rid of the gun culture in Australia. Handguns were banned, high-powered rifles, rimfire, anything semi- or fully-automatic, and on those firearms that ARE still legal, there are very strict licensing arrangements, capacity restrictions and storage conditions. Initially, the public was outraged as gun-owners criticised what was ostensibly an infringement on their liberty(3). However, the reforms worked:
Port Arthur was the last straw. In the preceding 18 years, there had been 13 mass-shootings, 112 shooting-spree deaths and more injured(2). Since the gun laws were implemented, there has not been a single massacre in Australia(1,2,3,4,5). Gun death-rates have almost dissolved. In 1988 the gun-homicide rate was around 123 per year. In 2011, that had fallen to twenty-five and these were mostly attributed to accidents and mishandling(6). The suicide rate fell dramatically from about 492 a year to 247(2). And the rate of handgun homicide is now less than 0.01 per 100 000 people(7). Australians are safer as a result of these gun laws, and after the initial shock abated, the public is now almost ubiquitously supportive of the government's controls.
The information tells us that murder, suicide, injury and armed robbery decreased sharply following the reforms, and has stayed low. However, many people were not convinced that it was the laws themselves that had changed this, and an article was written by two female pro-gun activists, claiming that it was in fact feminism and the saturation of Australian media with the disgusting rhetoric of pro-gun activists in America that had actually changed public opinion, and not the gun laws themselves. So, the University of Sydney conducted a series of statistical analyses of all of the available data(4), including population parameters, and whether the incident was a suicide or murder. They then controlled for things like population (Australia has a small population, so in order to be comparable with other countries like America and the UK, very careful controls were used to ensure the data compensated for this). They also controlled for type of gun used (ball-bearing and air-rifles were included in the data set, which would have to potential to skew these results, however it happens to be the case that there are no known instances in Australia of fatalities by either of these types of weapon, so the data is not compromised).
They concluded that these effects were directly attributable to the new legislation, to a high degree of confidence and statistical significance. There was absolutely no evidence of substitution (that is, people opting for knives, poison etc instead of firearms) for either homicide or suicide; both fell as a proportion of gun incidents, but they also declined overall, indicating that those without access to weapons did not opt for another means of suicide/murder. After all of the aforementioned controls were applied, this was still statistically significant (p<.05).
This study was landmark and politicians wanted to know why gun buybacks wouldn't and haven't worked in the US. They identified three points(8):
a) US buybacks tend to be small in scale.
b) Guns are surrendered voluntarily. This is a problem because people just end up not surrendering the ones used in crimes.
c) Replacement guns are far easier to obtain in the US.
These three points are all addressable.
Finally, "guns don't kill people, people kill people" just isn't justifiable. The American Journal of Medicine has released a comprehensive study detailing that there is a positive correlation between gun ownership and death rates(9); owning guns does not abate crime. In fact, it worsens it. The empirical ruling is that people kill people, with guns.
I am more than happy to agree with the position that guns are fun. I've been shooting myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this discussion is about whether weapons are good for society. The facts say, "no".
Thank you for the arguments Pro, I am hoping for an insightful debate.
Homicides vs Assaults
Pro has only given one example of what he believes is a gun control success: Australia. Although the statistics he cited are true, it is only one part of the story. It focuses on a few factors alone. Joyce Lee Malcolm of the Wall Street Journal states, "In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults." Pro has addressed homicide rates only, and has been silent about the amount of aggravated assaults.
A quote taken from Source 2 states: "Home Invasions – a crime for which Australia didn’t even have laws before the gun ban because it never happened – are UP 21%".
What needs to be pointed out here is that guns can and are used to defend people from crime. Criminals can just obtain guns from the black market, so banning gun laws really isn't going to help. If anyone honestly thinks that criminals are going to follow the law, they are very wrong. In fact, it will paint civilians as targets since they won't be able to defend themselves. They will become more vulnerable to crime and assaults, as we have seen above.
Australia vs United Kingdom
Interestingly enough, the UK struck down on guns the same time Australia did and seemed to have the opposite effect to what my opponent claims happened in Australia. In the graph below, we notice a spike in gun-related homicides shortly after the ban.
In 1968, Britain put restrictions on possessing guns by requiring citizens to get a certificate from the police allowing them to obtain a shotgun. Following that law, the homicide rate average in England and Wales rose 52% higher since the law was put in place. In 1997, the same year that Australia introduced its gun law, Britain confiscated nearly all guns in England, Scotland, and Wales. Subsequent to the 1997 law, the homicide rate rose another 15%.
If gun control works, why are we seeing the opposite effect in the UK?
Let's take a more detailed look on the homicide drop in Australia...
Closer Analysis on Homicides
Also interesting is the fact that the homicide rate in Australia was decreasing at the same rate before the ban as it was after. Let's take a look at the following graph:
Here is a quote taken from Source 4:
"...Whether or not the homicide rate went up or down in Australia as a result of strict gun control laws imposed in 1997 is a fact that could have been checked by Times researchers. But they didn't, because facts wouldn't have given them the answer they wanted.
Needless to say, the effect of Australia's gun ban has been extensively researched by Australian academics. As numerous studies have shown: After the gun ban, gun homicides in Australia did not decline any more than they were expected to without a gun ban.Thus, for example, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, the homicide rate has been in steady decline from 1969 to the present, with only one marked uptick in 1998-99 -- right after the gun ban was enacted."
My opponent is making a flawed contention by claiming it was the gun laws that lowered crime. As we have seen above, that is simply false.
Concerning homicide rates, we can conclude that gun control has had little effect on Australia and a negative effect on the UK. We can conclude from this data that gun control just doesn't work.
Generally the same thing has happened with firearm suicides. They began falling en entire decade before the buy back program began. Obviously the drop in suicides isn't a result of the gun ban, but rather something else.
Concerning mass shootings, it isn't that surprising that a country with 7% of people in proportion to the U.S.'s population hasn't had one in the last dozen-and-a-half years. It is a baseless assertion to credit gun laws with the lack of mass shootings, especially after seeing how ineffective it really has been on Australia's crime rates.
Statistically speaking, car accidents kill more people than guns do. So according to my opponent's logic, we might as well ban cars too.
Thanks for your round!
- It's true that I've given only one example so far, hence "my first case study"! Still a whole debate to go!
- Your assertion that home invasion is up 21% because of laws and that "there never were any [home invasions]" is obviously a decent into absurdity. Of course there have always been home invasions. More over, there are STILL no laws regarding home invasion; it's still just "Robbery from Residential Dwelling". (9)
- Aggravated Assaults and rape: While it's true that these numbers have increasd, it is for two seperate reasons. Firstly, the definition of assault changed (and the apparatus for dealing with it was overhauled)(8) and became more inclusive. Secondly, after an aggressive ad campagin by the federal government ("Violence Against Women: Australia Says No") as well as the domestically viral White Ribbon campaign(6), sexual assualts saw an enormous spike in the incidence of reporting; sexual assault itself barely increased with population.
- The statistics cited by Malcolm are not reflective of actual Australian statistics not just because of definitions and more reporting, but they also don't reflect the real crime rates: in the period from 2008 to now, assault fell in all categories(1).
- You say guns can and are used to defend people from crime. This is obviously irrelevant, because they are used to purpetrate crime far more than prevent it.
- As demonstrated, citizens become safer when everyone doesn't have free access to guns. You guarantee criminals access, not just the potential for them to get them on the black market. Black market weapons are so prohibitavely expensive that it's just not worth the while of the average criminal.
- The average cost of a black market handgun in Australia is $15 000. This is for one handgun, with no rounds. Your average rapist, thief etc simply cannot afford this(2).
Australia vs. UK
Firstly, your premise is incorrect. The UK has had gun bans for much longer than Australia(3). In addition, it's not a true ban. There is far more access to weapons in the UK than in Australia.
Secondly, the absolute vast majority of gun crimes committed in the UK are by air guns and replica guns, which are legalthere. If they were banned, there would be far fewer gun crimes(4).
Thirdly, because the crime of possessing a gun carries such heavy penalties in the UK (often resulting in Life sentences) it's not worth the time for the criminal; any whif of firearm possession and they are up for ridiculous sentences(5).
This is a good exmaple of a situation where onlookers didn't have guns, but neither did the robbers (UK). The man had a machete, but didn't feel the need to use it on the man who tackled him because he knew nobody would have guns; no need to actually hurt anyone. Of course, I submit this as anecdotal, however it illustrates the point that a gun wasn't necessary here because the robber was later apprehended and given a fair trial and a sentence (13 years): [http://www.standard.co.uk...]
Your assertions are all spearheadded by cherry-picked statistics and twisted into a suitably-presented argument. However, when we examine a statistical analysis conducted by the University of Sydney and funded by the National Institute of Health, we can see that the academic consenus on the Australian ban is clear: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...]. Your argument largely consists of the contention that the trends were going at the same pace before and after the ban so realistically the ban did nothing because it was declining anyway. This just isn't true. I agree that it had started declining; the point is that the astronomically rapid decrease was only visible after the ban, indicating that hundreds, if not thousands of lives were saved earlier than they otherwise would have been. Its title concurs that it had already begun decreasing but that the ban sped this up to a statistically significant level. Once appropriate controls and measures have been conducted, there's no point left to argue; we must go with the evidence. This concerns assualts, suicides and homicides, though it does exclude specific crime variatns like bank robberies etc.
"Statistically speaking, car accidents kill more people than guns do. So according to my opponent's logic, we might as well ban cars too."
This is obviously an absured statement. Vehicular accidents are an unfortunate consequence of our economic and social dependence on the ability to travel and trade. Guns are not a requirement for day-to-day living. Cars serve a function other than to kill people. Guns do not. This is called a false equivalency, and is also an extended Nirvana Fallacy; because we cannot completely eliminate the risk, we shouldn't bother trying. Obviously absurd. Does this mean we should not ban drugs because some people still take drugs even though they're illegal?
The US has the 13th highest gun death rate in the world. Australia, Japan, Singapore and the UK all rank within bottom 17 of all countries(7). 11 500 people died in 2013 from guns. That's 500 000 life years lost. Dynamic infographic: [http://guns.periscopic.com...]. Nearly fifty percent were under 30. Almost all victims were male.
Gun deaths increase as a proportion of gun ownership
Of course, there are always exceptions to policy rules. In this case, they include the oft-cited New York and Chicago examples. However, when we analyse the larger picutre, there is a clear statistical relationship: places with fewer guns have fewer gun deaths.
Population is irrelevant when you know that in the preceding 18 years there had been 13 mass shootings. Then they suddenly stopped the exact year that the gun laws were implemented. And I'm not simply conflating correlation and causation; in the NIH report I posted previously, it was concluded that the stopping of the mass shootings was statistically significant.
As we can see from the empirical data, where there are more guns, there is more violent crime. Where there are fewer guns, fewer people are killed and assaulted. It's that simple.
Gun control works.
Gun Crime vs Overall Crime
Although I will not dispute the gun crime stats that Pro has presented, he is still missing the big picture. Gun crime is only a part of overall crime. If we want gun control to work, we want to make so that it reduces all crime, not just incidents where firearms are present. I have numerous sources that show that homicide rates virtually always go up with gun control laws, not in conflict with the fact that gun crime does perhaps go down.
America has by far the top gun ownership rate in the world, with 90.0 guns per 100 residents. This is much higher than second-place Serbia with 58.2 guns per 100 residents, followed by Yemen with 54.8 guns per 100 residents and so on. If America has such an enormous plethora of guns, then it should have the highest murder rate in the world as well, right?
Wrong. Honduras, a country with strict gun control laws, has the number one homicide rate per capita in the world, with a rate of 90.4 per 100,000 people. Followed by that is Venezuela, also with tight gun regulation. America didn't even make the top ten, or the top twenty or the fifty. In fact, the U.S. didn't even make the top one hundred. It made #111 on the list, with virtually all the other countries above having some kind of gun laws.
Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012 (The darker the blue, the higher the homicide rate)
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A Harvard study on gun control found that nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that don't. “For example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland's murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe.”
Australia vs UK
The UK law of 1968 wasn't even a gun ban at all. It was simply "requiring civilians to obtain a certificate from their district police chief in order to purchase or possess a shotgun. This law also required that firearm certificates specify the identification numbers ("if known") of all firearms and shotguns owned by the applicant."
The later law was a true ban, even if Pro may state otherwise. "In 1997, Britain passed a law requiring civilians to surrender almost all privately owned handguns to the police. More than 162,000 handguns and 1.5 million pounds of ammunition were 'compulsorily surrendered' by February 1998. Using "records of firearms held on firearms certificates," police accounted for all but fewer than eight of all legally owned handguns in England, Scotland, and Wales."
Guns vs Cars
There is a problem with Pro's reasoning: guns have a very useful function. Aside from hunting, guns protect people from criminals. The evidence I have provided below supports this.
Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, conducted a survey in 1993 that found that "there are approximately two million defensive gun uses (DGUs) per year by law abiding citizens.Â Prior to Dr. Kleck's survey,Â thirteen other surveysÂ indicated a range of between 800,000 to 2.5 million DGU's annually."
Firearms can be used to scare criminals instead of actually shooting them, thus why non-firearm crime decreases. The drop of non-gun crime has a pretty big effect on overall crime, as I have shown earlier in this round. Simply touting off gun-related misdemeanors alone does not show the true effectiveness of gun regulation.
Countries with higher gun control laws have higher crime rates because criminals are stopped in the act or they are to scared to go into a home they know is likely to have a gun or attack someone who might have conceal and carry permit.
Population is indeed relevant because a higher population means a likelier chance exists that a shooting could occur in a certain area. Australia has a much lower population than the U.S., so less shootings are not that surprising. To add, shootings tend to happen in gun-free zones. John R Lott sums it up nicely: “Killers go where victims can't defend themselves. In the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting,out of the seven theaters the Batman movie premiere within 20 minutes of the suspect's apartment, only one banned permitted concealed handguns. The suspect didn't go to the closest nor the largest, but to the one that banned self-defense. Time after time the story is the same.”
Every mass shooting (with just one exception) since 1950 in the U.S. has occured in places where concealed carry holding is banned.
A black market handgun in Australia may be $15k, but what is it for other countries? A criminal can always steal a gun from a store or maintain them before the ban gets put in place. Guns are quite accessible despite bans, and in a country with a lot of guns prior to such a law in won't necessarily mean that criminals won't have access to them any longer. They will go to long measures to get one if they really are a criminal at heart.
InnovativeEphemera forfeited this round.
Varrack forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides FF'd. But Pro's FF is more important. It causes him to drop Con's final responses. This debate boiled down to something where I have read most of the literature: how firearms effect the crime rate. If guns reduce crime or have no effect, there is no reason to restrict guns. If they harm our society, there is justifiable reason to ban them. Pro in many cases says the UK restrictions are lax--something Con showed was untrue. Even assuming the UK has more access to firearms, I don't see how it is relevant. Pro offers one really good argument, though: cross-sectional data proves guns increase the homicide rate. Con responds with a study published in the Harvard JLLP (Kates and Mauser 2010). The study, as Con tells us, finds little relationship between firearms and crime, and the relationship may entail that guns reduce crime. This means any restrictions would increase the crime rate and be unjust. Had Pro not FF'd, he may have won. But from hat we had, Con won. Good debate guys.
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