||This article duplicates, in whole or part, the scope of other article(s) or section(s), specifically, Gun politics in Germany and #Nazi disarmament of German Jews. (December 2013)|
|Part of the Politics series|
Gun controls are laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, and use of firearms. They vary greatly around the world. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have very strict limits on gun possession while others, like the United States, have laws that vary significantly among their states.
Proponents of gun control generally argue the dangers of widespread gun ownership. Opponents argue that gun control does not reduce gun-related injuries, murder, or suicide, and some argue that certain regulations may violate individual liberties.
- 1 Terminology and context
- 2 Global distribution of small arms
- 3 Regulation of civilian firearms
- 4 Studies, debate, and opinions
- 5 3D printing
- 6 History
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
Terminology and context
||This section possibly contains original research. (March 2014)|
The concept of gun control is a subset of a much greater, yet equally global, topic, arms control. In the context of this article, the concept of gun control is in reference to various means of restrictions on the use, transport, and possession of firearms, specifically with regard to the class of weapons referred to as small arms. On a global scale this context is sometimes expanded to include light weapons; also known in the arms trade as SALW. From the perspective of military small arms, this encompasses: revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light machine guns (e.g. M60), and sometimes hand grenades, shotguns, general-purpose machine guns, medium machine guns, and grenade launchers may be considered small arms or as support weapons, depending on the particular armed forces. Other groups utilizing these types of arms may also include government sanctioned non-military personnel such as law enforcement agencies.
From a civilian (meaning via private, individual ownership) perspective and varying via legislation from country to country this encompasses a subset of the above list. It is usually limited to: revolvers, pistols, carbines, hunting rifles, sporting rifles, and shotguns.
Separate, yet integral, to the concept of gun control are the individuals and companies that comprise the global arms industry. The arms industry is a global business which manufactures weapons and military technology and equipment. It consists of commercial industry involved in research, development, production, sale, and transport. Many industrialized countries have a domestic arms industry to supply their own military forces. Some countries also have a substantial legal or illegal domestic trade in weapons for use by its citizens. An illegal trade in small arms is prevalent in many countries and regions affected by political instability.
Global distribution of small arms
It is estimated that there are in total 875 million small arms distributed amongst civilians, law enforcement agencies and armed forces, globally.[a] 650 million of these firearms, or 75 per cent, are held by civilians worldwide. U.S. civilians alone account for 270 million of this total. A further 200 million are controlled by state military forces. Law enforcement agencies have some 26 million small arms. Non-state armed groups[b] have about 1.4 million firearms.[c] Finally, gang members hold between 2 and 10 million small arms. Together, the small arms arsenals of non-state armed groups and gangs account for, at most, 1.4 per cent of the global total.
Regulation of civilian firearms
Barring a few exceptions,[d] most countries in the world allow civilians to purchase firearms subject to certain restrictions. A 2011 survey of 28 countries over five continents[e] found that a major distinction between different national regimes of firearm regulation is whether civilian gun ownership is seen as a right or a privilege. The study concluded that both the United States and Yemen were distinct from the other countries surveyed in viewing firearm ownership as a basic right of civilians and in having more permissive regimes of civilian gun ownership. In the remaining countries included in the sample, civilian firearm ownership is considered a privilege and the legislation governing possession of firearms is correspondingly more restrictive.
International and regional civilian firearm regulation
At the international and regional level, diplomatic attention has tended to focus on the cross-border illegal trade in small arms as an area of particular concern rather than the regulation of civilian-held firearms. During the mid-1990s, however, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a series of resolutions relating to the civilian ownership of small arms. These called for an exchange of data on national systems of firearm regulation and for the initiation of an international study of the issue. In July 1997, ECOSOC issued a resolution that underlined the responsibility of UN member states to competently regulate civilian ownership of small arms and which urged them to ensure that their regulatory frameworks encompassed the following aspects: firearm safety and storage; penalties for the unlawful possession and misuse of firearms; a licensing system to prevent undesirable persons from owning firearms; exemption from criminal liability to promote the surrender by citizens of illegal, unsafe or unwanted guns; and, a record-keeping system to track civilian firearms. In 1997, the UN published a study based on member state survey data titled the United Nations International Study on Firearm Regulation which was updated in 1999.[f] This study was meant to initiate the establishment of a database on civilian firearm regulations which would be run by the Centre for International Crime Prevention, located in Vienna. who were to report on national systems of civilian firearm regulation every two years. These plans never reached fruition and further UN-led efforts to establish international norms for the regulation of civilian-held firearms were stymied. Responding to pressure from the U.S. government,[g] any mention of the regulation of civilian ownership of small arms was removed from the draft proposals for the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.
Although the issue is no longer part of the UN policy debate, since 1991 there have been eight regional agreements involving 110 countries concerning aspects of civilian firearm possession. The Bamako Declaration,[h] was adopted in Bamako, Mali, on 1 December 2000 by the representatives of the member states of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The provisions of this declaration recommend that the signatories would establish the illegal possession of small arms and light weapons as a criminal offence under national law in their respective countries.
Studies, debate, and opinions
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (July 2013)|
High rates of gun mortality and injury are often cited as a primary impetus for gun control policies.[page needed] The question of whether gun control policies increase, decrease or have no effect on rates of gun violence turns out to be a difficult question. While a variety of disparate data sources on rates of firearm-related injuries and deaths, firearms markets, and the relationships between rates of gun ownership and violence exist, found that while some strong conclusions are warranted from current research, the state of our knowledge is generally poor. Despite the potential for improved research design, the National Research Council review concludes that the gaps in our knowledge on the efficacy of gun control policies are due primarily to inadequate data and not to weak research methods. The result of the scarcity of relevant data is that gun control is one of the most fraught topics in American politics and scholars remain deadlocked on a variety of issues.
The first cross-national overall comparison of deaths caused by guns was published in 1998, and found substantial variation. The possible factors leading to variation in gun violence among different countries was not assessed. A 2004 review by the National Research Council concluded that, "higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide, that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide, that firearms are used defensively many times per day, and that some types of targeted police interventions may effectively lower gun crime and violence."
A number of studies have examined the correlation between rates of gun ownership and gun-related, as well as overall, homicide and suicide rates internationally. Martin Killias, in a 1993 study covering 21 countries, found that there were significant correlations between gun ownership and gun-related suicide and homicide rates. There was also a significant though lesser correlation between gun ownership and total homicide rates[i] A later study published by Killias et al. in 2001, based on a larger sample of countries found "very strong correlations between the presence of guns in the home and suicide committed with a gun, rates of gun-related homicide involving female victims, and gun-related assault." The authors suggest that the correlation between the presence of guns in the home and suicide and homicide of females is best explained as causal, i.e. the presence of guns is the cause of the mortality and not the reverse. The study found no correlation for similar crimes against men, total rates of assault or for robbery, however, the authors note that the relationship between availability of guns and male homicide is complex, and the data may be affected by wars, organized crime, street crime and crime rates among various countries. They also note that, "the absence of significant correlations between gun ownership and total homicide, assault, or suicide rates...[leaves] open the question of possible substitution effects." (In other words, other means could have been substituted for firearms used in the commission of homicide or suicide.)
The Harvard Injury Control Research Center, part of the Harvard School of Public Health, found that "The rate of gun homicide, and the total homicide rate was significantly correlated with levels of gun ownership", and that this also held across high-income nations and across states. The study also said that "Cross-sectional studies like ours do not provide information about causality." 
However, a number of scholars have also reported that the rate of gun availability is associated with less gun violence. These include Don Kates, John Lott, Joyce Malcolm, Gary Mauser, David Mustard, and Gary Kleck. For example, a 2002 review of international gun control policies and gun ownership rates as these relate to crime rates by Kates and Mauser, published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (a student run journal devoted to conservative and libertarian legal scholarship) argues that, "International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been [sic] afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative." Kates and Mauser point out in Europe, there is no correlation whatsoever between gun ownership rates and homicide rates (see table "European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates"). Joyce Malcolm reviewed the subject of crime rates and homicides in England and found that, "data on firearms ownership by constabulary area" show "a negative correlation...[that is], where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest."
Economist John Lott, in his book More Guns, Less Crime, provides data showing that laws allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a gun legally in public may cause reductions in crime because potential criminals do not know who might be carrying a firearm. The data for Lott's analysis came from the FBI's crime statistics for all 3,054 U.S. counties. A few dozen academic peer-reviewed studies have been done examining his results.
Some have argued that gun ownership has no effect on violent crime. Kleck analyzed the impact of 18 major types of gun control laws on every major type of violent crime or violence (including suicide), and found that gun laws generally had no significant effect on violent crime rates or suicide rates.
Studies by Arthur Kellermann and Matthew Miller found that keeping a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of suicide. Other studies, however, found no association between gun ownership and suicide.
A comprehensive review of published studies of gun control, released in November 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was unable to determine any statistically significant effect resulting from such laws, although the authors suggest that further study may provide more conclusive information. In 2010, Lott provides a comprehensive survey of research on concealed carry laws in the 3rd edition of More Guns, Less Crime. About 2/3rds of the peer-reviewed studies by economists and criminologists find that concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime and 1/3rd show no effect. An updated review was published in the University of Maryland Law Review and it showed similar results.
Outside of academia, some American advocates of gun rights, such as Stephen Halbrook, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, and JFPO leader Aaron Zelman, have argued that the Nazi Party can be characterized as a gun control regime, and that its alleged practice of gun control was an enabling factor in the Holocaust. Their arguments refer to laws that disarmed "unreliable" persons, especially Jews, but relaxed restrictions for "ordinary" German citizens, and to the later confiscation of arms in countries it occupied. They have used allusions to the Nazis in the context of the modern gun-control debate. Legal scholar Bernard Harcourt responded to these arguments by saying "[it is] absurd to try to characterize [the Nazi regime] as either pro- or anti-gun control", given the contemporary political context in which the term is used. However, if one had to choose, Harcourt would say that the Nazi regime was pro-gun compared with the Weimar Republic that preceded it. He points out that there is disagreement within the gun rights movement on the question of the Nazis and gun control, with many of its adherents distancing themselves from the association of gun control with the Holocaust. He cites William L. Pierce, founder of the pro-gun National Alliance, who wrote that "When you have read [and compare the 1928 and 1938 German gun laws], you will understand that it was Hitler's enemies, not Hitler, who should be compared with the gun-control advocates in America today." Robert Spitzer has said—as has Harcourt—that the quality of Halbrook's historical research is poor. Opposing Halbrook's argument that gun control leads to authoritarian regimes, Spitzer says that "actual cases of nation-building and regime change, including but not limited to Germany, if anything support the opposite position." Historian Michael S. Bryant concludes that "in exaggerating similarities and ignoring differences in their comparisons, gun rights advocates violate Charles Maier's test for tendentiousness." The Anti-Defamation League has said that use of the Holocaust in these arguments, as well as being historically inaccurate, is offensive to the victims of the Nazis.
In 2012 the company Defense Distributed released a 3D printed gun called the Liberator. Questions were raised regarding the effects that 3D printing and widespread consumer-level CNC machining may have on gun control effectiveness.
Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns," and "Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production. Even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files.
European officials have noted that producing a 3D printed gun would be illegal under their gun control laws and that criminals have access to other sources of weapons, but noted that as the printing technology improved the risks of the illegal manufacture would increase.
Some U.S. legislators have proposed regulations on 3D printers to prevent them being used for printing guns. 3D printing advocates have suggested that such regulations would be futile, could cripple the 3D printing industry, and could infringe on free speech rights.
Japan of the Shogunate
In 1607 Japan began a process of eliminating firearms from the island kingdom. This occurred within a nation that had in the previous century made firearms a critical part of its warmaking. From the beginning firearms roused serious opposition within Japan because they practically eliminated the single combats by which samurai could win glory. The samurai's distaste for firearms was so great the vast majority of the users of the firearms in the civil wars and invasion of Korea were commoners. This increased their offensiveness to the samurai—they were being killed by their social inferiors. The population of samurai was large, as much as ten percent of the population, compared to an estimated one percent of nobility in feudal Europe. Once the civil wars and invasions were over the pressure from the samurai class to eliminate firearms was irresistible.
In 1607 Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu centralized all firearm production at two centers. He created a commissioner of firearms to license all firearm orders. In practice only government orders were licensed and these dwindled to nothing in the course of the 17th century. Eventually the gunmakers turned to making swords, and firearms were essentially eliminated from use.
Many opponents of gun control consider self-defense to be a fundamental and unalienable human right and believe that firearms are an important tool in the exercise of this right. They consider the prohibition of an effective means of self-defense to be unethical. For instance, in Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," a quote from Cesare Beccaria reads,
"laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
Before the American Civil War ended, state slave codes prohibited slaves from owning guns. After slavery in the U.S. was abolished, states persisted in prohibiting black people from owning guns under laws renamed Black Codes.
The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms.
After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1868, most states turned to "facially neutral" business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia's official university law review called for a "prohibitive tax...on the privilege" of selling handguns as a way of disarming "the son of Ham," whose "cowardly practice of 'toting' guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime.... Let a Negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights." Thus, many Southern states imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns—so-called Saturday night specials—in order to price destitute individuals out of the gun market.
From this time on, different laws and formalities were put into action concerning firearms. In 1927, Congress passed a law prohibiting mailing concealable firearms. In 1934, The National Firearms Act was passed which regulated only fully automatic firearms. Later, Congress created The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 which placed the first limitations on selling ordinary firearms. Any one who sold firearms had to have a license for doing so at an annual rate of $1 and records of personnel purchasing the firearms must be kept record of. The Gun Control Act of 1968 expanded on The Federal Firearms Act on the licenses of firearm sellers and created limits to who was eligible to purchase a firearm, considering criminal background, mental stability, citizenship, and drug abusers. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 required back ground checks on firearm sales by licensed dealers (History of Gun Ownership Laws, nd). This was quickly followed by The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This created a 10 year ban on the production of some assault style weapons.
In Britain, the private ownership of most handguns was banned in 1997 following a gun massacre at a school in Dunblane and a 1987 gun massacre in Hungerford in which the combined deaths were 35 and injured 30. In 2005/6 the number of homicides by firearm in England and Wales (population 53.3 million) was 50, a reduction of 36 per cent on the year before and lower than at any time since 1998/9, one year following the ban. In 2007, the number of deaths in Britain from firearms was 51. In 2008 the number of deaths was 42, a 20-year low, with vast parts of the country recording no homicides, suicides or accidental deaths from firearms.
In response to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, Australian state and territory parliaments enacted gun laws, developed from the report of the 1988 National Committee on Violence, that tightened requirements for licensing, registration, and safe storage of firearms, and banned civilian possession of all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, under the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), and from 1 October 1996 to 30 September 1997 through a gun buy-back scheme, 660,959 guns were surrendered.
The 2002 Monash University shooting prompted state and territory parliaments to tighten probation and attendance requirements for sporting target shooters and limit the caliber and mandate a minimum barrel length for semi-automatic pistols and revolvers. Competitive target shooters were paid compensation for their pistols if they agreed to give up the sport for five years.
In 2002, Mouzos and Reuter concluded that after the 1996–97 gun buy-back, though suicide rates did not fall, a long-term trend toward less use of guns in suicide continued; while a modest long-term decline in homicide continued, homicides due to firearms declined sharply; and while other violent crime, such as armed robbery, continued to rise, there were fewer instances involving guns.
Ozanne-Smith and colleagues (2004) noted that "dramatic reductions in overall firearm related deaths and particularly suicides by firearms were achieved in the context of the implementation of strong regulatory reform," and Chapman and colleagues (2006) found that "Australia's 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths..."
In 2007, Baker and McPhedran argued that, taking historical trends into account, "firearm suicide was the only parameter the NFA may have influenced, although societal factors could also have influenced observed changes." David Hemenway responded in 2009 that Baker and McPhedran, both "from the pro-gun lobby,"[j] designed their study to find nothing; that they used only the 1979–96 period to establish a trend when data for every year from 1915 were available and extrapolated the data arithmetically rather than the usual logarithmically so as to produce their desired results, and Hemenway points out that "11 gun massacres occurred in Australia in the decade before the NFA, resulting in more than 100 deaths, in the decade following (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres."
- This figure excludes older, pre-automatic small arms from military and law enforcement stockpiles or 'craft-produced' civilian firearms.
- Composed of 'insurgents and militias, including dormant and state-related groups'.
- However, as of 2009, active non-state armed groups, numbering about 285,000 combatants, control only about 350,000 small arms.
- Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, and Taiwan (Republic of China) prohibit civilian ownership of firearms in almost all instances. Eritrea and Somalia also prohibit civilian possession of firearms as part of their implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms. In the Solomon Islands civilian firearm ownership is restricted to members of the Regional Assistance Mission.
- The survey, carried out by the Small Arms Survey included 28 countries (42 jurisdictions in total). The countries included in the sample were:
- Africa: Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda;
- Americas: Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, United States, Venezuela;
- Asia: India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Turkey, Yemen;
- Europe: Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom;
- Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea.
The study states that 'while the sample is diverse and balanced, it may not be representative of the systems in place in countries outside the sample'.
- The impetus behind this study was twofold: firstly, there were concerns over the incidence of firearm-related crimes, accidents and suicides; secondly, there was the apprehension that existing regulatory instruments administering the ownership, storage and training in the use of firearms held by civilians might be inadequate.
- The US government was opposed to a section of the draft proposal calling on countries 'to seriously consider the prohibition of unrestricted trade and private ownership of small arms and light weapons'.
- The full title is 'The Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (2000)'.
- The present study, based on a sample of eighteen countries, confirms the results of previous work based on the 14 countries surveyed during the first International Crime Survey. Substantial correlations were found between gun ownership and gun-related as well as total suicide and homicide rates. Widespread gun ownership has not been found to reduce the likelihood of fatal events committed with other means. Thus, people do not turn to knives and other potentially lethal instruments less often when more guns are available, but more guns usually means more victims of suicide and homicide.
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