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The terrorist attack this week in San Bernadino is not a rational argument for gun control. The anti-gun left has fixated on the tragedy for the wrong reason: to push their agenda to compromise gun rights. This topic was not prominent in the commentary after the recent massacre in Paris. That might be because France has strict gun laws that did not stop the terrorists. Similarly, the guns used in the San Bernardino attack were acquired legally despite the fact that California law requires background checks and bans so-called “assault weapons”.

President Obama’s ridiculous claim that mass shootings are an experience known only in the U.S. is obviously false (and see here). In fact, the barrage of misinformation regarding growth in mass shootings in the U.S. is based on severely distorted definitions.

Furthermore, there is no causal evidence that imposing stronger gun prohibitions reduces homicides and violent crime rates, and much evidence to the contrary. See this interesting 2007 study in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” And NYU Law Professor James Jacobs’ adds his thoughts on the inefficacy of gun control.

A compelling reason to reject the anti-gun narrative is that gun violence has been declining for years, despite continuing increases in gun ownership. That makes sense given the value of gun ownership as a crime deterrent. Even relatively conservative estimates of defensive gun uses (DGUs) put their number above, even far above, statistics on gun crime, and deterrence is an additional benefit over and above actual DGUs. Gun prohibition is often counterproductive because it forecloses the opportunity for deterrence and DGUs, much as signs announcing “gun-free zones” offer effective advertising for soft targets.

International comparisons of homicide rates and gun death rates which purport to show that the U.S. ranks poorly are distorted along several lines, but one glaring reason is that European governments exclude terrorist killings while the U.S. does not. Furthermore, reports of U.S. murder rates relative to other “developed” or “advanced” countries often involve arbitrary definitions that tend to distort the comparisons.

Australia has been adopted as something of a poster child on social media for the purported success of their gun “ban” (which was not really a ban at all). The results have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, “success” is a poor choice of words. Here are a few notes on Australian homicide rates after the gun “ban”. The video here is also illuminating, and the following link has more information on the “Australian Gun Ban Conceit“.

Finally, as the New York Times and other outlets have inadvertently demonstrated, the anti-gun argument rests on a poor understanding of constitutional principles. The Times states that “No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.” That is a testament in support of tyranny, and it is false under any conception of natural rights. The statement is either a complete misunderstanding of the intent of the U.S. Constitution or an open call to rip it to shreds. The Constitution is clear in establishing limits on government power and in leaving nearly all individual rights presumed and unenumerated. However, it clearly establishes the right to bear arms because the nation’s founders considered the right of self-defense against aggression so fundamental, including defense against aggression by a tyrannical state.

Note: the title of this post includes a post from Glenn Reynolds.