Palmer assumed that the only benefit to having a gun is to save a life. But guns can also be used to prevent crimes such as home invasions, rapes, burglaries and carjackings. If you’re going to count the benefits, you have to count all of them.
Palmer did not differentiate between justifiable homicides and murders. Many people will remember the case from Oklahoma City last year where an 18-year-old mother guarding a three-month old baby used a shotgun to kill an intruder armed with a hunting knife. In Palmer’s accounting, this justifiable homicide becomes a “person killed by a gun” and is used as a rationale to disarm people and leave them defenseless in their homes. Most sensible people don’t think that way.
Peaceful, law-abiding people use guns every day to save lives and prevent crimes. As long ago as 1995, criminologist Gary Kleck concluded that guns in the U.S. are used to prevent crimes 2.5 million times a years. You don’t have to necessarily discharge a firearm to prevent a crime. Even people who don’t own or carry guns are kept safer by gun owners. The fact that gun ownership is common in Oklahoma helps prevent crimes such as home invasions and carjackings.
About the only way people can still argue that restrictions on gun ownership reduce crime is to pick their statistics tendentiously. We are told repeatedly that gun homicides in the UK are far lower than in the U.S. But violent crime overall in the UK is nearly five times higher than in the U.S. Civilian gun ownership in Mexico is highly restricted, yet the murder rate is five times higher than in the U.S.
People who want to ban guns always present their plans disingenuously by talking about what they call “common-sense” restrictions. But, in fact, they don’t want “common-sense” regulations. Common sense means having more guns in the hands of people who use them lawfully and fewer in the hands of criminals.