With all the discussions circulating about gun control and new gun laws, it might make some sense to examine one attempt to actually try to do something constructive in this area and to review the results.
I’m talking about Boston Massachusetts and the evidence offered up by Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe when he examined what happened in 1998 at the time gun control was enacted. There was a great article in Politix (Another Failed Gun Control Experiment) about this topic and I would like to share some excerpts from this article and the ones from The Boston Globe.
Jeff Jacoby explained the Massachusetts Gun law first…
“In 1998, Massachusetts passed what was hailed as the toughest gun-control legislation in the country. Among other stringencies, it banned semiautomatic “assault” weapons, imposed strict new licensing rules, prohibited anyone convicted of a violent crime or drug trafficking from ever carrying or owning a gun, and enacted severe penalties for storing guns unlocked. …One of the state’s leading anti-gun activists, John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence, joined the applause. “The new gun law,” he predicted, “will certainly prevent future gun violence and countless grief.” It didn’t. The 1998 legislation did cut down, quite sharply, on the legal use of guns in Massachusetts. Within four years, the number of active gun licenses in the state had plummeted. “There were nearly 1.5 million active gun licenses in Massachusetts in 1998,” the AP reported. “In June , that number was down to just 200,000.”
However, he went on to explain that what really happened is that this attempt at gun control simply did not change the behavior of criminals. Another overlooked detail was that people in other states weren’t participating. Both murders and robberies with guns went up 65% and 21% respectively. Jacoby went on to explain why this wasn’t working…
“…why didn’t the gun-control lobby warn legislators in 1998 that adopting the toughest gun law in America would do Massachusetts no good unless every surrounding state did the same thing? Far from explaining why the new law would do nothing to curb violent crime, they were positive it would make Massachusetts even safer. …But crime in Massachusetts didn’t just continue, it began climbing. As in the rest of the country, violent crime had been declining in Massachusetts since the early 1990s. Beginning in 1998, that decline reversed – unlike in the rest of the country. …Guns-across-borders might have explained homicide levels in Massachusetts continuing unchanged. But how can other states’ policies be responsible for an increase in Massachusetts homicides? Relative to the rest of the country, or to just the states on its borders, Massachusetts since 1998 has become a more dangerous state. …In 1998, Massachusetts’s murder rate equaled about 70 percent of the rate for Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. Now it equals 125 percent of that rate. Clearly something bad happened to Massachusetts 15 years ago. Blaming the neighbors may be ideologically comforting. But those aren’t the states whose crime rates are up.”
So when states, including ours, and the federal government decides to start talking gun control and new laws, we should all be more focused on what others, namely Massachusetts, found out from their failed experiment with gun control. And quoting statistics on either side does not seem to do much to protect your or my individual gun ownership rights. What you and I can do is to set up the right legal structure to own our firearms will certainly help because we never know what the next legislative act might do.