Give Them Uzis and Watch the Crime Drop

Walter Williams' argument against gun control is just silly. How could making it easier for a dangerous drug lord to load up on Lugers be a good thing?
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I like to approach the blogosphere the way I do a dinner party. I start off by sampling the daily offerings from lighter sites like Deadspin and Gawker as if they were hors d'oeuvres. Once I've whet my appetite with bits of sports news and yuppie gossip, I get right down to business, marching my way down the all-you-can-eat buffet line of political sites. I'll start off in comfortable territory, gobbling up the daily opinions on Huffington Post and ThinkProgress, but this is just prep for the meaty main course of conservatism which I find at Townhall. I tuck my napkin in my shirt and tackle the hearty helping of right-wing ideology like a 72 oz. steak.

Today's edition of Townhall features opinions from the likes of penguin-demonizing pundit Michael Medved and John Stossel, who has suggested global warming "may be a good thing" and argued that young people not voting is good for democracy earlier this month.

But it was Walter Williams' column about murder rates in American cities that really got me riled up. Williams argues that lax gun control laws that have enabled dealers to flood urban areas with firearms have nothing to do with rising rates of gun violence. Furthermore he claims that making it more difficult for, say, malicious crack kingpins to get their hands on guns would be a step in the wrong direction. Are you for real, Dr. Williams?

Last year 406 people were murdered in Philadelphia, and the death toll is on pace to exceed that total as the streets have already claimed 264 victims this year. Williams was raised in North Philly, so I'd expect him to bring a more realistic approach to the problems of urban gun violence. I understand Williams has strong libertarian economic views and I don't disagree with his belief that the way to get to the root of most social problems is to provide economic opportunity. I think his faith in the free market to solve poverty alone is a bit out of touch with reality, but at least it's logical: lower taxes à spur economic growth à create jobs à people work instead of commit crimes.

Williams' argument against gun control, on the other hand, is just silly. How could making it easier for a dangerous drug lord to load up on Lugers be a good thing? You don't have to be chair of an economics department like Williams is to know that if there's a large demand for guns among dangerous drug lords and there's a large supply of guns with no real restrictions to who buys them, then you're gonna have a lot of dangerous drug lords running around strapped and ready to kill.

To back that theory up with some data, I'd like to call attention to gun crime rates over the last decade. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, gun crime rates dropped for 10 straight years after 1994 when the Brady Law mandating criminal background checks on gun sales went into effect. But three years ago gun crime rates started creeping back up, jumping nearly 50 percent between 2004 and 2005. Think this might have something to do with the fact that Congress allowed the ban in the Brady Law on semiautomatic assault weapons to expire in September 2004?

Thanks to the gun lobby's powerful hold on legislators at the federal and state level, all those AK's, Tec 9's, and Glocks 50 Cent is always rapping about are as easy for Philly dealers to get their hands on as a good cheesesteak. I always like sampling from the buffet table of opinions and considering arguments from different perspectives, but there's something about Williams' case for unfettered access to Uzis that just doesn't go down right.

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