T
H
E

L
I
B
E
R
T
A
R
I
A
N

E
N
T
E
R
P
R
I
S
E


I
s
s
u
e

48


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 48, June 15, 1999

To Prevent A Life Of Crime, Buy Your Kid A Gun

by Vin Suprynowicz
Vin_Suprynowicz@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

          It's called propaganda: Simplify your lie down to an easily-recalled slogan, repeat it often enough, and people will eventually get it down by heart and accept it as fact.
          Take: "The cause of all these school shootings is the too-easy availability of guns."
          Prior to the National Firearms Act of 1933, there was no law to discourage a veteran of the Great War from keeping a fully-operational souvenir machine gun in the bedroom closet. There were few towns in America where the local lads didn't know the location of at least one such weapon. Yet none was ever used in a "school shooting."
          As late as the 1960s, it was not unusual in rural America for young boys to carry their .22 rifles to school with them, parking them in the principal's office until needed for the target matches after school. At age 49 I am no doddering old-timer, but I can remember young lads walking the country roads of Ohio and Connecticut after school with their rifles (or bicycling home with the weapons across their handlebars), hoping to pick off some predatory bird with the full encouragement of area farmers. A neighbor might chide you about watching where your bullets went if you missed, but no one ever called the police to report "The Jones boy is heading down the road with his gun; come arrest him!"
          When I went away to Eaglebrook School in Massachusetts (yes, "Own a gun, go to jail" Massachusetts) in 1962 at the age of 12, I took my rifle. We fired for accuracy at the range on Saturdays. I daresay we could have snuck them out of the lockers down at the gym for some mayhem if it ever crossed our minds ... but it never did.
          The violent media? Today's TV offers nothing like "The Rifleman" or "Wanted Dead or Alive," programs of the early 1960s in which Chuck Connors and Steve McQueen ended every episode by mowing down some reprobate who had kicked the town dog or insulted Millie down at the general store, in McQueen's case using a sawed-off Winchester which it's now a federal felony even to recreate for a museum.
          This focus on "the availability of guns" -- ignoring the fact they were far more accessible only 40 years ago, when you could order a 20mm Lahti anti-tank gun through the mail from an ad in the back of a comic book -- is intended not only to advance the prior agenda of those who want a disarmed and enslaved citizenry, but also to distract us from asking what it is about the mandatory behavior modification labs (public schools) which creates such rage and frustration in our incarcerated adolescent males. We don't see these shoot-em-ups in the private schools, or among home-schoolers.
          It also diverts attention from the perfectly relevant question of how many of these shooters had been on drugs known to affect the judgment, like Ritalin and Luvox, prescribed and administered by their government wardens.
          In the face of all this misdirection, isn't it too bad the government has never conducted an actual scientific study on how it affects a child's likelihood of committing crimes if his parents buy him a gun?
          Um, actually ... they have.
          The study was conducted from 1993-1995 by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Child psychologists tracked 4,000 boys and girls aged 6 to 15 in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, N.Y. Their findings?

  • Children who get guns from their parents don't commit gun crimes (0 percent) while children who get guns illegally are quite likely to do so (21 percent).

  • Children who get guns from parents are less likely to commit any kind of street crime (14 percent) than children who have no gun in the house (24 percent) -- and are dramatically less likely to do so than children who acquire an illegal gun (74 percent.)

  • Children who get guns from parents are less likely to use banned drugs (13 percent) than children who get illegal guns (41 percent.)

  • Most strikingly, the study found: "Boys who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use (than boys who own illegal guns) and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns."

          This wouldn't have surprised anyone before the rise of the modern welfare state. It used to be common knowledge that the best way to get kids to act "responsibly" was precisely to give them some "responsibility." Why would we assume a child taught by his parents to use a gun responsibly wouldn't also be more responsible in his other behaviors?
          "Want to dramatically reduce the chance that your child will commit a gun-related crime or -- heaven forbid -- go on a shooting spree?" asked the national Libertarian Party in a May 21 news release detailing these study results. "Buy your youngster a gun."
          "Politicians are apparently more interested in demonizing guns than they are in facts," commented LP national director Steve Dasbach, himself an Indiana government schoolteacher. But "The evidence is in: The simplest way to reduce firearm-related violence among children is to buy them a gun and teach them how to use it responsibly."


Vin Suprynowicz, assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is author of the book, Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998.


Next to advance to the next article, or
Previous to return to the previous article, or
Table of Contents to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 48, June 15, 1999.