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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78683 Find in a Library
Title: Some Remarks on the Prohibition of Handguns
Journal: St Louis University Law Journal  Volume:23  Dated:(1979)  Pages:11-34
Author(s): D B Kates
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 24
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the effects of gun control legislation by countering theories that link handgun ownership to crime or contend that less lethal weapons would be substituted for guns and concludes that such laws would violate constitutional rights and be impossible to enforce.
Abstract: New York's laws requiring a citizen to obtain a police permit before purchasing a handgun have resulted in poor persons from high crime areas being charged with illegal gun possession while only the wealthy who have adequate police protection apply for permits. Statistics show that .003 percent of all handgun owners murder with their weapons and that these individuals are not average citizens but have histories of aberrant, violent behavior. Studies into gun restrictions, however, generally concede that such laws do not take handguns away from persons who are dangerous with them. Other advocates of gun control have argued that prohibiting handgun possession would reduce homicide because dangerous criminals or psychopaths would use less lethal weapons. A well known study which found that the death rate from handgun wounds is 5 times greater than that from knife wounds is irrelevant because an undifferentiated sample of knife wounds was used. Medical researchers have discovered that recovery rates from wounds inflicted by handguns and long bladed instruments are similar. Academic theorists have suggested that gun laws would cause prospective murderers to shift to long guns are not more expensive, but are currently 2 1/2 times more plentiful as handguns and far more lethal. Most murders are committed in the home where concealment is not a problem, and nonemotional killers such as terrorists and assassins have encountered no difficulties in concealing shotguns or rifles. Handgun prohibitionists agree that banning long guns has little public support and is not feasible in the foreseeable future. Emotional reactions to gun control issues have ignored factual evidence from countries which have gun laws. For example, a Cambridge University study concluded that firearms control has had no discernable effect on English violence. The chief cost of banning handguns would be the jailing of thousands of people who believe that they have a constitutional right and urgent need to keep handguns. Moreover, enforcement of a national permit system would be costly and could result in an unacceptable increase in police powers. An annotated bibliography of approximately 50 references is included.
Index Term(s): Cost effectiveness analysis; Firearms acts; Gun Control; New York
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