On Feb. 27, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a new gun control bill, the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” with a 240-190 vote that largely split along party lines. The bill would extend requirements for background checks for transfers of firearms to private transactions as well as commercial sales, but the bill is largely symbolic and its practical implementation would be ineffectual.
The bill’s passage by the House is symbolic at the very least because the chances that the Republican-controlled Senate will give the bill more than a cursory reading, much less pass it, are slim to none. Even if it passed the Senate, it would probably face a presidential veto. Even if it cleared every hurdle and became law, the bill assumes that people intent on felonious murder and mayhem would change their plans because of the possibility of a year in prison and a $10,000 fine. It would not provide any effective deterrent. A well-meaning person, however, who is ignorant of the details of the law and lends a shotgun to their cousin, would absolutely face that penalty.
It’s worth noting that most deaths from guns and other forms of violence are caused by governments, not prevented by governments. In the last century, 262 million people in Nazi Germany, the Stalinist Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cambodia during the regime of Pol Pot, and elsewhere were killed by their own governments — victims of democide — according to University of Hawaii researcher Rudolf Rummel. An estimated 64 million additional people died in wars waged between governments. A rough estimate for civilian homicides in the 20th century, by contrast, is a tremendously smaller 8.5 million.
“The best way to prevent death by violent means is to prevent democide and war,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “That includes the war on drugs. Black market drug cartels use violent means to protect and expand their turf. They will not be deterred by firearm background checks. But their ‘business’ model can be eliminated by simply legalizing all drugs. An added benefit to doing so would be to greatly lessen deaths by overdose or contaminated drugs. In addition, funds currently misspent on the war on drugs would be available for rehabilitation programs.”
Republicans and Democrats use fear, not facts, when it comes to both gun violence and drug use. Here are the facts: States with strict gun control laws have higher robbery rates, with no reduction in violent gun use. Homicides rose during both alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs, but they fell as concealed carry laws expanded. The probability of being injured by an attacker decreases dramatically if the intended victim has a gun. A greater availability of handguns and shall-issue concealed carry permits is correlated with a decrease in firearm violence. About two thirds of all defensive gun use occurs in or near the defender’s home.
Libertarians offer a better path to a peaceful society. Respecting the Second Amendment allows people to defend themselves when law enforcement is not on the scene. Eliminating consensual crime laws brings black-market activity into the sunlight of public scrutiny, nearly extinguishing the use of violence as a competitive tactic. Libertarians advocate real solutions to social problems by respecting the individual freedom to engage in peaceful activity. Dozens of them will be on the ballot in 2019 elections. Thousands of them will be asking for your vote in 2020.