Tragedy shook Texas on April 2 when Ivan Lopez went on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, leaving four soldiers dead and an additional 17 people injured. Although the incident occurred less than one week ago, several politicians have already come out for stricter gun laws. Despite being a concealed-carry state, Texas is home to fewer gun crimes per capita than many states with strict gun control policies, however.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to reporters on April 3, “As I was told today, [Army Spc. Ivan Lopez] bought his gun a day or two before he killed these people. Couldn’t we at least have background checks so that people who are ill mentally, or who are felons, shouldn’t be able to buy guns?”
Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins pointed out that Reid’s argument distorts the issue, since Lopez did go through a background check to purchase his gun. Reid’s failed senate bill, even if had been passed, would not have prevented the shooter from obtaining his weapon. “The pistol used by Lopez … was purchased legally last month,” Hawkins wrote.
Reid and his colleagues must put emotion aside in order to objectively assess the effectiveness of strict gun laws. Available data overwhelmingly demonstrates that stricter gun control does not yield lower crime rates.
Chicago would be the safest city in the country if strict gun control were an effective model. Carrying a concealed weapon in Illinois was illegal prior to 2013. In 2012 alone, there were over 500 gun-related deaths in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
That same year, Houston posted 217 murders–less than half of Chicago’s death toll, according to NewsFix.
Houston and Chicago, which each have a population between 2 and 3 million, are almost identical in terms of socioeconomic factors. Both cities are plagued with human trafficking and drugs, and have a poverty rate just under 30 percent. Additionally, 50-60 percent of both cities’ populations are minorities. Despite these similarities, Houston has historically been home to significantly fewer gun deaths than Chicago. The significant difference between the two cities has shown to be vastly different approaches to gun policies.
As of July 2013, thanks to a bill passed by the Illinois Legislature, concealed carrying is now legal in the state. During the first quarter of 2014, Chicago experienced its lowest murder rate in the last 50 years, according ABC News.
While Washington insiders such as Harry Reid push stricter gun control to prevent future shootings, many Lone Star State residents likely believe that more guns, not fewer, is the key to less violence. A February 2013 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that most Texans think that stricter gun control laws would not prevent violence. Eighty percent of Republicans said that gun control policies should either remain the same or be made less strict.
Contrasting Sen. Reid, Texas Congressman Steve Stockman blamed the Fort Hood shooting on gun control and called for an end to gun bans at military bases. Fort Hood and many other military bases are currently “gun free zones.” Stockman said in a statement, “Only the most out-of-touch radical would try to disarm soldiers. It’s time to repeal this deadly anti-gun law before it creates another mass killing. This is another tragedy created by anti-gun activists…. This is the third mass shooting on a military base in five years, and it’s because our trained soldiers aren’t allowed to carry defensive weapons.”
Other Texas politicians, including Congressman Michael McCaul, agree with Stockman. McCaul said on Fox News, “We need to harden our military bases so this can’t happen, and one possible way to do that is to allow our veterans and active-duty military… to carry weapons. I guarantee if they had … they could have stopped this guy almost immediately.”
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