All Commentary
Thursday, February 1, 1996

Guns, Crime, and Freedom

A Tidy Collection of Arguments and Evidence Against Gun Control

Wayne LaPierre’s book Guns, Crime, and Freedom has a good many flaws. But in spite of them all, LaPierre has rendered a valuable service to the defenders of the Second Amendment. The primary virtue of Guns is that it collects nearly all of the arguments and evidence against gun control into one tidy volume, and makes them easily accessible to all.

This book deals with both the moral and the practical aspects of gun control. It presents the evidence for why it is wrong to oppress those who want to own guns; it argues that ownership of firearms is, in fact, a right. But LaPierre has also presented the evidence on the practical side of the gun control argument, showing how crime is not reduced by gun control.

LaPierre has collected a tremendous volume of evidence about what the framers of the Constitution really intended the Second Amendment to mean. From Thomas Jefferson’s “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms,” through John Adams, James Madison, and a whole litany of the revolutionary leadership in America, La-Pierre demonstrates the desire of the framers that the American people should have the right to own weapons. Few can read this book and still deny that the framers intended the Second Amendment to give us all the right to arms.

Not stopping at the framers, though, LaPierre invokes an overwhelming weight of current legal scholarship. Citing one law review article after another, he reveals that those who sit down and actually study the Second Amendment all come to the same conclusion: it applies to everyone, not just the National Guard.

This book contains a wealth of statistics on the failure of gun control laws. LaPierre discusses the crime rates in countries with and without gun control, and destroys the liberal argument that Canada or Great Britain’s lower crime rates are attributable to their strict control of firearms. He also provides similar statistics for various states in this country, and shows that those with the strictest gun control are also usually those with the highest crime rates.

Accompanying those figures are a set of powerful arguments, explaining why gun control fails. LaPierre repeats and expounds on the traditional “Criminals don’t obey the current laws, so why should they obey gun control laws” argument. He also shows why less gun control can also equal less crime. From waiting periods to concealed weapons, LaPierre has compiled all the best defenses of the right to keep and bear arms.

Unfortunately, compiling is really all he has done. Although there is a wealth of information in this book, it is presented in such lackluster fashion that its value is diminished. There are enough typos and misspellings to make one wonder about the editing effort put into Guns. And the prose is labored and repetitive: the same arguments appear over and over again at seemingly random places in the text.

In the modern political climate, where those who resist gun control are portrayed as either fanatics or unlettered bumpkins, a smoother, more professional presentation would have aided opponents of gun control. The poor writing in this book will give the media establishment all the excuse it needs to ignore what is otherwise an overwhelming weight of evidence.

Despite its shortcomings, Guns, Crime, and Freedom is a comprehensive, well-researched reference work. All the facts necessary to refute those who call for the banning of guns are right at hand and fully indexed. Those who defend Americans’ right to keep and bear arms will find this a valuable weapon in their fight.

Mr. Greenwood is a journalist in Billings, Montana