New Study Proves Too Much Gun Control Far More Deadly Than Too Little

New Study Proves Too Much Gun Control Far More Deadly Than Too Little
The Nazis immediately moved to disarm their domestic enemies when they gained power. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Is society better off with too much gun control, or too little?

That’s the “essential issue of the gun debate” that constitutional law and firearms policy scholar David Kopel tackles in a new publicly available chapter from his 2018 textbook, Firearms Law and the Second Amendment.

“The global historical evidence shows that too much gun control is much more dangerous than too little gun control,” he concludes. “Disorganized criminals can kill a lot of people, but criminal governments are far more deadly, by about two orders of magnitude. Therefore, any society that accepts the government being stronger than people is, in the long run, creating the conditions for manmade disaster of the deadliest sort.”

Kopel begins the chapter by comparing the gun-related homicide rate in Europe with that of the United States. He finds that over the course of the twentieth century, Europe saw about 750,000 fewer gun-related homicides than the United States after adjusting for population.  

By making several assumptions favorable to the gun control cause (that none of the homicides would have been committed with other means, for example), Kopel concludes that, arguably, the failure of the United States to adopt European-style gun control is responsible for nearly three-quarters of a million excess deaths in the United States in the twentieth century.

That number, however, pales in comparison to the number of people murdered by tyrannical governments that were able to run roughshod over their disarmed populace. If these deaths are taken into account, Europe must take responsibility for about 87.1 million additional people murdered by the state in the twentieth century.

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Myriad factors influence both Europe’s relatively low firearm-homicide rate and the prevalence of tyrannical governments. But Kopel’s analysis shows a strong correlation between tyranny, disarmament, and “democide,” or “the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents.”

Totalitarian governments are far more likely than democracies to engage in high-volume murder, and communists are especially likely to kill their own citizens en masse, he argues.

“The best means to reduce the risk of democide is not to have a totalitarian government. And, especially, not to have a communist government,” Kopel says. “The data further indicate that just about the only means of avoiding the risk of high-volume murder by government is to live in a democracy.”

Disarmament is often the first step of many totalitarian governments, as Kopel’s extensive comparative analysis indicates.

“Throughout human history, totalitarians have always disarmed their subjects,” he notes. “This indicates that they considered widespread citizen armament to be a serious danger to their regimes.”

Mao in China in 1949, Castro in Cuba in 1959, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975 all began their dictatorships by prohibiting or significantly restricting private gun ownership.

Same story in Germany. Kopel notes that the lawfully elected Nazi party took advantage of a gun registration system put in place by the Weimar Republic to “almost immediately” seize guns, knives, and other firearms from individuals in other political parties, especially the Social Democrats, and from Jews. They also outlawed independent shooting ranges and required that any range or club be registered with and ruled by the state.

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On the other side of the spectrum, Kopel notes that England’s “despotically-inclined” Henry VIII restrained his tyrannical tendencies in large part due to the “very existence” of a well-armed populace.  Four hundred years later, Switzerland avoided becoming part of the Holocaust in part due to its heavily armed and well-regulated citizen militia.

To those who don’t believe tyranny could ever come to the United States, Kopel had this to say:

“Only a foolish version of American exceptionalism would imagine that the United States has been granted some sort of permanent immunity from the dangers of totalitarianism. ‘It can’t happen here,’ people have often told themselves. Yet it did happen almost everywhere in Europe, including in democratic, economically advanced, and socially progressive nations such as Germany.”

Check out excerpts from Kopel’s revised chapter, published below:

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  • Michael J January 13, 2020, 12:50 pm

    History is only an account of who’s writing it. But when it doesn’t suit the agenda, it’s simply removed from the curriculum.
    I constantly quiz school kids (elementary and middle) what they’ve learned or in most cases what they haven’t and the answers are appalling. First, they know their pledge of allegiance, but they don’t know what it means. They are ignorant of the flag and what each part represents. Schools now endoctrinate instead of educate to steer society away from true history and heritage. The government view of tolerance is now mandated over traditional family values. Controlling the young is the first step of creating people who cannot reason.

  • Pa John January 10, 2020, 6:05 pm

    Pure democracy is nothing more than mob rule, and that is why the U.S. was founded as a republic. Here is a 10 minute and 35 second video that may help you pass along some vital basic truths to those with shorter attention spans:

    As a side note, notice the thick eyeglasses on the “gunman” in the wild west depiction, and note this to your students…..

  • Bruce January 10, 2020, 3:53 pm

    Right, just a few more krauts with Lugers and the Holocaust would never have happened. What an insight!

  • Michael January 10, 2020, 2:46 pm

    Shooting Ranges outlawed? State registered? Sounds a lot like Northham and the Virginia Democrats. Yup.

  • Charles Lipsey January 10, 2020, 2:32 pm

    We in Kentucky are rapidly passing 2nd Amendment sanctuary cities. We refuse to surrender our weapons to any government for the afore mentioned reasons.
    We recently retired to a mountain cabin and within a few days meth heads came looking. Well, seeing how it would take the sheriff 15-20 minutes to get here, my wife and I, along with our pit, met them locked and loaded. One of them had a sawed of 410 and was lucky to live.
    Not being armed citizens could have resulted in our deaths.
    If any government entity feels the criminals will turn over their guns they are seriously dumber than dirt!
    As long as there are criminals with guns we will protect our property and lives!

  • Captain Dave January 10, 2020, 11:53 am

    I was born American but lived in Socialist Canada for 17 years. When my Canadian wife and I weren’t getting along anymore, she took my bought and paid for car, and hid it and police response was merely that that was her right. She later did the same with my other vehicle and absconded with all of our mutually owned furniture. When I tried to reside in my empty home and visitors showed up in the middle of the night, I had no means or right to self defense. I now have that right once again and I plan to hang on to it. Everyone needs to understand just how important this is. Check out “Reward 25 cents by Dave Lemay” to see what losing your rights can do to you.

  • Nicholas January 10, 2020, 11:43 am

    I disagree with “The data further indicate that just about the only means of avoiding the risk of high-volume murder by government is to live in a democracy.” Democracies have led to tyrannies.
    The notion that this nation is a democracy, and is currently operating as one, has brought us to this point.
    The best way is what the Framers of the Constitution gave us; A Constitutional Federal Republic. In our original form, the People maintained sovereignty. As a sovereign, the right to self-defense is universal. In our current form we’ve lost the right to self-defense along with property rights, the right to live free and unencumbered by the state, and the whims, fears, and ignorance of the general population.
    There is nothing more evident than the fact that the so-called pro-2nd community ignore the first 13 words of the amendment, and the clauses in the Constitution that would protect all our rights.

  • Ted Amsden January 10, 2020, 8:47 am

    If they disarm the citizens, only the criminals will have guns, then watch the crime rate go up. And not wanting to start an argument but we are a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. Democracy is one step away from turning into socialism. If you do your research with the John Birch society you’ll learn alot. Thanks.

  • RICHARD GROENIER January 10, 2020, 8:33 am


  • Robert January 10, 2020, 7:56 am

    Democracy doesn’t ensure freedom. Hitler was elected into power by a democracy, which is tyranny of the majority as they see fit to vote away your freedom.

    Americans have forgotten what individual rights are.

    If you don’t argue your right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness then you will lose your rights to the argument that the “public interest”…” the “greatest good” is the idea that should prevail. What you will get is more and more socialism. And, the ideal of the individual will fade into history from whence it came.

    The political battleground is the rights of the individual v.s. the collective. Guns are just part of an individual’s overall right to live his life as he sees fit without violating the rights of others.

  • Willy January 10, 2020, 7:33 am

    Yes sir! Screw all that gun control and registration and confiscation crap. There is no reason to take guns away from good, law-abiding citizens. But it’s the easy way for a handful of people who want power in governments. They are afraid to go after real criminals. So disarm everyone and is their answer, so they can feel powerful and better than the rest of us. The problem is, they are no better than us.

  • Will Drider January 9, 2020, 8:46 pm

    I think England disarmament of Ireland to support the Crown and Religion should be mentioned. Even after Official disarmament Phases including Restrictions, Registrations, mandatory storage of of civilian firearms at police stations: the the Brits just kept them. Of course, some Irish found not only alternative sources but full auto, sub, and light machineguns and various explosives. If you disobeying Tyrannical Rule, why would you limit yourself?

    One could easily dovetail an epilogue with current events with disarmed populationz in Mexico, South America and Hong Kong.

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