Guns save lives

WASHINGTON, DC — Tuesday’s tragic massacre in an Arkansas school yard — where a pair of schoolboys brutally shot and killed five unsuspecting people — won’t cause the Libertarian Party to budge one inch on its 100% pro-gun position, the party’s chairman said today.

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For release: March 25, 1998
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Guns save lives, says Libertarian Party — despite tragic shooting at Arkansas school.

“The Libertarian Party will continue to fight any attempts to disarm law-abiding Americans — despite efforts by political vultures to exploit this tragedy to advance their anti-gun agenda,” said Steve Dasbach, national chairman of the Libertarian Party.

“Guns not only save more lives than they cost, they are a fundamental bulwark in our defense of liberty. Any effort to restrict that right is not only unsafe, it’s positively un-American,” he said.

“Of course, our hearts go out to the victims, survivors, and families of this tragedy. And, like all Americans, we hope that the perpetrators are punished appropriately for this horrific crime. But don’t punish the Bill of Rights for the actions of two mentally ill juvenile criminals.”

Dasbach’s comments came 24 hours after two young boys, age 11 and 13, opened fire on classmates and teachers in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Their barrage left four students and one teacher dead, and 11 others wounded.

But aren’t Libertarians somewhat leery of speaking out in favor of guns after such a tragedy?

No, said Dasbach: “The time to defend the Second Amendment is not when it is easy, but when it is most difficult. That is when the danger is greatest that politicians — perhaps well-meaning, but deluded — will try to revoke our Second Amendment rights.

“In fact, failing to speak out now would be to surrender to the demagogues. We know that numerous politicians will swoop in on the blood-stained victims of this tragedy, and use their needless deaths as an excuse to demand that Americans give up their rights in exchange for promised security. But the criminal behavior of young psychopaths should not be the basis of unconstitutional laws,” he said.

Besides, said Dasbach, the tragedy in Arkansas is an opportunity to remind Americans that guns actually save lives.

“For every one innocent victim murdered in Arkansas, there are dozens of Americans who are alive today because of the defensive use of guns,” he pointed out.

  • Research by Peter Hart Associates in 1980 found that 4% of American households reported defensive use of a handgun within the previous five years.
  • In 1991, Gary Kleck of Florida State University estimated defensive handgun use at between 850,000 and 2.5 million incidents per year. Every year an estimated 2,000-3,000 criminals are killed by armed citizens acting in self-defense.
  • As many as 75 lives are protected by a gun for every life lost to a gun, reported Kleck in “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” (New York: Aldine de Gruyter Books, 1991).
  • And a Cato Institute study this year found that violent crime rates dropped dramatically in the 24 states that have passed “concealed-carry” laws — with murders dropping by 7.7%, rapes falling by 5.2%, and aggravated assaults reduced by 7.7%.

“Libertarians know that guns are not the cause of America’s rising tide of violence. In fact, they’re one of the solutions,” said Dasbach. “We believe the most effective way to stop human predators is by repealing the laws prohibiting concealed weapons. We also know that guns are the best defense an individual can have against crime, and that the laws banning guns accomplish only one thing — victim disarmament.”

But Libertarians don’t support gun rights merely as a deterrent to crime, said Dasbach.

“We’re also the only political party with the guts to publicly state, and forcefully defend, the true purpose of the Second Amendment,” he said. “Ultimately, that purpose isn’t about hunting, or collecting, or target shooting. It’s not even about stopping criminals. It’s about defending freedom against tyrants, be they foreign or domestic.

“That’s why the Founding Fathers enshrined the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights, and why Libertarians will continue to support that right,” he said. “Yes, we mourn the victims in Arkansas whose lives were needlessly lost because of the actions of deranged criminals — but we will never let criminals or opportunistic politicians blackmail us into surrendering our fundamental rights.”

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