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Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vandall on Guns, Children and Congress

Frank Vandall (Emory) has posted to SSRN Guns, Children and Congress.  The abstract provides:

“Guns, Children and Congress” examines the law, history and politics of gun violence. It considers the huge number of child murders at high schools, colleges and homes over the last 20 years because of over 280 million guns afloat in the United States. Rejecting the Second Amendment to the Constitution, Professor Vandall argues for greatly expanded gun control, including universal registration, armories for automatic weapons and restricting guns to the home. In order to encourage corporate insight, he calls for reversal of the Gun Manufacturers Immunity Bill of 2005.

Over the last 20 years the United States has dutifully followed the mantra of the National Rifle Association (NRA): buy a gun. This flawed advice has produced a nation that is flooded with guns.

The NRA's argument has failed to make us safe. The truth is we are more at risk with a gun in the home. Columbine, Virginia Tech and Tucson make it clear that the NRA’s thesis is horribly wrong. The opposite is more accurate. We must begin to reduce the number of guns that are sold and readily available.

Guns are hugely dangerous in the home, can be used to murder children and shoot presidents and Congresswomen. But of critical importance, they may are far less important for a revolution. Social media and picture cell phones have won the day.


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While Prof. Vandall has a right to his opinions, he should stick to matters in which he has some expertise. His entire paper suggests he has never stepped outside academia into the real world.

Repeated studies find no corollation between gun ownership and crime. Indeed, the only links seem to be that where guns are prohibited or heavily restricted, crime increases. For example, after D.C. banned guns, it's crime rate soared to 54.6 per 100,000 in the 1990's, well above the national 5.4 average. This has been repeated in Chicago, NYC and in the UK. Indeed, for two summers there were more deaths in gun-restrictive Chicago that in all of Iraq during the war.

Vandall proposes armories and elaborate ruling councils to control access. First, it was powder and ball stored in "armories" which were the targets of the British to seize which began The Revolution. Second, those armories will become targets themselves. Targets of lifetime criminals, just as we see occasional gun store burglaries where a vehicle is used to smash down a wall.

That Vandall is a neophyte regarding gun use is obvious in his idea of a 5-pound, 3-shot .23 caliber pistol. Does he hate the elderly? Does he hold in disdain the lives of the disabled? Or women? These are the people for which the handgun becomes "The Great Equalizer". A petite woman with a pistol can defeat a six-foot two rapist. An elderly widow can protect herself with a 4-inch barreled .38 revolver. But a 3-shot limit is absurd. Especially given that many times multiple intruders may be involved.

Vandall touts the "peaceful" change in Egypt, but ignores the bloody governments of Libya and Syria. There is no reason to believe cellphone cameras are any less prevelant than in Egypt.

Vandall's ideas are merely talking points originally proposed by The Brady Campaign's predecessor, HCI, back in the 80's. It lacks the comprehension of real life that most gun owners, indeed most law abiding people understand.

When your life is threatened by some psychopathic killer, the most effective means to deal with him to save your life or your family's life is a firearm.

That means it has to be accessible to you quickly. Not pleading a case before some armory council. It means it has to be effective, not some unwieldly thing with a small bullet.

Vandall also omits a critical fact. A fact all tort lawyers know. The police are NOT legally obligated to help you in a crisis. They don't even need to show up, even if your family is being slaughtered slowly. We must protect ourselves because The State has no responsibility to do so.

Posted by: Bill Caffrey | Apr 30, 2011 9:21:59 AM

The very numbers he presents invalidates his argument. 280 million firearms and 30,000 firearm related deaths each year of all types; including Law enforcement killing criminals, criminals killing each other and suicides. Clearly having the nation flooded with guns is not a huge risk to our society, if only one percent of those 280 million firearms were used to kill every year then we'd see 2,800,000 firearm related deaths a year and not 30,000. It is interesting to note however that firearms are used defensively up to 2,500,000 times year, preventing the injury or death of individuals in the US.

Posted by: Patrick | May 2, 2011 5:33:11 AM

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