Heartland Institute Expert Reacts to the U.S. Senate Vote on Gun Control

Published April 11, 2013

A new gun control bill cleared a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate today when a Republican filibuster was not upheld. The Senate will now spend several weeks debating a bill that will expand background checks for gun buyers, tighten restrictions on gun trafficking, and increase funding for school security.

The following statement from Steve Stanek, a gun rights expert at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“There was less violence in the 1950s, before background checks, waiting periods or age limits to buy firearms, and before the federal licensing of gun dealers and the existence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. This should tell us attitudes of people matter more than laws on the books.

“America does not have a gun problem. It has a violence problem. And that problem is actually much less than it was barely 20 years ago. FBI statistics show homicide rates are less than half what they used to be, and at the lowest levels since the 1960s. This plunge in violent crime has happened as firearms restrictions have been reduced, including letting persons in 49 of the 50 states carry concealed firearms. FBI statistics also show persons are more likely to be killed by attackers using knives, feet, fists, or blunt objects than by attackers using rifles, which are so much the focus of the debate.

“Laws do not stop criminal conduct; they define conduct that is criminal. The greatest thing the government could do to reduce gun-related violence would be to end the failed war on drugs, which is the reason for the existence of gangs that are the cause of most of the nation’s violence.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.