In our opinion: Gun laws and reality

Published: Thursday, March 14 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utahns may be disappointed to learn that Utah is dead last in the most recent rankings, scoring a big fat zero out of 100 possible points.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence features a page on its website that provides a state-by-state scorecard to help you "find out if your state has strong gun laws to prevent gun violence." Utahns may be disappointed to learn that Utah is dead last in the most recent rankings, scoring a big fat zero out of 100 possible points. They might be encouraged to pack their bags and move to California, which garnered a score of 81, and high praise from the Brady Campaign for its continuing efforts to "blaze legislative trails in saving lives."

Yet what happens when these legislative trails, no matter how boldly they're blazed, don't necessarily lead to saved lives?

The FBI's uniform crime reports state that California's gun homicide rate stands at 3.25 per 100,000 people in the general population, more than three times higher than Utah's gun homicide rate of .97 per 100,000 people. In addition, the FBI claims that you are five times as likely to be assaulted with a gun in California than in Utah and four times more likely to be robbed at gunpoint. Apparently, people willing to steal your property or take the life of another human being aren't generally the sort to be dissuaded from larceny and murder by stringent gun control laws.

All of this needs to be part of the equation as the Federal Government continues to pursue gun legislation designed to protect American citizens. We do not share the paranoia of some gun-rights advocates, as we do not believe that Washington, D.C., is about to take away everyone's guns. Instead, lawmakers risk passing legislation that is little more than a nuisance for law-abiding gun-owners and offers no deterrent to criminals and no decrease in actual gun violence. High scores from lobbying groups may provide psychological reassurance to those who overestimate a legislature's capacity for effectual change, but surely the actual gun violence statistics ought to be given greater weight in this debate than the good intentions of those who propose laws that don't do what they're designed to do.

If one accepts the Brady Campaign's diagnosis, one would have to presume that California is a firearms-free paradise, while the lawless, gun-riddled streets of the Beehive State feature shootouts every dawn out in front of the local saloon. It turns out, however, that reality isn't as impressed with gun legislation as we all might like it to be.

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