Is Gun Control Helping or Hurting Europe?

If decreasing the number of legally owned guns is supposed to help prevent crime, it’s not working in Europe. Many developed nations with high rates of gun ownership have murder rates that are actually lower than many developed nations where gun ownership is much more rare. For example, as Table 1 shows, the murder rate in Luxembourg, where handguns are banned and ownership of any type of gun is almost nil, was about nine times higher than Germany.

So what causes the violence? A 2007 Harvard study titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy says that “the determinants of murder and suicide are basic social, economic, and cultural factors, not the prevalence of some form of deadly mechanism.”

As the authors point out, just as American cities with the highest violent crime rates are also the cities with the most stringent gun controls, European nations with severe gun restrictions also have high crime rates. As Table 2 demonstrates, European nations with stricter gun controls have higher murder rates than their neighbors that allow handguns.

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