OPINION: Protecting Gun Rights Does
Not Make Communities Less Safe

By Mark A. Klaassen, U.S. Attorney, Wyoming. October 28, 2020

The fundamental right to keep and bear arms is often under attack by those who insist that the prevalence and availability of guns contributes to higher incidence of violent crime, particularly homicides by firearm. They cite crime rates from other countries with strict gun control laws as evidence. But correlation does not necessarily imply causation, as our experience here in the Cowboy State clearly demonstrates.

Most recent crime data shows a violent crime rate in Wyoming of just 2.1 incidents per 1,000, ranking eighth among all states and significantly lower than the national violent crime rate of 3.7. Even fewer of these violent crimes involve the use of firearms. The relative calm and safety of our communities is part of why so many of us enjoy calling this place our home and raising our families here.

Interestingly, we achieve this sustained low crime rate while having one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. Estimates vary, but there is little doubt that Wyoming has one of the highest number of guns per capita of any state in America. CBS news recently reported that for every 1,000 Wyoming residents, there are 195.7 guns, more than three times as many as the next closest state.

These statistics clearly demonstrate that the prevalence of firearms is not necessarily what leads to high rates of violent crime. The problem is not with guns but the criminals behind them. What is even more compelling is how these statistics support the notion that ordinary citizens exercising their right to possess firearms for self-defense may actually serve as a deterrent to violence. ....

Anti-gun groups invariably insist that everything would be better if all guns were gone - ignoring the fact that criminal guns will never be significantly reduced. It has long been known that more guns in the right hands not only facilitate the inalienable right of self defense but also help promote less crime.


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