From "Gun Play -- What Kids Don't Know About Guns Can Kill Them,"
by David Kopel, July 1993 Reason Magazine

"America does have a serious problem with children and guns, but it's a problem quite different from the one described by America's gun prohibitionists and their washington allies. Indeed, it's a problem that has been aggravated by anti-gun laws.

"Consider how the repressive gun laws of cities such as Chicago, Washington, and New York drive responsible gun use underground.  While a man who operates a bodega on the Lower East Side of New York City may keep an illegal pistol hidden under the counter in case of a robbery, he is not likely to take the gun to a target range for practice. Even if the storekeeper managed to get a gun license, he could not take his teenage son to a target range to teach him responsible firearm use. Just to hold the gun in his hand under immediate adult supervision at a licensed range, the teenager would have to obtain his own permit.

"An airgun, which uses compressed air to shoot a pellet, is safe enough to fire inside an apartment, yet New York City makes it illegal for supervised minors to touch one. The city thus closes off one more avenue for children to be taught proper firearm use.

"Research suggests that the loss of these opportunities makes a difference. In a 1991 study of 675 ninth- and 10th-graders in Rochester, New York, for example, the children who were taught about guns by their families were at no greater risk of becoming involved in crime, gangs, or drugs than children with no exposure to guns. But the children who were taught about guns by their peers were considerably more likely to be involved in various kinds of misbehavior, including gun crime. A study of whites and aborigines in northwest Australia in the late '80s yielded a similar result: young men who were taught about guns by responsible authority figures did not commit gun crimes, even if they broke the law in other ways.

"In this light, repressive gun laws are not merely ineffective.  They actually foster misuse of firearms, including gun violence.   By making firearm ownership illegal, or possible only for wealthy people with the clout to move through numerous bureaucratic obstacles, anti-gun laws render legitimate gun owners invisible.  Children are left with criminals and violent television characters as their only models of gun use. In cities where no child may shoot a BB gun with his parent, kids learn about firearms on the street and shoot each other with 9-mm pistols."


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