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Gun Rights and Liberty Go Hand in Hand

February 22, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Until the Newtown school shooting tragedy, the Obama administration ignored the issue of gun control. Despite pressure to act, Congress should look before it legislates, since gun rights generally correspond to the liberties fundamental in a free society.

Four years ago Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute, William & Mary economist Carlisle Moody and author Howard Nemerov published an article assessing the relationship between guns and freedom, “Is There a Relationship Between Guns and Freedom? Comparative Results From Fifty-Nine Nations.”

They found there was no simple conclusion.

The United Nations was on the case before President Obama. In 1999 U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan contended widespread firearm ownership has “damaged development prospects and imperiled human society.”

More recently the global organization has been pushing an international convention to regulate the international trade in small arms.

The three researchers found that data on gun ownership wasn’t easy to collect. People often lie to government and even pollsters about the issue. There almost certainly are more guns in circulation in America than there are Americans. The bigger the undercount, the greater the practical obstacles facing any new gun restrictions.

Tragedies like the Newtown murders reflect human evil, not gun ownership.”

In any case, Kopel, Moody and Nemerov do their best utilizing indexes on political liberty, corruption and economic freedom. They find that countries with significantly higher gun ownership have greater political and civil liberties. Noted the researchers, “the average of the countries in the first quartile is ‘free,’ while the average for all other quartiles is ‘partly free.’”

Gun-owning societies also are notably less corrupt. The top quartile, reported the three authors, is “mostly clean.” The next three quartiles suffer from “moderate corruption.”

Nations where people own more firearms also tend to have greater economic liberty.

When it came to political liberty, the authors found that the countries in every quartile averaged a rating of “moderately free.” There was a certain self-selection bias to the data.

Still, the authors reported: “The first quartile had the highest average, but not quite 70, which is the threshold for ‘mostly free.’ For all three indices of liberty, the top firearms quartile rates higher than every other quartile.”

Similar results were found when the three researchers ran the numbers per quintile.

The authors found: “When we looked at the countries with the most guns, we saw that they had the most freedom as measured by the liberty indices, but the relationship was only pronounced for high-gun …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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