Logic is a funny thing, and it often doesn't work the way people think it does. For instance, the statement that A implies B (or, "If A is true, then B is true") does not mean that B implies A. Interestingly, though, logic turns out to describe a lot of the rules by which the real world works quite well.
What's the relevance of this to this issue?
Well, the assertion of gun ban advocates¹ is that guns cause crime, and more guns cause more crime, and less guns mean less crime. On the contrary, firearms rights advocates assert that guns prevent more crimes than are committed with them, and that more guns mean less crime, and tighter gun control laws permit more crime by disarming victims.
We could state this logically as two assertions. Let's say that G represents more guns and less ownership restrictions, while the inverse, !G, represents less guns and more ownership restrictions. Likewise, let's use C to represent more crime, and its inverse !C to represent less crime. Then, we can say that gun ban lobby advocates assert G -> C and !G -> !C_, while firearms rights advocates assert the opposite, that G -> !C and !G -> C.
I think we can all agree that these two sets of assertions cannot be simultaneously true (although they can be simultaneously false).
Now, the assertion that guns are a net soclai good — that they prevent more crimes than are committed with them — is a hard one to prove, because it's much easier to document someone who was murdered, robbed or raped than it is to document when someone was NOT robbed, murdered or raped. "So, Mrs. Doe, exactly where and when was it that the accused did not rape you?" The vast majority of rapes, murders, assaults and robberies are reported to police, because a crime was committed. But do you call the police and report every time you did NOT get into a traffic accident on your way home from work? Or do you just mutter a curse at the idiot who cut you off and didn't signal his lane change? Do you call the fire department each day to report that your house is not currently on fire? Neither do you call the police every time you spot someone walking towards you with that meaningful look, and you look him in the eye as you put your hand to your waistband inside your jacket or open your purse and slip your hand in, and he abruptly finds something he has to do on the other side of the street. Almost nobody who has studied this can agree exactly how often it happens, because studies have to rely heavily on estimates and self-reporting. But even the strongly anti-gun Clinton Administration's Justice Dept was reluctantly forced to concede that the results of its own study seemed to show that firearms were successfully used to defend against or prevent crimes at least 1.5 million times per year. Other studies have yielded estimates range as high as 4.5 to 5 million. Even the CDC, before being slapped down for wasting their budget on issues outside their charter, published a finding that admitted to a lower-bound estimate of around 850,000.
However, nobody has really hard numbers. Because "crimes that weren't committed" or "crimes prevented" is a very hard thing to put hard numbers to.
The same, however, is not true of crimes that were committed. So let's look at that instead. And when we look at that, we find that there are indeed hard numbers on it. They're all over the place, starting with the FBI Unified Crime Reports. And those hard data show that crime rates in the US have been dropping steadily and consistently for several decades now. There's our !C. Nobody can argue with that !C and retain any credibility. It's fully documented. The hard data can't lie.
So, what about the left-hand side of our logical statements?
Well, over most of the last 20 years, Americans have been buying more firearms. Over about the last five or six years, that has really kicked into high gear. More Americans — and a greater proportion of American women — own firearms than ever before. Americans are buying unprecedented quantities of firearms, ammunition and accessories. Ammunition is flying off dealer shelves almost as fast as it arrives. Brownells, a major distributor of firearms parts, gunsmithing parts and tools, and reloading equipment and supplies, just got in what would previously have been a 3.5 year supply of AR15 magazines. They sold out in three days.
And the restrictions? Over the last ten or fifteen years, the majority of the states in the US have passed shall-issue concealed-carry permit laws. Some states have even eliminated the need for a permit altogether. The Supreme Court has even overturned the near-absolute firearms bans of Chicago, Illinois and Washington DC as being in violation of the Second Amendment, and then slapped DC down again when DC said "Alright, you can have guns subject to these restrictions," then wrote up a set of restrictions that were almost impossible for anyone to satisfy.
So, we have both a major increase in firearms ownership, and a major reduction in restrictions upon same. That sure looks like a G to me.
So, what facts have we got to work with?
We've got G, and we've got !C.
This doesn't prove that G -> !C. It doesn't even prove that there is a causal relationship between G and C, because correlation does not equal causation.
But oh boy, does it ever disprove² G -> C, the gun ban lobby's assertion that guns inherently, automatically, and inevitably cause crime.
All together now: "Oops."
¹ No, I'm not going to use the term "gun control". Let's be honest here. To outfits like the Brady Campaign (formerly Handgun Control Inc), the eventual goal is a complete ban on all private firearms ownership — they've stated it in their own literature — and any licensing, any training requirement, any one-gun-a-month restriction, any punitive tax, is nothing more than a step towards that end goal. To the "gun control" lobby, guns will be "controlled" when all privately owned firearms have been confiscated and private gun ownership is a crime, and not a minute before.
² Unless you're going to assert that there is some hidden effect, unrelated to firearms ownership and restrictions, which nobody has discovered yet, and which, through the magic power of unicorn farts, is causing such a staggeringly huge sustained reduction in crime rates that it is not only absorbing all of the extra crime being caused by all those extra guns but reversing the increase. And if you're going to make that assertion, then all I can say is, if you can find and identify the Mystery Unicorn-Fart Factor, BOTTLE IT, because you just might have world peace in a bottle. And I think we could ALL get behind that.