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5/29/2017 5:35:05 AM
Posted: 7/21/2001 7:40:58 AM EDT
National Review, July 20, 2001 9:05 a.m. When Kmart Costs Lives Failing to think through policies. By John R. Lott Jr. The battle lasted only one day. Michael Moore, part-time movie director and activist, had camped out in the lobby of Kmart's corporate headquarters. He believed that if he could convince the company to stop selling handgun ammunition it would discourage future shooting attacks like the one at Columbine in 1999. To help generate news coverage, Moore brought along several current and former Columbine students to try meeting with Kmart CEO Chuck Conaway. By the next day, even without the meeting, the company had given in, it was no longer selling the ammunition. So isn't this a victory for putting "people before profits"? After a company spokesman told Moore that there were no plans to stop selling ammunition, newspapers reports indicate that the following day "the retailer understood the concerns voiced by Moore and the Columbine students and already had reconsidered its sale of handgun ammunition." Unfortunately, social activists often offer advice that leads to the opposite of what is intended. This action is part of a trend that is slowly undermining people's safety. Gun-control advocates wouldn't cheer on Kmart's decision unless they thought that with fewer retailers selling bullets the amount bought by criminals will decline, though they must then also concede that it will reduce purchases by law-abiding citizens. Even if this change reduces gun use by criminals and law-abiding citizens by the same percent (and that is an optimistic assumption), there will be a greater absolute reduction in defensive gun uses simply because, with some two million defensive gun uses each year, defensive uses are about 5 times more frequent than crimes committed with guns. The police may be extremely important at stopping crime, but they almost always arrive on the crime scene after the crime has been committed. Defensive gun use stories may never make the national evening news, but if we care about saving lives we need to add up both the bad events that are prevented as well as the bad ones that are committed. Moore and Kmart never even appeared aware of gun ownership's benefits. Possibly this ignorance of defensive gun uses is due to the extremely little media coverage defensive uses receive. The few stories that get any attention are buried in short articles in the back of local newspapers and they almost always involve the extremely unusual examples where the criminals have been killed or seriously wounded. Even with these caveats, there are several dozen local stories during just the last couple of weeks of June. Just take a few cases:
Link Posted: 7/21/2001 7:41:30 AM EDT
New Lexington, Ohio: A rape victim stopped her attacker by shooting him. Flint, Michigan: A 68-year-old wheelchair-bound resident shot a violent intruder who had broken into his home. Onondaga, New York: The attacker who was striking someone with a shovel was shot by the friend of the victim. The fear over public-school shootings is legitimate, but Kmart's response, even if it is motivated by those attacks, is not. Since the shootings started in the fall of 1997, 32 students and 3 teachers have been killed in any type of shooting at elementary or secondary schools, an annual rate of 1 death per 4 million students. This includes deaths from gang fights, robberies, accidents, as well as attacks such as the one at Columbine. By contrast, during that same period, 53 students died playing high-school football. Is Kmart's next response to not sell any sports equipment? To blame Kmart for selling some of the ammunition used in the Columbine attack or to think that deaths could have been prevented if only Kmart hadn't sold ammunition makes no sense. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had planned the Columbine attack for over a year and were motivated enough to construct several dozen bombs. Apparently, the real goal is to stop all stores, not just Kmart, from selling ammunition. But when the police can't be there to protect people, will gun control advocates be there to protect them? By John R. Lott Jr., a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School, & the author of More Guns, Less Crime http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-lott072001.shtml
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