Gun control does not and cannot “work” if the goal is to decrease human death. If the goal is to decrease gun ownership, then yes, it works just fine. Gun control affords an illusion of safety by virtue of willfully ignoring the substitution effect; that is, guns are simply a means to an end, if that means is denied, then another means may be substituted to achieve the same (or worse) effect.

Those that believe more stringent background checks will keep guns out of the hands of the “bad” guys, all I can say is consider the case of the Orlando nightclub shooter. He was investigated by the FBI. Twice. And he was still considered to be a non-threat. In other words, even if FBI agents personally engaged in full background investigations of every prospective gun owner, that nut still would have been able to buy a weapon. How are background checks supposed to improve the situation if even the gold standard of such checks failed in this case? Actual “bad” guys aren’t going to get guns the legal route anyway, so they can entirely avoid such checks. “Good” guys follow the rules, but since they are already “good,” background checks are a waste of time and resources. The “good in the past but planning something bad in the future” guys will slip through undetected as well since it’s impossible to know what someone might do. So in all cases it is entirely pointless.

In European countries they have managed to achieve the holy grail of limited gun ownership. This effectiveness affords us the opportunity to witness the substitution effect in action. Bomb attacks are unheard of in the US but are far more frequent in Europe. People that want to kill aren’t going to think “aw shucks, no guns, guess I’ll just go home and write angry Facebook comments”. No, people do what people have always done. They find another means to achieve their madness. In the case of the Nice, France attack far more people were killed with that truck (77 at last count) than would have been with an AR-15. It takes a long time to shoot 77 people with a gun – even automatically you have to pull the trigger 77 times (or more if you have bad aim). But a truck can kill scores in seconds. If guns are not available, then it pushes people to find other, more deadly, means. Next time it may be a bomb, or a biological agent. Those wishing the elimination of all guns should be careful what they wish for.

The recent attack in Munich, Germany oddly still has the gun control advocates crowing. They cite Germany’s low homicide rate by gun due to their restrictive gun ownership laws. Germany has a homicide rate of 0.9 (per 100,000) (notice I cited homicide rate, not gun death rate, as that is the proper apples to apples comparison metric). New Hampshire has a homicide rate of 1.0. New Hampshire’s gun ownership rate is 146 per hundred residents. Germany’s rate is 30. Interesting. Five times fewer guns yet the same rate of murder. Did I cherry pick New Hampshire? Of course. But that is the point – political boundaries are arbitrary distinctions. There are probably regions of Germany with a much lower and much higher murder rate. Citing countrywide statistics might be interesting fodder for navel gazing, but it does nothing to root out causes. Correlation is not causation, but for guns and deaths there isn’t even correlation. If you’re going to cite low homicide rates as being correlated with low gun ownership rates then don’t ignore the fact that it also correlate with high gun ownership rates. Likewise high homicide rates can be correlated with both low and high gun ownership rates. These are not one variable relationship and simplistic analyses do nothing to advance the conversation.