More Guns = Less Crime

21095You know how when people like me advocate that more people carry guns in public, up pop the Chicken Littles who claim the streets will turn into something like out of the Old West?

The truth is, you could only hope that would be the case.

How many murders do you suppose these old western towns saw a year? Let’s say the bloodiest, gun-slingingest of the famous cattle towns with the cowboys doing quick-draws at high noon every other day. A hundred? More?

How about five? That was the most murders any old-west town saw in any one year. Ever. You were way more likely to be murdered in Baltimore in 2008 than you were in Tombstone in 1881, the year of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral (body count: three) and the town’s most violent year ever.


  1. towski says:

    Out of curiousity, what was the population of those towns? I mean, to say that you were more likely to be killed in Baltimore in 2008 than Tombstone in 1881 because there were more murders in Baltimore is sort of playing with numbers, isn’t it?

    Based on the ever handy wikipedia, Baltimore had 234 murders in 2008, and a population of 637,418, That’s, what, a 3% murder rate? If Tombstone had 3 murders in 1881, and a population (again, thanks wikipedia!) of 3,423, that’s an 8% murder rate. If Tombstone had been the size of Baltimore, there would have been 559 murders.

    Ok, that’s about as far as my Ag school math can take me…

  2. That breaks down when you realize the year they had three murders was the worst ever.

    Most years they had zero murders.

    Even if you compare years in which they had one murder, that’s still less as than Baltimore, as a percentage or per capita.

  3. towski says:

    Well, you state in your orignal that “most towns averaged 1.5 murders per year”. Considering the size of “most towns” in the hold west, that’s not exactly a sterling murder rate, is it? Besides, you are the one who chose to compare 1881 Tombstone to 2008 Baltimore, so I was using YOUR comparison. Oh, and BTW, years in which Tombstone had 1 murder puts the murder rate even with Baltimore, not less than. IJS.

    Don’t get me wrong, Trey. I think there are valid arguments to be made for carry laws. I just don’t think the “The old west was just dandy” argument is one of them…

  4. I’m on the same page with you, actually — I’m not so much arguing “the Old West was dandy.”

    I’m more pointing out the argument that “It will be like the gunfights in the Old West” doesn’t hold much weight as an argument against.

  5. What about murdered Indians? (Oh no, he didn’t go *there*) Did the old west count when blacks and Chinese were murdered in their statistics? Did they even keep that good of statistics?

    There’s a lot less to this comparison the more one thinks about the standards used to gather them between then and now.

  6. Nathan says:

    I’ll concede to the proposition that “more guns equals less violence.” I won’t, however, let go the ridiculous comparison between a small town out in the middle of the dessert in the 1800 before anybody kept actual crime states and a large urban center when the FBI and state and local goverment keep stats on 911 calls, arrests, and conviction rates. What are the old Tombstone crime stats based on? Some old crusty docket sheets? Bunk?!?!?

  7. Anonymous says:

    You should have titled this one “Another reason so few people take Trey Garrison and other contemporary anarcho-libertarians seriously.”


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