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Column: Responsible gun owners equal less crime

11:40 a.m. EDT July 15, 2015

Switzerland has it right. The gun-loving Swiss are not about to lay down their arms. Guns are ubiquitous in this neutral nation, with sharpshooting considered a fun and wholesome recreational activity for people of all ages.

The Swiss are very serious not only about their right to own weapons but also to carry them around in public. Because of this general acceptance and even pride in gun ownership, nobody bats an eye at the sight of a civilian riding a bus, bike or motorcycle to the shooting range, with a rifle slung across the shoulder. Switzerland was at risk of being invaded by Germany during World War II but was spared, historians say, because every Swiss man was armed and trained to shoot.

Despite the prevalence of guns, the violent crime rate is low: government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. The U.S rate in the same year was about five firearm killings per 100,000 people, according to a 2011 U.N. report.

Our higher statistics are not because of gun ownership, but because of the inner-city culture, the drug epidemic and ignored mental health issues in our country. To lower our gun deaths, these are the issues that have to be seriously addressed.

John Lott, economist and gun-rights advocate, has studied mass shootings and reports that, with just one exception - the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011 - every public shooting since 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.

The deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Century 16 movie theater in Colorado, and most recently the Church killing in Charleston, South Carolina (among others) all took place in gun-free zones. The murderers, while deranged and deeply disturbed, are not dumb. They shoot up schools, universities, malls and public places where their victims cannot shoot back.

In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia, passed a law requiring all households to have a gun-burglaries dropped by 89 percent. In Texas, murder rates fell 50 percent faster than the national average in the year after their concealed carry law passed. Rape rates fell 93 percent faster in the first year after enactment, and 500 percent faster in the second. Assaults fell 250 percent faster in the second year. The crime rate has dropped in all states with similar concealed carry laws.

This is the exact opposite conclusion of Democrat lawmakers who want to register Americans for seemingly innocuous "background checks." Americans know better and can sniff the gun-grabbing agenda a mile away.

Eliminating or restricting firearms for public self defense doesn't make our citizens safer; it makes them targets. Firearms possession and its potential threat for criminals and other predators deter property crime, violent crime, and yes_even tyrannical government.

Donna Emerson lives in Montgomery. She is a mother and a grandmother, retired from Procter & Gamble, and was a Republican precinct executive in Symmes Township for two terms.