Category Archives: Movies

Why Gun Control Won’t Work: The Economics of Human Behavior.

In recent days, the chattering class has spent a lot of time speculating about what kind of gun control regulations they might achieve in the wake of the national tragedy in Newton, Connecticut.


I appreciate what liberals are trying to do. They sincerely believe that by banning firearms, they will make us safer and rid the country of a great evil. I agree with the objective of safety, but I reject their means because controlling the weapon will not work if the real issue is the heart of man.

Jeremiah 17_9

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityHere I will address the economics of the issue, and I will go beyond the abstract discussion of supply and demand, incentives, and deterrence to provide seven historical examples of how real people have reacted to weapons controls.

All Guns Are Banned!

Let’s start with a thought experiment. Let’s assume that liberals get everything they  want:

  • All guns are banned.
  • We have massive “Gun Disposal Days.”
  • We melt our guns into iPhones.

Everyone is blissful and the world will live as one.  But are we safer?

Any serious student of history should question how much better off we would be. If, as I have suggested, the problem is not with the gun but the heart of man (and, to a lesser degree, culture), we might be in a more precarious position. In fact, historically speaking, populations who have been disarmed have generally been oppressed by those with arms. Examples range from Carthage to the Third Reich.

Behavioral Economics & Arms Control: 7 Examples

1. CrossBows. Throughout the Middle Ages, Crossbows were loathed and feared because they were very accurate and they could penetrate armor, eliminating a knight’s battlefield advantage. The Magna Carta specifically mentioned crossbowmen among mercenary soldiers who should be banished from the kingdom as soon as peace was restored.

CrossbowThey were banned by the Pope in 1139, but they were so effective that even the threat of eternal damnation  did little to reduce the proliferation of crossbows in Europe.

2. Have you ever wondered why Martial Artists use such funny weapons?

Martial Arts Weapons from Karatemart

You can trace the use of these weapons to arms bans in feudalistic Asian societies. When farmers were occupied and disarmed, they used whatever they had at their disposal (e.g. farming tools) to defend themselves. Looking at the images above, you can see how these would be helpful in threshing grain or bailing hay.

Cane Defense3. The Cane.  Combat Hapkido, which was only developed in 1990, has adopted the cane as its weapon of choice. Yes, the cane–just like your grandfather uses.

Why? Because the practitioners of this modern martial art understand that the cane is 100% street legal. This is a selling point in Combat Hapkido classes, books, manuals, and training videos.

Gangland Season 14. Hammers. If I learned anything from the time I spent watching an entire season of Gangland,  it was that the Hell’s Angles motorcycle club members sometimes carry ball peen hammers. Why? Completely legal.

I would imagine a group of Hell’s Angels could do a lot of damage swinging ball peen hammers, but if they were stopped by the authorities, who could say that they were not just on their way to a habitat for humanity build?

5. Knives. Let’s go back to Modern day China. Recently there has been a wave of violent knife attacks. According to CNN:

Guns are strictly controlled in China, but until recently possession of large knives were not. Chinese authorities have recently issued a regulation requiring people to register with their national ID cards when they buy knives longer that 15 centimeters.

Note: 15 centimeters is roughly 6 inches. Is this where we want to go as a society–registering with the government when you buy a kitchen knife at Wal-Mart?

Box-cutter6. But what about the assault weapons used on 9/11? The AR-15s and M-16s used to subdue the passengers…oh wait, they used box cutters and claimed to have explosives.

At this point, the gun-control advocate might cry foul and ask, “But isn’t it better to just have a society armed only with knives. After all, if a would-be killer did not have access to a gun he could hurt a far fewer people.”

This argument assumes that criminals will not still obtain guns, leaving the law-abiding population at their mercy.  After all, criminals have a nasty habit of ignoring and violating the law. Moreover, it also assumes that those who can’t obtain guns will not turn to some other, more deadly means. Here, I am not talking about knives, but explosives.

7. Explosives. A 2011 U. S. Army medical study found that of 7877 combat casualties, “almost 75% resulted from explosive mechanisms; just 20% were gunshot wounds.”  More to the point, additional studies found that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were directly responsible for roughly twice the number of casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq than in Vietnam.

The Heart of the Matter

From everything you have learned about how people react to these controls, does it stand to reason that bad men will recognize that Congress has passed sweeping legislation and change their evil gun-loving ways? A few might, but in an era where bomb building instructions can be found on the internet, do we really think we will be safer with more gun control legislation? Or, are we missing the point?

If the problem that we are trying to address is internal (the heart), an external solution (removing all guns) misses the point.

The heart can change voluntarily, but human nature is not easily subdued by legislation. Worse, an unintended consequence of robust gun control might be headlines about mall bombings and school bombings that take the lives of many more innocents.

Do you think Gun Control Legislation Will Be Effective?

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 19, 2012


Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University



Filed under Economics, Misc., Motivation, Movies, Poltics

Book and Movie Reviews

Used with permission from Wikimedia commons

The fundamental purpose of this blog is to highlight effective leadership. For me, this is a way to extend my classroom discussion into the larger world. Since I regularly offer reading suggestions to my class, I will do it here as well. I will place easily accessible book and movie reviews on this blog. Simply click on the category “Books” or “Movies” for specific reviews. Most posts will also have links generously sprinkled into them.

Why would you want to get book or movie reviews from me?

I am a nerd. I have been teaching since 1999.  Since I began teaching at the collegiate level full time (2005) I have read a minimum of 100 books a year (I told you I was a nerd).

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityI am interested in both theory and practice. But as a teacher, I am particularly interested in presenting practices that illustrate theory. I like to connect the dots.

In some posts, I will highlight sections of books that are meaningful. Perhaps there was an interesting thought or particularly interesting illustration. In these posts, I have done the heavy lifting for you. You get the cliff-notes version of the important ideas for free.

At other times, I will recommend an entire book. When I do, if you are a serious student of leadership and management, you may want to consider adding it to your library.

Here are my ground rules for all of my posts:

1. I insert AMAZON.COM links into my posts  for further reading (as I have done in this sentence). In class, I often highlight bits from other books or movie clips, so I also do it on my blog.

Kindle Edition – 99 Cents

2. I try to link DIRECTLY to the Kindle edition of the book because personally, I do not like to wait to read a book that currently has my interest. You can read Kindle books on your PC or download a Kindle App to a tablet or a smart phone. You do not need Kindle hardware.

3. The links are affiliate links. I want to provide full disclosure here.  That means that for the book you see linked here,  that Amazon may pay me 4 cents for a referral. The bad news is that it would take 100 or more purchases for me to buy a decent cup of Starbucks. The good news is that there is NO additional cost to you.

4 My REPUTATION as a professor is worth far more than the 4 cents I might make on a book. If I am recommending it, it is because I personally found it valuable or it is related to the topic of discussion.

5. I will NEVER recommend or promote any item that I cannot stand by. Remember, I am telling you what I read. I am not working for any publishing company. I have sole discretion over what I decide to talk about.

6.  EVERYTHING I say and do here has one broader purpose–to add value to you. I want others to become leaders who care about their followers and lead them with compassion. It is my little attempt to banish organizational tyranny wherever I find it.

Happy Reading!

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

November 15, 2012


Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Filed under Books, Leadership, Movies