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Coachella Valley Narcotics Task Force show a cache of weapons siezed from a home in Thousand Palms, Calif. (AP Photo/The Desert Sun, Taya Kashuba)

Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun control laws have in fact reduced murders?

Think about all the states, communities within states, as well as foreign countries, that have either tight gun control laws or loose or nonexistent gun control laws. With so many variations and so many sources of evidence available, surely there would be some compelling evidence somewhere if tighter gun control laws actually reduced the murder rate.

And if tighter gun control laws don't reduce the murder rate, then why are we being stampeded toward such laws after every shooting that gets media attention?

Have the media outlets that you follow ever even mentioned that some studies have produced evidence that murder rates tend to be higher in places with tight gun control laws?

The dirty little secret is that gun control laws do not actually control guns. They disarm law-abiding citizens, making them more vulnerable to criminals, who remain armed in disregard of such laws.

What almost no one talks about is that guns are used to defend lives as well as to take lives.

The Cato Institute estimates upward of 100,000 defensive uses of guns a year. Preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves can cost far more lives than are lost in the shooting episodes that the media publicize. The lives saved by guns are no less precious, just because the media pay no attention to them.

Someone would have to be an incredible sharpshooter to fend off three home invaders with just seven shots at moving targets. But seven is the magic number of bullets allowed in a magazine under New York state's new gun control laws.

People who support such laws seem to blithely assume that they are limiting the damage that can be done by criminals or the mentally ill -- as if criminals or mad men care about such laws.

Banning so-called "assault weapons" is a farce, as well as a fraud, because there is no concrete definition of an assault weapon. That is why so many guns have to be specified by name in such bans.

One of the dangerous inconsistencies of many, if not most, gun control crusaders is that those who are most zealous to get guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens are often not nearly as concerned about keeping violent criminals behind bars.

When the insatiable desire to crack down on law-abiding citizens with guns is combined with an attitude of leniency toward criminals, it can hardly be surprising when tighter gun control laws are accompanied by rising rates of crime.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.