The best overview I've found of the case that gun control laws do not and cannot reduce violence is this article from the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy by Don B. Kates & Gary Mauser: Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence. I don't agree with all of their analysis, but the facts they present are pretty conclusive against the notion that more guns makes for more violence.
While American gun ownership is quite high, Table 1 shows many other developed nations (e.g., Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Denmark) with high rates of gun ownership. These countries, however, have murder rates as low or lower than many developed nations in which gun ownership is much rarer. For example, Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002.
A second misconception about the relationship between fire‐
arms and violence attributes Europe’s generally low homicide rates to stringent gun control. That attribution cannot be accurate since murder in Europe was at an all‐time low before the gun controls were introduced. For instance, virtually the only English gun control during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the practice that police patrolled without guns. During this period gun control prevailed far less in England or Europe than in certain American states which nevertheless had—and continue to have—murder rates that were and are comparatively very high.
In this connection, two recent studies are pertinent. In 2004,
the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released its evaluation from a review of 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research. It failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents. The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s review of then‐extant studies.
One reason the extent of gun ownership in a society does not
spur the murder rate is that murderers are not spread evenly throughout the population. Analysis of perpetrator studies shows that violent criminals—especially murderers—“almost uniformly have a long history of involvement in criminal behavior.” So it would not appreciably raise violence if all law‐abiding, responsible people had firearms because they are not the ones who rape, rob, or murder. By the same token, violent crime would not fall if guns were totally banned to civilians. As the respective examples of Luxembourg and Russia suggest,individuals who commit violent crimes will either find guns despite severe controls or will find other weapons to use.