I hate that gun control is once again a prominent topic of conversation. I hate it because I advocate just as much personal freedom as we can hold on to. And no sense denying it, I hate it because I enjoy guns. I think new gun control legislation is a poor way to deal with the problem of gun violence. It is treating symptoms instead of treating the disease. Even gun control advocates will admit that, though they assert that some reduction, even if imperfect or incomplete, is better than none. The problem is violence, the gun is simply the multiplier. I've seen today many people point to the China stabbings story as an example of "where there's a will, there's a way."
I will not tout myself as an authority on much of anything. My opinions below are just mine. And I acknowledge the up, and down, side to living in a voting country like ours, is if most people dictate to their representatives in government that they want guns "controlled" or even outlawed, well, I'm going to have some decisions to make.So what are the arguments I feel need to be considered in this conversation?
- Founding father's intent - I had a civil conversation with a member I respect on Blades and Bushcraft regarding the original meaning of "arms" in the second amendment. His stance was that the founding fathers intentions in assuring American's their 2nd amendment right only applied to their contemporary weaponry. Though not infallible, I believe that the founders were pretty creative guys. As such, I think it is inconceivable to assume they wouldn't see the evolution of weaponry coming in the future. They'd have seen it in the past, and it's common sense to assume it in the future. Even now, we should assume that weaponry is going to progress. I think that fact should be considered in our current conversation. As he jokingly put it, "Type II phasers don't kill people. People kill people."
- If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns - I'm sure you've heard this. It is the most often touted argument I hear. If I am being attacked by a criminal, I absolutely, positively don't want to be more poorly equipped than he is. Come on now, would anyone? Having worked in the criminal justice field for almost a decade now, I appreciate the legal system and law enforcement. At the same time, I also caution everyone against putting 100% of their faith in the police for their protection. Police do a dangerous, necessary job and in this country, they are superbly trained to do it well, but as they say, "When second count, the police are only minutes away." In the spirit of American self-reliance, would should your own safety be left to others or your government? And since we're talking about founding father's intent and self defense, a totalitarian government was also referenced as one of the entities you might need a firearm to protect yourself from. Huh, seems like that could be a conflict of interest when if they get to decide whether we keep them or not...
- Gun control legislation should not be a reactionary response - Yesterday driving home, I heard a coherent (I call him coherent because I agree with him :) )commentator on NPR providing an opinion, I wish I could remember his name. He spouted of a few statistics that roughly equated to this: mass shootings account for approx 200 fatalities a years in this country. Individuals killings account for over 15,000. The point? Enact gun stricter control if you want, but don't pretend/hope that doing so will solve the problem of violent crime. It's a symptom, remember? 15,000 individual killings just shines a spotlight on the fact that we have a violence problem, not a gun problem. And violence is a world problem, not just an American one. Of course, at this point I would jump in with what I believe is the source of our species' violence- a fallen and utterly sinful nature - but that would turn this into a longer post, indeed.
- How about that background check idea? - With my work, I have a great deal of experience with background checks at the local, state, national, and international level. Particularly here in America, I know where they shine and where they fail. I know some feel that merely being an American means you are authorized to go get a gun, but I see no conflict in requiring a background check prior to a store sale. Let's make it a valuable, thorough one! I am on board with prohibiting certain populations from owning firearms - violent felons, folks suffering from severe mental illness, things like that. Rather than enact what really would be an arbitrary, ineffectual blanket ban on things like magazine capacity, how about we improve the legislation we have? Make it work by giving it adequate funding and attention.
- One last note, in the China story referenced about, it mentions that they have upped school security to try and combat tragedies like this, which are a problem over there too. That seems like the most straightforward, immediate solution. I hope we do this here in the US.
The international community is often brought into the discussion to illustrate what gun-wielding, blood-thirsty barbarians Americans are. Countries like England, Japan, and Germany can be cited as having less gun violence. A glance at the statistics seems to confirm this. A more important statistic to me would be whether their overall homicide rates are lower, and again this seems to actually be true, though the contrast is less stark. I can't explain this data away, except to refer back to the points above. I think our right to own them pre-empts any solely pragmatic argument to outlaw them. If that right ever changes, I guess our conversation would be different.