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10 June, 2008

Guns

Location: Sunday Paper
Mood: disbelief

There was an interesting article in this Sunday's Seattle paper about guns. I have been thinking about this lately, so the article caught my attention. It was a story about a guy in Utah who carries his gun with him, exposed, everywhere he goes. Including restaurants, the mall, etc. And apparently, this is legal in many states. And there is a movement of people who are encouraging gun owners to "open carry". They even have their own website:

opencarry.org

The slogan for this organization is something to the effect of "if you don't exercise your right, then you may lose your right". There is a large body of data that these people have published that, if taken as fact, would suggest that gun crimes are not the result of laws that permit people to own and carry guns. The data would suggest that there is no negative aspect to our freedoms around guns, and that only a minute fraction of bad things happen as a result. And when you read the data, it is fairly compelling that, well, things aren't any worse because guns are legal.

Here are some of the sites with this type of data:

just the facts on gun control
free republic on guns
another site with statistics

Here's what I don't understand. And I keep coming back to this very simple point:

Why do we need to have guns?

Why is it necessary for we Americans to have the right to carry a metal object around which is capable of propelling other metal objects at extremely high velocity for the purpose of penetrating the flesh of other human beings?

Why is this a right?

People can make all the arguments they want about "deterrence" and about "self-defense" and whatever. And I still don't understand why this is necessary. Why do we feel like we need them? One report said that there are approximately 230 million guns in America licensed to about 85 million people. That is rather staggering. When you think about the fact that there are only 300 million people in the country, and a bunch of those are children, we are really talking about a sizable percentage of adults owning guns.

I don't get it.

Is it "just in case"?

And the funny thing is, the advocates will tout the statistic that says that only 15,000 people a year are killed by guns in America. And that is why it is okay for us to have them. But if that's the case, then what would be the big downside of not having them? I realize that guns could deter other types of crime, but why do we really need to deter it? Why is crime such a problem that it requires a potentially lethal deterrent? Well, I suppose that there are clear examples where it may be good to have a gun. If an unarmed man attempts to rape a woman, and she pulls a gun on him, then maybe this results in a positive outcome. Maybe the woman is able to stop her assaulter. In this case, yes, it is a win. But only if she is able to draw the gun on him and not have it used against her. And what if he wasn't going to rape her, but only rob her. Does it seem justified that he may be shot to death in self-defense because he was going to steal her purse? I don't necessarily think that any altercation opens the door to lethal force, and I am pretty sure the courts and juries may agree with me on this... some of the time.

Blah blah blah. I can go through ten thousand scenarios and play them out as positives or negatives, but the bottom line is "Why do we need to have the right to possess tools designed specifically for administering lethal force"?

Is it really something we need?

People are clinging to the constitution as proof of the need. But that document is so outdated in so many ways. The scenario for which the 2nd Amendment was written is something that is so utterly absurd at this point in our national history, that it should simply be discarded.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"

You could give every American citizen a gun, and all the ammunition they could carry on their backs, and this would serve absolutely no purpose toward the end of instituting a new government if our existing government became corrupt to the point of requiring replacement (which was the original intention, and which arguably has been the status of things for about 8 years now!). The US Military has missiles, bombs, nuclear weapons, aircraft, ships, etc. What are these guns worth in that scenario? Plus the reality is that I do not envision the US Military willfully taking arms against the American people. It is such an absurd notion, it is difficult to fathom, except in some science fiction movie.

The only rational argument for guns is that of sporting. People enjoy hunting. People enjoy target shooting. These are sports. They are not about national defense or personal security.

The statistics that I would like to see, and they probably would not be that difficult to find, would be a comparison of the following:

a) The number of times that a person successfully used a gun in self-defense against attack or in prevention of a crime in progress.

b) The number of times that a person unsuccessfully attempted to use a gun for such purpose.

c) The number of times where an attempt to use a gun in prevention resulted in either the perpetrator of the crime becoming the victim of a more serious crime (e.g. simple theft turning into a shooting or murder), or the gun wielder ended up being the victim of an attack with either their own weapon or the assailant's weapon.

d) The number of times where a gun is stolen from a legal gun owner and becomes part of the population of unregistered weapons.

These data are probably all available. And I am not going to look for them, because I am lazy.

I just don't understand why we need guns. But maybe I am stupid. Maybe I just don't get it. Maybe I am wrong about everything. It's entirely possible.


2 comments:

  1. Inman Wheelright11 June, 2008 06:16

    Guns are tools like any other piece of technology. Technology can be used for good or evil. Suppressing technology is very difficult to do. Guns have the unfortunate effect of enhancing the dangerousness of human confrontatations when one or both parties involved are armed.

    Used properly, they are reasonably safe for the bearer, whether it be for the purpose of hunting fauna or clay pigeons, or for self-defense.

    Regulation of guns in an urban environment is probably what is needed more than any other type of legislation. I certainly don't bring a gun with me to my job in the city, but in a more rural setting a gun is just another tool one possesses.

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  2. For the record, free republic is the nastiest of nasty right wing websites. I suggest you scrub down your computer and never, ever venture there again.

    On everything else? I'm with you.

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