[Note: I wrote this a couple weeks ago, but couldn’t post it then because I was having issues with my webhost.]
Like a lot of other people, I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about (and often obnoxiously posting to Facebook about) guns in our culture.
I’ve said several times that I’m still not sure where exactly I come down on the issue, but I doubt anyone believes me based on everything else I’ve said. An outright ban on guns is out of the question, for obvious reasons. Banning assault rifles does little, since their usage pales in comparison to that of handguns. Limiting magazine size or reload-ability—like forcing manual loading like a pump shotgun—make some sense, if only to slow down attackers.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know that no other industrialized country in the world approaches the levels of gun violence we see here. There must be something we can be doing better. Some people will point out that cars and cancer kill more people than guns—implying that they are a small matter in comparison—and while that may be true, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be working to reduce all needless deaths, regardless of cause.
Many people say that new gun regulation serves only to weaken the ability of law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves, since criminals are criminals, so they’re not going to abide by gun laws if they’re already breaking others. But, the illegally-owned guns used by criminals have to come from somewhere, and some number of them are stolen from the rightful owners and find their way into criminal’s hands.
What frustrates me most, though, is that support for gun rights is generally a conservative position, meaning that it often (not always) comes with a variety of other conservative positions…like an aversion to higher taxes or welfare programs of any kind. We can all agree that the people who go on shooting rampages are mentally ill, but the oft-conservative supporters of gun rights are also often opponents of socialized health care that could ensure that such people get the treatment they need. And, as some have pointed out, the mass-shootings account for a low percentage of violent crimes; the more pedestrian, every day violence comes from gang activity, armed robberies, muggers, etc. Surely, much of this is driven by economics: the poorest among us are the most likely to turn to crime to get by. Some base level of economic support would undercut the situations that lead people to those situations in the first place. Not all of them, of course, but it would help.
But, most of the people who want their guns aren’t willing to pitch in to support the poor or care for the sick—or at least, aren’t willing to trust the government to do so. I don’t necessarily blame them for that, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The argument I hear most is that we shouldn’t have to pay for deadbeats to get health insurance when they could just get a job (which is a whole topic unto itself) or pay for layabouts to leech off the government…but apparently, those same deadbeats and layabouts who aren’t responsible enough to make use of welfare programs only as needed are, at the same time, entirely capable of responsibly owning a firearm and should not be prohibited from doing so under any circumstances.
The solutions that have been proposed, like allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, or encouraging more citizens to do so all the time—I don’t see these ending well. If our best solution to society’s ills is to fight fire with fire, literally, then we’re doing something wrong. I can’t help but see this becoming an arms race: people worry that the government will restrict gun purchases, so they buy more guns. More make it into the hands of criminals, so more people start carrying. More shootings wind up happening, so even MORE people arm themselves. I have trouble seeing how this doesn’t lead to some kind of futuristic sci-fi film where society is on the brink of post-apocalyptic dystopia. As much as I pride myself on being an optimist, I am thankful I’m not raising kids, because I really worry about where this is all going to wind up in a couple decades.
Anyway. This was an interesting article from a guy with real background: An opinion on gun control. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but he’s obviously better informed than I.