Guns II

Often the gun control debate is framed as “I am for every single person having a  gun.” or “I am against any person having guns.” I think that is a simple but not useful or accurate way to frame the discussion.  We all want the same thing, restrict people who will do violence from having guns. If you follow the link you will find a graph under #11 that shows that people who want guns aren’t necessarily for everyone having a gun. In fact, most people do not want felons or mentally ill people to have access to a gun. This makes plenty of sense. I certainly don’t want someone who would potentially harm myself or others to obtain a gun.

Where the pro-gun vs. anti-gun people differ is on how we think that should be reached. Pro-gun citizens believe that they should have the option to defend themselves when they are threatened with a gun or other device of harm such as a knife, hammer or a person physically larger than themselves. We may have different opinions on who should have a gun or how many they can have but hopefully we can agree that there are legitimate uses for good people to have guns such as hunting, target shooting, trap shooting and self defense.

There are multiple ways to obtain a gun. One is to purchase it from a store. At least in Iowa, USA, you have to go through a background check when making this purchase. If you fail the background check, for example if you are a felon, you can not purchase said gun. If you are a person who is apt to follow the law there is no issue with purchase of a gun from a store. That is where you will buy a lot of your guns and you are OK with the simple background check. From talking with a friend and avid gun enthusiast, he is ok with background checks but he is more concerned about gun registration. His argument is that if the government knows where you are and how many guns you are basically at their mercy. I sympathize with his argument. While “the government” has more sophisticated weapons at it’s disposal it also would need to talk soldiers into using those weapons against citizens. It’s unlikely any one leader would use a whole military to subjugate a population single handedly, and if he did, it would only take a single bullet to remove said leader. Therefore, guns as an equalizer is a fair argument for their existence by the general population.

Another way to obtain a gun is through purchasing a legal gun from an individual. This makes it possible for a gun to potentially be purchased by someone who is a felon. I personally would never sell a gun to someone I don’t know.

A third way to obtain a gun is to purchase a gun illegally. This is the least safe way for everyone involved. Unfortunately even in countries where there are gun bans in place murder rates and general crime rates don’t seem to be affected. Could someone explain to me how the Charlize Hebdo shooting occurred? Could someone explain why crime rates in places that ban gun laws often go up or at least remain constant?

“If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”

Unfortunately by the simple fact that they are bad people criminals will not care if you make laws that say they can’t have guns.If you read this article on gun violence in the UK you’ll see that criminals are quite ingenious in their efforts to circumvent the law. Making more strict laws does not disarm criminals. Often the argument against guns comes down to numbers of murders in a year. That is a very simple number and not representative of the use of guns in a country. If you check this article the US ranks #22 in total crime vs. #4 UK, despite having many more guns and more guns per capita. Also if you are ultimately concerned about human lives, there are almost infinitely more things that kill people than guns, most of them are diseases, some are car crashes and accidents. If the goal is to stop deaths we should start there, not removing useful means of self defense from law abiding citizens. Here is an article sharing some stories of people who stop crime based on having access to a gun. The gun is an equalizer.

If you read the story of Amanda Collins’ perhaps you’ll understand that there are legitimate reasons someone might want a gun for self defense. She was raped while in a gun-free zone. That didn’t stop her attacker from using a gun to threaten her. It was likely an illegally obtained gun and the fact that a criminal was using a gun doesn’t mean the gun was at fault. Being a man larger and more dangerous than her he could likely have done this without a gun, he also could have used a knife. A gun is a tool. A gun is also an equalizer. If Amanda had had a gun we don’t know what the outcome would have been, but she would have had an equal chance of walking away from there unharmed instead of having no chance.

Ultimately the facts are that a gun is simply a tool. It can be used for good or for evil, like any other tool. Completely outlawing guns is a fools task. While background checks are a good idea they are not practical for individual sellers. Requiring gun registration is one step towards removing guns from the general population. Remember when terrorists obtained legal training to fly airplanes? Was the argument that we should outlaw all flight training? Where’s there’s a will there’s a way. Bad people will be bad regardless of the law. If you haven’t considered that guns are not inherently evil by the end of reading this, and all articles reference, there is no helping you. But don’t be alarmed, I’d still save you given the chance. I just hope I’m around to help when you are threatened by a criminal.

You can reference Guns I here.


If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. – Lost to history

A friend shared a video with me today called “Guns With History”. It disgusted me. This group of anti-gun activists set up a mock gun store with the intention of luring innocent, unsuspecting, first time gun buyers in only to share stories with them of every horrendous crime committed with a gun that they could think of. They had guns from the Sandy Hook school shooting and others where a child had accidently shot a sibling or parent.

The problem with this approach is you could do this with any common day object. “Want to try being a carpenter come on in! Hello. Do you like this hammer? Did you know that on average 584 people a year are killed in the USA by hammers!” “Oh I had no idea how dangerous hammers were, I’ll never use another hammer in my life” the clueless person on off the street might say.

What’s worse, did you know that 812 people in the US are killed in a year by hands, fists or feet! We should outlaw hands, fists and feet!

You can find the data I referenced for the 584 hammer deaths/year from the FBI here.

If you have understood by now I am trying to make a point that guns aren’t the problem. Yes, guns sure make it easier to kill someone and they also make it easier to conduct other crimes, but they also make it easier to stop someone who’s trying to perpetrate a crime with a gun. Read the tragic story of this girl. A “gun free zone” policy was in place on her campus. Therefore she, being a law abiding citizen chose to follow the law. She was assaulted and raped by a man who had a gun. Her comment about gun free zones follows “leaving them (law abiding citizens) defenseless against gun-wielding criminals who disregard the laws.” Did you read the last five words? Criminals don’t follow the law anyway. That’s why they are criminals.

Another important topic to discuss in the gun debate is the role antidepressants have played in gun violence in the past 20 years. The world can be a sad place, but the internet is a great place as far as sharing information. I will let you, the concerned reader, check out this article and this website documenting all the dangers of antidepressants and the role they have played in murders and suicides.

I leave you with these summarizing thoughts.

Outlaws don’t play by the rules. If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.

You can’t simply outlaw things because they are dangerous. Hands, knives and bats are all used to kill people everyday.

Antidepressants have played a role in most mass shootings and play a role in many other murders and suicides.

If you really want to help, focus on helping people and addressing what’s giving them the urge to shoot people, don’t try to simply stop them from shooting people, because if they can’t shoot someone, they will find another way to kill.

Trust. Government Regulation. Guns and Income Inequality (Oh And Of Course Smoking)

I have been wanting to write about gun control and income inequality recently but as I’ve been researching and talking with people I have come across some interesting similarities between both topics that I feel the need to expound upon.

The basic idea shared by both these topics is how much government regulation should be exercised over each issue? I think it’s important to try to understand what is really being said, despite the words used. When a person says I want more government regulation, what they are really saying is “I trust the government to make better choices for my life than I can for myself.”

I am completely ok with that statement if some people want to make it. In fact, it’s probably quite accurate for the majority of people, not because the government is incredibly smart, but because people are often incredibly self centered and ignorant of how the world works. I would never make this statement myself. I am the architect of my own future.

For every regulation you think the government should make you should also be arguing for more taxes. OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO. I’m not paying more taxes, you say. Ah. Herein lies the problem. People can’t see the world beyond the walls of their own home and they think that the government should take care of them, but they don’t want to pay for it. People expect someone else to pay for it and this is the problem with arbitrarily raising the minimum wage.

How do you conduct your shopping? If you are like most people out there you first ask “What is the cheapest way I can get this?” If that includes buying things from Walmart, which you are very vocal about not liking on Facebook, or buying a burger from a fast food joint because it’s fast, cheap and therefore convenient, you are part of the problem. If you wanted to do something active to make companies listen to you you need to start talking with your wallet. Read this article about Moo Cluck Moo. It is a semi-fast food joint in Michigan that pays its workers $15/hour. Here is the important part for you lazy people who won’t read it “In order to make this model work, customers have to pay a little more.” If you go to McDonalds because it’s faster or cheaper but then argue that McDonald’s should raise their minimum wage, you are part of the problem. That is called internet activism my friends and it’s as useless as a knife at a gun fight.

The same principle has been enacted in the argument for smoking. People are arguing that the government can remove someone’s free choice to smoke and your free choice to avoid establishments that endorse smoking because you think the government is smarter than you. If you are in the NRA you should also be trying to help smokers get back their choice to smoke in places that business owners think it is beneficial for their business (public places like gas stations and hospitals where it’s inherently dangerous excluded). Read my article on smoking if you want to understand that more. If however you are in the NRA but you think that it’s ok to deny restaurants the right to choose if they will have smoking or not, you are really saying that you DO trust the government to make good choices for you and all your arguments for no gun registration is as worthless as a gasoline engine on the moon. (For those of you who don’t understand this, an engine running on gasoline needs oxygen to run, of which there is none on the moon.)

So let’s recap. The question is how much do you trust your government? If you say, unequivocally but argue against higher taxes, you are a liar. If you say I don’t trust the government at all (NRA people and anti-gun registration folks) but argue for some regulation like seat belt laws and smoking laws I also call you a liar.

This is my challenge to you. Let’s start taking a little responsibility for ourselves. Do the right thing! If you think you can make good life choices for yourself lets see you do that. If you don’t think you are capable of making good life choices for yourself, please give your whole paycheck to the government and let them tell you exactly what you should be doing for a job, where you should live, what you should eat etc.

Mark Rain Flickr Creative Commons, cover photo