Gun Rights. Gun Ownership. Gun Violence. Gun Control. The role of guns in our world is one of the most polarizing and inflammatory issues of modern times. And, as with many issues that fill the headlines and blogosphere, there are two opposing sides, both very vocal, and both very wrong.
On one side you have the NRA and its constituents, who, if they don’t relish their image as stubborn, rebellious, violent patriots who will shoot you should you try to infringe on their God-given right to shoot stuff by attempting to pry their precious guns from their “cold, dead hands,” they certainly aren’t doing anything to curtail it. While that attitude will undoubtedly excite and mobilize their passionate base, it’s not going to gain the favor of any “anti-gun” folk. The NRA are not speaking a language people who “hate guns” will ever understand. Their primitive marketing strategy is simply increasing the divide between the pro and anti-gun factions, which is unfortunate, because they, unlike the anti-gun folks, actually have reason and facts on their side.
The NRA’s mission, or the image of its mission anyway, seems to hinge on 2 things: 1. Killing animals, and 2. Preparing for battle with a government bent on taking their guns away.
The pro-gun folks would fare much better in changing the hearts and minds of the masses if they were to advocate the most necessary and noble use of guns; defending yourself, family and loved ones from criminals. I don’t have a gun, but if I did, it wouldn’t be to kill ducks, or collect as part of an arsenal to fend off a military attack. It would be to point at, and if necessary, shoot, any individual intending to harm me or my family. With all of the NRA’s talk of the right to carry, I rarely, if ever hear them talk about why it is actually important to carry. So they sound exactly as the opposition perceives and portrays them, backwoods cretins who like to shoot stuff.
Now to the other side. Let’s break down the anti-gun position, by looking at how they would react to the proper pro-gun argument, that guns have a noble and necessary purpose, stopping bad guys from harming you and your family. Reasonable anti-gun folks would see the logic in this, but would point out that guns in the home cause accidental deaths among children at alarming rates. This is true. You know what else happens at alarming rates? Rape, murder, assault and armed robbery by criminals. As long as there are criminals, there needs to be a means to stop them from doing harm, and when you apply the force necessary to stop bad guys, sometimes bad things happen. This is better than the alternative, tacitly offered by the anti-gun crowd, which is allowing the bad guys to rape and pillage, kill and steal, unencumbered, at will.
Then there are the more “hardcore” anti-gun folk. The people who just think guns are bad, period. People don’t kill people, guns kill people. People dying is bad, so therefore guns are bad. Guns should go away. The NRA likes guns a lot, so they are the worst. The NRA and guns need to go away. Then things will be so much better. These people believe that their thinking on the matter is deeper than this, but it’s not. Proof:
When school shootings happen, it is often suggested afterward that armed guards be placed in the schools. The hardcore anti-gun people then say things like, “Terrible idea, then when a shooting begins, the guards will shoot back, and we don’t want the wild west in our schools thank you very much. We need our children to be safe- not targets at a shooting gallery!”
Ignoring the fact that a school shooting event will come to an end 90% of the time because someone with a gun arrives on the scene, let’s take the hardcore “guns are bad” stance to its logical end, which people who base policy opinions on emotion, rather than facts, never seem to do.
If it were true that armed guards in schools will make matters worse by initiating “wild west shoot-out” type events upon the commencement of a crime in the school, doesn’t that same reasoning also apply to police, regarding the commencement of crimes everywhere? There is no actual difference. An armed school security guard’s job and mission is to stop violent crime from happening in the school, but the “guns are bad” folks think even MORE people will actually end up dying due to the presence of another individual with another gun. How does this differ from the presence of police and their guns? If the “guns are bad” crowd can’t allow for a potential “wild west shoot out” type environment in a school because it will lead to more kids dying, how can they possibly support armed police everywhere assuring that exact “wild west” environment every time a crime is committing anywhere?
Upon being made aware of this galactic flaw in their logic, hardcore “guns are bad” folks might tell you that they trust the police’s training to let them know better than security guards how to shoot bad guys and not the innocent. These would be the same people who in the same breath scream about the epidemic of unjustified police shootings.
The irrational and harmful love of guns in segments of the Right is equaled by the irrational and harmful hate of them on the Left.
At this point, even the most hardcore “guns are bad” folks’ best option would be to say, “He’s got a point there,” seek out a copy of “More Guns, Less Crime” by John Lott, and possibly apply for their NRA membership soon after. Some, however, may stick to their guns, if you will, and say, “Nope. Guns are bad, period. Ideally, the police shouldn’t have guns either. That’s what they do in England.” Noted. It should also be noted that while most British police do not carry guns on patrol, when armed criminals really start causing trouble in the UK, special police units and the military come in to make sure they stop it, by shooting them a few times. With guns.
This is where extending the “guns are bad” philosophy to its end gets really interesting. From some of the all caps exclamation point laden rants I see on social media, there is apparently a significant faction of fundamentalist anti-gun folk, utopian pacifists, who think NO ONE needs to have a gun for ANY reason. They say “If we eliminate guns from society, criminals won’t have them, the police won’t need them, we won’t have school shootings so we won’t need armed guards in schools, etc.” Ok. That’s interesting. Let’s go with it.
Guns are eliminated from our society. The president outlaws them entirely, completely wiping them out. Melts them all down, every last gun. Street criminals don’t have them, cops don’t have them, crimes will be committed and thwarted with fists, clubs, knives, and persuasive conversation. Done. Guns are gone, eternal peace will reign forever. That was easy.
But what about the military? Does the president eliminate their guns as well? After all, according to this faction of “anti-gun” folks, guns are guns and guns are bad, no matter who’s shooting them right? I imagine these folks would say, “Well, that’s different, don’t be silly. We need the military to have guns to protect the nation from bad guys from other nations.” Fine, and correct, but, are there no bad guys here in the U.S. who want to do harm? Are only the foreign bad guys so dangerous that we need guns to protect ourselves? Do we somehow have nicer, more reasonable muggers here, citizen rapists and gang bangers that can be reasoned with, but the foreign ones need to be shot to get our point across? Killing with guns is ok, as long as the bad guy is foreign? That sounds sort of, well- racist. Elitist. Pro- American. Ugly American. Kind of exactly what the “guns are bad” folks accuse gun advocates of being.
Regardless, the hardest core anti-gun version of America employs an armed military, and an unarmed citizenry and police force. How do we insure that not one 18-25 year old trained killer in the U.S. military figures out a way to bring their guns off the base and start the world’s easiest and most lucrative crime syndicate? They would have the only guns in society, so the temptation would be astronomical. Remember, cops are unarmed, so the military would have to step in to stop them. Armed officials patrolling the streets tracking down and stopping criminals with illegally obtained guns. Otherwise known as doing exactly what the police currently do.
At this point, 98% of “guns are bad” folks are rethinking their position, or they are continuing to come up with emotion-based arguments that hold no water. Still, 2% are saying, “We can ideally eliminate guns WORLDWIDE, so the US military won’t need them either.” So the small remaining “guns are bad” constituency is those few folks who think there will never be another Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden, etc. in the future of Earth. They think that at some point, everyone on the planet will be a good, kind- hearted soul. No one will ever desire to do anything bad to anyone ever again. No one will seek out a weapon to do anything bad, so no one will need a weapon to stop them. Folks who think guns can be eliminated from global society are those who think evil can be eliminated from The Earth. I would call these people simple dreamers, “peaceniks,” if they weren’t de facto advocates of mass horror and death of the innocent they wish to render defenseless. There is level of naïveté that becomes practically indiscernible from evil.
A gun-free world is an impossibility, as any gun-free nation creates a hugely lucrative market for the illegal sales of guns. People who believe making guns illegal in the U.S. will make them disappear are so jingoistic that they don’t understand that the world is by its inherent nature, a global market. It always was and always will be. For the law abiding and law breaking individuals, whose distinction becomes vaguer as borders are crossed. Economy and opportunity do not stop at man-made geopolitically drawn border lines. Cocaine is not grown in the United States but last I checked, a good bit of it gets here. It gets here because some people want to get high. Do we really think that people will not figure out ways to acquire guns, a tool used not only to increase personal wealth and eliminate or intimidate enemies, but also protect one’s family?
Once it has been accepted that the elimination of guns is not a viable or wise idea, the question becomes, “Who gets them and what laws regulate them.” This is the question, and it is a difficult one. If both sides of the gun debate would drop their extreme emotion-based arguments and look at the facts, progress towards an answer can begin, and we can begin reducing gun-related deaths. Both sides need to understand and respect the place of guns in society, and try to work together toward reducing gun crime, instead of one side screaming “ALL!!” while the other screams “NONE!!”
Why don’t I have a gun, you might ask. Because I don’t feel the need for one. The fact that I might have one is enough to dissuade criminals from just walking into my home and doing what they wish. And that’s the beauty of the 2nd Amendment. As long as it is upheld, criminals won’t know who might be exercising the right it guarantees. There is something, however, that would make me a gun owner. If anyone took that fear and uncertainty out of the criminals heads. If guns were ever outlawed, that is exactly what would happen, and that would be the day I would go out and get one.