Saturday, December 15, 2012

On the Right to Bear Arms

Lots of talk is happening about guns right now, but the two sides of the discussion are not talking to each other, they're shouting at each other from across the room, each refusing to take a step forward and lower the volume. Funny, everyone seems to be shouting either "Pry them from my cold, dead hands!" or "I'll pry them from your cold, dead hands!"

If you don't see the problem in this black & white thinking you should probably step back a bit and think critically. The debate as we see it in many cases is folk arguing about their rights to personally own any variety of large-scale anti-personnel weaponry & ammunition vs those who are screaming to melt down all the guns.

I am not currently a gun owner. I have the means & have not made the decision to purchase one, though I did carry one for a time. I am a single male in a pretty safe part of town right now, and before you say I just don't understand the danger know this: when I was married we were the target of an attempted home invasion by at least 3 individuals. It was terrifying and it was resolved without the use of firearms. Yes, I know it could have turned out differently, and I wonder about that from time to time.

That said, I have friends who are concealed carry licensed and I plan to go to a range with them soon, and should my father give me his gorgeous Ruger .357, I will keep it, though it will likely be locked up when not at the range, because I don't plan to use it on anyone. There may be even a **FOR ZOMBIES ONLY** sticker on the box.

So there's my story. I'll stop using my own words for a bit here, because someone else has already perfectly summed up my thoughts on Gun Control back in July after the last assault rifle massacre, so I'll be another jerk to link to Jason Alexander's well-considered piecefor anyone who hasn't read it, because it's pretty close to my own opinions. Of course people have responded to that with some good thoughts, and brought up that pistols can be just as dangerous in trained hands. Of course, that takes us back to how to address this mess.

The best solutions I've seen suggest increasing access & funding for mental health care while working together to remove its societal stigma, and I honestly think that will help more than just the violence in the country. I'm always a fan of treating the root cause of a problem rather than the symptom. There are a lot of good ones floating around, maybe someone can link some positive discussions for us (Edit: Adding a link to a friend's frank discussion on this). If you do go out looking for discussions on the subjects, beware of the comments. You'll find some gems I'm sure, but you'll have to wade through vitriol to find them.


  1. This part of Jason Alexander's post caught my eye: "Then there are the folks who write that if everyone in Colorado had a weapon, this maniac would have been stopped. Perhaps. But I do believe that the element of surprise, tear gas and head to toe kevlar protection might have given him a distinct edge. Not only that, but a crowd of people firing away in a chaotic arena without training or planning - I tend to think that scenario could produce even more victims."

    In other words, evil is going to happen (though I wouldn't usually give it a word with such spiritual attachments as "evil"). If someone is determined enough they will find a way to commit an act of great malice. We can't legislate it away with a black and white "guns or no guns" solution.

    If there are guns then there must be education. Switzerland issues each of their adult citizens a federally-registered firearm and sends them to required training in its use. They have some of the lowest rates of murder in the modernized world.

    However, the UK has gone the opposite direction and banned firearms in almost all domestic cases. It actually works out in their favor as well. Only their well-regulated militias and certain levels of law enforcement (or specifically entitled free citizens) are able to carry. They however took up the enormous responsibility of actually removing guns from the streets. That'd be an expensive task here in the states (especially in well-armed states like Colorado).

    We have to look at the direct causes. Much like how the "right" way to fight the war on drugs isn't in the supply but rather in the demand, we need to fight the REASON people misuse guns and not the guns themselves.

    I'm usually pretty libertarian and I'm glad that I could just go to a gun store and register to purchase a firearm if I felt threatened, but before I did so I'd take a long look at why I think I NEED a gun and wishing that such a cause didn't exist.

    So, how does one combat the demand rather than the supply? In drugs you go after social ills, health care, education, and economic woes that lead to lives of abuse. Why not the same for gun crimes? I think this is definitely a social issue rather than a regulation issue.

    And now I've said my piece, but I'd be interested to hear what others have to say on this topic.

  2. Never thought of violence & drug problems in similar lights before, but that's an interesting way to look at it. Well said, Shawn.