Friday, June 6, 2014

Gun Control: A Superficial Solution

Ban all guns, ban all assault weapons, increase gun control! These are the kinds of things we here after each mass shooting. There is constant debate about why guns are so easy to access and how much gun control we need to have. Before I continue let me make some things clear, I am not a gun rights activist and I am not a gun control activist. I do not own any guns but I know several people who do. The only reason I am approaching this subject is because of how it effects the discussion regarding mass shootings. For my introduction post go here. In order to explore this issue in regards to the mass shootings there are a couple central questions.

Question #1: Would banning guns even help?

This should be the first question when we approach any potential solution to a problem. Will it even solve the problem? In this case you have to consider the various statistics that gun lobbyists throw out there. For example here is an article stating that FBI statistics show more fatalities from hammers and clubs than from rifles. Even in the most recent event the killings started with a knife before he went to the gun. Another recent story going around involves two twelve year old girls that stabbed their friend 19 times in the woods.

So what do these statistics tell us? In my mind they tell us that we have a much deeper problem than the access of guns. However this does not show us definitively that there would not be any benefit from increased control on guns. There is a truth in the cliche statement "guns don't kill people, people kill people" however there is also unarguable truth in the fact that guns make it significantly easier to kill people and allow people to be able to kill more people. With that being said would getting rid of guns in the world save some innocent lives? Probably. If the shooters in each of these incidents had only knives instead of guns chances are there would have been less victims before they were stopped.

This leads us to our second question.

Question #2: Are we capable of banning all guns?

One thing that constantly seems to be coming up with these shooters is that they were often already diagnosed with a mental illness. My understanding is that it is already illegal to own a gun when you are diagnosed with a mental illness which means that many of these shooters were already banned from owning guns, and yet they got a gun. This shows an inability by our government to enforce the regulations already in place and makes me wonder how they could enforce stricter regulations. If the government establishes stricter regulations and is not able to enforce them, this means that less honest people would own guns because they would obey the regulations in place, however the inability to enforce would cause just as many criminals to own guns. Following the trail of common sense leads to a society in which criminals have guns and the honest citizen does not.

However my understanding is that there are societies who have successfully adopted and enforced stricter gun control. Australia is apparently a great example. So let's assume we can successfully reproduce what Australia did here in the United States. Would it be better? Would we be safer? According to the article I linked to, the rates of death by a gun decreased 50%. That sounds good right?

Question #3: Are there any risks to increased gun control?

Gun activists are constantly quoting the second amendment but I think most people have forgotten why that was there. It was to ensure our citizen's ability to fight a corrupt government.  If all guns were controlled and regulated by our government and our government were to become corrupt we would have no way of fighting against them. The reason we were able to win our independence from England was because at the time pretty much every citizen owned a gun. Father's taught their sons how to use guns so even the young boys had the ability to defend themselves from approaching troops. Our founding fathers recognized this right and felt it important enough to put into our constitution in case the government ever became corrupt. Hitler and Stalin are famous for banning all guns. That was one of their first acts to be sure that the citizens of their respective countries couldn't revolt.


So would increased gun control save some lives? Possibly, however it is hard to say that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. As horrible as these mass shootings are the possibility of a Stalin or a Hitler coming to power would be a much greater problem. To me that is a great risk for a superficial solution. Banning the guns will not take care of the root of the problem. As I mentioned in my first post, guns were available before these shootings started taking place. So it seems to me that it would be much more beneficial to look at the root of the problem and to find a deeper solution.

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