Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Focus on the Guns?

I'm not the NRA.

So maybe I can help.

I don't own a gun, don't want to own a gun, and don't see a reason for me to own a gun.

I've only ever fired a pellet gun and a BB gun in my entire life.  I don't know if target shooting would be a fun hobby or not, although I must say that my one shot with the BB gun, fired in a River Vale, New Jersey backyard years ago, hit a beer can!

I remember even my impossible-to-impress brother being impressed, however briefly!

I have friends who conceal-carry, and frankly, I don't feel safer around them, or more vulnerable to something dangerous.  They're packing heat; I'm not.  So what?  Granted, none of my friends who have guns act foolishly with them, so why should I be concerned about their having a gun on their person?

I was not brought up around guns, my parents never owned guns, and our Mom didn't even like my brother and me playing with toy guns.  Guns were for soldiers, cops, and hunters - and none of us were any of those.

Suffice it to say that I'm not a big-time fan of guns.

Nevertheless, as our nation convulses each time there's a mass shooting, and louder and louder calls for gun control consume the political narrative, I can't help but wonder:  what would gun control achieve?

What is gun control, anyway?

If it's a catch-all phrase for anti-gun laws, look at Chicago.  They have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet the Windy City is being riddled with bullets nearly every weekend.  The media doesn't even cover the violence much anymore, it's become so common.  If anything, Chicago's violence proves that gun control legislation doesn't fix anything, because criminals and thugs by definition don't abide by laws in the first place.  They have their weaponry - and have access to as much as they want - regardless of gun laws.

Besides, it's already against the law to murder somebody, yet people still commit murder.  If somebody has no regard for the life of somebody else, do gun control laws really matter?  There is such a thing as closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

And speaking of murder, is it inadequate gun laws in America that are the problem?  Or does America's disproportionately high murder rate owe itself to more than guns?

The United States has a per capita murder rate of 3.9, which is much higher than the rates for other high-gun-ownership countries, such as Switzerland (0.5), Serbia (1.3), or Canada (1.4).

Why the disparity?  Why is America a much more murderous country?

Seems to me Americans simply want to kill each other more than people do who live in other countries, even countries with easy access to guns.  Is that the fault of guns?  Or maybe that we're a much more fearful, dissatisfied, spiteful, or hateful country?

Now, remember:  I'm no gun enthusiast.  Frankly, I don't understand why people need to own some of the guns available on the open market.  It seems like many guns - particularly assault rifles - have a far greater capacity to fire way more bullets than would ever be needed to fend off a burglar, a rapist, or even a murderer.

A lot of gun owners like to champion a heroic interpretation of the Second Amendment - and its language about militias - to justify their ownership of such fearsome weaponry.  However, these patriots seem to forget that if our government were to declare martial law against us, they've got tanks, RPGs, warplanes, and bombs, which likely don't give even the most rapid-fire machine gun a fighting chance.

Still, the thing gun advocates have in their favor is, actually, the Second Amendment, which courts time and again have interpreted as a check-and-balance in favor of an armed citizenry.  And I don't have a problem with that.  But maybe that's because I don't have a problem with guns.

However, I do have a problem with people who don't value human life.

Legislating against guns may sound like a good way to combat the atrocities we've been witnessing in Orlando and elsewhere.  Maybe passing more laws makes citizens feel better emotionally.  Maybe the appearance of change can result in actual change, no matter how small.  But how do laws prevent guns from being used to violate human life in Chicago?  Or Orlando?  Or the next big gun-involved atrocity? 

Murder is already against the law.  Yet people - mostly angry men - still commit it.

How does their murder weapon make much of a difference?

Sample of High-Gun-Ownership Countries
(Number of Guns per 100 People):
#1  United States    (112.6)
#2  Serbia    (75.6)
#3  Switzerland     (45.7)
#10  Norway     (31.3)
#41  Mexico     (15)
#99  China     (4.9)
#100  Cuba     (4.8)

Sample of Countries by Murder Rate
(Number of homicides per 100,000 people):
#1  Honduras     (84.6)
#2  El Salvador     (64.2)
#3  Venezuela     (62)
#10  Guatemala     (31.2)
#26  Mexico     (15.7)
#52  Russia     (9.5)
#207  Indonesia     (0.5)
#218  Monaco    (0)

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