When debating guns, it seems impossible to not hear the saying, "Guns don't kill people." If you toss out a statistic about gun deaths, you will hear this retort.
I'm a gun owner. I own them simply because I come from a law enforcement family. I don't have any interest in them at all. Grew up around them. You point, they go bang. But that's not all that guns do, now is it?
Guns give people a sense of power. A command over many. They make men make rash decisions. They embolden people to do things out of arrogance and self-righteousness. If you were walking by a group of three young men whom were clearly out looking for a fight in a downtown area, you might decide to cross the street if you were unarmed. If you were armed, you might say,"Fuck it, I have a right to be here." and take on that path of resistance. A notable example of this being caught on video is the DC detective taking on a crowd for throwing snowballs. He drew his service weapon rather than walking or driving away. Link
There are other things that give people a sense of power and cause them to act as if human life doesn't matter. Cars. How many cases of road rage could we find? Cars are another thing that emboldens people to do stupid things. I had a guy attempt to run me down once while on a motorcycle. I waved him into a parking lot, got off the bike and he disappeared. As soon as I went to get back onto the road, he came at me. Being on a sport bike he had no chance and I was gone. But without a weapon, he wanted nothing to do with me. (Sremmed from him wanting me to pull out into the intersection that was blocked. Bad idea in the US, especially on a bike.) but you know what is rare... Murder in the first and second degree in cars. Killing someone in another car with the first car is difficult. We don't have enough interaction with pedestrians to get that provoked. Guns, however, allow that personal interaction along with the quick and easy solution that will give you that sense of power we have grown to love.
You can say that guns don't kill people because they are inanimate objects and be factually correct. What you ignore is that in a culture like ours where violence is regarded as being manly. Where winning a fight will get you patted on the back for years. Where people crave power over others from sports as a kid to watching movies and fantasizing yourself in the shoes of the successful violent character (Batman, Rambo, Kick Ass). Guns provide that sense of ability to easily win the fight and deliver justice when we feel wronged rather than letting the emotion settle. Gun ownership is the leading cause of homocide, 2 to 1. Nothing else compares.
We have a right to guns in the US. I don't deny that. But denying the reality that without guns we would not have nearly the same number of murders is denying reality. Without guns, people would take that extra second to think rather than simply react. There are anecdotal cases where the right gun owner wins and yeah, let's write that down. But don't forget that each year, there are 10,000 other cases where the outcome didn't have to be what it is. Guns cause people to act in ways that they wouldn't normally act. This is why I reject the claim that "Guns Don't Kill People".
There is this false dichotomy that hinders gun rights/gun law debates. Any discussion or effort to restrict or regulate firearm ownership and use is painted by interest groups as an absolute position meant to strip away all rights and ownership.
I'm not saying anyone is advocating gun ownership should be illegal but just based on numbers guns will be in the US for a very long time to get them out of the system. When you factor in social problems and drug laws, the amount of violence associated just in those two areas accounts for a large number of the deaths.
As larger numbers of people hit the poverty levels in the US it could get worse before it gets better.
"I'm not saying anyone is advocating gun ownership should be illegal..." But Jim, that's what you were implying when you asked, above, "[Are] We going to make fertilizer illegal because it can be used to make bombs, matches because you could burn down buildings?"
The social problems are the root cause of a lot of gun violence, I agree, and I agree that the ready availability of guns and relatively unrestricted gun owners' rights are not going away any time soon. As I've said elsewhere, because this deeply serious problem cannot be effectively addressed through strict regulation of gun sales (even in my home state of Vermont, our two very liberal senators, Leahy and Sanders, fully support 2nd A rights), for now the viable solutions lie in alleviating the social conditions that too often lead to violent crime. Most gun violence stems more from enduring cultural troubles (poverty, drug addiction, lack of access to health care, and so on) than purely from the easy availability of firearms. If drugs were legalized and treatment provided, and if the sums of money we have thrown away in Iraq (for example) were invested instead in public education and in our social infrastructure, in time the incidence of violent crime in America would plummet.
In the meantime, my recommendation is that we push for the licensing of gun owners just as we license drivers. The NRA and other groups will fight such a measure ferociously, but, for now, it's the only remotely viable control that's left for us to try to institute. Jared Loughner could never have gotten a gun owner's license. And if Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter (who lied on his ATF form 4473) had been required to present a license, he could not have purchased the semi-autos he used to kill 32 students.
Don I am a licensed gun owner so I don't object to that.
Jim, I'm a gun owner, too--but not licensed. I would be happy to be, but in Vermont there is no need.
In fact, Vermont is not only the least religious state, the most rural state, the most educated state, and the state with least restrictive firearms regulations in the country, but it is also among the states with the very least incidence of violent crime.
A very good point, yet postponing the starting to solve to the problem is not aiding in solving a very real problem. It is essentially like saying there's no need to research a cure for cancer as our best scientists today say that no cure is likely in the next 50-100 years. Other countries, and even some US states, have gone fairly far in finding realistic solutions which have mitigated the issue. The reason they are not copied appears to be a pure focus on the problem instead of potential solutions. And apparently assuming that gun ownership is some type of human right because it is mentioned in an almost 250 year old document.
And the Magna Carta is 800 years old so we should forget about it?
And Hammurabi's Code or Magnus the Lawmaker's Code are even older. As is the Tora. What's your point?
I'm talking about the laws that gave us a Democratic Republic, the 250 year document is the best to date.
"A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny!"— Thomas Jefferson
The right to bear arms is part of the frame work of America's freedoms as we give them up we lose the ability to keep the government in check.
Wasn't the right to own slaves also part of the same framework..?
The US Constitution, though a cute throwback into a bygone era and giving a lot of Americans a warm fuzzy feeling inside, is hopelessly outdated. Not even US constitutional lawyers think it's good enough to copy verbatim into other countries constitutions, i.e. Germany or Japan.
No slavery is not part of the Constitution nor is part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is what we are talking about when it comes to the Right to bear Arms.
The fact that another country would not copy the US Constitution verbatim doesn't mean that the document hopeless.
So the bill of rights specifically states that I cannot have human slaves?
And I didn't say hopeless, my word was outdated. Just like the amendment banning alcohol is a historical anachronism, so is the right to bear arms. An amendment to quash the amendment is required.