Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Don't Care About the Current Gun Control Debate or: Let's Take a Deep Breath

This is for the extremes and the very loud people on both sides. I suppose I take a position on this whole thing, but just barely. To me, it's kind of a wash. I'll give you the reasons why.

1. The Intent 

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Admit it. That could go either way. It could be about individual people or it could be about people belonging to a well regulated militia.

The Supreme court ruled it was the former, so let's go with that definition and quit worrying about what the Founding Fathers meant (cause really, the Founding Fathers meant for the Constitution to change a lot more than it has, but then I always was a true Jeffersonian in that respect).

2. The Practicality

My career military brother explained it to me this way: "The second amendment isn't about letting people hunt. It's about being able to overthrow a tyrannical government if we need to and you can't do that with rifles."

It's the argument for high capacity clips and "assault weapons" (cause we still haven't really defined that phrase).

Gun lovers love this argument, gun haters call it crazy. Back up from the name calling and think about the context. The men who wrote this had (about a decade before) finished overthrowing a tyrannical government. Those pesky things were very real for them. It's understandable they'd want to put in a fail safe in case their government ever went that direction too. Makes sense and I absolutely buy into this argument.

Except when I really think about it. We don't have a tyrannical government. It would be really difficult for our government to become a true tyrannical government (although it seems we're getting close to that in a few areas... privacy, anyone?).

You say President Obama is a tyrant? Well, can Congress still impeach him? Could we have voted him out of office? Do we still have free elections? Could we have changed Congress this last election?

If you answered "Yes" to all of these (if you didn't, you might be a conspiracy theorist with shaky arguments), we don't really live under a tyrannical government. You may think the government acts like a tyrant, but in a couple of years you have the ability to change that.

Hence my thinking that we probably won't need to overthrow the government in the near future. Also, assuming the military will be on the government's side, could we really do that with random gun owners with high capacity clips? I guess it could be a military coup and the general theory still makes sense to me, so wash.

3. The Death Toll

According to the UNODC, the U.S. has 2.97 firearm homicides per 100,000 people. Compare that to the Western Europe (cause where else are we going to compare it to?) where any country there doesn't get to one person murdered by firearm per 100,000. Italy comes in second at .71 people per 100,000 and just about anywhere else in the region doesn't even come close to that.

Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that's not a coincidence. The U.S. has the highest gun to person ratio in the world (also from the UNODC) at 88.8 guns for every 100 people. The simplest form of reason will say, fewer guns, fewer gun deaths.

However, while the U.S. has the highest gun to person ration, it doesn't have the highest homicide rate per 100,000 people by any stretch of the imagination. The simplest form of reason would say this is because the vast majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible and don't murder people and I absolutely agree with that.

Still, our rates are comparable to places like Peru and Zimbabwe and that's enough to give me pause. At the very least it's something that we should look into.

So there you go. I really don't think anything in that was inflammatory, but then I do want to punch both extremes in the face right now, so I may not sympathize with either side. Here are just a few stray observations to finish up:

1. The government is not going to take away your guns. If they do, it won't be until public opinion decides on that route. That won't be until the gun culture in this country has all but petered out. That won't be for a very long time. You'll be dead. Chill.

2. If someone wants to sell their gun to some anti-gun group that will melt them down or whatever they do with guns, who cares? It's their freaking gun. They can do whatever the hell the want with it.

3. Mass shootings are a tiny percentage of the death toll, so high capacity clips probably matter less than some are saying. Plus, it really is fun to shoot a bunch of rounds off really fast.

4. Oh yeah, I enjoy guns. I don't hunt, but I like shooting. I want to own a pistol someday when I have $400 to spend on the one my brother picked out for me (and yes, I am a self-proclaimed liberal).

5. Research, research, research. Why are there more gun deaths here than Europe? How many of those could have been prevented by access to mental health services? How many could have been prevented by decent schools? How many could have been prevented by trying to lessen poverty? Where do these killers get their guns? What percentage of these killers are in gangs, live in poverty, or have mental health issues? As a researcher it is staggering to me how little the causes of gun violence have been studied.

That's all. If this upsets you in visceral way and you decide to comment on it, know that I'll probably just roll my eyes at you.

If this upsets you because I haven't investigated fully or I got some facts wrong and you decide to comment on it, know that I'll take your comments seriously and take them into consideration as I form my opinion (because opinions should always change as you find new evidence).

1 comment:

  1. What?! An honest, logical post about gun control. I agree with so many things. I'm tired of this whole "debate." The extremes just make both sides look foolish.