I don’t really like guns. I’ve fired a gun a few times, but I’d prefer not to be around them. I find them dangerous and unnecessary for my purposes in life today. If I see a gun on someone, I’m wary. Whether it’s a cop, a hunter or a thug, I see a gun as a danger.
But as much as I dislike guns, I’m absolutely opposed to efforts that would ban them or limit access to them. Why?
The murders of two Virginia journalists this week on live television has once again stoked the fires of those who want to ban guns or place strong restrictions on who can have them. Those people say we have a gun problem, but I strongly disagree. We have a “human problem.” We have a problem with human beings who have evil in their hearts and minds — and who are determined to hurt people they dislike.
Banning guns wouldn’t solve that problem — and banning guns would create a long-term problem far worse than the one it would allegedly solve.
Progressives who want to ban or limit guns are just as irrational and emotional as the many conservatives who want to ban or limit recreational drugs. In both cases, the position is taken for strongly emotional reasons and the person holding the belief has to ignore the evidence that his “solution” is worse than the problem it attempts to solve.
There are roughly 30,000 deaths related to guns in this country each year, according to statistics I’ve read. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the numbers, but I’m willing to accept them. There are roughly 35,000 deaths from car accidents each year. The number of deaths from the two categories are roughly similar, but we don’t have people piously talking about our “car problem” in the same way that people talk about our “gun problem.” Why is that?
Nobody wants to ban cars or limit who can drive them because everyone understands the tradeoffs involved. We all hate the deaths that result from road accidents, but we don’t yet know of a practical way to stop all these deaths without also eliminating the benefit we all enjoy of having access to quick, simple transportation. Since almost everybody understands why we need this transportation — except radicals who want to force mass transit on everyone — the tradeoff is accepted as necessary.
With guns, though, those who want to ban guns don’t see any tradeoff. They see only the downside.
Some people try to make the case for guns by arguing that they’re worth allowing for hunting and self-defense against criminals. If that were the only positive to be had from guns, the case for banning them would seem much stronger to me. But even if we completely ignore the benefits that many people get from hunting and from defending themselves from criminals, there’s a far more important and more fundamental reason they need to remain legal and widely available.
Ownership of weapons is the last line of defense against tyrannical governments.
Early Americans didn’t value gun ownership so strongly just because they valued hunting and they wanted to shoot potential thieves. They valued the right to own weapons because they realized that widespread ownership of guns was the key to the revolution they had just fought. If colonists of their day had been unarmed — or had lived wth the sort of draconian restrictions favored by some today — they would never have stood a chance against the British army when they decided to revolt.
As much as I dislike guns, they’re the ultimate check against any government. As long as enough people own guns — and those people are united in their opposition to government coercion — they have a chance of fighting back. The elites have to fear an armed populace, because the peasants might revolt if pushed too far.
I dislike guns. I’m afraid of their power. I’m afraid of them in the hands of the wrong people. But I favor their widespread availability and I oppose the actions of those who want to ban them, basically for two reasons.
First, people who want to kill someone are going to find other ways of killing. Evil will remain in the hearts and minds of human beings, now and forever as long as this world exists. Those who want to kill are going to kill. They can make fertilizer bombs. They can stab people. They can mix up various other chemicals. They can poison food and water. Human ingenuity in finding ways to kill seems almost limitless. I think it’s irrational to believe that most of the 30,000 current gun deaths would be eliminated if guns were banned. (Almost two thirds of gun deaths each year are suicides. A person who is determined to die can easily switch to another method.)
Second, I don’t trust governments to have a monopoly on force. As much as I dislike the idea of “the people” as a broad collective entity, the simple truth is that an armed population is harder to control against its will.
The idea of eliminating guns seems superficially desirable. It sounds nice to think that criminals would no longer have access to weapons and violent inner cities would become bastions of peace and stability. It’s a nice thing to imagine that the murdered journalists this week might still be alive or that people murdered in schools or theaters didn’t have to die.
Emotionally, it sounds great, but it doesn’t stand up to the light of reason.
I don’t like guns. They scare me. I’d rather live in a world where nobody commits violence against others, whether with guns or any other weapon. But in the real world where we do live, there is a simple tradeoff involved. Guns provide a strong benefit that can’t be provided any other way. Banning guns — and handing a monopoly on force to politicians and the thugs who work for them — is far worse than the problem of the deaths which occur each year.
I dislike guns, but I dislike the alternative far worse.