The debate about guns in America is about as ridiculous as a one man band. The notion that one has a right to a Kalashnikov, that students should be armed against would-be school shooters, or that children as young as nine should learn to fire fully automatic weapons is indicative of just how irrational and insane the conversation and culture has become.
Now, to be clear, there is plenty of room for a rational and reasonable debate about the issue of gun ownership. Beside sociopaths, I think it should be obvious to most people that between the two extremes of ‘everyone should own one’ and ‘no one should be allowed to’, the latter is not only safer but more reasonable for the simple reason that it is glaringly apparent that not every human is responsible enough to hold one. However, it is equally valid to point out that a minority shouldn’t suffer for the incompetence of a few or many.
People love to quote statistics when talking about gun control and ownership. Gun fanatics will obnoxiously narrate every NRA account of a man, woman, or child who was saved by them while the haters have a tendency to focus on the big numbers regarding murder, suicide, and general accidents.
But despite these figures, it is readily apparent that removing guns would have little or no impact long term on violence in the United States. To say otherwise is to suggest that guns themselves automatically exacerbate violence within cultures.
If we’re looking at numbers only (those not specific to guns) we can see that, proportionally, people in tribal and indigenous societies lose more men to war than even the United States. It is actually a fact, despite the myth of the ‘peaceful native’, that living in a developed nation state is actually much safer than joining an equatorial tribe where raids are a way of life. My point is, these people have no guns and their societies are substantially more likely to engage in warfare, the single most violent human act.
This isn’t to demonize tribal communities, rather it is simply to point out that guns don’t by default increase or decrease violence– only the efficiency by which it is carried out. So maybe it is something else and not the guns alone. That’s right, I’m suggesting our culture is the issue.
I’m sure this is when those people who love the phrase, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ start jumping for joy. But I wouldn’t get too excited yet. I’m not finished. Guns may not by default amp the violence in a country but lax laws and a permissive gun culture definitely do. What do I mean by permissive gun culture? Something like this for a start. Americans are apparently so cavalier about their ignorance that they don’t consider it misguided to teach a nine year old girl to fire an uzi. Where do these people think they live, Middle Earth?
Maybe if the world order had collapsed and we were living in something like The Road or The Book of Eli I could understand teaching children how to protect themselves with weapons, but for recreation? Seriously? That was an INSTRUCTOR by the way, a supposed expert on the usage of firearms. If he couldn’t handle it then how could a child?
And when did it become okay to walk around stores and cafes with a gun visibly harnessed to your belt? Do you feel that insecure every time you walk into a Starbucks that you need a gun on you? Do you realize how terrifying it might be for others to see a non-police officer/soldier blithely waddle on up to the counter to purchase a latte while a glock dangles about his waist? And no, this isn’t the same as freedom of speech, because freedom of speech can’t fucking blast six people to hell in less than ten seconds flat.
More than this, notions that only pansies are afraid of guns or that the government is preparing to enslave the citizenry are signs that many of us are not responsible enough to be owners. The government, whether you are armed or not, could easily kill you with their superior technology, training, and manpower. So arguments citing fear of the State are non-starters. As for shaming people who are uncomfortable around guns, this only proves that you do not grasp their power and purpose. The difference between a knife and a gun is that one has several practical uses and the other has only one use – to quickly deprive something of life.
Ultimately, I think this lack of responsibility, maturity, and unwillingness to discuss seriously the reasonable limits gun ownership should have is what makes them so particularly dangerous in the States.
People should have the right to own guns, not because the government will one day turn on them or because the constitution says so (it certainly did not refer to automatics), but because enlightened societies begin with all freedoms and then limit and restrict with good reason. There is no good reason to prevent everyone from owning a gun but there are plenty of reasons to make it difficult to do so and to ban some entirely from having them.
Whether you enjoy hunting, sport, or feel you need one for protection, a license that demonstrates your comprehensive knowledge of guns and your established respect for them should be necessary – and I don’t mean a weekend course. People should have to meet far more standards qualifying for gun use and ownership than they do even for a driver’s license. Why? One, owning a gun is not a necessity and driving is for many people, but secondly because the consequences of not being properly trained justify it.
Violations should be harsh and people with histories of violence, domestic or otherwise, should be banned from using them. If you’ve failed to demonstrate restraint even once in the past, such as physically attacking another person, then you have no business carrying such a weapon. Those that sell guns should be forced by Federal law to comply with following up on the background, licensure, and medical/mental history of those they sell to. And all this should be strictly enforced.