Most thinking people want gun control because well, no one wants to be gunned down at the school, grocery store or place of employment. In fact, no one wants to be gunned down anywhere. We may have a special concern about schools but that is essentially the same thing just writ larger because we have a basic and primal instinct for keeping our children safe first, all children.
So, on the surface, no one wants guns, nitroglycerin, hand grenades and/or lethal poisons all within easy reach of imbeciles and whack-jobs. In other words, we basically just don’t want to die because of a random encounter. We basically just do NOT want to die. So gun control sounds – on the surface – reasonable.
And I agree with the ideal. Mostly. We regulate (control) those poisons and explosives, we control and regulate and even regularly test the greatest killing device in history (the automobile) and we have ‘safety’ rules and procedures to the extent that we even warn about nuts being present in peanut butter. And we have all accepted that the state has a role in promoting safety and safe behavior.
A rebuttal might be: “Well, there are enough maniacs out there that I do not want to be a victim without at least having a chance at defending myself and, if a gun-totin’ fool aims at me, I wanna be able to shoot back!” And I understand that feeling even if it means trying to survive an AR-15 attack with a pea-shooter. You will likely lose but you didn’t die easily. I get that.
But….is that the issue? Is it really? Because, if ‘keeping us all safer’ is the goal, gun control by itself won’t do it. In fact, it just might make matters worse. Here’s why: firstly, there are now 400 million firearms just in the USA, a country with way too many ill-educated, greedy, alienated, toxically masculine, armed-forces-trained, stupid, angry men out there. Even if the US ‘bought back’ guns as New Zealand is proposing, as much as 75% would not be surrendered. And those surrendered would come from the folks least likely to ever use guns (the law-abiding). Nut cases are not going to give up their arsenals. Neither will criminals. Or gangs. The balance of power (such as it is) will shift even MORE right and crazy.
Secondly, most killings are limited to family and coworkers. A real nut can do the average ‘mass’ homicide (which is questionably stated as four) with a knife or something else used as a lethal weapon. There is no doubt fewer would die from bullets, and likely fewer would die overall, but the data (according to experts) suggests the difference would be negligible.
There are some controls that would work: a buyer of a gun must do some ‘basic training’ and that training should have instructors who have the right and obligation to assess a newbie’s attitude and psychological state. That is not a panacea, of course, but it would help. Additionally, no one under 25 (ideally 40) could ever buy or own or use a gun.
Why not? We wait until we can drive, we wait until we can drink alcohol and we have to train to use large machinery. And, maybe we even go so far as to categorize any gun owner with more than six (or whatever) guns as an armourer and that person needs additional vetting and training. Those things might catch a few nut-jobs and may even reduce some accidents but they still will not do the job.
“Why?” Because people who kill others (especially children and strangers) are INSANE (temporary rage-insanity and/or deep-in-the-bones insanity). Insane people do not obey the rules. And, if you watch any YOU-TUBES on stupid ‘Mericans, you’d be astonished and appalled at how stupid so many of them are. It is staggering. So, ya got yer stupid ones and your crazy ones and ya got a toxic culture that glorifies Rambo and MMA and deadly retribution. AND, you market increasingly realistic ‘games’ for kids that make killing ‘the bad guy’ entertainment. The ‘gun’ mentality is complex and riddled throughout society in all sorts of ways.
Bottom line: the AR-15 is, perhaps, amongst the most appealing of the weapons for the crazies and the testosterone-challenged but pistols and single-shot rifles kill more people (just usually one at a time) statistically. And I reiterate: there will be at least 300 million guns in houses and cars around the US even after any attempt at gun control. They will never get that genie back in the bottle again (and it never was in the USA).
They won’t gt the drug problem back in, either. Nor homelessness, mental illness or general crime. Add guns to all that and it’s like trying to stuff a wildcat into a small bag of snakes – and the bag is on fire!
One more point: Sal has a shotgun and a 30.06 rifle. She had one of them for over 40 years. She has never shot them. NOT ONCE. But we live remote. There are bears, cougars, wolves and the odd nut bar around that might, in some way, give us concern. If the police are called, they would take a day to get here and often, when they make the effort, they get lost. Police generally operate on roads. They have not mastered boats, charts, night-time navigation and they really do not like hiking through the forest. We do not have a donut shop or a cop-car on the island either. They do not want to come. Put bluntly, we do not have the time in an emergency for that kind of nonsense.
“So, what is the answer?” The first answer is that there is no answer that will be effective anytime soon. The second answer is that ‘Merican culture overall has to change in a whole lot of ways. The third answer is typical regulatory stuff but none of step three will work until step two has made a seismic shift-change and, even then, people with guns will still kill people in shopping malls…..which brings us back to answer #1.
A couple of observations as a counter point. 1.) in mass shootings the weapon used is a weapon of war for which there is no alternate use other than to kill many people as quickly as possible. 2.) universal background checks may be a proper role for the state to play in gun safety. Mental illness is often documented and recognized in many instances.
I agree there is no one solution. I wish the data sets you are appealing to would be referenced in this blog. I have not read any literature- research – that you apparently have. Can you share some of this research which you enter as evidence to support your arguments?.
Thanks for the compliment. But I cannot back up much of what I wrote simply because I glean information from a lot of sources and then let it stew in my head. When the stew is done, I share it. The figure of 400M came from David Klepper of the Associated Press, however. And much of the ‘general’ stuff would likely have been from Beau of the Fifth Column (a You Tube commentator). His latest was on the AR-15. The CBC ran several pieces on guns-in-other-countries somewhat recently and, of course, I, myself, concluded that the ‘Merican culture promotes violence in oh-so-many ways. Auto fatalities – general knowledge. I suppose my own violent past plays a role as well. Many, many bad neighbourhoods (13 different schools before I graduated – all in the poor sections of various towns and cities). Too many streetfights to count. Boxing, football and hockey are occasionally harsh. Being a bouncer for a year. Working in Skid Row for four years. I may have a distorted lense.
By the way…that ‘weapon of war’ (the AR-15) is chambered in a .223 round. That round is often classified as a ‘varmint’ round by folks-who-shoot. In fact, many .223’s are ‘everyday’ rifles for farmers and such and the only real difference is cosmetic EXCEPT that the AR is semi-auto. But so are some other .223’s that do not have that skeletal stock. Even tho the .223 is lethal, it apparently is not lethal enough and the US army is stepping up to a larger round. It could be argued by a gun nut that the .223 is not a weapon of war anymore than a .22LR is or an old .303. But, let’s be honest.. if an old Ukrainian woman can kill a bunch of Russian soldiers by serving them poisoned buns, anything can be a ‘weapon of war’.
Poisoned buns have been used of late as a weapon of war. In a civilized society free of the conditions of war there are no peace serving purposes for poisoned buns. Hence we regulate our bakeries through food inspection and make the act of poisoning a crime. Always a crime but a justifiable act in times of war as a tool of self defense when faced with aggression. Even a just war theory upon which our world order relies carries problems with it. Who defines it? Who decides?
.223’s are lethal, skeletal stock or not. All guns are lethal instruments. Their use needs to be regulated in a morally ordered world. The issue seems to be as to how we regulate and the basis upon which we limit personal freedoms, or to what degree for the sake of the common good.
This will require complex reasoning and regulatory savvy to find the balance. The mean between excessive and deficient is hard to find . In our polarized world this kind of analysis and legislative judgment is in short supply. The gun lobby has succeeded in silencing research findings and distorting the conversation.
Moral reasoning is a fine art which once exercised can produce widely accepted results. The legal limit for alcohol levels in the blood for drivers is an example of the ‘mean’. You can drink and drive but only drink a very small amount and usually an hour after consumption. We limit freedom with cause while at the same time legitimize alcohol consumption and leave it to personal judgment given the health associated risks. And the same for smoking. We can sell cigarettes and smoke in private – outright prohibition is seen as excessive.
Why can’t we find the mean for ‘gun ownership’ in a society where a small number are crazy and evil.
Your blog tries to get us there. Thank you.
Again. Thanks. But I am not so sure that I am trying real hard. Not anymore. In fact, I kinda gave up. Do not misunderstand me; I am not in favour of guns at all. Not even for Sal. Not even for hunting. Even tho there is a legitimate need at times, those few instances are greatly outweighed by wanton slaughter on a mythical scale (i.e. the American civil war killed in excess of 600,000! Millions in the WWs). I’d rather see a rattlesnake get away, a cougar eat a lamb, a pack of wolves take down a cow than have to endure thousands of dead in various theatres of conflict. I do not even want hunters to kill moose and elk and deer. My tolerance for extermination stops at rats, mice and mosquitos. I am not a Buddhist but I am sympathetic.
As for your question: “Why can’t we find the mean for ‘gun ownership’ in a society where a small number are crazy and evil”….part of the answer is in NOT doing what we always do time and time again. We try to find a rule, a law, a systemic’ fix to what is, in my view’, almost always a personal, subjective, individualistic problem. Like the LAW (hallowed be they name), we try to fix things exceptional with blanket solutions and that usually just cause more problems for everyone else. Put more succinctly: we cannot legislate goodness.
Society, is by nature, organized around social purposes to hold a number of goods in common. We can’t achieve that if a growing portion of society is denied life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Legislative controls on human behaviors seem necessary- undeniably so.
I accept your premise that goodness or virtue cannot be legislated/regulated. It seems our society has lost its moral class room– home and school. A topic perhaps for your next blog. How do we create wells of goodness? As educated and enlightened as we are – we surely suffer from arrested moral development.
OK, FK, I’ll tackle ‘manufacturing morality’ some day. But, I’ll take a quick stab with this: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. That lovely Golden Rule is way, way too general to work what with the Putins, Trumps, Jeffrey Dahmers in this world. We’d all be dead in no time. So, the question needs some thinkin’. I basically think morality is innate and we ‘pollute’ that with culture and the systems in which we are immersed. In other words: I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us. Still, we’ll give it a shot, shall we (forgive the pun)?
Why doesn’t the US applies the same rules that are applied in most parts of Europe? In order to obtain a gun in let’s say Belgium, you need to be a member of a rifle club. Furthermore, there is a VERY extensive background check, where they also establish the “need” for a gun (like for hunting, self defense,…). Only after a considerable waiting period (and if you comply with all the other rules, you can obtain a fire arm. The number of gun stores is of course also limited (so you can not buy a gun in a supermarket). These rules seem to me a good balance between personal freedom and a “desire” to own a gun. It has worked well for decades. The number of guns/head is very low, we seldom have a “mass” killing by a lunatic with a gun. Asking the US people to voluntarily give up their guns won’t work. But if you would introduce the same strict procedure for every new gun, for sure after a number of years, you would see the number of guns/head go down, and even hopefully reduce the number of these shootings. It might not be a quick “revolution”, but hopefully a positive evolution.
So if you put the bar at a level where you need to prove the “need” for a gun, it alreadu-y might be a good starting point. If I would live on Read Island (or some other remote area), I also might be inclined to own a gun
Because let’s be hones….teaching young kids a t school how to behave when a shooter enters your classroom….that should NOT be part of the tuition program!
I am looking forward to the manufacturing morality subject!
Seems you got yourself a few interested readers!!