Columbine. Aurora. Newtown.
I’d be incredibly surprised if anyone reading this doesn’t recognize those names. Each was a tragedy, each involved guns, and each might have been preventable…but not by gun control.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the feeling. When tragedy strikes, we look for someone to blame, and if that doesn’t feel like enough, we look for something else to blame. Casting blame, vilifying something or someone, helps us to feel better about things that are out of our control.
But casting blame doesn’t solve problems. Reacting instinctively, emotionally, without stepping back and thinking logically, doesn’t solve problems.
So, gun control…let’s look at this logically for a minute.
There are, roughly, 270-300 million privately owned guns in the U.S. On top of that, there are roughly 7-10 million gun sales per year in the U.S. That is a TON of guns.
Quite frankly, there’s absolutely no gun control law of any kind that would even make a dent in this number. They’ll never institute a retroactive ban…the gun owners wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) stand for it (you know, the whole constitution and all), and banning future sales even of just assault style weapons would at best trim annual sales by maybe 10-20%, if that.
At the same time, take a good long look at those numbers…300 million guns, and how many of those are used to kill people, en masse or otherwise?
There are roughly 30,000 gun related deaths in the US per year, of which close to 60% are suicides…so, at best 0.004% of those 300 million guns are used to murder people (and that’s assuming one death per gun, which isn’t the case.)
Gun control won’t prevent tragedies from occurring. I mean, seriously, 0.004%? These are extreme outliers, a fraction of a fraction, and you can’t make rules to prevent outlier events from occurring…they’re outliers.
Statistically speaking, gun control wouldn’t work. It would make some people feel better, but it’s a placebo at best. People who are going to commit crimes aren’t exactly law abiding in the first place.
I personally grew up around guns. My grandfather and father were in the military, and both my mother and father worked in law enforcement. I learned to shoot when I was 5 or 6, and over the years I’ve shot dozens and dozens of different guns, including fully automatic weapons, sniper rifles…you name it.
I was taught to use guns safely, for hunting, for recreation (shooting ranges) and for the protection of myself and others. I can’t remember a time when my dad didn’t carry a weapon, and I’ve been present when he’s had to use it (he drew it to break up a gang fight in San Francisco during a family vacation.)
A gun is a tool, and quite frankly is only as dangerous as the person wielding it. People like to toss around the “guns don’t kill people, people do”, and while it’s a fairly flip saying, it’s really quite accurate. A gun is a tool, like a knife, or a hammer. It can be used for good or ill, depending on the intent of the person using it.
Which brings us to the other current topic of conversation…mental healthcare. Alas, better access to mental health professionals also isn’t the solution to the problem.
And before anyone tells me I don’t understand the issues people are facing on that front, I had a grandfather, an uncle, and the father of one of my good friends commit suicide…so I bloody well understand mental health problems.
The problem isn’t access to mental healthcare…it’s the stigma. Nobody wants to have mental health problems, and they certainly don’t want others to know about it if they do. This is especially relevant with parents and their children, who don’t want their children being labeled, treated differently, shunned, picked on…and so nobody talks about it.
So the real problem is just this…the world is just a pretty messed up place. People tend to be selfish, to varying degrees. That really isn’t news. There has never been a period in human history where someone wasn’t hurting or killing someone else, for whatever reason. It isn’t a good thing, but it’s not new and it’s never going to go away.
People kill other people, bad things happen to good/innocent people…and as much as it sucks, it genuinely isn’t preventable. Not really, and certainly not by laws.
20 children died in Newtown, and it is truly, deeply saddening. When I heard, it took my breath away. I have a kid of my own, and I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be one of those parents. That said, 21,000 children die EVERY DAY around the world, most from preventable causes (poverty, hunger, preventable diseases and illnesses.)
What the hell is up with that? As a nation, we react instantly and ferociously when 20 children are killed by a lunatic, and immediately demand that something be done to prevent such things in the future. Why don’t we get pissed off and try to change the things that kill 1,000 times as many kids on a daily basis, all over the world? What the hell is wrong with the people in this country?
Children dying needlessly, anywhere, is a tragedy. It’s not only tragic when it happens close to home. Instead of trying to change gun laws, which truly won’t help, why don’t we do something that would actually make a real difference in the world?
Maybe add a tax to gun sales (and soda sales, and restaurant sales, and movie tickets, and all the other stuff we take for granted) and donate all proceeds to preventing kids from dying around the world from things that are truly preventable?
That might actually help to fix a REAL problem.
But of course, it will never happen. We’re a myopic people, largely concerned with our own problems, facing ever inward instead of outward. And that I think, in the end, will be our destruction.
Here’s some additional reading that I’ve come across: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-riddle-of-the-gun and his follow-up piece http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/faq-on-violence, and this as well: http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
This one is also really good: http://www.assaultweapon.info/