Although I know that the issue of gun control is a big one, I knew very little about it prior to the most recent series of killings that have taken place in the US specifically. In fact, I probably knew as much about guns as I do about jellyfish. That is to say I have seen some, touched a few (Do bb guns count? And is that how you spell it?), know that there are different kinds and that some are more dangerous than others. Thus the need for a brief bit of research.
I now know the difference between hand guns, rifles and shotguns, and know what semi-automatic (one bullet released with every trigger pull, and automatic reload) and automatic (multiple bullets released with one trigger pull) mean. I know that there are about as many guns owned by US citizens as there are people—around 300 million. I know that my country is unique in many frightening ways.
I have been surprised to learn about the arguments against gun control, and want to go through some of them.
Argument A: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. If someone is out to do something evil, he will figure out a way to do it regardless of whether or not he has access to a gun.
This strikes me as a very weak and naïve argument. Of course the gun alone is neutral and the person who wields it is ultimately responsible for what is does. There are many forms of weapons—even a truck can be used as a weapon—but they are not all equal. Someone armed with a knife, for example, can do far less damage than someone armed with a gun. And someone with a simple handgun can do far less than someone armed with a semiautomatic or automatic weapon. If the specific weapon didn’t matter, we’d still be fighting wars with spears and bow-and-arrows.
This article looks at how the United States is unique in its high homicidal rate as well as its percentage of gun-owning citizens, and uses aggregated statistical evidence to prove that more guns unequivocally translate to more gun deaths. It also shows that mass shootings do not form the majority of the gun deaths every year.
This article makes the same case, and also shows that the United States is the only country in the world that has elevated gun ownership to a constitutional right.
Argument B: Gun control laws are unconstitutional.
This is absolutely false. There are many ways that gun ownership can be regulated without infringing on the second amendment. Strict background checks can be set in place to ensure that the person who purchases a gun does not have a criminal record. Someone with a violent history has already lost the right to own a firearm. The problem here is that in many cases, guns are transferred back and forth or purchased privately. Many of the people who commit violent crimes with guns are not the actual owners of the guns. Some proposals suggest that gun registration should be a requirement, and that no gun can be sold or given away without a bill of sale. The government’s knowledge of who is in possession of a firearm does not break the second amendment.
I’ve heard people make the argument that since the second amendment was put in place so that citizens could defend themselves against an unjust government, we shouldn’t interfere with it. This doesn’t hold up anymore. If we still wanted to work off of this argument, citizens would now need to possess atomic bombs. It’s just not a valid point, and it was created during an earlier era long removed from the world we now live in.
In spite of the fact that gun control laws do not need to jeopardize the second amendment, I actually think we should repeal the second amendment all together. Repealing the right to bear arms does not prohibit the use of guns in certain controlled situations (such as hunting) by approved citizens. No other country includes the right to bear arms in their constitution.
Argument C: If more people owned firearms, it would discourage gun violence and mass shootings.
Again, the data is stacked up against this argument.
This article imagines a scenario in which everyone owned a firearm:
Finally, if we take the gun-rights lobby at their word, the Second Amendment is a suicide pact. As they say over and over, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In other words, please the gun manufacturers by arming even the vast majority of Americans who do not own a gun.
Just think of what would have happened in the Orlando night-club Saturday night if there had been many others armed. In a crowded, dark, loud dance club, after the shooter began firing, imagine if others took out their guns and started firing back. Yes, maybe they would have killed the shooter, but how would anyone else have known what exactly was going on? How would it not have devolved into mass confusion and fear followed by a large-scale shootout without anyone knowing who was the good guy with a gun, who was the bad guy with a gun, and who was just caught in the middle? The death toll could have been much higher if more people were armed.
The gun-rights lobby’s mantra that more people need guns will lead to an obvious result — more people will be killed.
Obviously, I realize that gun control is not the solution or the answer to the chaos and shootings that seem to be happening one right after the other over and over and over. It is ridiculous to say that guns are the reason that hatred and fear and racism exist. I know that it is far more important to treat each other with kindness and respect and to hold each other in high regard than it is to argue about gun laws. But I also know that the issue is important, and if we have the option of stepping forward in a more peaceful direction, I don’t know what’s holding us back.
PS. I am aware that some of those who stand on the opposite side of the argument have their own valid reasons that differ from the quick opinions I listed, and I would love to hear other perspectives to try and understand where people are coming from.