Logic and Emotions – Gun Control (Part 1)
I’ve tried to find good reasons for people supporting all the gun control laws we have and wanting stricter rules. Really, all I can find are statistics listing how many children are killed by guns, how dangerous they are, how children as young as 3-4 can pull the trigger on ‘most’ handguns (I hate words like ‘most’ in statistics, if you’re trying to prove something, us a number), what percentage of the population is touched by gun violence, how much access children have to guns, etc. I’m hesitant to put any of the statistics in here, because most of them are meaningless. Like, measures of how gun homicides decrease when there are less guns. I believe that wholeheartedly; less guns means less gun deaths. But those websites never touch on the actual number of deaths; were there just as many murders, only using other means? Were there more murders, because potential victims weren’t able to defend themselves? Were there more rapes, robberies, hold-ups, etc.? The strongest gun-control activists are driven by emotion. They hear the sob stories from parents whose four year old son shot their infant daughter, and their immediate reaction is to lobby for no one to own any guns. They see the statistics on how many children have died in school shootings, and they call for a ban on all guns, everywhere. The politicians know they can’t just outlaw all guns everywhere, so they start with little restrictions. They make it harder to buy a gun. They pass legislation increasing taxes on guns. They make it legal to own a gun, but not to carry it. They require you to buy a license and a permit. They make some kinds of guns illegal. They make some kinds of ammunition illegal. They make it legal to own a gun, but illegal to have a magazine that can hold more than 10 bullets. Slowly, slowly, they make it harder and harder to own a gun. The crying mothers of the shot children keep calling for more and more restrictions, never realizing that the more restrictions there are, the less safe everyone is.
The primary use for guns is self-defense, and in many cases the gun is never even fired. Let’s just think about a few logical scenarios involving gun crime.
Our first scenario takes place in a perfect, utopian, liberal controlled world where guns are completely outlawed, and no law-abiding citizen has one. A few teenagers hate their lives, their school and their classmates. They decide they want to go to the school, set off bombs and shoot a bunch of people before killing themselves. They know guns are illegal, but so is shooting classmates so it doesn’t really bother them. Drugs are also completely illegal, but like most high school students they know exactly where to get ahold of what they want. So they get a few guns. Since they aren’t just stealing a formerly legal gun from their dad’s closet but actually going to the black market they have their choice of guns, and decide on a couple of fully-automatic firearms. They go to the school and are able to shoot five full classrooms of people before the police even show up. They hit a couple more classrooms, then kill themselves. There are about 60 dead students, and an additional 72 injured.
This is possible, of course, because in the liberals dream world of complete gun control, there are still guns! Wait, you didn’t actually think that outlawing guns would get rid of guns, did you? Why would you think something like that? It didn’t work for alcohol, drugs, or speeding. All the available guns are now illegal, so they aren’t bothering with any former government requirements like safety clips, background checks or age requirements. You don’t see guns nearly as often, because only criminals have guns. So, no, in this perfect world of complete gun control, you aren’t safe from guns. Your toddler can’t shoot himself with the gun that isn’t in your closet, but the criminal who comes into your house with a gun can; and it’s quite easy to shoot people who can’t shoot back because they don’t have a gun.
Next scenario: bits of gun control, lots of laws meant to protect us. Same stupid kids wanting to go out in a flash of glory. They get ahold of their parent’s guns and go to school to shoot as many people as they can. Since the teachers are all law-abiding citizens, no one in the school has any means of defending themselves. In some cases they kill as many as 15 students. In one case Vice Principal Joel Myrick ran out to his car and grabbed his gun and held the shooter in place until the police arrive. In this case there were only three deaths. He had to run all the way to his car to get the gun, and the shooter happened to run outside too, or there may have been more deaths while Myrick ran back inside to find the student.
Last two scenarios: Less gun control, or a conservative’s utopia. I think one of two things could happen. The students decide they want to go to school and shoot people. They steal their parent’s guns, or buy their own, and go to the school. The first classroom they stop in has a teacher with a gun, the teacher immediately pulls it out and the shooters either drop their weapons or the teacher shoots them. This is sad, of course, but no innocent lives are lost.
Or, the two kids want to go to school and shoot all their friends. They know, however, that current gun laws allow teachers to have guns in the classroom. They debate amongst themselves whether it is worth the risk and trouble. They would have to steal their parent’s guns, or steal money to buy guns. They could do all that, but they might get to the school and stumble across someone holding a gun before they have the chance to shoot anyone else, which would defeat the entire point. Finally they decide not to bother. Maybe they go ahead and kill themselves, maybe they don’t. But no one at their school dies.
So, which of those three (four) scenarios do you prefer? Personally, I’m a fan of the one where no innocent people get hurt. But, I am one of those cold-blooded conservatives that is always placing more value on innocent lives, like unborn babies and potential crime victims. Or maybe you think those scenarios are ridiculous. Maybe you really do believe that outlawing guns will mean that all the guns go away. We can think about that, lets pretend all the guns did go away. I went to the NOW website (National Organization of Women, as though they have the monopoly on what women want and what women’s rights are), to see their perspective on gun control. I couldn’t find any hard statements on their website, but they have donated money to anti-gun organizations and support strong gun control candidates. They had a few articles posted on their website about guns; one had to do with making it illegal for men who had been involved in domestic violence to own a gun. This is an interesting measure to support. On the surface, it sounds great to make it illegal for men who beat women to own guns. But… does that make everything better? Men can beat women to death; plenty of men do plenty of damage to their girlfriends/wives/ex’s/daughters without a gun. So, taking the guns away from them sounds good, but I think it would do a whole lot more good to arm the women! I mean, NOW is always fighting for equality between men and women. If there is a man and a woman, physically they aren’t equal. Giving them both guns evens things up quite a bit. Or, if just the woman has a gun then things are unequal in her favor, which is what NOW really wants despite their use of the word ‘equality’.
Let’s examine a few other scenarios, without guns. The school ‘shootings’, for example. There are no guns, at all, but the boys still want to do some damage. So they go to the school with bombs. They plant bombs all over the school, and they’re wearing bombs (because they’re killing themselves, too) so no one can get anywhere near them to subdue them. If someone had a gun they could subdue them from a distance, but that’s not an option.
On the streets women keep being raped and killed. It’s easy for a man to rape and kill a woman. Women who used to carry guns are now just a vulnerable as they used to be. Many women carry knives, pepper spray or maybe a stun gun, but those are all very close range weapons, and relatively useless against more than one person. Drive by bombings are common, which cause more damage to property and innocent bystanders than one bullet used to. Gangs fight with knives and grenades. (Do you really think that people won’t replace guns with something else destructive?) No one feels any safer, especially women who used to be able to protect themselves, but are now hopeless if anyone bigger or stronger than them comes along. Criminals are emboldened; knowing that there is no chance of being shot they are free to rape, rob, car-jack and mug as they please.
What, exactly, are we gaining in this scenario? In a world without guns the only people who are safer are the children with parents who leave guns accessible and criminals. Potential rape victims aren’t safer. All potential crime victims aren’t safer. Is it worth the trade-off? More children die every year in auto accidents and drownings (National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Report). Gun deaths don’t make it into the top 20 deaths for infants (neither does abortion, though, so maybe they just left it out too). Homicide was number 16, and accounted for 1.08% of all infant deaths, but it’s much easier to kill an infant by suffocating, shaking or drowning them. According to the CDC, in 2005 only 7 infants (less than 1 year old) died from firearms, and only 1 of those was accidental. In children 1-15 years old there were 645 firearm deaths, 87 were unintentional. That’s 1.06 per 100,000. In the same age group, deaths from drowning were 831, which is 1.36 per 100,000. So, when liberals start lobbying to outlaw swimming I’ll believe they don’t have any ulterior motive for attacking guns. After all, a pool has never saved anyone’s life. Guns have.
The following chart shows the CDC data for the number of deaths from firearms, auto accidents and drownings for specific age groups. One of the ‘ploys’ of the anti-gun lobby is to talk about how many children die from firearms every year, or every day. They usually define ‘children’ as anyone 0-19. Since crime rates are highest among 18-24 year olds, including 18 and 19 year olds in the ‘children’ data tends to skew the results. All gang and crime related firearm deaths in the 18-19 age range are included in this data. Which is something anti-gun lobbyists usually neglect to mention. When you hear that children are dying from guns you usually don’t picture a 19-year old druggie shot by a rival gang. So it is to their advantage not to bring it up.
|Age||Deaths||Drowning||Auto Accident||Firearm Total||Firearm Unintentional|
|0-4||3,636||592 (2.92)||629 (3.1)||69 (.34)||23 (.11)|
|5-9||1,226||129 (.66)||560 (2.87)||62 (.32)||15 (.08)|
|10-14||1,883||135 (.65)||763 (3.66)||273 (1.31)||37 (.18)|
|15-19||10,448||331 (1.57)||4,829 (22.97)||2,623 (12.48)||98 (.47)|
So, those are the number of deaths, and the death rate per 100,000 for 2005. No spin, no deliberate groupings, no deceitful percentages. Make of it what you will; if it’s still too many deaths for you, then you are certainly entitled to your opinion that guns are too dangerous. There was an option for ‘unintentional’ deaths, so I thought that might be important to look at. When you worry about your children shooting themselves or a sibling, keep in mind that those are very, very rare. It is much more likely they will die from drowning, an auto accident, even an intentional shooting.
The point of this is to show you that guns aren’t quite as dangerous to children as they are made out to be. Really, the safest thing to do is to teach them to use the gun before they get too old. If they have used the gun and know they aren’t allowed to touch it without permission, then they will be more likely to leave it alone if they ever stumble across it. On the other hand, if you just keep it hidden and they’ve never seen it before, then if they find it they will be curious and want to play with it. Keys, trigger locks and safes also go a long way toward preventing accidents. I don’t think people whose children ‘shot themselves while playing with a gun’ should be allowed to lobby for gun control. Why should people who have made mistakes with guns be allowed to mandate whether or not other people are allowed to own guns? This is like someone who caught an STD lobbying to make sex illegal.
In 1982, a survey of imprisoned criminals found that 34% of them had been “scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim.” Those are the prisoners in jail. Probably being shot, wounded and captured increased their chances of being in jail. So imagine how many more criminals who aren’t in jail have just been scared off by a gun. If the criminal doesn’t have a gun, and they see the victim does, they are going to leave! It makes sense! I wouldn’t attack someone with a gun. Even if they had a really nice car I wanted, even if I was really upset at them, even if they were wearing thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, I just wouldn’t attack someone with a gun.
Even if the perpetrator does have a gun, their victim having a gun too makes them evenly matched. In reality, most people with guns never want to use them. Criminals wanting to steal a car or some money probably don’t want to kill anyone, they just know that they can use the gun to scare a victim. But it’s harder to scare someone who also has a gun.
I will give a few quick examples, which I think show the logic of the pro-gun position. In Switzerland almost all of their citizens belong to the military, and almost every adult male (except for criminals and the mentally ill) has a machine gun in his house. Many of the guns are registered, since they are government mandated, but they can also buy additional guns without being registered, so registration laws are likely irrelevant to crime rates. The gun crime rates in Switzerland; pretty close to nothing. Why do you think? Would you break into someone’s house if you knew they had a machine gun? Me neither. Their gun suicide rates are higher than other countries, but the overall suicide rate is the same as in Japan, where there are very few guns. So, if someone wants to kill themselves having a gun makes it quicker, but not having a gun doesn’t prevent suicide. Washington D.C. has been known for having the most gun restrictions, and is also known as the murder capital of America. In 1982 Kennesaw, Georgia, passed a law requiring that every head of household own and maintain a gun. In 25 years not a single resident has been a victim of a fatal shooting, and per capita crime rates have dropped despite the population growing from 5,242 to 28,189.
The biggest reason most people support guns is to prevent crimes. It is hard to show the effectiveness of using guns for self protection, because there is no way to prove that something would have happened if a gun hadn’t been present.
To illustrate what that means, let’s look at a few more examples.
Imagine you are watching Oprah, and she has three guests on her show.
The first one is a woman whose four year old son was shot and died after her ten year old son found their gun and started playing with it. She is trying not to cry, but tears run down her face as she struggles to talk about how much she misses her son. She talks about the life he should have had, how he never had the chance to go to school, he’ll never grow up and marry. Her other son is traumatized and has been going to counseling for months to cope with the guilt. She has separated from her husband because she can’t stop blaming him for insisting on keeping a gun in their house. Her voice breaks as she said, “None of this would ever have happened if there were stronger gun control laws.”
The next woman talks about a terrifying experience she had after leaving a restaurant one night in downtown New York. She was grabbed by a man, who held a gun to her head as he beat and raped her in an alley. She can’t help sobbing as she recounts the experience; she’s still terrified to be alone and is having trouble trusting any men. She says she can still feel the barrel of the gun pressed against her hair and starts shaking anytime she sees a gun. She vehemently wishes that guns didn’t exist.
The third woman had been driving late at night through a dark part of town. She was stopped at a red light when she saw two men approaching her car. One was holding a crow-bar, they were both smiling as they approached, and she felt chilly and terrified just looking at them. She reached into her glove-box and pulled out a gun. As soon as she pulled it out the two men stopped smiling, turned around and left. She is sure the gun saved her from injury, theft or death.
Which do you sympathize with the most? Whose story touches you the most, rallies you the most to their cause? The first two women’s lives were torn apart. They believe because of guns. The third woman… well, nothing happened to her. She wasn’t hurt. She has no idea what would have happened. She can’t prove anything bad was about to happen; the men may have been just out for a walk, and they only turned around when they saw the gun because they were scared. Maybe they were thinking of attacking her, but they would have changed their minds before actually reaching the car, and the gun didn’t actually change the outcome.
My point is, it is impossible to prove what might have happened under different circumstances. But gun deaths, crimes that actually have happened, draw more support and recognition. You have heard of Columbine and the Virginia Tech massacre, because lots of people died. How many of you have heard of the Pearl High School shooting? Not many, because the vice principal used a gun and stopped the shooter before he could kill more than two students. If the vice principal didn’t have a gun the shooter might have gone on to kill another twelve students, and then everyone would have heard of Pearl High and people would have been using it as an example of why we need more gun control laws. Instead, because a gun was present, less people died and so no one cares. The CNN story about the shooting never even mentions that the student was stopped by a gun wielding vice-principal.
Do you see what I’m getting at? People lobby against guns because of things that have happened. People who support guns do so because of what could happen without them. In my examples above, the story about the two women who were hurt by guns are sad. It is horrible, things like that should never happen. But, they happen a lot less often than the third story, about a woman using a gun to defend herself. In the first two stories the tragedies could have been averted by more gun involvement. In the first story the man could have taken his son to go shooting, teach him how to use a gun, then follow NRA recommendations to keep his gun locked and safe at all times. In the second story if the woman had a gun she could have pulled it out and protected herself. Stories like the third one happen all the time. Different surveys say that defensive gun use ranges from 777,000 and 3 million times per year. These numbers are really hard to prove. I read one story from a woman who was attacked by a repair man in her house. He was groping her and pushing her to her bed; once they got to the bed she was able to pull her gun out from under her pillow, and he immediately ran off. In this case it is fairly obvious he was going to rape her, so we can be sure that the gun actually did prevent a crime. In the case with the woman in her car, there is no way to know what would have happened. She may have saved her life, or she may have just scared off a couple of menacing looking, but harmless, men. There could be crimes prevented that no one ever knows about; a man could be planning on attacking a woman, but then catch a glimpse of a gun as she opened her purse, and so he changes his mind. These cases can’t be counted, but it was the presence of the gun that prevented a crime.
Guns protect people. Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University said guns are used for defense about 3 to 5 times more often than they are used in crimes. The CDC statistics show that only a few hundred children accidentally die every year from guns, but as many as 3,000,000 crimes a year are averted because of the presence of a gun. Stories about accidental deaths are sad, much more sensational and newsworthy. There are no perfect choices. If you choose to own a gun you are risking one of the 1,400 accidental deaths each year. If you want to outlaw guns you are risking almost 3 million more crimes per year. You can let the police “protect” you (11 percent shooting of innocents, when and if the cops show up) or decide to protect yourself (2 percent shooting of innocents). For every story you hear about a child dying in a firearm accident, there are literally dozens of murders, rapes and other crimes that have been avoided because guns are legal. It is not reasonable to let an emotional story overwhelm the logic of allowing gun ownership.
Posted on June 28, 2011, in Gun Control and tagged 2nd amendment, gun control, gun homicides, gun rights, gun safety, guns, national rifle association, NRA, school shootings, why I'm Conservative. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.