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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ok, so let's talk about gun control...

What happened in Aurora, CO - commonly known as the Batman, or Dark Knight Rises, shootings is a tragedy first and foremost. Innocent lives were lost and the lives around them are devastated.  The wound is still raw and shocking.  We should definitely take time to mourn the lost, comfort those around them and pull together in support of this tragedy.  That should always be our primary reaction.

As with all things though, eventually the grief and suffering will turn to anger.  And that anger needs a target.  And while the blame should be squarely placed on the individual who perpetrated this horrendous act, there will be many who will dig further by blaming what allowed this murderer to do what he did.

While determining what allowed, enabled, and motivate this man to mass public murder is a complex fit of factors and circumstances, there will inevitably be the cry for further gun control.  As Mike Grunwald of Time Magazine says:

It’s telling that the people who get paid to analyze politics recoil at the notion that its practitioners should connect it to real-life pain. They think they’re covering a sport, an entertainment. But politics matters, because policies matter. “Obamacare” and “gay marriage” are not just issues that might play badly with swing voters or turn the tide in Virginia; they’re issues that affect people’s lives. Gun control and the Second Amendment are issues, too, and now seems like a pretty good time to talk about them

And he's right.  Since guns did affect lives here, we should talk about it.  So I'm going to give my feelings about it.

Gun control, like many leftist policies, has the right intent - being to reduce violent deaths at the hands of deadly weapons (in this case, guns) - but doesn't seem to think much beyond that.  It's right in line with many leftist kneejerk feeling based reactions to tragic situations that cause a ton of negative feelings.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to reduce violent deaths and reduce suffering.  The problem is, taking away guns has other serious risks associated with it.  And also, taking away guns may not even reduce violence related deaths.

First, let's assume we're all aware of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution that gives American citizens the right to bear arms.  There's a very key message here that is part of the American fabric:  We have the right to  defend ourselves.  What's this mean?  It means several things.  It means that we don't have to rely on someone else to keep us safe.  It gives us the power to ensure our own safety.  And most importantly, it keeps us from becoming victims to oppressive government regimes as well as to common criminal evil.

This is where gun control really becomes a problem.  Who's going to go through the legal channels to acquire a gun?  That's right, upright, law abiding citizens.  The people that, out of any group, should have the guns.  Who isn't going to go through legal means to acquire a gun?  That's right, criminals with intent to use the gun for evil.  So the only thing gun control does here is make it harder for the good people to get weapons to defend themselves while having little to no impact on those who don't care about obeying the law.  Remember that criminals and the more repulsive parts of society prey on the law abiding citizen.  So by making it harder for law abiding citizens to get guns, they instead create more victims for the truly evil people (again who don't give a damn about gun control laws) to prey upon.  And also while I don't think our government is going to slide into a totalitarian regime any time soon (if ever), I can say that the 2nd Amendment pretty much implies the rights of US Citizens to fight against oppressive regimes should they somehow manage to take power.  By giving us that right, it takes away a potential tool of control (coercion through threat of violence) that can be used by the government.

Furthermore, it's debatable whether gun control will even solve the problem.  Let's even pretend that somehow gun control was able to remove every single gun from everyone in the nation (criminals and normal citizens alike), this doesn't mean there'll be an end, or even a significant reduction, in violent deaths.  Why? Because those intent on violence will find other tools to use.  Next thing you know, knives and cutting objects need to be regulated because of all the stabbing deaths.  Heck, maybe people will just start building home made bombs.  And while yes, a gun is quite an efficient tool for killing, it's definitely not the only one out there.  If people are really intent on killing other people, they will find a way to do it.  A gun just happens to be the best way.  But take that away, and they'd find other weapons.

Gun control is only treating a small piece of the equation.  It won't solve the problem and can lead to more people being victimized.  Yes, there are some weighty down sides to making guns as available as they are.  This tragic shooting is one of them.  So was Columbine.  And Fort Hood.  And the Tuscon shooting.  But, if I had to choose between these potential evils and the possibily of losing my right to protect myself, I'm always going to choose my right to protect myself.  Without the right to protect myself, I'm essentially just a potential victim waiting to be victimized.  Though these incidences are indeed tragic and painful, I find being powerless to protect myself a far worse situation.