Gun Control

January 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm (Uncategorized)

So this is the first in a series of controversial topics that have been rolling around in my head that I wanted to write about. I have been wanting to write about these issues not only because I believe that dialogue about them is important, relevant, and interesting, but also because I feel that writing is a great way to bring clarity to one’s own thoughts. So without further ado, the #1 topic in my mind recently: guns.

I have struggled in some ways to reconcile what is to me a deep rooted aversion to guns on an emotional level with my more logical side. With that in mind, I’d like to start by laying out my personal experience with guns so that people can get a sense of where I am coming from. My mother hates guns (my brother and I weren’t even allowed to have super soakers for a time when we were kids–clearly I believe that is overkill) and I am sure some of that has rubbed off on me. I have never fired a weapon with the minor exception of a stage pistol that only fired blanks (I don’t know whether that “counts,” forgive my limited experience). I do, however, have many friends who enjoy hunting with their families, and venison in particular is oh so tasty. So that’s me.

In the wake of recent national tragedies guns and gun control have come to the forefront of media attention. It was an issue at the University of Idaho several years ago whether or not to allow students to carry guns on campus, and discounting all of that there are (according to the CDC) anywhere between 30,000-32,000 gun related fatalities in the US in a given year.

Given my background mentioned above (and if you know me personally,my life and mannerisms in general), I suppose it should not come as a shock that I (in general) am opposed to the idea of guns on a fairly fundamental philosophical level. And that, I have come to believe, is the root of that aforementioned aversion to them. Guns are devices that kill people, and I am opposed to killing people. As a reasonable person I make a clear moral exception for hunting–there is nothing wrong with feeding yourself, your family, or your friends, controlling animal populations in the absence of predators, and the like. But the difference between guns generally used for hunting (rifles/shotguns) seems to be fairly substantial from handguns (to kill people) and semiautomatic/automatic weaponry (to kill a lot of people at once, or maybe make one person really dead). Now here is also where you have to excuse my ignorance–I understand that semiautomatic weapons are sometimes useful for hunting in certain contexts, and maybe sometimes you use handguns for things other than killing people.

Here is my main point, though. I don’t see the need for guns whose sole purpose is killing lots of other people. I think that if you feel the government is going to try to implant chips in you or control your mind with fluoride in the water or vaccinate you against your will and therefore you need guns to protect yourself from their intrusions that you are at best misinformed and at worst deranged. People cite the slippery slope argument, but the educated among you have to know that is a fallacy. We live in America, people are going to have their guns. Can’t we at least make it difficult/illegal to get ones that can kill bunches of us at once?

That brings me to the counterargument, which is that criminals have guns so I need a gun to protect myself. That I understand, and that is why I am unopposed to having handguns from a policy standpoint. From a philosophical viewpoint I would wish that we could all be kind and understanding; that we could love each other as ourselves. In that world we wouldn’t need guns, and so I find them distasteful. I am not blind to reality, however.

From a policy standpoint, I would hope that we would ban those guns which are capable of killing large numbers of people quickly, and be rational about the whole thing. These people who continue to say things like “pry the guns from my cold dead hands” scare me, because I assume you mean gun violence. The NRA is a powerful voting bloc/special interest; just make your voice heard. Too many people are dieing for me to take those words lightly. On the flip side, I hope my left-leaning friends will realize that in this world guns have a place and a time, and there are legitimate disagreements about the grey area between no guns and all the guns. It’s a matter of finding the right line to protect the largest number from unintended violence.

None of what I have written here today addresses the obvious mental instability issues in some of the more recent mass shootings, nor does it speak to my belief that education, programs designed to help people get up out of poverty, and compassion for your fellow man are all more important than gun control when it comes to stopping violence. It’s just something I have been thinking about a lot, and I was trying to get to the heart of why I didn’t like guns when rationally I know that they have a place. I wished to collect my thoughts, and I will be interested to hear people’s responses to this post simply because I know that my knowledge of firearms is limited enough to preclude me from taking a strong stance on the issue in a particularly nuanced sense.

 

I guess the last thing I would say is that I would hope that people are reasonable when it comes to discussing all political topics, but especially guns. I would hope that you would raise a hand to help your fellow citizen before you point a gun at them, and I hope we all come to the understanding that we all want what we believe to be best for this country, even when we legitimately disagree.

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2 Comments

  1. Anthony said,

    I am in agreement from a philosophical viewpoint on guns. However, as far as rights of U.S. citizens to own them, I am on a neutral standpoint as far as automatic/semiautomatic. On the one hand for the reasons you stated, but on the other hand, I cannot argue the reason found within the constitution. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” A “well regulated militia” in today’s society would be effectively useless with only handguns, and hunting guns. So it is not only the protection of the people from individuals, but also from tyranny. I have yet to make up my mind as to which side I lean towards in the instance of auto and semi auto guns, but I definitely see an argument for both sides.

  2. politicallymusical said,

    I was linked to this blog by another friend and found it particularly convincing–fully automatic weapons seem to be for the most part already quite illegal. Glad to have gotten the facts.

    http://kontradictions.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/why-not-renew-the-assault-weapons-ban-well-ill-tell-you/

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