Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Countering a Frequent Argument

I'm going to address one of the major 'gun-control' arguments today.

'Sure, guns are fine out here in the sticks, but you can't let people in the city have them. It would be chaos, people would shoot it out over nothing.' This is often referred to as the 'blood in the streets' argument. It's often used when some municipality is looking at reducing restrictions.

Many other people have reams of data regarding this argument. I am not a statistician, so I'm not going to delve into the numbers. I can point you here for that part of the argument. Go ahead, read it and come back. I'm going to address the state of mind portion of the argument.

First, this argument, like many others, is based on a root distrust of citizens as a whole. That is to say, arguing that people are not intelligent or trustworthy enough to own guns. Location has little to do with intelligence or trustworthiness. I know plenty of intelligent and trustworthy people, and likewise I know more than a few that are neither. Occasionally, one comes across a person that has either of these traits without the other. I can find no geographical link to place of residence that supports the root theory that people in location X are generally better/worse people. I have noted some cultural differences from place to place, but that does not address the issue of systemic spontaneous violence.

Second the 'he just snapped' nature of the argument. It is common to allege that, if a person were in possession of a firearm, they will eventually just freak out and shoot a bunch of people. I think we can generally dismiss this claim on example; I know LOTS of people that own firearms, and have zero evidence that any of the trustworthy people I know have ever snapped and killed someone in the heat of the moment. I do know some people (indirectly, in most cases) that have been involved in violent confrontations, or intended to do so, but in each of these cases, the deciding factor was state-of-mind, not access to weapons.

The third factor is one that is the darling of many anti-gun activists- the idea that the tool is to blame, not the user. Yes, firearms are, by design, instruments of applied force. Yes, true accidents happen, as well as the more common dangerous negligence. This is possible with many other tools, but none so politically charged as firearms. Because of my (near constant) contact with dangerous things, I have a perspective on their use. Neither my firearms nor I have ever harmed a person through direct action. The same can be said of my nail guns, saws, bats, hammers, vehicles, etc etc. The gun on my hip does not override my ability to think. It does not override my self control. It is inert, unless I choose to use it. My gun does not have its own impetus, nor does it have its own thoughts or dreams. By my side or in my hand, it does what I tell it to do, and nothing more.

Finally, to state of mind. This is the active argument- the one I use to dispute these claims. When someone says, 'there would be people being shot left and right' I counter with a question. "Have you ever been so mad that you hit someone with a pipe? Have you ever just snapped and struck someone with a hammer? Have you ever been so incensed by another person's thoughtless action that you rammed them with your car? Stabbed them? Struck them? Drowned them?" The response is, almost invariably (lets face it, all of us know SOMEBODY) no. The average human does not respond in that manner. I have been in heated arguments with people, over politics, religion, red meat consumption, and have never resorted to direct violence. Why would I act differently with a firearm? Yes, incidents like this happen, on a sporadic basis, but there is no overriding animus in the tool used. Further, posing this question puts the argument in a personal light. Instead of talking about some vague 'public,' we are now talking about YOU. Would YOU stab someone over a parking space? Would YOU beat someone to death over incorrect change? No? Then why would you shoot them? And what makes every other person so much less trustworthy than YOU?

No comments:

Post a Comment