This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Questions for Gun Worshippers
Since recent times have seen fairly large number of high-profile massacres of innocents by disturbed killers who were not career criminals, and since these killings weren’t carried out using illegally acquired weaponry, could we ask a few questions to those who defend the right of civilian individuals to own guns?
Question: If you say you have a free and representative government, do you need to give the people guns? Shouldn’t the people be happy and content, and therefore shouldn’t they be free of the requirement to defend themselves? As for an external threat, assuming you have the strongest regular armed forces in the world, shouldn’t they be good enough to protect the people from any external threat?
Question: If your people need guns to defend themselves against their government, then isn’t the government not as free and as representatiive as you make it out to be? And since you also have the strongest armed forces in the world, can a disorganised armed civilian rabble successfully defend itself against that government and its armed forces?
Question: If the rationale for this private militia of armed citizens is a law dating back to the 18th Century, will the supporters of this also back laws from the same era supporting slavery or the killing of Native Americans for their scalps?
Question: If the point of owning guns is freedom, and if freedom is the absolute imperative of your society, then why don’t you legalise, say, drug use? It doesn’t even hurt anyone except the user, unlike, shall we say, child porn, now does it?
Question: If the possession of guns is important to protect oneself from possible criminals (the “if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” argument), then how many guns does an individual need to own? Surely not more than one or at the most two? How many guns can one person fire at one time? So should there be no limits on the number of guns one person can purchase?
Question: Are there any statistics proving crime rates in societies which restrict gun ownership are significantly higher, with allowances made for other factors including unemployment rates, etc, than those of societies which allow gun ownership? And are there any statistics proving that mass gun ownership has actually deterred crime? If so, what are those statistics? Do these putative statistics bear out the idea that the number of victims of gun crimes using legal guns are less than the number of hypothetical victims of illegal weaponry in that same period, in cases where legal guns prevented crimes from being committed?
Question: If guns are potentially, at the very least, dangerous instruments, capable of killing even by accident in the long run, shouldn’t they be kept safely locked away from children and pets, and unloaded to prevent them from accidentally discharging? But then aren’t they less likely to be of any use deterring criminals? While the homeowner is unlocking and loading his gun, won’t the criminal, whom you claim to have unfettered access to illegal weaponry, be using the said illegal weapon? How do you prevent the guns themselves from becoming the criminal’s target? How do you, as in the recent shooting case in Germany showed, prevent a relative or other person with legitimate access to the gun-owner's house from obtaining one or more of the guns?
Question: Since it’s undeniable that a certain number of public shooting incidents have happened in recent times using guns that have been perfectly legally acquired, and these have led to the deaths of a large number of people, at least some of whom were innocent of all capital crimes, should there be a policy on public carrying of firearms? What should this policy be? If firearms can be bought and kept at home or in the place of business, how can you prevent owners, even if not angry or disturbed or malicious individuals from taking them out in public even if they have no permit to do so?
Question: If there are multiple shootings by such deranged individuals, using legally acquired weapons, what is the solution? Is it to ban all firearm ownership, or at least ownership of such firearms as can be carried in concealment? Or is it to arm everyone, or large numbers of people, to enable them to attack such armed individuals? But if you arm large numbers of people, aren’t you making more certain of more shooting incidents where the stresses of modern life cause such individuals to crack, and there is a lethal weapon close to hand? And also since you are not about to pay for these guns to be handed out the public at large, is this policy not discriminatory towards those who cannot afford, or for some reason choose not to own, guns?
Question: If everyone is provided guns, does it not also increase the likelihood of pre-emptive gun use? In more than one way, does it not imply a return to the Wild West?
Question: If one posits that to carry guns at large in public will deter terrorist attacks as at Bombay, are handgun-armed civilians without training even theoretically a match for highly-trained terrorists who can successfully fight off hundreds of commandoes for days? How will security systems distinguish between legal arms owners and armed terrorists? Does this not make it easier for armed criminals and terrorists to penetrate security screens? Can the threat of being killed by civilian fire deter suicide terrorists who are prepared to die in the course of their mission?
Question: How do you ensure individuals shooting at psychopaths or terrorists in a crowded situation do not accidentally kill or injure bystanders? If such happens, who is to take the blame? What if the alleged psychopath or terrorist happened to be a person with a legitimate reason for carrying a gun in public and is killed by over-enthusiastic citizens? Who bears the blame for that?
Question: Since there are already fairly effective procedures involving security at airports and Underground stations and the like, might the model be adopted more extensively and be perhaps more effective than arming everyone indiscriminately? Might trained security personnel in plainclothes be a better option to take out armed maniacs and possibly terrorists as well?
Final Question: Of course, perhaps gun owners prefer the status quo, as in the US, of virtually unrestricted firearms ownership, and take the risks as they come. But while gun owners themselves are welcome to run the risk of dying, do they have the right to risk the lives of others, many of whom may hate and despise guns?