Gun Control, Conservatives and Cynicism: Welcome Back US Government!

So the US government is back… Congrats on that! Let’s talk about guns.

As you might know, I am quite critical of the US. Not very surprising considering the fact that I am a socialist even in Dutch terms (and no, that does not make me a communist, an anti-democrat or an anti-capitalist), but it can’t just be my political beliefs that make me wonder what the US government is thinking, can it? Sure, my opposition to the death penalty is pure political bias, but guns… can anyone explain to me what exactly the point of them is? You know… aside from being able to kill people…

Let’s start with an example. Last week there was a 15-year old boy from Portugal who decided to imitate the Columbine shooting. He had seen several of these massacres in the US on his TV and decided that he wanted to do the same thing. In fact, he created an elaborate plan in which he was going to kill at least 60 people so that he could “break the record,” before he would end his own life. After setting up the entire plan, he got to work and began his preparations. Except… one thing was missing…

He didn’t have a gun. Problematic, to say the least, if you want to break any records. But well, what are you gonna do? He lived in Portugal, so there was no way he could get his hands on a gun, meaning that instead, he just had to go and try with a knife. The result? Four wounded. No deaths. Welcome to Europe.

Now what if this boy lived in the US? Can you imagine what would have happened? He had truly planned this thing out, and except for that slight problem of not having a gun, his preparation was quite impressive. After all, he was 15 and still managed to stab one of his teachers and three classmates, which I’d say isn’t that bad considering it was probably a 25 against 1 fight.

Considering situations like this, you’d think the vote on gun control would be unanimous. After all, who in their right mind would still support gun ownership if you consider the well-known statistics? Everyone has the right to protect one-self, you might say, but do you think these students would have been able to protect themselves against a gun? Do you expect them to bring their own gun to class? Instead, how about we make sure that people don’t HAVE to protect themselves against guns? Would that really be such a bad idea?

Proof that it works is out there in abundance. In fact, murder still reaches the newspaper here in the Netherlands. Once every two days it happens, quite a contrast compared to the once every half an hour in the US. And sure, it’s a bigger country, but even per capita is still happens four times as often as it does in the Netherlands. Divide the current figure by four and you will see that if the US ended up with the same murder rate as Canada, Australia, most of Europe, most of Eastern Asia and yes, even the Middle East, 10.000 lives would be saved. Every year. That’s more than one life every hour.

Are those lives really not more valuable than that “entitlement” to a gun? Is being irrationally conservative really so much fun that it is worth sacrificing thousands of lives every year? I’d say it isn’t, so for the sake of all those lives, please… don’t be so conservative. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of progress.

~

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More on this topic from Dean Richards:

Our Purpose: A Simple and Concrete Explanation of the Meaning of Life

Nationalism Is Dangerous And Should Be Eradicated

Different Perspectives: The West Is No Less Violent Than The Middle East

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About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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9 Responses to Gun Control, Conservatives and Cynicism: Welcome Back US Government!

  1. In concept, removal of guns from the US would be fantastic. The problem at this stage is whether that would be possible. Given the abundance of weaponry in the US and the amount of time for which it has been available, if a law was passed banning ownership of firearms, those who did not wish to turn in their weaponry simply would not do so.

    There is in part, a culture of fear based on that knowledge. If the gangs won’t give up their guns, why should the innocent people who want them for self-defence give up theirs? This argument is of course, useless, sure, you own a gun, but that won’t do much good once you’re dead.

    If everyone were reasonable, and people didn’t want to kill one another, then everyone would happily give up their guns. Of course, if that were the case, then guns wouldn’t need to be outlawed because no-one would want to cause harm. Unfortunately, this is all hypothetical, and unlikely to occur, but one can hope, right?

    • I do get the issue, of course, but again I wonder… are you really going to be able to defend yourself against street gangs by owning a gun? Do innocent people bring their gun everywhere they go? Besides, it’s not like criminals go about happily killing random civilians for the fun of it: they would much rather avoid it if they could, because murder gets them into trouble.

      In fact, I’d say innocent civilians are much safer without a gun: shots won’t be fired until both sides feel threatened by a gun. I mean… If I were part of a street gang, I wouldn’t want the police to get involved in a murder case just because I want to steal someone’s bag or rob their house. I’d be much better off threatening with the gun and robbing the house, because then the police would spend much fewer resources on finding me. But if whoever I’m stealing from has a gun… that’s a different story.

      So basically, although I understand this worry, I think it is quite irrational and not a valid argument to keep handing out guns to normal people.

  2. Perhaps some of this is a culture issue, so let me explain some things and let it be known that I am being friendly and not sarcastic or rude. Sometimes my delivery of facts comes off as terse, but I do not mean it to if it happens 🙂

    Yes, innocent people carry their gun everywhere they go. My state has decided that until 21 (I am 18) I am not enough of a citizen to carry a gun outside my house, based on nothing other than bureaucratic requirement to be of a certain age. I do, however, where my semi automatic handgun with me around the house, and in the car where it is legal. I train with my firearm far more than police or military are required to. Whereas they tend to train once a year, I go twice a month.

    The statistics, according to our own government research funded by an anti-gun president, says that although 12,000 people die by guns every year (half of those being suicides) 500,000 to 3 million people defend themselves with guns every year.

    Mass public shootings kill an average of 19 people per year, according to more government research, which is 1/6th the deaths caused by wild deer every year, and just 50% higher than deaths by falling vending machines and coconuts.

    On the other hand, 2,191 people defend their lives every day with a firearm. This counts grand theft, rape, armed robbery, assault, etc.

    There are 12,000 violent gun deaths (not counting justified homicides) every year. That sounds like a lot. But there are 80 million gun owners and 311 million legally owned guns. That means that 1 in 25 thousand legally owned guns are used in crimes and 1 in 6,500 gun owners commit a crime with their guns.

    However, according to the CDC, 1 in 160 to 1 in 30 gun owners defend themselves with a gun in some way each year.

    Your arguments are anecdotal, saying that a robber would rather threaten with a gun than actually do it.

    Unfortunately, we live in different societies. I probably wouldn’t carry my gun if we had 1 murder every 2 days. Unfortunately, America is a violent country with or without guns. In New York there was a man chased by 40 bikers who smashed out his windows in his SUV (one window was next to 1 year old daughter), pulled him out of the SUV, and beat him almost to death. 5 bikers in the crowd were police officers and they did nothing! A semi automatic handgun would have chased them off or at least given him a fighting chance.

    Maybe in your country, a robber is likely to threaten someone and leave. Here, robbers get brazen. They’ll rob you, rape you at gunpoint while you comply with every demand, and then kill you anyways. Police officers will sexually assault people at gun point. A couple of bored teens will beat an old man to death with baseball bats. Most gun crime here is done by gangs who will get it from Mexico or make it in a garage if they don’t steal it from somebody.

    America is not the country where gun control is going to work. In your country, I have to believe that even with firearms you would have almost no firearm violence, like Finland or Sweden. It’s not a gun problem, it’s a violence problem, and America has a huge problem.

    Even if you made all guns illegal, there are 311 million in circulation. There’s no way they could confiscate them — there’s no registry. Even if there was a registry, 1 in 4 American households have a gun. I don’t see a gun grab going over very well at all.

    It’s a nice sentiment, but really doesn’t hold up to the culture that we live in.

    We are not making a world where people don’t have to defend themselves from guns. At least not here, not any time soon. America’s problem is with all of its people.

    For the record, two of the biggest mass killings weren’t done with guns in America. One was done with a fertilizer bomb while another was a circus that was lit on fire with the doors chained shut. A third involved the use of TNT. The Boston bombing events injured hundreds with primate pressure cooker bombs.

    Your culture is different, but here we have much evil and much hate. Those of us who don’t have evil and hate have to have some way to protect ourselves from those who will always find a way.

    • Thank you for your reply!

      Now, first of all, I am very shocked about this. Usually I am the one being negative about the US and then I get corrected, but clearly there are also people who have an extremely negative image of America while they live there themselves.

      Anyway, I do agree that it is a culture issue, but mainly because people in the US think like you do. Guns are seen as an essential part of daily life because the country is so aggressive, but in that way the issue will never be solved.

      For example, for me to hear that many people actually carry their guns around anywhere they go is very shocking. I knew some did it, and I knew that it was normal in certain states, but I didn’t know it was as bad as you just described.

      Interestingly enough, at the same time as I read this I received a personal message of someone with the exact opposite view. She lives in the US as well and spoke about how she hates it that everyone has guns, and how she even saw an old lady enter a bank with a gun once, causing her to walk out. After all, you just said that 1 in 4 households have a gun, but does that not mean that 3 in 4 apparently get by just fine without a gun? It can’t be that important if 75% of the population can survive without one.

      Now, personally, I wouldn’t even want to be near a gun. I’ve seen a gun once in my life, when a police officer came by for some kind of presentation, and despite the fact that there were no bullets in it and I was holding it myself, I was very afraid of it (I was 8, by the way). To imagine that there might be people walking around you with a loaded gun and not knowing their intentions… it must be terrifying. Owning a gun yourself, however, probably isn’t going to solve much.

      Anyway, I found your reply very interesting, and it is definitely something to think about!

      • In my state, 1 in 14 have a concealed carry permit when you factor out criminals and mentally ill who can’t get them and people under age.

        Not everybody with a permit carries a gun, so I’ve seen figures that say 1 in 30.

        I understand guns can be terrifying. My girlfriend feels the same way as you. She hated my gun, hated me wearing it, hated even knowing that such a thing exists and that anyone could have one. I find it’s a difference in learning. I’m scared of cars. I’m 18 and still only have a learner license (which you get at 15 here and have to have for a year at least to get a full license). Far more people die every day from cars than guns. I know I can do everything right with my gun and not die. I don’t know that I can do everything right in my car and some idiot not side swipe me or be driving in the wrong lane.

        I’m not terrified. At first I was. It was based on fear and emotion. But then I researched guns and crime rates. I got out to ranges and got training. I met other gun owners. And here’s what I learned:
        Out of 81 million gun owners, 12,000 might commit a crime every year. That means that 80,997,800 (or there abouts) own guns and don’t commit crimes or have fatal accidents.

        You see, while it’s a scary thing in theory, the facts just don’t support that any of them will commit a crime or have bad intentions. It’s roughly 1 in 6,500 that do.

        But I know for a fact of people that carry their guns illegally. In many areas it well outnumbers legal carriers. I know of people who buy fully automatic Uzis from SUV trunks, no doubt taken from somewhere overseas, and people who kill cops with knives to take their guns and then carry that around illegally.

        The way I see it, if we can get the ratio up to 2 legally armed people per illegally armed person, we can take care of ourselves. It is tough thinking that any person could kill you at any time, but the trick is realizing that in a place like this, it can happen regardless of who’s holding what. I keep a gun in the car because in this area was an anaesthesiologist who ran a single mom off the road and killed her. Or the guy who followed two teenagers 45 minutes after they cut him off and then beat them at their own house.

        I hope to never have to use my weapon. I’ll shoot it at the range for proficiency and eventually work my way up to sports competition. I’ll maybe hunt game with it while I learn other self sufficiency skills.

        It’s the violence culture that has to change, and the government is too ineffectual to do it. The community needs to step up. My family takes close friends to the gun range so they can learn safe handling, how to unload a firearm if they find one, and how to protect themselves if they’re ever that unlucky person.

        I’ve had another European argue with me that “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can”. A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Out of context, in this case, I think. I will continue to preach the light — we need to step up, provide community service and teaching for youths who need jobs and outlets. We need to take more interest in our community and watch each others’ backs. We need to be more responsible and stop creating such a violent culture.

        I may have given the wrong impression. I’ve never seen a person gunned down or stabbed. I’ve never witnessed a rape or an armed robbery. I’ve never seen a person carrying a gun accept police officers or other members at my range. I’ve never been a victim of violent crime. I intend to keep it that way.

        In an almost Harrison Bergeron type way, firearms are a form of socialism: no matter how big, small, crippled, healthy, etc. you may be, firearm equalizes you. I saw a news story today where a 75 year old man had to shoot a strong teenage burglar who broke into the man’s house and beat him. That 75 year old couldn’t have called the cops (who have an average half hour response time), couldn’t have fought back, probably couldn’t have warded him off even with a knife or a baseball bat. But he used the gun and saved his life.

        Stories like that outnumber gun deaths 30 to 1. Some say it’s as high as 175 to 1.

        I just don’t see how a person can be against the average citizen owning a gun when, in our country, they are used 30 times as often to save somebody as they are to kill somebody.

        There may have been a time when our country would have worked like yours — we could have rounded up firearms, made people apply for permits, and allowed them to keep a shotgun or bolt action rifle. Violent crime rates may have gone down and gun crimes may be as idealic as your country.

        Unfortunately, a country of our size has reached critical mass. Political ideologies are splitting everything. We’re struggling to support a 300 million person population, a large majority of whom are on welfare and dependent on that for life. We have high obesity rates and addiction rates for a country of our development. The wealthiest avoid paying their taxes by putting them in offshore accounts. Because we have such large populations, even equal ratios of poverty mean a higher collective level of poor people who make crime their way of life. It’s very entropic — take two countries with a 1% poverty rate. If 1 has a population 10 times higher, that 1% is going to be a larger collection and be able to amass into a group. It’s been that way for several generations now — people turning to crime for a living and to feed addictions.

        My point is, it’s long past our opportunity to reach crime rates of a country like yours. We have a different set of problems altogether. Violence will continue. We also have a different mindset. Many of us (at least “federalists”) would rather see 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man incarcerated by the government. If gun crimes were even with lives saved by guns, I would be in favor of allowing more people to carry. A criminal using a gun to commit a crime will probably do it either way, and it does not restrict my right to have the capability to defend myself from other criminals like him.

        We also value our second amendment history quite immensely: the government governs with our consent, and if they overstep that, they get a reminder if not a complete revolution. In World War II, our government rounded up Japanese Americans on suspicion of aiding the Japanese in Pearl Harbor. It was 10,000 people locked up for over a year. So who could be next? Muslims? My country has a terrible and irrational hate for them. Non-Christians of other types? Democrats? Homosexuals? All people deserve freedoms and deserve the power to resist should they be oppressed based on who they are.

        TL;DR America’s government is too big for its own good yet is way too small to handle its massively failing infrastructure. Smaller government is not an option because it won’t be able to support the system it’s built. Bigger option is something we won’t allow because government continues to allow natural rights like freedom of religion (and from religion in the form of law), freedom of marriage choice, firearms rights, etc.

        A final thought I’ve noticed: statists who want the state to have power tend to be in favor of incredibly strict gun control. “Libertarians” who want the smallest government possible tend to want free access to firearms. This may reflect an impasse in ideology between us. I don’t trust statism because I am a free man and can make my own decisions. My government has proven unfit to have more power over me. The police can’t be at my location in time to save me so I want self-sufficiency. This ideology is lacking in certain rights that statists find more important that a larger government can easily secure for them, and they trust the government to be able to protect them and to provide all they need for defense and never give them a reason or necessity to rebel. I don’t have that trust in my government, or most any government in the world.

        Wow, that was an essay and a half and a total stream of consciousness.

        If you’re ever in the states and want a safe, educational range trip, I’ll be happy to oblige. It’s scary the first time, but I think you’d be surprised how safe and respectful the 99.996% of gun owners who never commit a crime are.

        • I’m afraid I will have to keep this short because I really won’t allow myself more than a 15 minute break from studying, but there are a few things I’d like to reply to.

          Firstly, to the last part… It is not necessarily the legal gun owners, the people who wear guns for “self-protection”, who I am afraid of. I am more afraid of the fact that anyone can get their hands on a gun, so rather than being afraid of people with guns have bad intentions, I am afraid of people with bad intentions being able to get a gun. In this case, the example is the Portuguese boy: he would never have been a gun owner in the US, but he would have been able to get a gun from somewhere.

          Now, there is an exception to this, and that is the example you explained: a 75-year old man shot a teenage burglar. Now… sure… it’s good that this man was able to defend himself, but what would have happened if he hadn’t had a gun? I am of course not sure about the specifics, but I could very much imagine that the only reason the burglar would have to kill this man would be if he resisted. And shooting a gun is definitely a kind of resistance.

          Also, did this burglar survive? Because if not, then that would also be a very clear example of why guns need to be outlawed: people should not be able to take justice into their own hands. It is very easy to kill someone “out of self defence” if you have a gun, and not very difficult to prove in court either. Perhaps this man was just very angry at that punk who dared rob his house and therefore he shot him, knowing he could make it look like self-defence.

          To me, it should not matter who the victim is. If a burglar gets murdered, then that is no less awful than if someone else gets murdered. It is still a life that was lost.

      • I suppose I had one more thing to “rebuke”.

        The statement “3 out of 4 households have gotten by fine without one” is, by its very nature, faulty.

        I have never in my life needed a seat belt to save me. I’ve never in my life needed a fire extinguisher. I’ve never needed a hospital or the police force. Many people are like me in these respects. But we can’t take away from those who would need them.

        • But then who actually do need them? If 75% don’t need them, or at the very least think that they don’t need them, then why would it be different for the other 25%?

          Anyway, I really have to go now, sorry!

  3. Azokka says:

    I completely agree with you, and I’m a U.S. citizen.
    Frankly, despite the U.S. being all about “the majority,” a few gun-carrying maniacs are able to endanger the public at large. By “gun-carrying maniacs,” I mean the NRA. How many school shootings will this country have to endure before something is done to ensure the safety of children? How many graves will be buried before an end is put to guns being carried on the street?
    At the very least, we could get rid of AK-47’s and other machine guns. Why would anyone need a machine gun– “Oh, I’m worried that there will be fifteen robbers coming at me at the same time. The neighbor’s cat is really bothering me. I feel like shooting up a coffee shop if the line is too long.”
    In addition–why no background checks? Is there ANY reason to not have background checks? If there is, name it for me and I will be glad to debate it.
    As for selling guns to “non-mentally challenged citizens without criminal past”: Where do you think these kids are getting guns from? Their parents. Who own guns.
    Have you read the stories about children who shoot themselves or their parents purely by accident because the gun was kept in the home? Unfortunately, family members being shot by accident isn’t a particularly infrequent thing.
    It’s thought that being armed during a shooting will help your chances of survival, but it’s proved that the person holding a gun is 4-5 times more likely to be shot.
    Perhaps you could try to refute everything else on this list, but contradict this:
    Every day I have a little edge of fear as I go to school, because I know that there are crazy and depressed people out there with easy access to weapons. And I know that students like me have been killed for doing nothing more than going to school on the wrong day.

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