Gunning for guns

Candid picture of an NRA spokesman.

It’s unfortunate that it takes a terrible tragedy to get people talking about a serious issue. But, it happened, and suddenly people have rock-solid opinions for and against guns. I took a peek over the parapet and, at the risk of getting caught in the crossfire, noticed something. Basically, the debate boils down to rational people against insane nuts.

For starters, obviously guns cause gun crime. If there were no guns, there wouldn’t be any gun crime. Sure, there’d be plenty of other crime, but a necessary factor in any gun crime is the gun. No guns = no one getting shot by guns. It’s pretty simple, and only insane gun-nuts wouldn’t understand that.

Secondly, guns are inanimate objects. They don’t think and they don’t do things on their own. Just like a knife won’t stab you without someone holding it, a gun won’t shoot you unless someone pulls the trigger. That’s why we don’t put guns on trial for gun crimes; we put the shooter on trial. It’s common sense, and only anti-gun nuts don’t understand it.

Wait, what? Whose side am I on, anyway?

The fable about the blind men and the elephant is appropriate for most heated debates like this. It’s not that one side is right or wrong; it’s that they are arguing from different points of view. Some even have different facts.

Let’s look at the data. Police officers, who carry a gun around all day, are less likely to commit gun-related crimes than the general population. Well, that makes sense; we’d expect the police to commit less crime. However, having a gun does not make someone more likely to commit a crime; in fact, and most interestingly, people who have concealed-carry permits commit even less gun crimes than the police. This also makes sense, because people with gun permits are law-abiding citizens, who have no inclination to commit crime. So, allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns doesn’t mean gun crime will necessarily go up. What does go up, of course, are gun-related accidents. Even though guns are inanimate objects, that doesn’t mean clumsy humans won’t make mistakes while handling them. And they could always fall in the hands of criminals, even when being handled by law-abiding citizens.

Can this be an argument in favor of guns? Please?

Great; a neat black-and-white issue has gone all grey. Before you start to despair that once again the world proves to be non-absolute, let’s think of this in a different way: gun crime is composed of two elements. 1) The gun. 2) The crime.  I mean, it’s math: gun + crime = gun crime. Yes, I’m a genius.

Do you know who causes the most gun crime? Criminals who have access to guns. (See? Genius.) Most gun crime is committed by PEOPLE using GUNS … illegally. The good news is, no matter which side of the gun debate you are on, you’re right! Yay! The bad news is, well, you’re also wrong. Advocating more or less guns is a simplistic solution to a complex problem.

What we can agree on, is that illegal guns have got to go. Until we can get rid of illegal guns, the argument of “no guns at all” isn’t going to be very effective. Neither is the argument in favor of lax regulation of guns making it easier for there to be illegal guns in the first place.

Please don’t let your ideological stance on guns stop you from preventing gun crime, and helping its inevitable victims.

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