Likens: Gun control debates overlook certain principles
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 21:10
Since the recent killings in Wisconsin (as discussed in the previous issue of the Houstonian), the debate over gun control is taking its usual seat in the public forum. But it seems that the exact goals of stricter gun laws, and even more importantly, means one would go about achieving this end, is dangerously scattered.
The most common crusade is, of course, not to ban firearms entirely, but to limit their accessibility. Understandable, though even that may be one bite too big to chew. However the public feels about all other types of firearms, there is one sort they are almost unanimously opposed to.
The urge to ban assault rifles seems almost instinctive−I myself am of the mindset that there are few innocent reasons anyone would actually own a tactically designed killing device. However, the numbers show that the assault weapons aren’t actually all that problematic.
More portable, concealable, cheaper, and significantly wieldier than a hulking assault rifle, handguns are the weapon of choice for all but the most unusual of crimes, mass killings included.
Originally active from 1994 to 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban proved to be fairly useless. Unsurprisingly, the National Research Council noted that gun violence was virtually unchanged by the ban.
With assault weapons clearly not the problem, a gun control law that actually fulfills its purpose must therefore focus on the restriction of handguns. A pity, as previous bans have not worked out in America’s favor.
After all, what do Washington DC, Los Angeles and Chicago have in common? Obscene murder rates. Oh−and strict gun laws. Among them, Washington DC even banned handguns entirely, only to have their murder rates climb dramatically in the next few years.
Whether it’s prohibition, prostitution or drugs, whenever something is made illegal, organized crime rides the redirected waves of demand straight to the bank. The day firearms are made illegal is the day they are only accessible to criminals, purchased from criminals--an early Christmas for organized crime in the United States. The Black Market takes over fast and so powerfully that the city of Manchester, under gun-free Britain, has been unofficially dubbed by the local law enforcement as “Gunchester.”
Most of the countries that have allegedly seen major declines in homicides since the banning of semi-automatic handguns already had extremely low murder rates and drastic cultural differences from the United States, a nation knee-deep in firepower, with a strong history of placing value on the individual.
To understand why this is the case, we must look into America’s past, and how the debate over gun control is made all the more ridiculous by society’s complete failure to understand the Second Amendment.
Today, it is a common, unsaid assumption that the only use firearms have in the modern world is hunting, home defense and compensation for one’s masculinity issues. However, when history is taken into account, the Right to Bear Arms receives an important new context.
A nation born out of rebellion, the United States owes its very existence to guns, and this shows in our culture and laws. The Second Amendment is not intended to serve as an excuse for rednecks to horde their favorite semi-automatic toys. It is insurance that the common man may arm themselves against his own government or change it by force if the need arises.
No, I don’t own a tinfoil hat and I certainly don’t foresee a violent overthrow of the United States government occurring anytime soon. However, I must clarify that I find it deeply immoral and pathetically unwise to behave as if this scenario is not taken into consideration. Quite possibly, this is the most important piece of the puzzle, yet I hear it dismissed all too often as alarmist nonsense.
The wrong questions are being asked and it is due time we ask the right one.
At what point do the fears of society outweigh the right for a man to defend himself?