Opinion: Let's Have Common Sense Prevail In the Gun Debate

The Navy Yard Shooting tragedy has brought the gun control debate into the national spotlight once again. After gun related tragedies, there is always an emotional appeal to ban guns in the United States. In a utopian society, heavily regulating or outlawing guns has its merits. In the real world though, it is an impossible task and might be a worse idea than allowing the public to own guns.

The first issue with gun control is that a law can only make guns illegal. Banning guns would most likely resemble the failure of banning drugs. Law-abiding citizens would sacrifice their guns, while criminals would be left with guns bought off the black market. With legal guns, citizens are able to protect themselves and feel secure against criminals. With no guns, citizens would only have the protection of the police.

There are neither enough police officers nor are police forces efficient enough to protect all citizens. Look at Detroit. It has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Recently, a study found Detroit police officers took 58 minutes, on average, to respond to calls. This obscene amount of time can be the reason someone innocent dies, like recent deaths of one woman to stabbing and another to gunshots. Both were killed after calling and waiting for the police. If anyone would like to spend an hour trying to escape an assailant with no weapon for self-protection to prove me wrong, be my guest.

This issue is also prevalent in rural communities, where police can be many miles away. While these communities may not suffer from as much violent crime, there still is a risk of theft and other criminal activities. In these places, a gun is a much better defense against criminals who have ample time to act before the police arrive. As well, in rural areas guns may be useful in protection against wild animals.

Even if we could figure out a magic solution to solving gun control, one must still consider the nature of murder. Politicians cite the number of people killed by guns as the number of people who could’ve been saved with guns banned. This rhetoric sounds perfectly logical, but it’s flawed. To illustrate, lets pretend for a second we live in a utopia where there are no guns, legal or illegal. Lets also say that 1,000 gun murders would have happened if guns were present. Someone might take this to mean there would be 1,000 less total murders. It doesn’t work that way though. First, there would be murders that would have happened regardless of whether a gun or another weapon were used. Additionally, there might be more deaths from those unable to defend themselves with a gun. Overall, the total murder rate could go down, but that’s no guarantee. Also while there might be fewer deaths, there would certainly be more crime. Without a gun, and the police far away, how could a farmer defend himself from robbery?

We will never be able to effectively execute complete gun control. It’s just too hard and risky to do effectively. That being said, there are still things that can be done to help lower gun crime. Stricter background checks could limit criminals from buying legal guns, which is an overall win for everyone. So next time a shooting or tragedy happens, we must look not at how to ban guns but how to better moderate their place in society.

Image via Wikimedia

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