Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gun Control: The Other Other Side

Do guns make good people bad? Does merely possessing a gun take a rational, sane person and turn them into a monster?

Do bad people become good because they do not have a gun in their hands?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. But when people oppose, for example, a school teacher carrying a gun in her class, they do so because they assume that that teacher with a gun will somehow endanger their children, even though objectively she will make the children safer. So those who oppose such gun possession believe that a gun will make the same teacher whom they entrust their children to into a dangerous villain, rather than someone prepared to protect their children in the event of an attack.

The recent attention-getting attacks have all happened at gun free zones. This may be coincidental or it may not be. There is evidence that the Aurora shooter deliberately selected a theater where guns were prohibited. What is known, though, is that where such attacks happen, they end with fewer casualties when the law-abiding citizens are armed. The internet is rife with examples (such as Rampage Stats), that show this reality. Far more lives are saved by guns each year through crimes prevented or aborted than are lost. Estimated are a minimum of 150,000 lives a year. What you won't find are examples of where law-abiding, concealed-permit toting, gun owners suddenly became violent murderers because they were angry at someone and happened to be in possession of a gun. So why shouldn't school teachers be allowed to have guns? What if some of the teachers in Sandy Hook had been armed? How might have things been different?

What about children dying from guns? Don't guns in the home endanger children's lives? That's what the liberal memes claim, certainly. Yes, indeed, between 350-500 children under the age of 14 die accidentally due to guns every year, in a country of over 300 million with nearly as many guns. And each case is an unfortunate tragedy that must by juxtaposed against the as many as 150,000 lives per year saved by guns. There are few things with such an advantageous risk/benefit ratio in our society today.

But what's the other perspective about accidental deaths of children? Well two children under the age of 14 die everyday in the US in drowning accidents, mostly in kiddie pools or bathtubs. In other words, bathtubs and kiddie pools kill more children in the US each year than guns, nearly twice as many in fact. Should we become enraged and outlaw such water containing devices? And what good does a kiddie pool serve? Does it ever save a life? Of course not. Instead we should recognize the tragedy of these accidents and do our best to educate parents about the risks involved. We should encourage supervision of children when they are in the bath or the kiddie pool. And similarly we should encourage safe storage and education about guns in the home, not outlaw guns.

Aside from this are the simples issues of our rights as US citizens. The founders wanted us to be able to have guns for hunting and sport, certainly. But hunting and sport is not the issue. They wanted us to have guns to be able to protect ourselves against others. This is the most fundamental right from which all our other rights extend. But even this is not the issue. The founders wanted us to be an armed citizenry to keep the government at bay. They fought a revolution against a country that felt that they knew better what was good for people than the people themselves. They did not want this revolution to be repeated unnecessarily. But the chance that it could be repeated if necessary was ultimately the only check against loss of freedoms and rights by the people through usurpation of those rights by the government.

At times like this we must remember the words of Benjamin Franklin:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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