“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Ask ten people what this means and you’ll get ten different answers. Is it a right to individual possession of revolutionary war era weaponry? A right for well regulated militias to possess the most modern available means of defense? A limited right to keep and bear a list of devices deemed not too scary for the current voting age populace?
Certainly, the founders could not fully understand how this decision would affect America’s legacy in light of the technological advancements of over two centuries. We’ll never know what other choices they would have made with greater foresight. And, frankly it doesn’t matter what they thought. Hindsight is always far clearer than any attempt to guess at the needs of future generations. What does matter is what we intend to do with our current situation.
Gun violence kills many times more people per capita in America than any other wealthy country. Contrary to the talking points of pundits and misleading posts on social media, research shows that it is not mental illness, violent video games, the breakdown of family values or other seemingly sensible explanations. By a wide margin, the strongest correlating factor for all types of gun violence worldwide is gun availability. The reason violent crime in America is many times more deadly compared with other countries is just because we have many times more guns.
It’s not hard to understand. A guy bent on violence with a knife, a club or a bow and arrow generally kills fewer people than the same guy with a semi-automatic or a hellfire missile. A small percentage of any population will eventually turn to violence. It’s human nature. The difference is how much damage they can do.
What about defense from tyranny? I once thought it was good to have at least one big nation on the earth with an armed populace to allow them to hold off global tyranny. I’ve since realized that public opinion is easily swayed with sufficient resources and that gun owners are just as likely to be on the side of the oppressor in such a fight. If your purpose in owning a gun is to ensure you can take up arms against a tyrannical government then you need to accept that while guerrillas with guns can resist for decades, you are committed to a course of action that pits you against stealth fighters, drones and crazy new technology weapons like microwave rays on top of a whole lot of people with their guns. I’m not saying it’s hopeless, but you may want to consider voting first and shooting second.
For self defense, you are better off getting a bull terrier than a bull pup. Investing in a muay thai course or an alarm system will probably reduce your likelihood of death by gunshot, but investing in a Glock will probably increase it. Yes, guns are very effective for self defense. But statistics clearly show they’re more likely to be shot at someone who lives in your house than anyone else.
What do we do about the guns? No, we don’t need to get rid of all the guns. However, we could melt down 90% of them and still have as many per person as the average country. Perhaps we could afford to be just a bit pickier about who we let have them? You have to have a license to fish, for Pete’s sake. Some lightweight regulation could save a lot of lives without taking anything away from sportsmen, responsible owners and the odd prepper who thinks they may have to out-shoot Uncle Sam.
But wait! If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns! Trite, but not wrong. Outlawing things that are in demand doesn’t necessarily get rid of them. I’m looking at you, war on drugs. However, as many have pointed out, regulating drugs would likely be more effective than an outright ban. One thing is for certain. Public opinion is swaying against gun owners. Better to act now and organize self-regulation you can live with than to wait until the other side passes government regulations you’d rather die than comply with.