Saturday, December 15, 2012

Controlling guns

I’ve always been a strong supporter of gun control. Always. I don’t need yet another gun massacre, or more innocent lives lost, to make me oppose easy access to guns because I always have.

The fact is, the more guns there are, the more gun violence there is. That’s a knowable, verifiable thing, not some political opinion. A gun in a home greatly increases the likelihood of murder, suicide and assault with a gun. Those, too, are facts. The countries with the lowest rates of gun death are also those with the fewest guns per capita, and the most violent nations on earth are those with the most guns—more pesky facts.

The US rightwing, led by the preeminent gun nut group, the NRA, doesn’t like those facts because they alone make a strong case for limiting access to guns. Instead, rightwingers resort to banal, downright stupid sloganeering, like their favourite one: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Um, no, if guns are outlawed, outlaws will have knives (and when was the last time there was a “mass knifing” in the news?).

America’s gun nuts love the Second Amendment to the US Constitution—but only the end part. They have no frigging idea what the entire Amendment means, taken as a whole, but considering that it was written at a time when the top gun was a single-shot flintlock rifle, it’s absolutely certain that the framers never intended for, say, automatic weapons to be in the hands of ordinary people. For that matter, they never intended guns to be in everyone’s hands (that pesky bit about “a well-regulated militia” is the important part). Still, not even most of the justices on the US Supreme Court understand that.

I’m under no illusion that the US will ever end gun violence. The gun nuts are too powerful, too rich and can buy too many politicians. There will never be any real gun reform in the US, though there may be some tinkering around the edges. US politicians could re-ban assault weapons, they could require mandatory licensing and safety instruction for anyone wanting to own a gun, as well as mandatory background checks and waiting periods for anyone wanting to buy a gun—no exceptions, no loopholes. None of that will happen.

Still, not even the modest, minor reforms outlined above would prevent the next mass shooting because there are still too many guns in the hands of too many people. Countless free and democratic countries around the world—including New Zealand—have proven it doesn’t have to be that way. American politics have proven that for the USA, it does have to be that way. And that, ultimately, is the biggest tragedy of all.


d said...

Apparently there was indeed a mass knifing in China today - also at a school. All the kids survived though.

Arthur Schenck said...

Yeah, but knifings aren't even almost the same as shootings, which was my real point. A man was stabbed in a fight in Auckland today, but will recover. Knives just don't cause anywhere near the level of deaths that guns do: In the China incident and the Aucklnd incident, we'd almost certainly have had fatalities if guns were around.