Friday, February 11, 2011

My Feelings About Guns: an Introduction

I don’t like handguns. I don’t feel safe knowing the person next to me is packing heat. It doesn’t matter if he/she is a nice responsible citizen carrying a legal gun. I don’t like knowing someone is carrying a deadly weapon – and that they feel it necessary to do so.

I have no problem with shotguns and rifles. These serve valuable purposes for hunting and, when absolutely necessary and legal, for “critter control” (particularly in rural areas). They also can’t be concealed easily.

I also know the old saws: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And “If we take all the guns away, only the criminals will have guns.” ‘’

The first statement is disingenuous at best. It should read “People with guns can kill people much more quickly and easily.” It takes a split second to shoot a gun – and potentially make a fatal mistake. That applies as much as to the average person as a criminal. Imagine how someone would feel if they killed someone accidentally, say because they thought the victim was reaching for a gun but they were reaching for a cellphone? Even if they were defending themselves, I can’t but wonder that killing someone will haunt most people.

The second statement has more truth to it. We’re awash in firearms (approximately 225 million) and they last a long time. That’s the terribly vicious circle we’ve created: with all those guns out there, we could ban the sale of handguns tomorrow and still be drowning in guns decades from now. That said, the police will still have guns. And I’d rather highly trained police officers carrying weapons than the average citizen. Have you seen how people drive? And yet we’re supposed to trust them with deadly weapons?

I can hear the predictable response: “Typical liberal wimp. You’ll change your mind the first time a criminal pulls a gun on you.” You know what? That’s fine with me. If some criminal wants to steal my wallet, he can have it. I’m willing to give up the little cash I carry and deal with the hassle of cancelling my credit cards to avoid being in the position of having to decide if someone is reaching for a gun, or just pulling out their cigarettes. 

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some thoughts about guns, starting next week with trying to understand how they can help me defend myself. I’m going to look at them legally (constitutional issues and gun control laws), statistically (safety and actual incidents of crime), and philsophically. I highly doubt I’ll change anyone’s mind, but at least I’ll get it off my chest: it’s something I think about a lot. If only a few people start to look at guns logically, putting aside the rhetoric and entrenched (and often indefensible) positions, maybe we can actually get to a place where we can come to some common ground – and solve the serious problems guns cause.

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