This piece was written by my son, +Will Myers
, yesterday. It deserves a much wider audience. Please feel free to share.
By Will Myers 12/15/12
I’ve seen a number of cases made against gun control in the last thirty-six hours or so (and of course previously, as well). I thought I’d take a moment to address them here.
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” This is of course true. No one is claiming that the guns are killing people of their own volition because of course guns are inanimate objects and don’t have volition. However, a person with a gun is able to kill many people quickly, easily, and relatively cheaply, from a distance, at minimal risk to themselves, and with no room for the up-close-and-personal contact with their victim that might, might cause them to reconsider their terrible choice. If guns didn’t exist, murder would not disappear. However, situations like the one yesterday in Connecticut would happen far less frequently, if at all.
“More people die in car crashes each year than from gun violence. Why not ban cars?” Cars are not designed solely to kill things. Neither are knives, ropes, or airplanes. They all have other primary purposes, even if they are repurposed by sick people in order to kill people. Guns, on the other hand, exist only to cause bodily harm to people or animals. There is literally no other reason for them to exist. Not one. Yes, the same is true of other weapons like bows and arrows, swords, etc., but you can’t easily kill dozens of people in a matter of minutes with a bow or a sword.
“If you ban guns, crazy people will still find a way to kill people. Just this week a man in China stabbed 22 elementary school children with a knife. What’s next, banning knives?” What happened in China is obviously horrific, but most of those children were injured, not killed. Guns are able to cause significantly more harm in significantly less time than knives.
“If the teachers had been armed, this shooting would have never happened.” Let’s allow, just for a moment, that armed teachers could have prevented this shooting, saving 26 lives. I can almost guarantee that that many or more lives would be lost as a result of arming teachers. In a high school, a disgruntled student would wrestle the gun away from a teacher and kill him. In a middle school, a teacher with previously undiagnosed mental health issues would crack one day and shoot the students in her class. In an elementary school, the gun would accidently discharge, killing a student. These incidents would add up to the point where any benefit gained in a situation like yesterday’s would be completely outweighed. And there isn’t even good reason to assume that 26 lives would have been saved yesterday if the teachers had had guns. Perhaps the shooter would have taken out the teacher first and taken the gun, giving him more firepower. Maybe in the chaos, the teacher would miss and hit a student. Maybe a 6 year-old kid would pick up the gun of a dead teacher. I can’t imagine that turning out well.
“If you ban guns, only criminals will have guns. They don’t follow the law, remember?” First of all, very few people are advocating for a blanket gun ban. We’re advocating for making guns harder to get for everyone, reducing the number of guns on the market, making it near impossible for people with mental illness from acquiring guns, and especially making automatic weapons (or any guns that facilitate mass killings like the one yesterday) illegal. The majority of the guns used in recent mass shootings were either acquired legally by the shooter or by a family member of the shooter, I believe. If all new guns made had GPS devices in them and were registered to a single owner (who would not be able to resell or give away the gun without legally transferring ownership of the gun through a gun registry), we could limit the number of guns in circulation and keep track of the ones out there. Gun owners would be required to take a gun safety class, pass a licensing test, and re-take the class every, say, five years. Gun owners would have to keep their guns and ammunition in separate locations in the house (or better yet, in a lockbox at the gun range where they use them). Anyone found in possession of an unlicensed firearm would be harshly prosecuted. We’d have to work hard to ensure that guns were not entering from outside the country, as well. Obviously this would take resources on the part of the state and federal government, and a discussion about how to free up those resources would have to be had.
“Gun control actually raises gun violence rates. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and look what good it did them.” Half-measures in single states are not going to be enough to adequately limit gun violence. By worldwide standards, no U.S. state has strict gun laws. And at any rate, guns can be purchased in states with lax gun laws and brought into a state with tighter gun control. And as it turns out states and countries with tighter gun control have lower gun violence rates (and rates of violence in general). There is (possibly) some evidence that when new gun control laws are implemented in a region, crime rates temporarily spike, but in the long term it is safer to live somewhere with tighter gun control laws than not.
“I need a gun for self-defense.” If you own a gun you’re more likely to get shot in an assault. You’re also more likely to hurt yourself, a family member, or a friend in an accident. You or a family member are also more likely to commit suicide with the gun.
“The Constitution guarantees my right to own guns.” The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that this refers to an individual right; this is not the only interpretation of the Second Amendment, but it is current judicial opinion, so I’ll work from that starting point for now. Even taking such a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment as a given, though, the government still has the right to impose limits on that right. You’re not allowed to own a tank. You’re not allowed to own a nuclear warhead. You’re not allowed to own a bomber. I don’t hear anyone arguing that their right to bear arms affords them the right to any of these things. They would give would person the ability to harm too many people. If you accept this, then the discussion is merely a matter of degree. I don’t advocate a blanket ban on weapons. I think that Americans should, with some regulation, be able to own hunting rifles. I personally think the line should be drawn right about there, but that’s a discussion for people to have. But if you accept that even the Second Amendment allows the government to keep me from buying a howitzer or a grenade launcher, you can’t make a constitutional argument for your right to own a handgun or an automatic weapon. You can make other arguments for it, but not a constitutional argument.