While this subject is a little off the beaten path for my blog, I received this email from a friend on the subject of gun control in the United States and it triggered several thoughts that I feel are worthy of discussion. Much of the traffic coming to this blog comes from the other side of the globe where gun culture and the perception of American gun laws are very different. I am curious how accurately the statistics on guns in America are displayed on the global stage (I know our media often has a strong slant).
Also with much of this blog focusing on making and controlling things remotely on the cheap, how do our projects fit within the evolving threat model? While I do not believe in a huge snowball effect wiping out all of our projects, it is not hard to imagine what new regulations (even self regulation) can come from these horrible events as a knee jerk reaction to a misunderstood problem. It is worrying to me that potential legislation can be proposed without first hand knowledge or understanding of the technology involved, e.g. SOPA. We all want life-improving technology to advance without hindrance but, just like in the gun control debate, the difference between “life-improving” and “life-threatening” is only determined by the mind controlling it.
I really wanted to stay out of the gun control debate as to avoid politicizing the national tragedy which occurred in Sandy Hook school. However, the amount of irrational comments being posted on most media outlets has compelled me to offer a different view point to put things back in perspective.
I understand that human nature drives us to find solutions to problems. Unfortunately, when the problems are very complex we often place more value on finding a speedy solution rather than the correct solution. This gives us the immediate satisfaction which we crave; it answers the call of “we need to do something”. However, just like with narcotics, the immediate euphoria usually comes at the cost of unintended consequences and long term damage.
Every other headline today reads “ban guns now”, “bring back the assault weapons ban”, and my all time favorite “it’s time for ‘common sense’ gun legislation”. Why are we so fixated on the tool used to commit this horrid crime instead of the factors which caused an individual to want to commit it? How many of the people calling for an assault weapons ban can actually tell me the functional difference between a Remington 7400 deer rifle which they claim is acceptable in today’s society and an AR-15 which they want to ban? How many of these same people who adopted the media’s misnomer, calling the .223 caliber a high powered round, know that it’s about 60% smaller and 60% less powerful than the 30-06, America’s go-to all-around hunting round? How many of these people realize that Jim Brady, for whom the first “assault weapons” ban commonly known as the Brady bill was named, was actually shot with a .22 caliber revolver and not a so called “assault weapon?” And finally, how many of these people bothered to look at publicly available FBI crime statistics which clearly show that each year five times as many people are killed with knives and more than two times as many people are killed by hands, fists, and feet than are killed by ALL types of rifles combined? That includes the so called “assault rifles” which so many are screaming must now be banned. Seems common sense that if the interest of those calling for gun bans was truly to save lives, they would focus their efforts on banning the tools used in more killings. Where then is the outcry for “chefs’ knife control” or the “bare-fist ban”?
Time and time again it has been shown that it’s the intent of the offender, and not the tools at his disposal which is the determining factor in the magnitude and atrocity of his crime. 9/11 had over 2000 casualties and the tool of choice was a box cutter. The Oklahoma city bombings had over 100 casualties and the tool of choice was fertilizer. You can ban every gun in the world and you will still see atrocities committed. What would we actually gain by banning the very same guns which are used by millions of Americans for everything from sport to self-defense?
We have over 20,000 gun laws in the US today and not a single one has conclusively shown to reduce crime. NYC, while having a low overall crime rate, has a high percentage of gun crime despite the fact that guns are all but banned. It is also a fact that all but one mass shootings in recent history have happened in so called “gun-free zones” where the criminal found a target rich environment where he didn’t need to have much concern for reprisal. It is a fact that of all the states that passed laws to allow their citizens to carry concealed weapons, none has experienced an increase in crime related the passage of such laws. It is a fact that only the law abiding will follow new gun bans and disarm. The criminals will respect new bans as much as they respect current ones. As much as they respect the current law that prohibits murder. As much as the Sandy Hook shooter respected the law that already made that school a gun-free zone and his possession of a stolen gun illegal.
Our right to bear arms saves countless more lives every year than it takes. There are an estimated 600,000 to 1.2 million cases of defensive gun use per year, where an armed citizen averted or stopped an attempted attack or assault. Exact statistics are hard to compile since in most cases a shot is never even fired and no one is killed, therefore the event is not reported to police. Don’t be misled by commonly cited statistics which only count how many criminals were actually killed in a self defense shooting. That is not an accurate measure of the benefit guns provide to law abiding owners. The goal of being able to own a gun is not to kill an attacker, it is to be able to defend yourself against him. In most cases that can be done without having to fire a single shot. It’s a shame you never hear about this legal side of gun use on the 10 o’clock news but I guess that story is just not sensational enough.
We have to accept the fact that life in general carries some degree of risk. Driving a car involves risk. Owning a swimming pool involves risk. Playing sports involves risk. And to a large extent having an armed populace involves risk. However, we also have to acknowledge that these risks are inherent in the very same liberties we enjoy each day as Americans and are far outweighed by the benefits and freedoms these liberties provide us.
We have to remain rational. Giving up our rights will not make us safer. It will only create a temporary illusion of safety. Do we want our rights eroded and our country fundamentally transformed from the beacon of freedom it is today?” Is this the America we want to leave to our children?
You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.