Every time there’s a call for more gun control, or for outright firearm banishment, it’s based on the idea that if there are less guns in circulation, there will be less violence. Proponents of this plan frequently imagine a world with no guns as a safe place where humans have evolved past the need for mindless violence, where nobody has to lock their doors or worry about much more than the most minor of offenses.
Never mind the fact that a banishment of guns is NOT actually a banishment of guns – it’s a concentration of firepower in the hands of a few, which is itself a terrible idea. More on that later.
But even if we could somehow destroy every firearm on the earth – not just in the US, but in every other country, too – would the world be a less violent place? Is there something about having the firepower that causes people to commit crimes or enables them to take lives? The idea that guns and violence are inextricably linked has been ingrained in this culture for years, so much that even a picture of a gun on a tee shirt or in a family photo is grounds for suspension or expulsion in public schools.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we’ve accomplished this, and there’s not a country in the world with firearms, no government with anything more powerful than a bow and arrow. Would that end all war? Cure people from their violent tendencies? We’ve had a world like this before, you know. There was a time before guns…and people killed each other with arrows, knives, rocks, and sticks. Some people believe that we as a species have evolved past those days…but most of those same people also believe that you need a warning label on your frozen pizza so that you don’t burn down your house trying to cook it. Something doesn’t add up.
The reality of the situation, though, is that we CAN’T wipe guns out of existence. It’s physically impossible, and the attempt to do so would quickly and effectively give a few people (who are, after all, just as human as the rest of us) a significant power advantage over the masses. Take a look at world history to see what happens when we allow power to be so concentrated, when there’s no way to oppose corrupt police forces and totalitarian governments. You don’t even have to look far back in the history books. The same things still happen today. Not to mention, most of the people who believe an average citizen shouldn’t own a gun ALSO believe that the government is lazy, corrupt, and dishonest…yeah, let’s give those people absolute control over our lives. What could possibly go wrong?
So take away guns from the people AND from the government? The sad fact is that in most of the world, governments don’t give half a hoot if their citizens are pacifists, and there are plenty of nations who would love to wipe out a country that they see full of greedy, whiny consumers who are a drain on the resources of the rest of the world…exactly the same way most of the nation views our own upper class, by the way. We’ve got to have a military even if it’s just for defense, and a military can be wielded against its own population just as easily as it can against someone else’s.
The gun control movement operates kind of like this:
A young man comes out of a bar one night and sees an old gentleman on his hands and knees under a streetlight, groping around the sidewalk.
“What are you doing?” the young man inquires.
Looking up from his task, the older gentleman informs the younger that he’s lost his keys, and he’s trying to find them.
Being of good moral character, the young man immediately gets down on his knees to help look for the lost keys. After searching for several minutes, and with knees aching, they’ve still found nothing. The young man is not deterred, though. “Sir, whereabouts do you think you might have dropped them? If we can focus on a smaller area, this might go faster,” he suggests.
The old gentleman points to the shadows 10 feet away. “I lost them over there in that dark spot,” he replies.
Aghast, the young man gets to his feet. “Then why are you crawling around over here?” he demands.
Still feeling around in what’s clearly a pointless search, the old gentleman responds, “Because it’s too dark to see over there, so I decided to look under the streetlight.”
We don’t have all the answers, but can we at least start looking in the right places? If there was a simple, easy solution to end violence, we would support it wholeheartedly, but we’ve yet to discover one. In actuality, the greatest contributing factor towards violence in this country seems to be people with evil intentions. Evil has existed since before recorded history so how do we combat it? The only solution seems to be enabling good people the ability to defend themselves against it.
Eradicating guns doesn’t do a thing to eradicate violence, and it’s been proven to actually increase the frequency of violent crime. If you want to end violence, then work towards ending violence instead of trying to find something easy to blame. Yeah, trying to get to the root of violent tendencies is a lot harder than lobbying for fear-based legislation, but are we trying to solve a problem or not? Sometimes, you’ve got to look in the dark, scary places to find the answers. Not every solution is illuminated by streetlight.