posted on Oct, 4 2006 @ 06:11 PM
Don, let us suppose that guns do kill people. Let us suppose this because it is undeniably true. There is exception to be taken with any claim that
only guns kill people, that guns motivate killing, or that people will stop being killed if guns are taken away, but it is undeniable
that some people cease to live because a gun sends a projectile through one of their vital organs.
If the problem is “guns kill people”, then the obvious question is “how do we prevent guns from killing people” (leaving aside the broader
problem, that people are killed at all). You skipped this step and went right to how do we convince America to give up the guns without questioning
whether that was the best way to solve the problem.
Let’s look at what guns are. Sporting equipment and in many cases, inactive security items (that is to say, things which make us feel safer but, on
average, are never used).
This would make them comparable to swimming pools and block walls. People drown in swimming pools and crash into block walls on a fairly regular
basis. Swimming pools, last I heard, kill more children than guns. How do we stop swimming pools from killing people? We separate them from potential
victims (child-proof fencing). How do we stop block walls from killing people? We deter the people whose actions make it possible (drunk drivers in
I believe that these are measures we may be wise to consider when it comes to guns, for precisely the same reason that I don’t advocate banning
swimming pools and block walls: it will never happen. It’s a simple matter of practicality.
So, how do we go about keeping guns away from offenders and victims? That starts with where the offenders are getting their guns. The answer is theft.
This presents a very workable solution. Make it easier to track down a stolen gun. You’d probably do it the same way that your cellular provider
already spies on you. You just imbed a numbered GPS chip into an integral component of the weapon, and stolen guns can be located at the punch of a
That leaves legally obtained guns, guns not reported stolen, old guns, and smuggled guns. Smuggled guns aren’t a disadvantage over the “ban
guns” idea anyway. Legally obtained guns, already a small share of the gun crime market, will shrink further because it will be possible to know
whose legally obtained gun was at the scene of the crime. Guns not reported stolen… would you fail to report under those circumstances???
That brings us to old guns. This is a nearly intractable problem in any event. We’ve got more guns than people in America, and there is no sure way
to find and confiscate unregistered guns… the rash of reported gun thefts (mostly false I’m sure) in the wake of any legislation would only
enhance the problem. It’s a problem that must be addressed though, because guns last a long time. Shore it up from the ammunition side. Only
registered gun owners can buy ammo, and only for calibers they are registered owners of. Wholesales, retails, and individual purchased are data-based
for computer analysis to prevent black marketing. You use that to force registration and you impose a graduated tax on older guns that increases
annually, thus forcing gun owners to begin socking back the cash to buy a new, traceable gun.
With the same technology in place you can establish “rapid reaction zones” around schools, gang-turf, etc where the detection of a gun results in
an automatic 911 response.
The buyback I’m not such a huge fan of, reason being that criminals aren’t going to sell their guns. You’re going to buy back 22 billion dollars
worth of iron and barely stop a single murder. I just took Freakonomics back to the library so I’ll have to get it back out and look up the source
for you, but if I recall correctly, the numbers showed that a very successful buyback in a city such as Los Angeles would be statistically likely to
prevent 1/10th of 1 murder that year.
Guns are still available to be stolen and guns are still in the hands of criminals. Nothing is solved.
Here’s one last thing to ponder. Suppose that you had a magic wand that could defeat all practicality and simply take all of the guns away. Would
gun crime shift to other weapons? You can’t use Japan or really any other country as an apples to apples comparison because economics and society
are going to skew everything. You have to recreate the condition of the American criminal in a gun-free environment to see if gun control would work.
The obvious place to start is the American prison system. The American prison system does a wonderful job of demonstrating that America’s violent
criminals will keep committing violent crimes when you take their guns away.
So, whichever way we go about stopping guns from killing people, we eventually have to pick back up the broader question of how to stop people from
being killed. That opens up a whole other thread (a very long one) about drug markets, education reform, and why the suicide rate in Japan is so high.
Suffice it to say that I believe that if we addressed some of the other problems facing us today, we’d find violence to by a symptom of social
problems, not of gun problems, and it could be resolved indirectly. Consider the fact that a very strong negative correlation between abortion rates
and crime rates has been observed (again I’ll have to get that book back because I don’t recall his sources chapter and verse, but I the logic was
sound). When taking that in the context of the social problems that generally correlate to the decision to abort pregnancy, it seems reasonable to
infer that fewer young people faced with certain social problems should most likely result in a significant reduction in crime (particularly
homicides, which fell faster than any other crime about 20 years after Roe v Wade).
In so many words: gun control means must be carefully chosen, and must be recognized as a treatment of symptoms, not underlying causes. Gun control
alone, even if strict enough to be tremendously successful, leaves us with a population of uniquely hostile temperament who harbor the will to break
the law and destroy one another whenever they are upset or see a chance to profit. Is that where you want to live? Do you want daily life in this
country to resemble a bad day in the Nixon White House?