In re: Handgun ban? not likely…

images2.jpgEvents like those at VA Tech usually get people talking about the laws concerning guns, although at this point its unclear what arguments will emerge (some have already blamed gun laws for not allowing students guns to defend themselves with), what is clear already is that the guns used in the shootings were legally purchased in Virginia, which has some of the weakest gun control laws in the Union and apparently the ammo types used wouldn’t have been legal under the now expired Brady Bill. I will only briefly stand on my soap box and repeat what I’ve long believed, that handguns should be illegal in the US. I know that this isn’t something that would get me elected and puts me in debates from time to time with my gun loving friends, but basically the way I see it there is absolutely no reason to justify ordinary citizens having handguns.

“The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), an activist group, counts 41 school shootings in America since 1996, which have claimed 110 lives, including those in Virginia this week. IANSA also looks at school shootings in 80 other countries. Culling from media reports, they count only 14 school gun killings outside America in the same period. Putting aside the Beslan massacre in Russia—committed by an organised terrorist group—school shootings in all those countries claimed just 59 victims.

As striking are the overall rates of violent death by handguns in America. The country is filled with 200m guns, half the world’s privately-owned total.” (See The Economist: Guns in America: After the Massacre)

I know about the constitution, and the ‘right to bear arms’ but my little argument against that stems on the advances in weaponry since the drafters penned the almighty 2nd (“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” (see Wikipedia) there is also the more common textual argument that is frequently made by some scholars that drafters were only referring to military usage of weapons – there is strong argument the bear arms was a term of art that specifically means military). Anyway, what my argument is that no framer could have understood the possibility that one person could enter a building and kill so many people, in their day and age you might get at most a few shots (inaccurate shots most likely as well) before needing to slowly reload, never would it be imagined that individuals would be able to rampage on such a scale.

So why ban handguns? Well, they have only one purpose as I see it, killing people. If you want to defend your house, use a shotgun, but I don’t think its appropriate to walk the streets strapped with a gun (Ohio thinks differently) but if you want to fend off attackers, behold the wonders of mace. In England where handguns are illegal (Britain has a minimum five-year sentence for possession of an illegal firearm) the main threat for robbery is mace and those carrying cash to armored cars have that as their man concern, wearing masks to protect themselves – although there are major arguments against the handgun ban, it is clear they reduce greatly death “Handguns are completely illegal in Britain, which recorded only 46 homicides involving firearms all of last year. By contrast there were 579 gun homicides last year in New York City alone.” (AP)

There is a good article in the Times (UK) about the debate following the VA Tech shootings, the argument that if only students had been armed they would have been able to defend themselves (just one more thing to put in my bag for class?) and the counter arguments. I recommend it – see “Tragedy will not decide gun control debate “

“It is one thing to defend gun rights when the sentimental image of the pioneer still has some truth, if only in the north woods of the Appalachians. It is another when the pioneers have carved up the country into small suburban lots and cannot escape the neighbours.”

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3 Responses

  1. One point you didn’t mention was how the per capita number of knife attacks in Britain is so much higher. This is directly related to their inability to buy guns.

    In general, I agree with you about guns for the most part, but you have to realize that if you limit the ability to get guns, people will get something else.

    http://johnrlott.tripod.com/2007/04/uk-is-knife-crime-capital.html

  2. Not gonna argue that knife attacks go up, but I’ll take my chances with a maniac with a knife over a gun. Plus when is the last time someone with a knife took out 10 people? I agree that you’ll never stop people from doing horrible things, but I think if they are forced to use knives, we’d be better off.

  3. Random shooting sprees just aren’t common enough to legislate around, I think, which may be your point.

    On a more general level, my point simply is that, despite agreeing with you that people have no need for guns, I’m not sure we’d be safer if they had knives. I’d obviously prefer that they didn’t carry anything, but that seems a bit naive and unrealistic; criminals will have weapons. Ultimately, I’m not so sure I’m more comfortable with a criminal holding a knife because I’d fear that he’s much more likely to use it.

    What’s better, a shooting spree every few years, or an increased number of stabbings every week? Maybe the latter, but I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you state.

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