A large number of Americans don’t have the mental bandwidth to consider the full implications of gun control proposals. Close the gun show loophole? Stop selling guns to people on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List? Limit a handgun’s capacity to ten bullets? Why wouldn’t you? Wait, don’t answer that. I’ve got to pick up the kids from school. Without the time, energy or interest to devote the finer points of the “gun debate,” the average Joe can be forgiven for taking the aforementioned ideas at face value. They certainly seem like common sense. As Supertramp said, “I guess it’s hard not to agree.” So WTH. I’m going with the flow. Here are three reasons why we should restrict firearms sales . . .
1. Restricting gun ownership protects the public’s respect for the police
The cops have a dirty little secret: they can’t hit squat with a gun. Truth be told, the cops’ average “hit rate” is less than 30 percent. D’uh. As TTAG has pointed out on numerous occasions, U.S. police don’t take their pistolcraft seriously. In most cases, they practice shooting stationary targets whilst remaining stationary. Twice a year.
If I had to choose between one of my armed ballistic BFFs and a cop to accompany me into a gunfight, I’d go with the civilian. Every time.
Now I’m not saying that the average armed citizen is a better gunfighter than the average cop in terms of judgement, strategy or shooting prowess—although I’d love Leghorn to perform a suitable experiment along those [thin blue] lines. Most civilians are just as poorly trained as the Heat. But I am saying that hands-on experience with a firearm changes the way a taxpayer thinks about the police, and not for the better.
Nothing improves your understanding of guns like a gun. Once a citizen get to grips with armed self-defense—both literally and psychologically—they begin to understand that firearms are not magic death rays. Guns are a tool for a job. The job of self-protection, and the protection of their loves ones. A tool that they, themselves, can use.
They also begin to appreciate the fact that that their survival is a split-second thing. Something that can and must be managed in the here and now, before 911. In turn, they learn an important fact: the cops can’t save them. Not always. Not even most of the time. And then they appreciate the importance of self-defense: taking full responsibility for their own safety.
There’s a reason why you don’t hear non-shooters saying “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” For people familiar with firearms, cops aren’t supernatural beings endowed with mythical powers. Through exposure to guns, the the average non-gun savvy citizens demotes his or her local constabulary. The police lose their primo place in the pantheon of personal protection.
What’s more, many of these newly enlightened souls begin to contemplate the legal implications of WHN (What Happens Next). They learn to see a post-shooting police encounter (after the scene is secure) as a trap, wherein the cops will attempt to use the shooter’s successful armed self-defense against them. As in prosecute them for defending their lives.
At best, the police become the “frenemy.” More to the point, arming civilians demystifies cops. The po-po cease to be magical mythical beings for whom society should reserve the power of life and death inherent in a firearm. In other words, they become what they are: entirely fallible armed civil servants.
How can we run a society where the cops aren’t seen as the law-givers? Where people adopt a hands-on way of thinking about their personal and communal safety and security? Limiting gun ownership helps protect the police from disempowering disrespect.
2. Restricting gun ownership enhances respect for the government
Liberals associate gun owning with “extreme” conservatism. And for good reason. Gun owners are conservative. Strictly speaking, “conserving” (i.e. protecting) what you already have is the whole point of owning a gun (other than hunting and sport). If you use a gun to go out and get what you want you’re a criminal. It’s a subtle distinction for some, but there it is.
And here it is again: gun control advocates fear that arming civilians will lead to armed insurrection. As the Afrikaners say, ja nir. Yes no. Arming civilians leads to insurrection, but not armed insurrection. As we’ve seen with the advent of the Tea Party, armed conservatives’ desire to reclaim the government and cut it down to size is not inherently violent. But it is inherent.
Irony alert! Tea partying gun-owning folk are LESS likely to be violent. They come at political change from a position of power, not weakness. . They don’t feel like they are at the mercy of their own government. Which is true—in theory. Red Dawn be damned; in practice, the Army could kick their ass all day.
Be that as it may, and I pray to God I never see that theory put to the test, armed civilians tend to see themselves as a nation unto themselves. After all, they have their own armed forces. Them. No matter how you slice it, to the left or the right, that changes the relationship between the government and the governed. And not for the better. If you’re the government.
No doubt about it: gun ownership creates an “us” and “them” mentality. Us who gots the guns vs. them who want to tell us how, when, where to use them. It’s no coincidence that gun owners don’t favor “common sense” gun control. That’s something you want for the other guy. Not you. And that attitude bleeds over into other issue.
How can we run a society where citizens look out for themselves first, their neighbors second and unseen beneficiaries last, if at all? Where taxpayers view the government with suspicion and distrust? Limiting gun ownership enhances and protects the government’s ability to govern.
3. Restricting gun ownership reduces firearms-related deaths
Guns are dangerous. If you load one, point it at someone (including yourself) and pull the trigger, that someone may die. More guns, more danger, more death. And death is bad. We as a society want everyone to live as long as possible and die of natural causes (after a lifetime of high-quality federally-funded health care).
As things stand, it’s not so much “Darwin rides shotgun” as “Darwin is a shotgun.” Less obtusely, the best way to stop people from dying from gunfire is . . . removing guns. Less guns, less danger, less death. Well, less firearms-related death.
Presumably, this plan would be most effective if you grabbed the guns from bad people: criminals, psychos and stupid idiots. But how do you know who’s bad (a question that bedeviled Michael Jackson)? You could screen out potentially lethal gun owners, but that doesn’t seem to be working very well.
Common sense suggests the best way to keep Charlie at bay: take more guns away than less. Err on the side of caution, as it were. If we had a more-or-less total gun ban like the U.K., eventually our firearms-related death rate would drop. Huzzah!
Alternatively, you could give the population more guns. I’m not suggesting the whole “more guns, less crime” thing. I’m thinking that more guns would lead to more crime which would eventually lead to less criminals. You know; after a period of adjustment.
Beiruit’s an example of the pro-Darwin position. The Paris of the Middle East descended into civil war, where anyone who was anyone had a gun or eight. Thousands of people died in bloody turf wars and political wrangling. The place got shot to shit. Now? As peaceful as you wanna be. Well, as they wanna be.
What would happen if you armed all the civilians in Detroit or Philadelphia? It would be a bloodbath. OK, more of a bloodbath. Until it wasn’t. Would it be less violent at the end of this transition period?
Impossible to know. Besides, we don’t want to know it. You can’t argue for more violence to end violence, like say, America’s military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. That’s not common sense! That’s not humane! And even if the more guns to end gun crime thing works, common decency says we should try the “peaceful” preventative solution first. I mean, we should try it harder.
How can we run a society where people defend themselves against guns with guns? Where we abandon ineffective policy born from compassion for effective policy based on cold, calculating, scientific fact?