But he can’t, so he won’t.
That hypothetical situation has been stewing in my head all week, as I listen to calls to arm teachers, loosen restrictions and proliferate guns to more people. The rationale being that more guns means more safety, e.g., a more heavily armed populace increases the likelihood that someone would be present and able to prevent a shooting.
While I see the individualistic logic behind a theory like this, it’s terribly flawed on a global scale. In fact, it’s so flawed, that one of the key arguments in its favor actually works against it.
The gun advocacy crowd argues that new restrictions and regulations on certain weapons (semi-automatics, large volume magazines, etc.) won’t make a difference because “the bad guys will still find a way to get them.” That’s true to an extent, but it’s also a very specious claim for a couple of very simple reasons:
- All laws get broken from time to time, even by me. I drive too fast. I jaywalk. I drank before I was of legal age. I’ll bet you’ve committed some of those crimes too, and more. Does that mean we should scrap the laws against them? No. Now that I’ve admitted to it, does it mean I’ll never jaywalk again? Unlikely. Laws exist to deter people from committing crimes, with the realization that they will sometimes get broken and when people get caught, there will be consequences to pay. In other words, as the gun advocates say, people are still going to get shot occasionally no matter what the law says. BUT, is that justification for inaction? Yes, criminals will still be able get their hands on guns, but shouldn’t we do everything in our power to make that as difficult as possible for them?
- Even with better training, improved mental healthcare, etc., doesn’t the law of averages indicate that more guns will equal more shootings – whether they be accidental, homicidal, suicidal, in self-defense or otherwise? I’ll use some partially made up numbers to state this case: In 20XX, 44 million people in the U.S. owned guns and 20,000 people died as a result of being shot. That’s one death for every 2,200 gun owners. Let’s assume we increase the number of gun owners to 60 million. We’d need to reduce the fatality rate to one in 3,000 gun owners to hold steady at 20,000 deaths. Obviously, as more and more guns flood the market, those rates would need to continue declining rapidly and the statistics show they probably would not (suicides and accidental shooting deaths far outnumber mass homicides). At the end of the day, with more guns, there will be more funerals.
Going back to my first paragraph – there are many more Dylan Klebolds and Jared Loughners and Adam Lanzas in the world. There always will be. They’re deranged, impulsive and think violent thoughts. All they need is something to “flip the switch.” We’ve all probably crossed paths with someone like this in our lives (maybe at some point, some of you were that person but thought better of lashing out). I, for one, would prefer that we do everything possible to make obtaining weapons of destruction a real pain in the ass for them. If nothing else, it would give them time to ponder the reality and consequences of their actions, and maybe make them realize the folly of their radical thinking, or at least decide it’s just not worth the effort.
Isn’t jumping through a few extra hoops and waiting a few more days to get your new hunting rifle worth at least that much?