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Since the tragedy in Newtown, gun sales have exploded. Reasons given are twofold: One, people must be buying them because they fear for their safety, or two, people hear the politicians saying ‘something must be done’ and fear gun purchases will become more difficult – or impossible – in the future.
The first reason doesn’t hold water: there are already more guns per capita in America than any other country on earth. Americans own 270 million guns – more than twice the guns per capita as the next highest country, Yemen – one of those places where men carry their rifles to weddings and shoot into the air for fun.
The second reason doesn’t hold water either: no politician who wants to get re-elected would ever vote for a ban, or even serious restrictions, on the sale of guns.
What no one wants to admit is that this is a problem with no solution. Guns cannot be banned… the expression ‘closing the barn door after the horse is gone’ springs to mind. The old adage ‘if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns’ is not really true. A better truism would be ‘if guns are outlawed, three quarters of Americans will become outlaws.’
Well, is the problem simply a matter of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable? After all, mass shootings don’t happen at gun shows, do they? Okay, let’s say I buy that. How are you going to accomplish it? Administer a mental stability test to every gun purchaser (assuming there is such a test)? Again, too late, there are too many guns out there. And just because a person passes the test today doesn’t guarantee he’s still sane tomorrow, does it?
How about administering a mental stability test to everyone in America and locking up every unstable person? Everyone, myself included, would scream about the infringement of their rights, and rightfully so.
How about the recent proposal of Arizona lawmaker Tom Horne that every school have at least one armed and gun-trained teacher? Seriously? Can you see a 9th grade English teacher pulling a gun and blowing away a student she’s known, taught and watched grow for years? As they say in Texas, that dog won’t hunt. Nevertheless, Sheriff Joe's posse as of today is patrolling Maricopa county schools with guns on their hips. What could possibly go wrong?
But none of this answers the question of whether you should own or carry a gun for protection.
- Does carrying a gun increase your safety?
- Does America in fact have the highest homicide rate in the world?
- Does the prevalence of guns increase the rate of suicide and accidental fatalities?
- Is it true that more people are killed by baseball bats in America than by guns?
- If, as seems to be happening, Mesa, Arizona or wherever you live is going to become an armed camp, wouldn't it behoove you to get a gun? Should you buy into the 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mentality?
We’ll get to that in part two.
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