After every shooting uproar ensues, not in finding ways to support the victims’ families, but an attack on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. These political maneuvers are not only egregious, but factually inaccurate.
This post will argue against these attacks on two fronts: one being the pragmatic, evidence-based side and the other being the philosophical. Both are needed to understand this debate and to be able to draw conclusions. All sources are listed at the bottom of the post.
Evidence In Favor Of Guns
Here are some quick facts on guns in the United States and Abroad:
- From 1950 to July of 2016, 98.4% of Mass Public Shootings occurred in Gun-Free Zones
- “Every place that has been banned guns (either all guns or all handguns) has seen murder rates go up.”
- After England’s 1997 handgun ban, homicide rates increased by about 60% by 2002
- In Jamaica, pre-ban (1975) murder rates were around 10 per 100,000, but by 1980, they were around 40 per 100,000 and 60 per 100,000 by 2005
- 2% of counties account for 51% of murders and 54% of counties had no murders (2014)
The reduction in the presence of guns does not actually affect people’s behavior. In fact, the assurance that the potential victim is not armed emboldens criminals. Below is a map of the distribution of murders by county. As you can see, other than major cities, the middle of the country is fairly murder free. The issues lie on the coasts and in major cities, which is where guns are most highly banned and regulated.
The states where gun ownership is high (what the liberals on the coast like to call flyover country) have much lower murder rates. In Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and many more, there are enormous swaths of land that had no murders in 2014.
What does this mean? Well, it indicates that something other than guns are the issue. There is not sufficient evidence to indicate a certain cause, but it is clear that guns do not attribute to crime, rather evidence would suggest guns play a role in curbing violent crime.
If the solution to the problem is not able to be drawn from the data or evidence, there may be a solution in the culture or human nature.
Philosophical Arguments For Guns
Man is inherently prone to both good and evil. Because man has reason, it is possible to image both good and evil uses of a tool. For instance, fire can be used to cook food and provide warmth or it can be used to burn down buildings or towns. This reality places the praise for good action and blame for evil on individuals committing the action. Guns are no different. They are merely a tool that can be used to defend one’s life or take others’.
Now that the nature of a gun is settled, the next question is what is the proper use of the tool? In America, and most of the West, there is a belief in the idea that an individual owns his or her body. This means they own the fruits of their labor and the property they acquire by their labor. If someone were to steal another’s property, the victim would have recompense under the law.
The same is true with one’s body. If one is threatened, then the amount of force necessary to defend oneself is justified, and the proper tools to defend oneself should be available for those who wish to do so. The same is true for those who wish to educate or heal themselves in that they should have access to means of either educating or healing themselves.
To say that one should have the right to access one of the above tools is to undermine their right to the others. The principled argument is that one should be able to decide by what means they protect their property, which includes their life.
The Second Amendment
This is another issue in the gun debate. The 2nd Amendment was instituted with full knowledge that weapons technology would improve. The argument that it applies to muskets not M16’s is foolish and unsubstantiated.
Rather it was an acknowledgement of the idea described above in conjunction with a recognition of the nature of governments. Any government that can nullify the right to defend one’s person is tyrannical. This is because the assertion by a government that one doesn’t have a right to self-defense is an attack on the idea of the individual. Once the Western understanding of the Individual is taken away, all of the governments, cultures and societies of the West implode.
Therefore, this right was enshrined in the Constitution to give citizens the ability to defend themselves from criminals and from tyranny, with tyranny being the larger fear of the two. Before Hitler could come after the Jews, Communists or Trade Unions, he came for the guns. Every tyrant of the 20th century did the same. The greatest threat to an individual is the person next to them, but the greatest threat the Individual is tyranny. That is the purpose of the Second Amendment.
This debate extends far beyond partisanship and the latest tragedy. There is a part of human nature that is prone to evil and brutishness. To deny that reality and to preach the contrary is to be complicit in these atrocities. Rather than trying to engineer a utopia, we should recognize the impossibility of utopia and seek to understand our nature and how to improve ourselves and communities.
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