Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walkin' in a Splintered Gun-derland pt. 1

   In the fallout of the Newtown, CT tragedy, gun control has become a fertile ground of rabid debate. I've already gotten in a few arguments on the topic and I have not found anyone able to convince me to change my opinion. Despite what some Arizona lawmakers seem to think, the laws governing firearms need to be tightened in some way. Make no mistake, I'm not professing that I have the exact solution, I merely recognize the progress that must be made. The facets of this issue are many, (and I plan to address as many of them as I can think of, one at a time) but today I want to address only the logical fallacy of comparing gun control to drug laws.
   This is one of the most common arguments facing people like me. NRA supporters just love throwing around the 'how's that war on drugs going, and why should we ban guns when the drug war is failing so miserably?' Yes, it's true that if we banned guns it would create another criminal enterprise like the drug cartels. However, there are very few people in the country who are actually trying to completely ban guns, and I am not one of them. However, if you are of the opinion that firearm regulations in the country as a whole are anything but lax, you are mistaken and it deeply worries me. Both sides of this debate like to point to the children, so here are some facts with regard to guns, drugs and children. 40% of high school students admit to having tried marijuana, a schedule 1 illegal narcotic**. Also, one third of families (that's 33 and a third percent) in America who own guns also have children*. I was not able to find any data regarding how many children actually tried shooting a gun to compare to trying marijuana, so these statistics are not exactly parallel, but it illustrates my point, that there is already less demand for guns than there is currently for drugs among young people. And drugs are entirely illegal, not simply (under)regulated. With these obvious gaps in demand for guns versus drugs, I have a very hard time believing then, that gun control laws will lead to criminal activity on the same scale. Put it this way, there are already illegal weapons markets in the U.S. supplying weapons to organized crime groups who don't want to deal in serial numbers and licensing. Would restricting widespread access to guns lead to more of the general, law-abiding population to turn criminal, buying guns illegally just to have them? Compared to the current demand for drugs even though they are illegal, I see no logical reason to believe that increased gun control would bring drug-level criminal activity.
   What I really want to say about all this is that drugs are for self-destruction and guns are for the destruction of something or more accurately someone else. Therefore, from an ethical standpoint, I see huge differences in laws regarding one and the other. Like banners and headlines cry out, my interests are in the protection of the children, not protecting the guns. Maybe we need more in-depth psychological evaluations before gun licenses are issued. Maybe certain kinds of guns, like automatic weapons should be banned, but hunting rifles should be OK. Maybe we should raise the legal age to use guns or even include gun safety in schools. Maybe gun safes should be mandatory or there should be increased ability to track who is buying and moving guns. Maybe gun license renewals need to be more frequent. Maybe the qualifications to get a gun should be harder. I don't know the best solution, but I do know the worst solution: inaction and denial.
   No real harm can come from increased regulation, only perceived harm. Guns are not the only method of personal defense, and hunting is not a necessity. I could even see me, personally, target shooting for recreation, however, I also play video games for fun. If Counter Strike 1.6 was responsible for the deaths of a classroom of kindergarteners, I would feel the same way, and call for the game's banning. And no, I'm not talking about the influence on the crime, I'm talking about the means; no video game disc can fire .30 caliber rounds 800 times a minute. The video games vs. guns post is one for the future. The evidence of apathy to this cause fills headlines with the worst news imaginable, and no solution will make everyone happy or work instantaneously. However, we need to make a conscientious effort and we need to try now, before another maniac, who ought to be in a jacket that makes him hug himself, exploits the gaping loopholes and lax laws, and another community is left in desolation and grief.

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