Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The need for gun control


Who will be the last to die from the effects of "small government." As long as I can remember (which is not that long in terms of the political landscape) liberal politicians have been accused of "trying to take away your guns" by conservative politicians who promise to UPHOLD YOUR 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHTS (always in all caps). During the Bush administration this debate fell into the rediculous with the Republican led Congress allowing the federal assault weapons ban to expire. That is the Congress decided that it was not important to continue to ban the sale of weapons that have no other purpose than killing en mass.

The Democrats showed that they were not much better by letting the debate teeter away after the Virginia Tech shooting, where it seemed clear to most that the shooting would have been made more difficult through more gun regulation. The New York Times Blog reported that:
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said, “The politicians are afraid to address this issue.”
And unfortunately subsequent action only proved Mr. Helmke correct. Despite shootings in malls, schools, and highways politicians have idled in DC and state capitols unwilling to alienate the gun owning voter.

Today, we were presented with another reminder of the detrimental affect of guns. There was a rally of over 300 people in Chicago to protest the gun violence that has affected Chicago's youth. From WaPo:
In all, 20 Chicago public school students have been fatally shot so far this school year -- seven in March alone -- compared with 24 the year before, said spokesman Mike Vaughn. Including those who died in non-gun violence, 22 students have been killed this year, and 30 last school year. School officials could not provide precise figures, but said that killings had increased markedly over past years.

These students that have died in Chicago have been between the ages of 10-18 and their deaths have mostly been blamed on "gang violence." An NPR report on this protest quotes individuals who argue, in a uniquely American way, that the gun violence cannot be lessoned by regulation. They argue that there is a bigger problem of "gang culture" that is causing this violence.

It is obvious that there are bigger problems in urban America. There are problems of poverty, violence, addiction, crime etc. These problems are intricately connected and if solved will take a national effort.

Guns must still be removed.

If you have have a couple fighting, will access to a gun improve or worsen the situation? If you have groups fighing, will access to guns improve or worsen the situation? If you have a divided society, city, area, will access to guns improve or worsen the sitution? Some would argue that guns improve the situation. They include this guy.

They argue that we need guns to defend ourselves from all the criminals who want to kill you and that if guns were omnipresent then criminals would never attack because they would be afraid that you have a gun.

There's a very good chance that every single student shot to death in Chicago was shot with a gun intended for protection against criminals. A gun would not deter a criminal, rather because their interests rely on succeeding in their criminal endeavor they would have significant incentive to invest in the best, biggest gun available. Should we have micro arms races among neighborhoods? No.

What we need are sensible gun regulations that make it as difficult as possible to obtain weapons with only occasional minor allowances where absolutely necessary. Many other countries have banned guns and have not seen the predicted criminal masses arise with their illegal weapons against the defenseless unarmed law abiding citizens. We must come together and face the issues of gun control. We must fight back against the NRA's red herrings (guns=freedom) and realize that regulating guns will cause it to be harder to purchase and use guns. Automatic weapons ought to be entirely banned, there is no reason for any law-abiding citizen to own a machine gun.

Yes, there are deeper problems that need to be addressed, however the Chicago deaths reminds us that guns magnify all problems to a level that cannot be allowed in any society.

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This is cross posted at http://poli-think.blogspot.com.