It occurs to me that much of the current gun debate has a lot to do with emotion, and very little to do with reality. If you set aside the political and social rhetoric, the real fact is that for most applications outside of hunting and other sportsman’s endeavors, firearms are an outmoded technology better replaced by a wide variety of better options; a current day crossbow. To continue to make the case that our ultimate freedom depends on the preservation of this old technology is like saying the future or our transportation system rests on easy access to the horse.
Consider the following …..
Self-defense. Gun proponents argue that a well-armed country is a safer country. But this flies in the face of the statistics, which clearly indicate that more guns mean more accidental deaths. Yet in this context we never seriously discuss the many options that exist. The options are not limited to just guns. As I’ve said here before, if you want to defend yourself and your family against criminals, I would suggest that a cannister of bear spray is a much better alternative. The truth is that most people are not particularly well-qualified to use a firearm, and in the stress of a altercation there is high potential that they will either miss the attacker, or shoot themselves or a family member. A bullet cannot be controlled once it leaves the muzzle – and can pass through walls and injur or kill innocent buystanders. Bear spray creates a wide fog and is designed to take down a seven hundred pound grizzly – so it packs more than enough punch to stop a burgler or mugger, giving you plenty of time to escape, and you don’t need to worry about killing your family and neighbors.
This approach becomes even more valid in schools and public places. The NRA is advocating arming teachers and putting more guards into schools. I don’t know what your teachers were like, but I am having a hard time envisioning my third grade teacher, the 4’11 Sister Mary Pat, whipping a Glock out of her desk and taking down an intruder. My sister Julie is a retired grade school teacher and was raised around firearms, but despite that fact I really don’t see her in a firefight with a nut dressed in camo brandishing an Uzi. I could see both Julie and Sister Mary Pat pulling out a cannister some kind of chemical compound designed to either incapacitate or slow down the intruder.
“Well then the nuts will just wear gas masks,” you might argue.
But they are already wearing bullet-proof clothing, and I believe that with a little scientific effort we could come up with a non-lethal system much better designed to protect ourselves and our kids than something designed several hundred years ago that requires a high level of expertise to be effective.
Imagine if instead of placing expensive guards in schools that might potentially kill innocents, we equipped the facility with emergency systems that would flood rooms with gas, smoke, bright lights, or even sounds that incapitate or slow the intruder, without lethal impact to the bystanders. Perhaps going forward schools and other large public spaces should be equipped with remote accessed metal security doors so we can isolate intruders and protect occupants. I am quite confident that with a some amount of investment and innovation we can come up with a system that will work better than “Ramboizing” our teachers.
So of course the other highly emotional issue is the necessity of gun ownership to protect citizens from the Government. If we were living in 1871 I guess I could buy this, but again we are facing a technological reality. An assault weapon – no matter how large the clip – is not a particularly effective way to protect yourself from a Drone firing a missile at you from 20,000 feet. If freedom fighters were to take up arms against an oppressive US government, I seriously doubt they would win the day with some rag tag “Red Dawn”militia. The old addage “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” would be amplified to something like “don’t bring a gun to a space-age weapons battle”.
What is likely is that all the readily available assault weapons could be used by ultra-conservative anarchists to really disrupt society. Imagine an American Taliban terrorizing the population in an effort to replace Democracy with their own warped vision of government. They wouldn’t win, but they would make life miserable. When you have public officials proclaiming they will not enforce laws, and politicians joking about shooting the President this does not seem totally unfathomable.
If we ever get to the point where citizens are forced to take up arms against the government it will be a battle of technology, not Colts and Glocks. We will utilize the internet to mobilize and draw support. Communication and consensus will win the day.
So does all this mean we should eliminate guns? Of course not. I own several firearms, all designed for hunting or target shooting. I am also considering getting a bow and arrow, which I also think I should be allowed to own. But my rationale for owning a bow and arrow has nothing to do with the anticipation that someday I might need it to kill invading soldiers. Maybe three hundred years ago, but not now. Let’s quit applying old outdated concepts to modern times.
Those that equate guns with freedom might consider what a truly free world might look like. To me it would be a society where I did not need to fear guns. And if you really fear a governmental takeover, I would suggest there are a lot of very important and impactful things you could do right now as opposed to hoarding assault rifles. There are a lot of political options in our current political system. I am personally more concerned with the lack of privacy that we have all for some reason universally accepted. I don’t like being on camera everywhere I go, and having airport security guards frisk me before boarding a plane. I would personally regard it as a kind of tyranny if I had to be surrounded by armed guards in public spaces and schools; a sign that we had given up on civilization and allowed our fears to dominate.
The other way to protect our freedom is to embrace a two party political system, instead of trying to replace it with a single social and political voice that could lead to a dictatorship. We all don’t need to agree, but we do need to discuss and then compromise. And finally, we need to learn and adapt. Times change, and we need to keep up.