Tragedy, liberty, and the firearms debate

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I don’t own a gun and I’ve never shot a gun. But I also do believe in liberty.

I read a piece in the New Yorker this afternoon by Adam Gopnik. He discussed last night’s horrific tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. In a number of ways, I found the column to be little more than emotionally charged anti-gun rhetoric. It included statements like: “Make sure that guns designed for no reason save to kill people are freely available to anyone who wants one.”

Is this type of mentality conducive to having a reasonable discussion about firearms in America?

The nation is shocked and appalled by what happened last night. Innocent people being gunned down is something that no one wants.

But I also believe that we ought to place blame where blame is due. It is because of the hatred of one wicked individual. These tragic event happen because of evil people and are not the fault of the instrument through which they utilize to orchestrate their heinous activities.

For or against firearms, they are part of the American culture. Unlike any country in the world, Americans appreciate the liberty to carry guns. While there are people who will look at the Aurora shootings as another reason as to why we need to disarm citizens, I think that this matter must be viewed logically. Even if you hate guns, it is not practical to take away something where there is already a thriving black market. I feel that all that this would accomplish would be disarming people who are honest, law abiding citizens.

I live in the Chicago area. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and we also have an out of control murder rate. Legal or illegal, people will have guns.

Honestly, if gun restrictions would objectively make a difference, I’d be willing to entertain the idea. But I feel that this is simply Utopianist thinking: all we need to do is restrict or outlaw guns, and these events won’t happen. In concept, that makes a great deal of sense, however, I feel that this thinking is divorced from reality.

Gopnik has a sentiment that is shared with many Americans. He writes, “Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night.”

Some people might meet that statement with a resounding “Amen.”

But that is simply absurd. Arguing that people who are pro-gun actively wish to arm murderers is tantamount to arguing that people who are anti-gun wish to disarm everyone EXCEPT criminals.

Do you want gun restrictions? Then why do you want to encourage people to illegally purchase guns? That wording is offensive isn’t it? I don’t feel like name calling and inventing desirous implications of what people who disagree with you must want in regards to gun laws is the effective way to have this dialogue.

I also feel like this argument has stacked the deck. Because people who are fundamentally pro-gun tend to believe that citizens should be able to carry concealed firearms.

Would that have made a difference last night? We can never know for sure. Perhaps a good Samaritan who was trying to be heroic would have been gunned down. But I do know that Holmes had the time to shoot 71 people and to reload.

Countries where guns are harder to attain legally still have gun violence. Articles talking about Holmes mention the elaborate booby traps that he had setup in his apartment that law enforcement officials are still working to disarm. Whose to say that he wouldn’t have just built a bomb? I’m not saying that he would have, but I am saying that assuming that last night’s massacre would not have happened had he not had access to guns is just as speculative. I think if a person is sincerely intent on bringing harm to others, they are going to regardless of if they have guns.

Gropnik does acknowledge that other countries have also had gun related killing sprees, but he argues that they’re more common in America. He overlooks the fact that America has a much larger population than Canada and the individual countries in Europe.

Everyone wants peace. No one wants to see good people murdered. But in the fact of tragedy, I think we can have a tendency to have knee-jerk reactions. I also feel that it would be a bad precedent to take away something that has been a fundamental right in this nation since the beginning. An armed populous is the ultimate political check. While I don’t personally own firearms, I affirm that right of others to do so. For people who commit illegal activities with guns, they need to be hammered by our legal system.

jrb

One thought on “Tragedy, liberty, and the firearms debate”

  1. I agree with your comments about gun control. It certainly wouldn’t help to ban guns at this point. Even if we would outlaw them, there are too many guns already on the street. If guns were outlawed, it would just create a bigger black market. All we can do as citizens is to try to always be aware of our surroundings, and be ever vigilant about suspicious behavior. (Although it probably wouldn’t have helped in this situation.)

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