Each time the United States experiences a mass shooting in which there are multiple casualties of unsuspecting people, especially children, the calls for gun control ring out across social media, in coffee shops, on TV… you name it. But most of these calls for a drastic change don’t consider the real life implications or the practicality of such a move.
It’s true, we would see a decrease in shootings if we didn’t have guns in this country. But there are other truths that shouldn’t be ignored or glossed over. So what would gun control look like in the United States and what are some of the potential consequences?
It is estimated that there about as many guns as there are people in the United States. The actual numbers are understandably hard to come by, but let’s just say there are 325 million people and 325 million guns in the U.S. Around 34% of Americans own guns these guns according to Pew. But again, the exact statistics are hard to come by. Do people answer truthfully? What if their gun was purchased illegally or stolen? Who exactly is polled and how do law enforcement officers, armed security guards and the military factor into these statistics? Sure, a lot of Americans own guns, but our local and national governments own a lot too. More, I suspect.
If you spend about three minutes scrolling through social media right now you’re guaranteed to come across mentions and images of assault rifles. After all, the AR-15 has been used in countless mass shootings over the years and there is certainly a point to be made - why does an average American need an assault rifle? But did you know that more than half of the murders committed with firearms in the U.S. are committed using handguns?
I think it is important to address the practicality of a ban on guns. There are an estimated 325 million guns in the United States. Some of these gun owners will willingly hand over their guns. Some of these gun owners will willingly hand over their guns in exchange for something, say the value of their gun in cash. Some of these gun owners will point their guns directly in the face of whoever is trying to take it away, and they might even pull the trigger. Who do you suppose is going to go door to door to round up all of these guns? Will criminals and others with illegal guns who rely on them for safety and security willingly hand them over? I highly doubt it. So where does that leave us? Few good guys with guns and a heck of a lot of bad guys. Yikes.
Many of the folks who would rather point their pistols in the face of government agents attempting to take those very same pistols, are those who wholeheartedly stand behind the second amendment and stress that their guns will have to be pried from their cold, dead fingers if they are to be taken away. There are a lot of these people in the United States. Attempting to take those guns away will absolutely result in the loss of life. There is no question there.
A ban on one type of firearm, such as an assault rifle, would obviously be easier to enact, but as detailed in the graph above, rifles contribute to only a small fraction of all gun deaths. It seems all or nothing is the way to go.
Say we go the route of a ban on all guns. Say we somehow manage to get every firearm out of the hands of every American civilian. Great! But those same folks bent on causing undue harm to others might watch a short YouTube video then run down to their local big box hardware store, drop $20 and fashion their own 12 gauge shotgun. Or perhaps if they want something automatic, they might do a bit more research and opt for a slightly more costly DIY submachine gun. And don’t forget the faithful pipe bomb - we had a scare with one of those when I was in high school. And we all remember how wildly successful a pressure cooker can be. And what about one of the newest flavors of weaponry - the 3D printed gun? Do you catch my drift?
Consider for a moment prohibition or the drug war in America. What did these do? They led to an influx of DIY attempts to replace what was outlawed and also led to these things pouring over our borders. We scoff at the idea of prohibition today but don’t you suppose the exact same thing will happen with guns?
There are consequences of the call for a ban on guns that I think are important to consider and that seem to be largely absent from all of the gun control discourse. Some of these consequences may not affect you and I think it is important consider this and why. Many people calling for a blanket ban on guns may be doing so from a place of privilege without even realizing it.
I have already addressed one major consequence - a potential all out war between gun toting second amendment supporters and the man trying to control them.
Another is the safety of marginalized communities. Gun ownership among black Americans is on the rise. Why? The reason has less to do with Trump and more to do with living in a country where many black people feel vulnerable and unprotected. We know full well that police violence against black people is a major issue. Continuing to arm the police (to an extreme extent in some places), who happen to often be racist, while not allowing a population they oppress to be armed is a scary thought for some. The police do not protect and serve everybody. Some populations within the U.S. feel they must protect themselves against these "protectors" and others, and owning a gun is one way to do that. Can the same be said for other minority communities in the U.S. who have been victims of U.S. colonialism for generations?
Speaking of the police, many Americans, especially many of you here on Steemit, are not what you would call enthusiastic about our government, police, or our military. Allowing these people to be armed more than anyone could have ever imagined just doesn’t sit right. As many have been saying.. Sure, you can take my guns.. as long as you take theirs, too.
In fact, if American civilians were no longer allowed to own guns but the military and police continued to, what would stop one of them from selling or lending one of their firearms to someone else in order to carry out a crime. Police officers are constantly caught up in crime rings. Heck, police officers and military personnel sometimes do the mass shooting themselves! It happened at Fort Hood. Twice.
The fact is that gun control, in a country with 325 million guns, would be one of the hardest things we might ever accomplish. We’ve failed at healthcare, we’ve failed at the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. We’re really good at failing and making things worse while we’re doing it.
Many people also seem to be sharing positive statistics from countries that have successfully banned or limited guns but for goodness sake, do some research before spouting off statistics. Yes, many countries have banned guns successfully. One such country I see brought up repeatedly is Australia. Their ban on guns was enacted back in 1996. They banned some semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns, and introduced stricter licensing requirements as well as a mandatory buyback program for guns banned by the new law. Naturally the number of gun-related homicides decreased. Naturally. But the homicide rate actually increased a few years after the new law was enacted, then began to level off and started dropping again more recently. And wouldn’t you know it.. That seems to be the trend in other countries where firearms have been banned - there is actually a SPIKE in homicide rates afterwards. If we only look at the number of gun related homicides then yes, of course they decrease after a ban begins.
I am certainly not saying there should be no action taken on gun control. I personally despise guns, though I do understand the notion that if the police and military are armed, citizen should be too. I do not trust our government or police forces and their being armed does not make me feel safer. However, when it comes to gun control I am choosing to look at the big picture. One thing is clear: it is not as simple or straightforward as any of the tweets or Facebook discussions I’m seeing seem to purport.
All of this brings me back to my last post and the essence is this: Gun control isn't the answer. What we need is a major paradigm shift - away from selfish, us vs. them, violent consumerism and empire and back toward recognizing and accepting our place in the universal collective of the human race. Until that happens, gun control will do little but pacify those crying out for a solution to a disturbing trend.
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