Gun control is big topic in America, often discussed by people who do not seem to grasp the most basic principles of firearms. Guns are regarded by those who have no experience with them as tools of death and destruction that have no place in a civilized world. Unfortunately, many people have used firearms to commit atrocities. Like is true with cars and doctors, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives. However, what astonishes me is that two of the biggest positives are very rarely mentioned in debates.
Before I begin, I would like to clear up some terminology that is misused so commonly that it drives most people with an inkling of knowledge with firearms positively crazy. First of all, an assault weapon, when properly defined is a weapon of intermediate caliber that is capable of selective fire. Neither AR nor AK variants, commonly owned and used by civilians, are assault weapons. They are rifles that look like assault weapons. Secondly, a semi automatic rifle is a rifle where with one pull of the trigger, one shot is fired. These rifles are often called “assault weapons” because it makes them sound scarier. Third, a standard semi-automatic rifle magazine is very often about 30 rounds. These are not high capacity. Many proposed 10 round magazine capacity limits limit a vast number of handguns commonly used for self defense.
Before I get to the pro gun arguments, I am going to show you that arguments for gun control may have good intentions, but are ineffective and have often been counter-effective.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the 15 years before Australia enacted their firearms ban, firearm related homicides had dropped 66% and firearm related deaths dropped 50%. From when the ban was enacted in 1996 to March 27, 2000, firearm-related murders were up 19%, armed robberies were up 69%, and home invasions were up 21%.
Gun control has not worked in the UK, contrary to many politicians. The British home office released statistics that showed that violent acts per 100,000 people increased slightly after the first firearms act and skyrocketed from less than 400 to over 1,900 over the ten years.
Another piece of legislature often presented and unfortunately passed in some states is the notion of banning “high capacity magazines.” As I have already explained, these are in fact standard capacity. When shooting recreationally, a 30 round magazine is perfectly practical. Not only is it practical in recreation, but a rifle can be practical for home defense too. Anyone who has even been to a gun range will see signs telling you not to even put your finger near the trigger until you have identified your target, what is between the two of you, and what is behind them. A light, which often cannot be attached to a pistol without compromising accuracy, can be easily attached to many rifles. Rifles can also be shot accurately more easily.
One of the two main reasons people do not want legislature like waiting periods and making or other laws making it more difficult to acquire a firearm is because they are a very effective way to stop a crime from happening. In fact, according to Dr. Gary Kleck’s bookTargeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, a firearm in the hand in the potential victim makes crimes like assault, rape, and robbery are less likely to be carried out. In another book of his,Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Kleck has also said that guns are probably used to prevent crime over 2 million crimes a year. In 2013, according to the FBI, firearms killed 8,454 people in 2014. That is much less than the 2 million crimes prevented every year.
Contrary to the beliefs of people who are terrified of guns, someone who is inexperienced, untrained, and armed, is not a danger to the people around them. Unless that person has the desire to hurt others, they will not draw their weapon and start shooting. People who own guns or have them concealed above all hope that they never have to use one. This is true of all of the 30 gun owners I know. A gun does not incite violence. George Washington famously said, “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”