Friday, February 22, 2013

Just How Important Are Guns To Us?

This question has been buzzing around my head lately. Wrapped up in this answer is the idea of guns being a “Right” versus a “Privilege.” Obviously, the Constitution specifically mentions the “...right to bear arms,” and there are entire books and courses devoted to this concept but I won't go into that particular aspect of the debate here. Ultimately, this distinction does not bear much weight on my argument. Instead though, I want to look at how much we are willing to sacrifice for our “right” to possess firearms. It appears to be a great deal. It would seem that our ability to own a gun is more important to us than a number of things. Reducing the number of gun deaths for instance.
Regardless of your take on gun ownership, what the gun death statistics mean exactly or whether stricter regulations would also reduce gun related deaths, it cannot be denied that prohibiting private gun ownership would dramatically reduce the number of gun related deaths in this country. It wouldn’t eliminate them, of course, likely nothing will, but it would reduce the number significantly. Even if more strict regulations of gun ownership could eventually prove to be as successful as simply prohibiting them, it would certainly not be as sure-fire.
We must then wonder, why, in the face of a certain reducer of gun related deaths, do we refuse to take that step? Why do we not do what we must in order to prevent more public shootings? The people who refuse to surrender their firearms, and their “right” to one, believe that that “right” is more important than reducing the number of gun related deaths. That sounds harsh, but there is no other way to look at it (I would love to hear your thoughts if you think there is, but I have thought about this a great deal).
There is a way to dramatically reduce the number of gun deaths in this country (prohibiting private gun ownership), and there is one idea that conflicts with this plan (I have a right to own a firearm). Again,  it is irrespective of why we believe that right is important.Therefore, if we will not institute a ban on private ownership of guns, it is because we believe that our right to own one is more important than reducing the number of gun deaths. If X and Y are mutually exclusive, and we choose Y, we do so because we believe Y has more value, whatever and whyever that may be, than X. Or vice versa. Likewise here, as a country, we believe there is more value in owning a gun than reducing gun related deaths.
As often comes up in gun rights debates, the same argument could be made to show that private car ownership should be eliminated. Certainly, there are a great number of car related deaths in this country as well. An effective way to reduce this number would be to eliminate private car ownership as well. I am inclined to agree. If we were to leave our transportation needs up to public transit: buses, trains, taxis, etc. there would be a significant drop in vehicular deaths. Likewise, if we leave our gun related needs up to law enforcement (protection) or grocery stores (food) then we will see a significant drop in the number of gun related deaths.