– By Samuel Northrop –
As someone who was born and raised in an environment that embraced gun culture, I still cannot understand why so many people are resisting restrictions on guns, and much of the international community agrees.
I have spent the last six months living and working in Germany, and in my time there, politics came up regularly. But no question was asked more than a very simple one, “Why do you have so many guns?” For me, it is a question with no solid answer outside of tradition. It is ingrained in our minds and even our constitution and is very hard to let go of. But to the logic driven, Vulcan-like German people, this answer simply made no sense. The people that I interacted with on a daily basis had the same shotguns and hunting rifles that I see in so many households around here, but the idea of owning more than one or two was simply bewildering, much less handguns or military grade rifles. More than one joke was made at my expense about being a “gun-happy American” and even when I decided to play the other side there was no acceptance of the arguments I presented. “Criminals will still find a way to get guns,” or “It’s for protection,” were thrown back at my face time and time again.
The argument that criminals will still be able to find guns no matter their legality is a valid one. There is no doubt that an illegal market will be created as happens with any product that has been prohibited (case and point alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s). The point that is not discussed though is that even though it creates a market, the risk of being caught with a gun becomes much higher, and that makes the cost of these weapons out of the range of most people. According to an article from “The Sydney Morning Herald,” a newspaper in Australia where guns have been banned for over a decade now, the average cost of a semi-automatic handgun is somewhere around fifteen thousand dollars. I think that most people with that much money laying around would not have any need for an illegal weapon.
As for safety, there have been many studies that show a person is far more likely to accidentally injure themselves, commit suicide, or harm another person not in self-defense than in a actual justified shooting. These numbers dipped significantly for those who kept their guns locked securely in a gun-safe, but if that is the case, then what protection are they actually providing? I’ve never been robbed, but I’m pretty sure that the perpetrator is not going to stand and wait for me to unlock my safe to even the playing field.
I am not in favor of a complete ban on guns. Denying sport hunters or collectors of antiques of their hobby would be wrong, but I see no justification for personal ownership of highly dangerous weapons. I think the best compromise would be to allow certain range owners access to these weapons in a controlled environment, where enthusiasts have the opportunity to use them, but not take them back to their homes and communities where they can do real damage. We are losing respect in the eyes of our international peers, and I believe this would be a great step to restoring our place as the beacon of progress and development that we have been for so long.